| Erna Kruger
Homestead food production is an important aspect of the smallholder farming system. These systems
are small (0,01-0,5 ha; or 100-5 000 m2) plots adjacent to homesteads where participants plant a range
of crops and fruit trees, with or without access to water for irrigation.The homesteads also host small
livestock such as poultry and, in some cases, goats and cattle. A limited number of people also keep
pigs. These plots are usually fenced. The large majority of smallholders plant for household
consumption and sale of surplus.
Production is constrained by infertile and badly structured soils. Often, the smallholders live in areas
where soilsare not ideal for cropping. This situation is worsened by repeated shallow tillage (with hand
hoes and/or tractors), without the addition of nutrients or organic matter, often over many years. The
results are very low fertility soils, with many structuralproblems such as capping and compaction. This
is now exacerbated by climate change, with alternating hot and dry conditions and heavy downpours
adding extensive erosion of topsoil to the list of woes. Productivity is generally extremely low.
In addition, access to water for irrigation is an enormous obstacle for most smallholders, who battle to
have enough just for household use.
Water management in an intensive food production system consists of:
Reduction in run-off and water erosion; mostly through measures such as diversion ditches
infiltration basins, contours, stone bunds, check dams and the like.
Improved water-holding capacity; mostly through increased organic matter in the soil,
mulching and microclimate management (such as improved shade and reduced wind).
Improved water-use efficiency; mostly through irrigation management, drip irrigation and
greywater management.
Improved access to water; mostly through small dams, spring protection and drilling of
Improved access to water can take several forms and interventions are generally conceived as large
infrastructureprojects implemented through government and municipal processes.In this report, we
focus on increasing local level access through processes that groups of individuals can undertake within
their communities.
Water is considered a communal resource and as such waterprojects need to accommodate all
community members. For the large majority of rural settlements, water access is about household water
needs and it is this aspect that government services focus on.
It is possible to conceptualise water provision for agriculture at a village level, where an interest group
of smallholders undertake to manage and use a specific water resource, such as a spring, or a borehole,
with consent from the local authorities and Water Service Authority representatives. We do not include
rivers and perennial streams in this activity, as water offtake and management from these sources is
socially, politically and environmentally a lot more complicated and does require the whole community
to be involved.
Group-based water management options have the advantage that participants can “own” their scheme
and thus have a lot more control over their water access. It also has the advantage that the group itself
designs, implements, maintains and manages access for the members. The members are responsible
for water use and management and are accountable to each other.
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The institutional landscape for water provisionis still mostly conceptualised as drinking water at a
minimum level of 25l per capita per day. The equivalent in urban areas is 200l per capita per day. This
mismatch is partly due to the conundrum of non-revenue water provision, which allowsfor 6000l per
household per month the free basic water amount, provided to households defined as indigent.
According to the Strategic Framework for Water Services (SFWS) of the Department of Water Affairs
and, which is the executive strategy for the water acts, it is the responsibility of a Water Services
Authority to ensure that “adequate and appropriate investments are made to ensure the progressive
realisation of the right of all people in its area of jurisdiction to receive at least a basic level of water
and sanitation services”,
i.e. a universal service obligation. Actual delivery of the water and sanitation
services is thus the responsibility of local government.
A National Water Policy Review (NWPR) by the Department of Water Affairs (2016) resulted in the
prioritisation of access to basic water supply in the form of a yard connection to all households in the
country, taking into account availability of water resources, financial challenges, geographical
placement issues, servicing of vulnerable groups and addressing the backlog
When water supply is seen as a series of projects where the construction of infrastructure is the most
important element, rather than the provision of a service, it is bound to be unsustainable. A service
includes the initial construction phase but is predominantly an ongoing business of supplying (at a
cost) water to consumers over a long period of time. Iterative, transparent, coordinated and
cooperative planning through local government procedures can build capacity; canattract funding
from other governmental and non-governmental sources and can promote convergence and pooling
of resources.
A stronger link between planning processes and budgeting is extremely important, which is a major
challenge amid numerous parallel operating planning processes by local government and by line
agencies and other stakeholders operating through local government. Optimal water services
institutions are therefore those that possess a combination of governance attributes (legitimacy,
accountability, adaptability, effectiveness, efficiency) that will enhance prospects of achieving the
objectives of Integrated Water Resource Management, appropriate water services, improved
livelihoods and social integration.
Demand-driven approaches that are empowering communities through well-structured and informed
campaigns and encouraging involvement in the decision-making process must be incorporated in the
provision of water services. Sustainable water service provision should ensure that robust, on-going
water conservation awareness and promotion interventions are part of the service provided.
There has however been little development of the concepts of multiple use options of water and due
to the difficulties and expenses involved in bulk supply of water in rural areas, many of these areas
still languish in supply systems provided before 1994 or without access to potable and irrigation water.
A typical household or community needs and uses water for different purposes even if a water
delivery system is designed and managed with the aim of providing a service that meets the demand
for a single water use. To be prepared for this manner of water use, the concept of multiple use
servicesmust serve as a departure point in developing appropriate norms and standards.
Wherever practical, water services and infrastructure must provide water for multiple use and
accommodate mixed levels of service within communities, allowing consumers to elect a level of
service which suits their needs, is affordable to them (within the prevailing subsidy framework),
addresses inequalities, utilises appropriate and upgradable technologies, and is governed
transparently, effectively and responsibly to ensure sustainability”.
L.C.Dunker. 2015. Towards norms and standards for water services in rural South Africa. WIT
Transactions on Ecology and The Environment, Vol 200, © 2015 WIT Press Water and Society III 183
www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3541 (on-line). doi:10.2495/WS150161
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Within the latest policy process of DWA the following water institutions have been defined and are
• A municipalityresponsibleforensuringaccesstowatersupplyand(WSA)
Mustbe a municipalityandnootherinstitutioncategoryA, C orB
IsestablishedbytheMinisterofWaterAffairs & Forestry(WB)
Is a publicwaterservicesprovider
-Providemanagementservices,trainingandothersupport services
-Supply untreated water not for household purposes
-Provide catchment management services
-Provide water supply and sanitation services in a joint venture with WSAs
-Perform water conservation functions
- WithapprovaloftheWSA,supplywaterdirectlyforindustrial
WaterServices Committees
• A statutorycommitteethatmaybeestablishedbytheMinister
should a WSAfailinitsduty (WSC)
WSCdoesnotreferto a community-basedorganizationthat
performs a WSPfunctionatcommunitylevel(rural)
WaterServices Intermediary
• A personorbodyprovidingwatertopeopleas a minorpartof
a contract(egfarmertolabourers,landlordofflatstotenants,
provideservicestoanotheraspartof a contract
The avenue open to locality and group-based water management options are to serve as water
service providers with permission from the water service authorities.
uThukela Water isresponsiblefor rural water provision in the Emmaus region (amaMgwane and
amaZizi Traditional Authorities), where MDF has been operational. In these area Mahlathini, with
assistance from sister NGOs and small injections of funding, has been working with water committees
to provide group-based access to multi-purpose water in three villages between 2020-2023.
The water provision landscape in these villages is complex and fragmented, with small place based
schemes, consisting usually of either a protected spring or a borehole with a storage tank have been
provided by uThukela Water, but also by other concerns such as SAPPI, political parties, NGOs and
communities themselves.
The official route for water services provision and management is to work through the ward councillor,
in this case Mr ?Dladla, who is part of a ward committee where issues are raised and brought to the
attention of the Project Management Unit based in Ladysmith. These technically oriented staff (3
members) have made it clear that all water provision and water quality aspects are under their
management and control and that they are not partial to these small independent initiatives. Their
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feeling is that if outside
funding is provided, the
resultant infrastructure
should be handed over to
them for management. They
specifically felt that
communities and their
committees complicate
matters as they believe they
“own” the infrastructure,
make unreasonable
demandsand are difficult to
communicate with. They also
clearly stated that they can not
support water infrastructure
projects with management and
maintenance unless those are
handed over to the
mentioned that they also do not
support the NGO assisted
water access to
communities as often these
small schemes and spring
protection projects do not fulfil
the requirements for water quality that they are obliged to meet.
Despite this they have been unwilling or unable to provide an overall plan of water service provision to
the area. Since 2020 when the spotlight started to fall on the fact that many of these villages have
zero water provision and have had nosupport or services at all from uThukela Watersince their
inception,a number of ad hoc efforts have been seen in these villages. The positioning and
implementation of these small water access points is however not discussed with the communities
and in all cases services only a small, localisedproportion of the inhabitants in these villages.
(In 2002 UDM and three other Category C DMs, took the matter of their not receiving equitable shares
from national allocations to court Some compensation was promised from National Government and
it was also indicated that different organs of state could not take each other to court- but had to follow
the outlined conflict resolution procedures.
Presently the UDM is under administration by COGTA, as the municipality is in debt. They have
however received funding recently (April 2023) from DWS and are planning three multi million rand
projects around the Okhahlamba area, one for Bergville and two more…..
The fledgeling Northern Drakensberg catchment partnership have been unable to secure their support
or participation.
Full participation of community members, traditional authorities and ward councillors allows
for water schemes that are locally appropriate, locally managed and equitable
A patch work of different locality based schemes can provide access to basic water toall
households in a village, rather than only a small proportion
The schemes bring water closer to households via either yard connections or taps and
provide a minimum of 50L of water per household per day usually between 100-200L (~50 l
per capita)
Aspects of sustainability are included in the design, operation and management and local
training and awareness raising are included in the process
Group based day to day management works best for groups of
around 20 people. If groups are much larger (e.g.~50
households), intractable conflicts are much more likely to arise
Allocation of roles such as daily opening and closing of valves,
works best if this is rotated between group members rather than
placing this responsibility solely on one person.
In cases where pumping is required (e.g. from electrical
borehole pumps), it works best to fill the tanks overnight, then
open the valves once during the day in the mornings, before
closing them again for refilling in the evening. Continual
pumping is problematic usually both for the borehole in terms of
potential over pumping and also the participants, as regulating
water usage becomes almost impossible in these low-tech
For springs which are considered as public access water points
in communities, spring protection can be done for localised
groups only if an arrangement is made for the general
community to also have access at the spring itself and drinking
pointsfor livestock are also considered.
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Water is provided for multi purpose use. Water quality is tested upon inception and
community members are training in citizen science methods and procedures for regular
checking of water quality (E coli test kits).
Participation in the local ‘schemes’ is group and membership based and these members pay
towards ongoing management and maintenance of their system. The broader community, in
the case of springs, is not excluded and access points at the protected spring are open to all
as well as livestock if required. In the case of boreholes, this stipulation does not apply. All
who want to use water, need to contribute financially.
Traditional authority representatives generally have been very open to these processes and
have thrown their weight behind these systems which has provided a level of authority and
legitimacy to the water committees and the rules and procedures outlined.
Financial contributions are unlikely to be enough to deal with major maintenance issues or
replacement of infrastructure.
Due to the localised nature of the water sources, there is a limitation both in the number of
people wo can be serviced and the amount of water that can be allocated to each household
on a daily basis. Individuals who do not respect these boundaries cannot be easily delt with.
Local conflicts around payments are almost inevitable, as some individuals feel water should
be accessible to all and should be free- as a constitutional right. This argument cannot be
denied, but also leads to abuse of the systems
Mostly, the difficulties come from people outside of the villages entering and helping
themselves to large amounts of water- a situation that the locals cannot police
There is a limit to how much effort community members can and will put in on a daily basis to
ensure smooth operation of the water infrastructure. It has been found that daily operations
are onerous for the individuals who are responsible, compoundedby lack of support and
respect from other individuals in the community.
The process works well in communities that are socially coherent, but not in ‘disturbed”
villages where newcomers and strangers reside and fail to respect the processes and rules
The process consists of the following steps:
ØDiscussions with CRA learning group and water committee to ascertain the need and
motivation for action, followed by initial group walks to identify possible water sources
ØA more formal water walk with the engineer of the most promising options. Springs that are
not perennial, or too low down to be reticulated using gravity, or too far away from
households, or where ownership is contested are removed from the list of options.
ØThe engineer develops scenarios for the development of the source and potential yield and
reticulation. These options are discussed with the water committee and participants and final
lists of potential participants are drawn up. Here it is determined who will be part of the
scheme. Some households will fall outside of the physical range of the reticulation and
different options need to be discussed with them. Some households will not want to join the
group and make the required payments or undertake the labour themselves.
ØThen, the work is outlined, and undertaken jointly between the group, the engineer and MDF’s
field team
MDF initially engaged in thinking through water access options with the Vimbukhalo community in
2019-2020 and a Water Committee was formalized. At the time no assistance had been provided by
the authorities since 1994. Water access was through to small, localized schemes a protected
spring and a borehole provided by the Department of Agriculture and SAPPI respectively. Most
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households collected, and still collect water form unprotected springs and small streams in the
community. The discussions were picked up again in August 2022 and the following changes were
ØThe SAPPI borehole with header tank, providing water for around 22 households is no longer
operational as the pump stopped working
ØuThukela Water, with the councillor for the area intervened and protected one spring and
provided a header tank for that (on the steep slope away from the SAPPIplantations, which
provides water for around 15 households)
ØuThukela Water also provided a solar powered borehole for the school in the village.
ØThe Water Committee set up before does not represent the whole of the community, but only
the section where uThukela water intervened and is made up of a number of members of the
local ward committee.
Through discussions with community members, it has become clear that in Vimbukhalo there are a
number ofsmaller informal water committees that are locality based, rather than a structure that
represents the whole community. This complicates matters somewhat and provides for some
competition and mistrust, but also allows for small locality -based group initiatives, which enables
greater involvement and commitment for those specific groups. It does however not help with
planning an overall patchwork of water access options that can benefit the whole community. The
latter process has been kept in mind in the water walks undertaken by MDF but cannot be tackled
coherently at present.
The initial water walk in July 2022, with the CRA learning group members and their localised water
committee focused on the side of the community closest to the SAPPI plantation (eastof the river).
The walk showed that the SAPPI borehole, pump with one 5000l JoJo header tank is presently not
operational as the electricity trips. The community requested support first form SAPPI, who declined
further support and then uThukela Water, who have not come to see the situation, but suggested
households collect R100 from all participants to a minimum of R1900 for a new pumpand also that
they could only intervene if the community handed over the ownership of this borehole to the
These participants have been using this scheme for 10 years successfully, paying R5 per household
upon request to the homestead where the electricity for the pump is connected. They mentioned that
they used to pump every third day and that people would come and collect water while pumping was
ongoing during the day and then later once the pump was switched off and the tank had filled up. This
system seems to have worked well for this whole period until a malfunction with the electrics. There is
evidence at the electricity box of trying to fix the connections and adding more insulation tape as
attempts to fix the problem. Presently the households have to walk to the river, between 500-1000m
away to fetch water.
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Figure 1: Above Left: the
header tank for the SAPPI
borehole. Centre: the pump
for the borehole and right: The
enclosure built for the pump
and electrical box.
A new borehole with solar pump has been installed at the school, further along the east side of the
river by
uThukela Water
Figure 2: Above Left: The borehole with solar panel at the school and Right: Looking towards the
school from the wetland below
There is also some old infrastructurein the wetland below the school, originally put in by the
Department of Agriculture in the mid 1980’s. A small cementheadertank with a tap slightly further
down. The tank is still operational although it leaks, but the tap is presently situated in the middle of
the wetland is highly trampled by cattle.
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Figure 3: The old,
protected spring
with leaking
header tank and
inaccessible tap.
This walk
was followed by more visits to local unprotected springs both within the villages and further away in
the hills as more options were mentioned over time by the participants. Most of these options were
not considered as the springs are small and far away from homesteads. A more formal walk with the
engineer to survey the most promising options was undertaken.
The report is added as an attachment: ‘WWF_Vimbukhalo borehole and spring engineering
report_ AM_20220905’. The main recommendations here were:
ØTo refurbish the old SAPPI borehole: Do a borehole yield test, remove and replace the pump,
consider according to strength and quality of water a reticulation plan that can include as
many households as possible, and increase header tank capacity. Installation of communal
taps is to be considered.
ØTo explore options for protection and reticulation of the spring in the bordering SAPPI
plantation. This spring is higher up and can incorporate around 9-11 households that are
situated above the borehole and are unable to access that water (Spring 1 on map) and
ØCreate a better water collection option for the old- protected spring in the wetland close to the
school. (Spring 3 on map)
These scenarios, together with the maps were discussed with the Vimbukhalo community (21st
September 2022). It was agreed there to commence with the yield testing of the borehole and to
organise meetings with SAPPI to request assistance with potential spring protection on their land.
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In addition, the letter of borehole ownership, obtained through SAPPI and delivered by the councillor
Mr Bonginkosi Dladla is to be held safely by the committee until this refurbishment is completed. At
that point the committee will make a decision as to whether they will ‘keep’ the ownership of the
borehole with them or hand it over to the Municipality. Community members are loathe to hand over
the ownership as they do not believe uThukela Water will assist them, regardless of this requirement.
They are however nervous of having to take full responsibility for the system as they can easily
handle day to day
management and
maintenance, but
manage large
such as pump
These issues will
be further
Figure 4: Right: The
Vimbukhalo water
committee participants
identifying all
households on the map
and Far right: The list of
participants in the
scheme identified.
From this
workshop there
were 56
proposed to be
involved in the
borehole scheme
who could gain
access, depending on the final results for the borehole yield test. In addition, 8 households were
identified who could benefit form protecting the spring on the SAPPI plantation bordering the
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Figure 5: The map outlining the water sources in Vimbukhalo and the proposed scenarios for refurbishment of the borehole and development of a spring on SAPPI land bordering the community. The households
that can receive water from these developments are numbered and marked in blue and green respectively.
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This was followed by a committee meeting with SAPPI, on the 13thof October.
Figure 6: Meeting at the Vimbukhalo hall with representatives of the ward committee and water committee and SAPPI. Present were
Zaphesheya Luthuli(SAPPI Representative), Erna Kruger(MDF), Michael Malinga(MDF), Hlengiwe Hlongwane (MDF), Zibonele
Sithole(ward committee), Jerome Ndaba (SAPPIforum) and Mama Dlamini( SAPPI committee secretary)
Zapesheya Luthuli is the community representative for Vimbukhalo. She confirmed that SAPPi has a
long history in Vimbukhalo, often conflictual and that looking at a water source other than the borehole
could be a move forward. She did mention thaough that there may be difficulties in working with this
spring as SAPPI is very protective of their land holdings and want to limit movement of people on their
propreties. iShe undertook to speak to the relevant plantation managers to discuss this option and
promised to convey a decision soon. The proposal has been shared with the Engineering and
Environment Unit of SAPPI, who have done a site visit. A decision cannot be made immediately as
the proposal involves the disturbance of land and water catchment area. Therefore consultation will
be taking place in the last week of November 2022, will the other business units (legal, resources etc)
in order to make an informed decision internally.
The work on the yield testing of the borehole was undertaken by Geocon Consulting and midlands
Pumps and started in the week of 27thof October. This entailed a few different processes including a
step discharge test, a constant discharge test and recovery monitoring, which took 3-4 days to
complete. The community temporarily installed 2x 2500l JoJo tanks alongside the present header
tank to ensure the capture of as much of this water as possible to use in the interim.
Figure 7: Right: The piping from the borehole
yield testing is shown in the foreground. And
Far right: Community members levelled
platforms for the two extra JoJo tanks so that
water could be stored temporarily for the
The technical report is attached
‘Vimbukhalo BH1 test pumping
The recovery of the water level for
the 24hour recovery monitoring was poor and was only 61%. The recommended available daily
abstraction is 6.40 kl/day within an 8hr pumping cycle, to allow enough recharge for subsequent
pumping. A resting period of a dayor two between pumping cycles would be ideal. Water quality was
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classified as Class II,which is unfit forhuman consumption without treatment, due to higher than
recommended levels of fluoride, coliform bacteria and general bacteria. It is recommended that another
water source needs to be used by households to alternate the use of this borehole water, as long-term
use of water with high levels of fluoride can harm recipients’ teeth through discoloration. The other
treatment option is reverse osmosis. Coliforms bacteria can be easily treated through boiling or adding
of household Jik to the water. The consultant suggested a further quality test be undertaken to check if
levels remain high or whether it is an intermittent issue.
A new pump is to be installed that can pump the suggested 6,4kl in an 8- hour cycle. According to the
consultants, consistent use of this one borehole will not affect the basal flow of the underground water
in this area negatively.
The Vimbukhalo borehole scheme was finalised in the second week of December 2022. The scheme
consists of:
1.The borehole pump box, linked to the homestead electricity supply of Mrs
Fiasani Mpulo
2.The main 5000 l header tank with 1 tap close to the tank and 4 taps
toward the bottom.
3.A 2nd2500l header tank higher up with 1 tap.
Figure 8: The map outlining the water sources in Vimbukhalo and the proposed scenarios for refurbishment of the borehole.The
households that can receive water from these developments are numbered and marked in blue and green respectively.
The scheme services a total of 53 households. A community meeting was called on the 21stof January 2023, to finalised
participants’ financial contributions. Each participant household is to pay R200 to become a member of the water committee.
These monies are to be held in an account for maintenance and labour related to the system. Each household also pays
R10/ month for water provision to pay for electricity for pumping. Two people who were chosen to take money and record
payments; one records payments from people below the road, the other records payments from people above the road.
In January around R210 was collected for pumping and in February the amount was R430. To start, the pump was left on
throughout. Every 2ndday the valve is opened to fill the top tank it is left open for a day and then closed again for a day.
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Issues that arose were primarily around erratic electricity supply in the village as well as to loadshedding. Fiansai Mpulo has
also requested assistance with opening and closing the valve for the top tank as it isn’t close to her and sometimes, she
forgets or is not around.
Some suggestions made to alleviate the challenges were:
1.That Mrs fiansi Mpulo needs to get a new, separate prepaid electricity box for the borehole pump, to separate this
from her personal usage and
2.To request that the councillor assists with a solar electricity for the pump to alleviate the present supply difficulties.
Figure 9: Above Left to Right: the Pump connection, attached to Mrs Fisani Mpulo’s homestead electricity supply, the 5000l header tank
with tap and the top 2500l header tank with tap.
During the community deliberations in Feb-March 2023, the
system was struck by lightning requiring an assessment of the
whole system and replacementofthe electricity box, with lightning
protection now included. In addition, the pipes servicing the two
header tanks were also replaced with better quality, slightly larger
pipes as the water pressure from this pumping system was too
high for the initial pipes used.
Figure 10: The Midlands pumps work team repairing the electrical system and replacing
input pipes for the header tanks in Vimbukhalo, with the water committee members
looking onend March 2023
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Previously electricity has just been added to the homesteads pre-paid arrangement for pumping, but in
the present case community members haven’t done the required calculations to understand whether
this is still working and understandably some of the participants felt that maybe some of the electricity
was going to household use. Mrs Fisani Mpulo,the pump operator mentioned that she never had to
separate electricity as it was not an issue before.
Thus, a combined process with the
Mahlathinifacilitators was undertaken to do
the calculations; a process complicated
considerably by the rolling loadshedding in
the area.
Figure 11: Community members present in the
Vimbukhalowater meeting to discuss access and
participation – 7thMarch 2023
The meeting identified households who
fetch from each tap as follows:
-Tap 1 (up at the smaller tank): 7 HH
-Tap 2 (below Mpulo/ near the
borehole): 5 HH
-Tap 3 (Below Bukisiwe Mpulo’sHH): 6 HH
-Tap 4 (just below the road opp tuckshop): 11 HH
-Tap 5 (in the middle, below the road): 16 HH
-Tap 6 (near Sbongile Mpulo’s HH): 8 HH
To sum up, 13households get water from the smaller tank at the top, and the big tank feeds water to
40 households, totalling53households. 3 households do not pay the R10. From the 27thof January
2023 to the 22ndof February 2023,R430 worth of electricity was used. From this, R430/27days = R15,92
a day, which provides an average, but is not a fully reliable representation as the amount of electricity
used per day may vary and is affected by how much water was used/how often water was fetched each
day. Pumping has been sporadic duetoboth payment and loadshedding, but on average the tanks are
now beingfilled every 2ndday.
The small table below summarises the water use for the two header tanks. This indicates that
households can access 100l of water per day.
No of HH
Monthly water use
Annual water use
37 440
75 000
112 440
1 349 280
159 000
1 908 000
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At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed upon the following:
-Paying dates(R10): 9thand 10thof every month
-Those who are in the savings groups can pay(R10) at the savings meeting which is usually on
the 10thof every month.
-The meeting participants committed themselves to pass on these decisions to the absent
These water committees are informal ad hoc localised groupings in the villages,usually with
representation from the ward committees of the Traditional Authorities and the formal water committee
representatives for the local Municipal Council. In Vimbukhalo this person is Mr Mkhize.
Two strategies exist for formalising the localised water committees one of intensive upfront
organisational structuring, election of office bearers and development of constitution and rules. The
second is to develop this process over time, based on the experiences and motivation of the group.
Mahlathinihas opted for the second approach, as this allows the members of the informal groups to
slowly formalize their institution as required by circumstance also provides weightto the decisions made
in a participatory way. Governance improved over time. Although this process primarily works through
resolution of conflict and instituting rules to avoid specific circumstance from occurring again, it is much
more participatory and inclusive than the first strategy and generally leads to a more sustainable
Stulwane spring protection and reticulation planning and
implementation November 2021-May 2022
The Stulwane community is located near Emmaus in the Drakensberg region and falls under the
Okhahlamba Local Municipality within the Uthukela District Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal. Stulwane is
approximately 8km and 25km travel distance from the centres of Emmaus and Winterton respectively.
Due to the more mountainous terrain the community is separated into a number of sections. Two of
these sections form part of the project area being considered and comprise approximately 90 rural
homesteads in total.
There is currently no reticulated municipal water supply in the area. Current water sources accessed
by the community include:
one municipal borehole and tank providing communal water access to one section (installed
in Nov 2021)
Pumping details: The tanks had to be emptied and timed to fill up using a specific amount
of money. Calculations showed thatit cost R16,50 to fill both tanks (7500L). This equals
R0,32/hh/pumping x 15=R4,70/month, thus needing around R250/month if pumping is
done every 2ndday.
MrsFisani Mpulowould like to leave the pump on, to avoid having to check all the time
and risk empty tanks and annoyance from participants. The original specifications by the
engineers however stipulated that pumping should not be done for more than 8hrs a day,
to avoid over pumping the borehole. To fill both tanks (7500l) took 5hrs 30 min. This
means the tanks can be filled once per day and overall, this will cost R500/month
It also means that each household can collect 2x50l buckets of water per day
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a spring fed tank and communal tap located away from any cluster of homesteads (installed
in `2017)
a community borehole with handpump (near the cattle dipping tank, installed in `2017)
supply by water tanker
a number of undeveloped springs
A number of potential water sources within, or surrounding, the project area were investigated and
mapped by a hydrological team from UKZNin association with community members and the
Stulwane Water Committee. These were narrowed down, due to various factors such as access,
location and strength of supply, to a few sources for further investigation. These identified supplies
include the borehole situated next to the dipping tank, the undeveloped springs (referred to as springs
1, 2 and 3) and the existing developed spring (spring 4).
A further technical
investigation was
undertaken in
November 2021, by
an agricultural
Engineer, Mr Alain
Marechal, who joined the UKZN team and the water committee to assess thetechnicalpotential for
developing and reticulating theseidentified sources.
The outcomes are briefly summarized below
The borehole situated next to the cattle dipping tank is equipped with a handpump and is operational.
This is a community borehole and would be available to develop further. It is situated away from the
main groupings of homesteads but at an elevation that would allow gravity reticulation to one or two
sections of the project area. The borehole would need to be pump tested to determine its sustainable
yield and whether it is feasible to install an electric pump. On the day of the site visit water samples
were taken to get an indication of any issues with the water quality. One concern is the proximity of
thecattle dipping tank to the borehole and any possible contamination of the groundwater.
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The spring referred to as “spring 1” is situated upstream of, and close to, springs 2 and 3. Of the three
springs this one has the stronger flow and has two upwelling “eyes” evident. Indications from
community representatives are that water is
available all year round from the spring. There has
been no development of this spring apart from a
steel drum placed overone eye, and cattle and
other livestock are able to access the water. A
rough flow measurement was taken on the day of
the site visit and indicates a possibility of being able
to access at least 10 litres a minute. Water
samples were taken to check the e-coli levels in the
Spring 1 has a flow rate of 10 litres per minute.
Reducing this to 7 litres per minute, as a more
conservative figure, would give the possibility of
accessing 10000l per 24 hours. This equates to an
amountof 500l per household on 17-20 households
in the area of coverage below the spring.
NOTE: This is the spring that was chosen for development.
3 Spring2 (Location: 28° 54’ 55.7”S, 29°
22’ 10.8”E)
Spring 2 is situated slightly downstream of spring
1 and has a lower flow. A makeshift barrier /
fence has been erected around this spring and a
steel drum placed around the eye. Water
samples were taken to check the e-coli levels in
the water.
Tight: Spring 2
Spring three is situated further downstream of springs
1 and 2. A steel drum has been placed around the
eye but no further development of the source has
been done. A rough flow measurement taken
indicates a possibility of accessing approximately 6-7
litres a minute. Water samples were taken to check
the e-coli levels in the water.
Right: Spring 3
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Spring 4 has been developed by the community and consists of two covered chambers (brick and
concrete) built around two spring seeps / eyes. Water is piped from the collection chambers to two
2400l tanks that then feed a community standpipe. At the time of inspection the tanks were
overflowing but the
community representatives
did indicate that when used
the tanks do fill very slowly. A
repair is required to a hole in
one tank and fitting of float
valves and replacement tank
Right: Tanks fed form the
spring and community
Discussions were held with the community representatives regarding the five water sources and
possible development and use of each source to supply water to various areas of the community. Due
to the lower elevation of springs 1, 2 and 3 within the project area it would be necessary to consider
an additional source at higher elevation (the borehole or spring 4) in order to supply water to the
higher lying sections. The outcome of these discussions was that the borehole and one of the
undeveloped springs (1, 2 or 3) could be considered for the project. Spring 4 was to be excluded at
this stage due its low flow. It was further recommended that only one of the undeveloped springs
should be developed in order to avoid any community issues should the development result in
damage and loss of water at the spring eyes.
The project team decided to consider further testing and equipping of the borehole (budget allowing)
and protection of one of the springs (1, 2 or 3). Further to developing the water supplies three
scenarios would be considered for supplying or reticulating water to the community:
Scenario 1: Store water in (header) tanks and reticulate to smaller drums fitted with float
valves at individual households.
Scenario 2: Store water in (header) tanks and reticulate water to a number of communal
standpipes placed around the community.
Scenario 3: Store water in (header) tanks and feed centrally placed communal tanks
within clusters of households.
For purposes of this report the following will be used to refer to the different areas / sections of the
community being supplied:
Section1:Area of supply coverage below and to the northeast of the borehole
(Comprising approximately 17 households)
Section2: Area of supply coverage below and to the north of the borehole
(Comprising approximately 33 households)
Section3: Area of supply coverage below the spring
(Comprising approximately 38 households)
It should be noted that the layouts presented below showing the various reticulation options and
extent of coverage are provisional and for planning purposes. The final layouts, including pipeline
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routes, number of households to be supplied, tap and/or tank positions, will only be determined during
the design phase. These would need to take into consideration, among other factors, the actual
amount of water available from the developed sources, community input to positioning of tanks and/or
standpipes, and proofing of the proposed pipeline routes.
A meeting was held with the water committee (Nelisie
Msele, Dombi Dlamini, Nothile Zondi, Khulekani
Dladla, Danger Khumalo and Thulani Dlamini, with 3
enviro champs present on 20thJanuary 2022, to
discuss process and decision making regarding the
water access scenarios developed.
Right: Nothile, Nelisiwe and 2 of the enviro champs
at the water committee meeting in Stulwane
Below is a summary of the main questions and
It was decided that a full community meeting be called to outline the reasoning for starting with the
spring protection. Working with the borehole requires a pump flow test to ascertain strength which
costs around 30K and due to distances from homesteads, the pump will need to be solar, also adding
considerably to costs. There is around 50K in the WRC-ESS research budget that can be used for
community implementation and with community contributions will be enough to protect spring 1 or 2,
provide 2 header tanks and pipelines with 2-3 standpipes with taps.
The community will need to agree to the fact that there isn’t presently funding to continue after the
spring protection is done and so some people will benefit, and some will not. The spring cannot
provide enough water for everyone, so the whole community cannot fetch water there.
Even the spring protection and the borehole if both can work and be implemented will not be able to
provide water for the whole community.
No Access: ~17 Households
Borehole Section 1: NE.~17 Households
Borehole Section 2: N. ~ 33 Households
Spring 1 (Scenario 2: OPTION 3): 10000l/24hrs.~30 Households Thus for the 17 hh below
the spring around 500l/day at a distance of 200-400m for one of three taps. If those who are
nearby, but without easy access to taps are also included, the no of hh goes up to around 28
and then around 210l/ day.
The committee decided on option three of the spring protection scenarios, as those households close
to the spring also need access.
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After the committee meeting and the full community meeting, the group who can benefit from the
spring protection need to have a meeting to discuss access, payment, labour contributions, a
committee of their own, decisions, and ongoing water management. There will need to be daily
opening and closing of valves and checking of water availability and decisions regarding maintenance
etc will also be ongoing.
A map with pins for households was
used with the group to make a list of
those who would be involved. This
map was updated again after
implmentation to take into account
the addition of newcomers nad
removal of some inactive
households. The list as at May 2022
is shown below
Above Left: the committee working
on naming the homesteads shown
on the small map
Table 1: Final list of participants involved and
where the collect water (23 households), May
Pin no
Name and Surname
Access arrangement
Mzwandile Khumalo
Fetch from V-box
Thembeni Dubazane
Removed no involvement
Sipho Msele
Mthethwa Mpinga
Baskiti Dubazane
Removed people not around
Yaka Gumede
Nelisiwe Msele
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Mr Dubazane
Hlaleleni Duma
Baloza Dlamini
Thembi Mpinga
Ntombenhle Mkhize
Eunice Khumalo
Zakhele Nyoka
Robert Mpinga
Tap joined later when relaized water would be close
Leliwe Hlongwane
Mlamula Khumalo
P Nyoka
S’nothi Mazibuko
Maminya Msele
Dubula Msele
Dumisani Msele
Reomved- inactive
Fetch from V-box
Reserve Msele
Fetch from header tanks
Soleni Khumal
Fetch from V-box
The committee discussed the issues of closing off a spring, both for cultural reasons and also for
individuals to have access at the source. They felt that as people and livestock can still access water
from the other springs in the wetland and the wetland itself, it would be okay for everyone. They did
say that spring 2 is much more reliable than spring 1, which does dry out sometimes. Although there
wasn’t agreementsome members felt that the spring just goes mainly underground in drier months.
The following two suggesitons made were taken inton acocunt in the implmentation:
1.Need a standpipe nad tap at the spring which will not affect the filling of the header
2.Lay the pipe in a way that will make it easy to swap to spring 2 if needed.
The committee likes the idea of the 2 header tanks next to the road. There should be no access at
these tanks. There was a lot of discussion around other people coming in and stealing water and the
committee are aware of the possibilities of abuse of taps and the difficulties with this.They finally
suggested 3-4 taps, close ot homesteads where they can be wathced nad monitored.
Mr Marechal also supplied a number of issues for discussion. These are summarized below.
For discussion:
1. Suitability of the central position proposed for the
tank/s. This position is near the village main access road
but finalisation depending on land ownership and suitable
positioning (advised by community). Note: The pipeline to
the tanks drops from the spring but then starts to rise
again from roughly midway along the route. The tank
position is showing on Google Earth as lower than the
spring but we can't really position it any higher than where
currently shown.
Yes,suitable. Next to the road. Close
to Nelisiwe Msele’s homestead. No
taps at header tanks
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2.Pipeline route from spring to be confirmed on site
taking into account homesteads, cultivated fields, terrain
Yes, seems fine, Participants have
agreed, thatpipes can cross fields
etc, but will need to discuss on the
ground as well
3. Option 1: Tanks and access point in one central
position. Most housholds around this point are within
400m of the tank position. Household by spring and lower
households by bridge are around 600m from this point.
Option 2: Tank position same as in option 1. Water
reticulated to two access points (or more) to reduce
walking distance. The layout shown reduces walking
distance to the households to be served to within 400m
Option 3: Would be similar to option 2 with a third access
point to reduce walking distance to within 200m (water
supply guideline).
Yes, this includes most peoplebut
maybe not taps, but tanks, or
lockable taps…
The spring proposed for development is the larger of the
three. Perhaps some more discussion around community
issues with use of this point particularly regarding
There was some discussion as to
whether this spring dries up during
drought years. Spring 2 definitely the
most reliable.
Availability of local rock to fill behind spring protection wall
/ chamber
Yes, in riverbed. Enviro champs will
assist with labour and building.
On the 25thof January a full community meeting (~55 participants) was held to discuss progress and
get the go ahead from the whole community to focus on protection and reticulation of Spring 1 for the
moment only; also with the understanding the funding for the proposed work on the borehole may or
may not materialize. In addition, community agreement needed to be firmed up, that water access for
the spring one system, would only be for members who can benefit from this- not for everyone in the
community and definitely not for people form outside. Spring 2 which is used heavily in the
community will be left as is to ensure open access and livestock can easily access water from the
wetland and stream surrounding these springs. Thus, the spring protection and reticulation does not
remove community access but improves infrastructure and access for those involved who have
contributed both with labour and financially.
For the Spring 1 protection, all community members who could benefit from this gravity fed system
were called to a meeting on 27thJanuary. Here the following issues were discussed and decided upon
after introduction of the WRC-
ESS process and progress with
planning to date. It was reported
that around R50000 could be
allocated from this budget for
the spring protection work
Community members would
need to contribute both
financially and with labour to dig
the ditches and the enviro
champs would assist with the
spring protection and reticulation
work as well. It was emphasized
that only those 26 people on the
list are part of this process.
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Right: Spring protection meeting with 27 community participants and the 9 enviro champs present.
There was a lot of discussion around people coming in with bakkies to take water and also people
from other parts of Stulwane and Emadakaneni feeling that they would also have a right to this water.
Participants felt it would be difficult to enforce this. It was emphasized that participants would need to
fetch water at the 3 proposed taps and not try to connect pipes and hoses to fill tanks at their homes.
It was also emphasized that people would need to do their washing at home and not at the taps. Then
itwas discussed that the two header tanks would provide 10000l of water per day. They would need
to fill up overnight. This would mean around 380l of water per household per day. Some households
are much larger than others with small units in the homesteadso they would have more than one
person collecting water. It was also discussed that the spring committee could provide access to
water to people for specific circumstances such as funerals, but that this water could not be used for
irrigation or building.
The following was decided
Each participating household would pay R230 towards the water scheme. Monies will be
placed in a bank account and used by the committee for small maintenance tasks. Slips of all
expenditure are to be kept to be reported to the membership.
If larger sums are required for any reason, this will be discussed with the participants and
further donations agreed upon.
The header tanks and taps are to be place on the road, next to or very close to someone’s
homestead, so that those people can keep an eye on the infrastructure. People thought it
would cause trouble to have these in the households.
It was agreed that the spring committee and any participants interested would join the
engineer and team to finalize the route of the pipes, to ensure they do not cross fields or
property that would become problematic. For the most part these pipes need to follow the
paths and roads.
It was proposed that there are locks placed on the taps and that each household who has
paid their fee,will be provided with a key for the tap.
Participants undertook to collect water only during the day to allow the tanks to fill up
All households undertook to be part of the labour force, or to employ someone who could help
with digging if theywere unable themselves.
Mr Dubazane offered his tractor to start the process of loosening the ground for the digging of
the ditches, to make that process easier.
It was emphasized that the youth team are not from the Council, but through MDF and the
community should not issue them. They are there to do agreed upon resource conservation
tasks, not just anything the community might need.
It was also emphasized that the committee is made up of volunteers and that everyone
should work together and respect each other as it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the
system works, not just that of the committee.
Here, they decided to elect a spring committee:
Name and Surname
Contact details
Baba Dubanzane
Mxholisi Mkhize
Nelisiwe Msele
Hloniphile Sishi
Phekelaphi Nyoka
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Roles of committee members:
Responsible for any issues arising with the water scheme
Fix problems with any people not following the rules
Allocate the use of water and ensure everyone who is eligible gets
Check regularly that the system is working and used properly
Open a bank account for the financial contributions and undertake small maintenance
Call meetings with membership to report on usage, maintenance issues and get permission to
use funds for specific activities.
Communicate with the community level water committee and also the Traditional Authority
and councilor.
Request assistance from community level water committee for issues they cannot solve.
A discussion was held about the role of the Nkosi and councilor. The Nkosi has a representative, Mrs
Hlongwane in the village. The Spring committee undertook to inform her of this process and ensure
she is onboard. They felt that permission would not need to be obtained as the TA is only responsible
for land and it is a good idea for the community to start setting up structures themselves, to manage
their resources, as neither the TA nor the councilor will do this for them. They felt that as long as
these role players were well informed, they would not object or feel the need to interfere.
This localised community owned system, was initiated prior to the commencement of this project. A
similar community level process of allowing the community to frame their request and start the
process by setting up a water committee and doing the initial ‘water walks” and surveys was use.
Here a spring in a wetland was protected and reticulate d to 5000l header tanks with 4 taps
downstream (one added a little later by participants themselves. As it is a gravity fed system, ongoing
financial contributions are not required. 28 Households have been supported.
The spring supplies around 10 000l/24hrs.Thus for the 17 hh below the spring around 500l/day at a
distance of 200-400m for one of three taps. If those who are nearby, but without easy access to taps
are also included, as well as the participants linked to the 4thtap, the number of householdsgoes up
to 28with an allocation of ~200l - 380/day.
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Here, they decided to elect a spring committee:
Name and Surname
Contact details
Baba Dubanzane
Mxholisi Mkhize
Nelisiwe Msele
Hloniphile Sishi
Phekelaphi Nyoka
Roles of committee members:
Responsible for any issues arising with the water scheme
Fix problems with any people not following the rules
Allocate the use of water and ensure everyone who is eligible gets
Check regularly that the system is working and used properly
Open a bank account for the financial contributions and undertake small maintenance
Call meetings with membership to report on usage, maintenance issues and get permission to
use funds for specific activities.
Communicate with the community level water committee and also the Traditional Authority
and councilor.
Request assistance from community level water committee for issues they cannot solve.
This scheme has been in operation since May2022. A document outlining the full process is provided
in Annexure 1. (“Stulwane committee spring protection and reticulation overall process including
operation and maintenance”).
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Figure 12: Right and Far right: A view of the
spring when ithe v-box was constructed in
may’22 and more recently in Feb’23, showing
also that the spring was subsequently fenced.
Figure 13: Below Left and Right: The 2 x5000l
header tanks at installation and recently in
Feb’23 also fenced.
A conflict arose in January 2023, where a few households closest to the protected spring became
unhappy with their lack of easy access to the spring and to water. It was decided then to add two
more taps to the scheme (one at the spring and one at the header tanks, to allow reticulate access to
these households (4). They were previously expected to collect water from the spring itself and from
the header tank overflows but were not happy with this arrangement. These small changes were
supported through this project.
In a workshop on water and resource conservation mapping and action planning in April 2023, the
issue of water provision for the rest of the Stulwane community was raised. Further spring protection
and reticulation of the borehole close to the dip tank are to be considered.
The spring committee in Stulwanehas bene functioning well and has been actively supported by the
traditional ward councilor,Mrs Hlongwane. To date all participants have followed the broad
instructions and have also assisted in ensuring that people do not come from outside the village to
use this water. In the beginning people came from eMadakaneni and Eqeleni with bakkies to load up
with water. All participants in this scheme are satisfied with the scheme and with their access to
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The spring committee has been very active. The small conflict around taps however did indicate that
for some levels of conflict and decision making still require a respected 3rdparty with ‘authority” in this
case Mahlathini, may still be required to make decisions and ensure positive actions and outcomes.
Community members have been trained in using E coli testing kits (procured from Praecautio
laboratories in Hilton) to assess the quality of water in their water schemes. The eco champs (youth
employed part time to undertake resource conservation work in the communities) have been
responsible for administering these tests.
Water samples are incubated in pre-prepared test tubes in a “hotbox” for 24 hours. Colour reactions
indicate the presence of coliforms (brown) or E coli (green).
Figure 14: Right: An example of three E coli tests taken in the Stulwnae spring protection
scheme in 2022/ These have turned green indicating the presence of E coli.
After the contamination of the spring and water
system in March 2022, the community undertook to
build a swale above the spring in the wetland, as
they noticed that urn-off from the surrounding areas
flowed into the spring intake area and felt that this is
what caused the contamination. Subsequently the
tests have all been clear.
E Coli test results
S1- is the protected spring with V-box
S2- is the spring lower down
JT3 are the header tanks of the protected
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The Climate Resilient Agriculture learning group in Ezibomvini consists ofaround 36 members. They
have implemented Conservation Agriculture practices for their field cropping and intensive household
food production for vegetable production. Access to water in the village is extremely limited, with one
or two municipal boreholes with hand pumps providing household water. Not unusually, access to this
water is inconsistent, as pumps break and are not fixed, or the boreholes become unreliable and the
situation is not rectified. Access to irrigation for farming is non-existent. Most community members also
get water from local springs, which are unprotected and shared with the livestock in the area.
There are informal arrangementsin the community about accessto these springs, and almost everyone
in the immediate surroundings has access.
The learning group, under the proactive leadership of their local facilitator, Phumelele Hlongwane began
discussing the possibility of protecting a few of these springs and piping water to their households to
facilitate their vegetable production efforts, as the spring is far away, requiring about a 1 km walk with
buckets. This has severely limited their production ability.
The group presented their concept to MDF and requested assistance with planning and implementation.
Each member who wanted to be involved gave a financial donation ofR1 000 and agreed to provide
the labour for digging trenches and installing pipes and tanks.
Numbering issue!!!!!!Background
This process was initiated in August 2018 and was suggested by the Ezibomvini learning group as a
way to provide both household water and agricultural water for the homestead gardens.
A survey of the local springs and potential options was conducted with assistance from anagricultural
engineer. Aprocess was initiated for the group to come together and collect monies, which would be
matched bya grant from MDF, to provide for asmall fund to protect and reticulate one of the springs,
with a simple gravity fed system to participants’ homesteads.
The participants undertook to provide R1000 per household. This process took some time and by
September 2019 an amount of R8000 had been put together. MDF then decided to continue with the
process. Phumelele Hlongwane, the localfacilitatorand the main driver ofthis process, promoted the
initiative tirelessly throughout this period. She initially put down R7000 and also offered her 2200 litre
JoJo tank as the header tank. She has subsequently been paid back most of this money.
Nine participants paid and comprisedthe water committee: Lungile Sithole, Cabangani Hlongwane,
Phumelele Hlongwane, Phumelele Gumede, Goodman Dlamini, Landiwe Dlamini, Hlengiwe Nkabinde,
Mantombi Mabizela and Devu Dlmaini/Velephi Zimba.
1.1.1.Progress in July 2019
Conflict emerged early and needed to be resolved. In one homestead there were two participants and
an agreement was reached that both needed to pay. Those who had paid but decidedto withdraw had
their monies returned to them. Another participant, Landiwe Dlamini, requested that water be provided
at her new homestead site (across the road and much further downhill than the rest of the group).It
was reiterated that water provision was limitedand that it was for homesteads and gardens only. For a
time, people believed that after elections the municipality would deliver the promised centralised water
provision to the area. This did not materialise. Petty squabbles around turf and trust also delayed
implementation. Actual work on the process started in September 2019
1.1.2.Phase 1: Protection of the spring and laying of the main pipe to the header tank
The spring is typical of the area, in that the eye is situated in a bank quite close to the streambed.
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Local participants havedug out
a smallcatchment dam for the
spring, from which people
collect water and from which
cattle also drink.
Figure 15: Left:The spring’s
catchment pond with evidence
of use by cattle and people.
Right: The catchment pond dug
out to make a bigger pond and
small dam wall.
It was thus important thatthis
part of the spring could still be
shared bythe community, as
the watergroup did not directly
ownthe spring.
Consequently, the design included an offtake from the spring consisting ofa slotted pipe buried in a
trench filled with gravel and stones below the main catchment dam for the spring. This trench could be
completely closed up and covered with soil to avoid any damage and tampering.And it left a source of
water from which those not involved in the project could collect their water.
Figure 16: Left: The capped end of the 1m length (50mm diameter) slotted pipe that provides for the
below-ground offtake of water from the spring. Right: The fittings linking this slotted pipe to themain
pipe (50 mm HDPE) (from Chris StimieRIEng).
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Figure 17: Photographs showing the process of installing the slotted pipe for collection of water from
the spring
The spring is situatedin the veld above thevillage and thus allows for a gravity-fed system. Because
this is alow-pressure system and the main pipe to the header tanks is around 350m long, it isimportant
that the ditch for this pipe be placed on an even slope.If this is not done, the water will not flow which
the group found out the hard way when they initially just dug a ditch and tried to lead water from the
Following the contours of the land, with the pipe rising and fallingaccordingly, could lead to air bubbles
that stop the flow of the water. These airlocks are extremely difficult to remove without having release
valves at the correct points in the pipe. An even gradient for the pipe removes this problem.
Figure 18: Left: measuring the gradient for the main pipeline using a dumpy level. Right: Adjusting the
line for the pipe to avoid some of the larger dongas and rough terrain, while keeping it on an even
Starting on the trench for the
slotted pipe, below the spring
and pond
Deepening and widening this
trench to 50 cm x 50 cm x 1,2 m
The trench with slotted pipe
installed in a bed of gravel,
covered by shade cloth and
rocks with a small furrow
leading water from the spring
to this trench
The trench damaged by
livestock before it could be
properly covered and closed.
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The ditches weredug around 30cm wide and 40cm deep evenly throughout the length of the pipe.
These ditches weredug by the learning group participants as their contribution in kind to the process.
A header tank with a ball valve (in this case a 2200L tank with a drinking-trough ball valve) is placed,
ideally at the group’s highesthomestead. For this group, however, it was placed at Phumelele
Hlongwane’s homestead as she was the leader of the group and prepared to do the daily opening and
closing of taps to provide water to the rest of the learning group members.
Figure 19: Left to right: Group members digging the ditch from the spring to the header tank. The header
tank at Phumelele Hlongwane’s homestead which was not installed on a level platform and has
subsequently been corrected. Initial rough layout drawing of the flow of the water to participants’
Once it was ascertained that the water actually flowedinto the header tank, the time taken to fill itwas
carefully recorded over a few days. In this way, the water flow and overall capacity ofthe springwas
determined. This was then used to work out the daily water allocation for each of the nineparticipants.
As at November 2019, due to dry conditions in the area and low flow of the spring(2 200 Lin seven
hours, thus ~300L/hr), participants wereallocated 200L drums with ball valves. These can be filled
twice a dayonce in the morning and once in the late afternoon.
1.1.3.Initial comments after installation
Summary of observations:
Water was being decanted from the 2200 L headertank straight into participants200L drums
before the tank was full.
The water was somewhatmuddy due to the damage caused in the offtake trench by cattle.
The water was running very slowly, which wasdisappointing for the participants who were
hoping for more water.
Participants suggested making the small pond/dam bigger. It was explained that this would not
increase the flowrate of the spring.
One participant also suggested closing up the whole spring to get more water. It was stressed
that the spring was communal and that removing access entirely was likely to cause conflict in
the community. Participants also mentioned an old community belief that when you completely
close a spring, then the “water owner/spirit” will it dry up and moveit to another place.
| Erna Kruger
The facilitation teamstressedby that this was an experiment in working together and taking
responsibility for management of a local resource. There was noprecedent. This meant that they would
need very clear agreements and trustthat everyone would to stick to the rules that they made. If only
one person reneged, or tried to take more water than their allocation, or lefttheir tap open, it would
mean that none of the other participants wouldget water. This would quickly escalate into major conflict
among the participants. Thus, was important to commit entirely to the process at the beginning.
The following rules were subsequently agreed to:
The header tank needs to be left to fill up. Then the tap will be opened and the 200L drums for
each household will fill up.
Once the top household’s 200L drum is full, the tap for the header tank is again closedso
that it can fill up again.
No-one can use water while their drum or tank is filling up. You need to wait until it is full,and
the main tap is closed.
Each person can receive 2 x 200L in one dayso, for example, at 8am in the morning and
again eight hours later at 4pm.
The header tank will be left to fill up and remain full overnight, so as not to draw too much water
from the spring.
Phumelele Hlongwane will have access to 3 x200L drumsmore water than the other
participants. (This agreement wasmade because she is responsible for checking the header
tank and opening and closing the main tap twice a day. She also provided a greater initial
financial contribution).
1.1.4.Phase 2: Laying pipes and installing drums for each participating household
Thereafter, a discussion was held about where the ditches would go for the pipes to peoples’
households. It was agreed that the main feeder pipe would be dug along the small road to Phumelele’s
house, that people would take their pipes off this line, and that the pipes would go through a few of the
participants’ fields.It was agreed that Landiwe’s main homestead, but not the second,could be included
in the system, and that no more participants would be includedthose whohad not yet paid would be
removed from the list.
GPS coordinates were taken for each participating household using “Maveric” (a free cell phone App)
and then plotted on a map using Google Earth. From this map, heights and distances could be
determined and thereby who could receive gravity-fed water from the header tank and how much piping
would be required.
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Figure 20: Creating a Google Earth map from GPS coordinates using cell phones is not very accurate,
so a correction was made. The blue line indicates the main feederpipe to participants’ homesteads
running along the small road to Phumelele Hlongwane’s homestead.
1.1.5.The header tank and reticulation to the households
The learning group constructed a level plinth for the header tank after it
collapsed in a storm due to the initial, less secure arrangement of cement
bricks and a pallet. This was an important lesson for thegroup where an
attempt to save money and effort led to this unfortunate event. The group
shouldered the setback well and collaborated to construct the more
secure plinth.
Figure 21(Right): Plinth for the 2200 L header tank
They then dug the ditches for the pipes leading to their households
according to the discussion and map provided for them and with
assistance from MDF field staff. Each household procured the 200L drum
required. This was done within a week, after which the agricultural
engineerassisted in laying the procured piping and installing the
necessary connections and float valves in the drums.
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Figure 22: Left to right: Laying the piping along the edges of the fields. Pipe branches towards the
different homesteads. Fitting the inlet pipes to the 200L drums. Installation ofa float valve in each drum.
The group also agreed not to have taps installed in the drums, but to take water from the top of the
drums. The system began operatingafter a few false starts when participants tried to take water before
the drums were full and the tap at the header tank had been shut off.Participants eventually came to
understand that none of their drums would fill up unless everyone waiteduntil they were all full and the
main tap had beenclosed. This is a requirement due to the low flow of the spring and the gravity-feed
1.1.6.In conclusion
Five months after installation, the project was still functioningwell and all nine householdswere
receiving their allocations of water. Some maintenance had been done to leaking connections and float
valves. All members were very happy with easier access to water for household and gardening
purposes and felt that this scheme would really come into its own in the winter of 2020. Phumelele
Hlongwane found that managing the header tank was not too problematic or time-consuming and was
very relieved that the process was running so well.
Figure 23: Left: The Gumede family’s drum with waterfive months into the scheme’s management. Centre: Mr Nkabinde’s
drum. Right: Phumelele’s three drums.
This has been an extremely valuable process for building socialagency in the learning group as well
as for systemic and systematic learning for all the group members. They had to grapple with both the
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understanding of the technical aspects as well as the social process that they had to put in place and
adhere to.
The whole group was involved throughout, and learning took place through discussions, provision of
information, working with the mapping and layout aspects, and practical work. A lot of the learning
happened through trial and error, as participants started changing their perceptions and understanding.
Some of the technical aspects that participants needed to experience before fully appreciating them
That increasing the size of the small dam for thespringwouldnot increase the amount of
available water which wasprimarily dependent on the strength of the spring.
That the underground water flow into the slotted pipe was just as strong or stronger than water
flowing in a ditch above the ground.
That the main pipe taking waterfrom the spring to the header tank neededto be onan even
gradient even though the header tank was situated well below the level of the spring. The initial
ditch thatwas dug by participants did not adhere to this principle and water did not reach the
header tank. This had to do with the broken terrain, the formationof air bubbles in the pipes
and the weakflow of the spring itself.
That households above the header tank were unable to receive water from this gravity-fed
system and that estimating the level of the household compared to the tank did notwork well
this is something that needs to be measured, and was done with GPS coordinates and Google
Earth maps in a participatory fashion.
That the header tank must be ona secure and level plinth due to the weight of the water in the
That a gravity-fed system fills up the drums from the bottom of the slope first.
That the filling of the household drums was dependent on everyone not using water until all the
drums were full and the main tap onthe header tank had beenclosed.
In terms of the social aspects, participants initially believed it would be easy for them to manage the
water use,but they very quickly realised that it was very important to have upfront and strict rules to
ensure that everyone received the same allocation of water. This was adeeply empowering process
for learning group participants.
More recently;;;;;
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