BUILDING SOCIAL AGENCY AND LOCAL CAPACITY FOR SUSTAINABLE
AND EQUITABLE COMMUNITY RESOURCE MANAGEMENT:
A framework for co-learning, adaptive planning, and participatory mapping
of land uses and ecosystem services
Final Report
to the Water Research Commission
by
Henriksson R1, Toucher M2, Kruger E3, Doarsamy S2, Malinga M2,3, Ngwenya M1,
Dunyana P4, Madondo NT3, Hlongwane H3, Buthelezi L3and Mbokazi N3.
1Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Agric Campus,
Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg
2South African Environmental Observation Network, Queen Elizabeth Park, Pietermaritzburg
3Mahlathini Development Foundation, 2 Forresters Lane, Pietermaritzburg
4Department of Environmental Sciences,Rhodes University, Grahamstown
Project No. C2019/2020-00150
December2023
Obtainable from
Water Research Commission
Private Bag X03
Gezina, 0031
orders@wrc.org.za or download from www.wrc.org.za
The publication of this report emanates from a project entitled Towards sustainable and equitable management of water resources:
Understanding the interlinkages between water, ecosystems and society through spatial mapping of ecosystem services and livelihood
benefits (WRC Project No.C2019/2020-00150)
DISCLAIMER
This report has been reviewed by the Water Research Commission (WRC) and approved for publication. Approval does not
signify that the contents necessarily reflect the views and policies of the WRC, nor does mention of trade names or commercial
products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
BACKGROUND
Smallholder communities in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountain, KwaZulu-Natal, depend on the natural resource base of their
lands to sustain agriculture, water resources and ecosystem services for their livelihoods and well-being. Climate change, poverty and
degraded landscapes call for urgent need to implement sustainable management strategies for securing these resources. Conventional
approaches to natural resource management have typically involved technical and top-down strategies, which are rarely successful
due to the varying and contextual nature of resource dependent rural communities. The context-specifics in such communities include
historical, institutional, and social-cultural settings, which shape the land management decisions made by community members and
leaders. Increasingly, it has been suggested that increased participation by community members, integration of knowledge systems
and co-design of resource management planspositively influence the implementation and long-lasting impacts of natural resource
management strategies.
This project took place in two agricultural communities, Costone and Ezibomvini, located in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Mountains,
downstream from a protected area that encompasses transboundary national parks, game reserves, wilderness areas, and includes
declaration of both Ramsar wetland importance and UNESCO World Heritage Site. These areas are home to rich biodiversity of
endemic and threatened species and habitats, and also host long-term research on water, grassland management, soil conservation,
and fire regime research. Further, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg is a key water source areas in South Africa, and provides water to
Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. It is of national priority to manage and protect this water source to sustain supply to the end users, which
does not include the residents of the rural villages within these water source areas. Due to a lack of resources and other factors, these
communities have received little to no support related to water services in their villages, relying instead on very old infrastructure (pre-
1994) and undeveloped water sources (springs and small streams) for their household water needs. There has been no focus on
agricultural and landscape-based water resource management despite the area being severely impacted by erosion and low
productivity of croplands and grazing areas. Climate change mitigation and adaptation processes have been limited to training and
awareness within municipal structures,to enable development of environmental management plans.This projectbrings together
experts from various scientific disciplines (hydrology, ecology, sustainability science, environmental sciences, agricultural engineering
and social sciences), community development practitioners and local communities, using a transdisciplinary, participatory approach in
order to
1) Enhance the knowledge base towards a shared understanding of the natural resource base, climate variability, community needs
and priorities, and governance decision-making and power dynamics, and
2) co-learn for stimulating action, building social agency and improved decision-making and governance outcomes.
AIMS
The following were the aims of the project:
1.To assess and quantify changes in rainfall patterns and water quantity over time to inform communities’ decision-making.
2.To develop a transdisciplinary social-ecological GIS support tool for decision-makingand management of water and natural
resources and link land uses with ecosystem services and livelihoods.
3.To survey ecosystem health and functioning including biodiversity of community land based on the needs of the communities
for their ecosystem services and livelihoods.
4.To improve the understanding of local decision-making and resource useand management and identify the social-cultural
factors that influence decisions.
5.To design and test a framework for supporting innovation and decision-makingfor sustainable resource use management
and improved livelihood opportunities.
METHODOLOGY
A transdisciplinary mixed-method approach was employed, with the methods being applied in an integratedanditerative manner
across the five aims. The integrative science-action approach involved methods such as historical and current monitoring of climatic
and hydrological observations, hydrological modelling, landscape mapping, veld assessment, citizen science water quality tests,
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participatory mapping workshops, village walks, co-learning workshops, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, participant
observations and facilitated management plan development. These methods were occurring in parallel with various community-led
activities for spring protection, water reticulation, grazing management, erosion regulation and restoration, river clean-up and alien
clearing.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The changes in rainfall patterns and water quantity was assessed and quantified over time to inform communities’ decision-making
(Aim 1). The temperatures in the area are higher than in the past, with 2019 and 2015 being the hottest years. The rainfall is highly
variable, which results in variable streamflow from the catchments. 2018/2019 had the lowest rainfall and lowest streamflow on record.
A drought period stretched from 2013 until 2020,followed by an unusually wet period, with the summer of 2022 being much wetter
than average.
A transdisciplinary social-ecologicalGIS support tool was developed for decision making and management of water and natural
resources, and locally defined land uses were linked with ecosystem services and livelihoods (Aim 2). The communities have a rich
and detailed understanding of their landscape and describe a diverse utilization of, and appreciation for, the various land uses and
their benefits. A wide variety of ecosystem services are associated with specific land uses and places in the landscape, although many
of the ecosystem services were perceived as declined by the participants. A series of map layers were produced for each of the
communities, with spatial information about the community landscapes, co-generated between the project team and the communities.
The map reading literacy and ability to interpret spatial information was significantly improved during the course of the project, which
enables the communities to use the printed maps for continued decisions of community resources and management strategies.
Ecosystem health and functioning of community land, including biodiversity was surveyed based on the needs of the communitiesfor
their ecosystem services and livelihoods (Aim 3). The communal rangelands in both villages are moderately degraded and dominated
by grass species with an average palatability and low grazing value. The degradation linked to the overgrazing is the severe erosion
evident in both villages. Large gullies have formed in areas related to cattle paths and subsequent water movement down these cattle
paths.
The understanding of local decision-making and resource use and management was improved, and social-cultural factors that
influence decisions were identified (Aim 4). Overall, decision-making processes in thesecommunitiesinvolve a combination of
collective discussions among some selected groups of community members, individual autonomy in certain areas, and the involvement
of the local chief and councillor in resolving disputes and managing resources. While there is a focus on community participation and
preserving natural resources, there are also challenges and tensions in the relationship between the community and certain
governance structures. The concept of ownership has emerged, where individuals claim resources such as land, water sources, and
treesas their own. Thus, public access to resources has diminished.
A framework for supporting innovation and decision making for sustainable resource usemanagement and improved livelihood
opportunities designed and tested (Aim 5). Co-learning between the project team and community participants about the climate, the
environment, and the communities’ needs, priorities and decision-making structures enabled the development of participatory
community resources management plans that are community-led and expert guided. The process particularly empowered the Costone
community to plan, innovate and take action towards management of their resources and to build social agency. Ezibomvini did not
see the same rate of success and require more support. Community resources innovations were co-developed between community
participants and the project team. An engineer assisted with co-designing an innovation for spring protection and reticulation in
Costone. Along with the efforts of a youth group, the “EcoChamps”, community members in Costone initiated a number of restoration
actions derived from the community resources management plans. Such actions include grazing management alterations, alien
clearing, river cleaning and erosion control activities using check dams with stone and brush packs and planting on bare soil.
CONCLUSIONS
These findings and outcomes were co-developed, discussed and reflected on in a series of engagements, co-learning workshops and
cross-visits in the communities. This project highlight the importance in creating a shared understanding of the communities’ resource
base between scientists, practitioners and community members, the communities’ dependency and management of their landscape,
governance and decision-making structures and mechanisms for social learning, generation of agency and action, and assuringlong-
lasting and fair impact. This project has led to improved governance within the communities by establishing new community-based
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structures and improved rules and logistics within these structures. Enhanced participatory decision making generated throughthis
project has supported sustainable and fair implementation and innovation, and ensured coherent collaboration within the communities,
and with other stakeholders and collaborating partners.
This project contributes with new knowledge and enhanced understanding of the mechanisms and processes required to stimulate
action, build social agency and improve decision-making for sustainable and equitable management of communityresources.Lessons
learnt from this project include 1) the importance of genuine, caring and intentional presence in the community for building trust, 2)
experienced and skilled facilitation,continuously within and outside of structured workshops, as well as, 3) the significance of livelihood
support for participants to enable effective, collective engagement in broader community matters. These aspects of transdisciplinary
science-action research requires funding support for longer term engagement, significant funds for meaningful facilitation ofcommunity
engagements, and largerproportions offunds thatdirectly benefit communities to support their livelihoods. The learnings from this
project can be used to inform the design, implementation and funding of similarly aimed projects and programs.
Although there is evidence that both social and environmental shifts towards sustainability and equity have occurred in both
communities during the duration of the project,the communities require continued, long-term support to remain within this positive
trajectory. Further research is recommended to assess and analyse the mechanisms and factors contributing to successful mobilization
of agency and action that was initiated in this project, and what is required to assure long-lasting and fair impact.
RECOMMENDATIONS
Sustainable management of water and natural resources is a complex and context dependent issue and needs to be
addressed with co-created knowledge from scientific experts, facilitation practitioners and community members jointly
Restoration activities in these communities are urgently required to address the erosion linked to overgrazing and to, at a
minimum, slow the rate of erosion with the intention ultimately to restore the landscape
Rangeland management requires an integrated approach including well informed and controlled fire management strategies
with resting periods and controlled grazing to avoid further degradation and loss of productivity
Mapping and assessment of landscape resources requires a participatory approach to build a shared understanding ofthe
landscape’s capacity, use and benefits including ecosystem services
Enhanced understanding of climate patterns, ecosystem health and functioning, and consequences of management
practices enables better-informed and climate-resilient community resource decisions
Enhanced understanding about the community governance structures, decision-making processes, and community needs
and priorities enables betterguidance from project experts towards equitable and sustainable management of natural and
water resources
Addressing power imbalances and promoting transparency, accountability, and meaningful participation are essential for
equitable and sustainable managementof natural and water resources
Co-learning processes involves experienced and skilled facilitation, continuously within and outside of structured workshops
A carefully designed, expert guided and community led co-development ofadaptivecommunity resources management
plans enables social agency, stimulates action, and improves decision-making and governance outcomes
Collaboration with mandated government structures providing communities with an innovationplatform for trying out and
integrating locally relevant ideas have the potential for long-lasting impact
Supportingparticipants’ livelihoodsopportunitiesprior to, orin parallel with, community engagement activities enables
collaborative commitment and engagement that is not hindered by individual poverty struggles
Building trust throughgenuine, caring and intentional presence in the community is essential to stimulate commitment and
collaboration between the project team and community participants
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The project team wishes to thank the following people for their contributions to the project.
Reference Group
Affiliation
Sheona Shackleton
University of Cape Town
Dominic Mazvimavi
University of the Western Cape
Jessica Cockburn
Rhodes University
Julia Glenday
SAEON
Patrick O’Farrell
Independent researcher associated with ACDI, UCT
Matthew Weaver
Rhodes University
Bukho Gusha
University of Limpopo
Nancy Job
SANBI
Lutendo Mugwedi
Venda University
Jon McCosh
Institute of Natural Resources
Others
Community members
Ezibomvini
Community members
Costone
Brigid Letty
Institute of Natural Resources
Kathleen Smart
EFTEON, SAEON
Ndoza Hlongwane
Ezibomvini
Lucky
Ezibomvini
EcoChamps
Costone, Ezibomvini
Phumelele Hlongwane
Ezibomvini
Nelisiwe Msele
Costone
Khulekani Dladla
Costone
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CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY......................................................................................................................................... 1
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS........................................................................................................................................ 4
CONTENTS.......................................................................................................................................................... 5
LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................................................. 7
LIST OF TABLES.................................................................................................................................................. 9
ACRONYMS & ABBREVIATIONS...........................................................................................................................10
CHAPTER 1:INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND..........................................................................................11
1.1INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................11
1.2LOCAL CONTEXT TO THE STUDY AREA....................................................................................................11
1.3CONNECTION TO EXISTING PROJECTS....................................................................................................12
1.4METHODOLOGICAL AND CONCEPTUAL APPROACH...................................................................................13
1.5PROJECT AIMS......................................................................................................................................14
PART I: ENHANCING THE KNOWLEDGE BASE TOWARDS A SHARED UNDERSTANDING............................................15
CHAPTER 2:ASSESSMENT OF RAINFALL AND WATER QUANTITY PATTERNS OVER TIME................................. 15
2.1INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................15
2.2TEMPERATURE PATTERNS.....................................................................................................................15
2.3PRECIPITATION PATTERNS.....................................................................................................................18
2.4STREAMFLOW PATTERNS.......................................................................................................................21
2.5IN SUMMARY.........................................................................................................................................22
CHAPTER 3:MAPPING OF ECOSYSTEM HEALTH AND FUNCTIONING...............................................................24
3.1INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................24
3.2METHODOLOGY.....................................................................................................................................24
3.2.1Mapping Methods.......................................................................................................................24
3.2.2Veld Assessment Methods...........................................................................................................24
3.2.3Citizen science water quality tests..................................................................................................27
3.3EZIBOMVINI VILLAGE..............................................................................................................................28
3.3.1Ezibomvini village landscape features.............................................................................................29
3.3.2Veld Condition Assessment results for Ezibomvini village....................................................................31
3.3.3Citizen science water quality test results for Ezibomvini.......................................................................32
3.4COSTONE VILLAGE................................................................................................................................. 34
3.4.1Costone village landscape features................................................................................................34
3.4.2Veld Condition Assessment results for Costone village........................................................................37
3.4.3Citizen science water quality test results for Costone village................................................................. 38
3.5CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS................................................................................................39
CHAPTER 4:PARTICIPATORY MAPPING OF LAND USE AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES........................................42
4.1INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................42
4.2METHODS.............................................................................................................................................42
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4.2.1Participatory mapping workshops...................................................................................................42
4.2.2Village walks.............................................................................................................................43
4.2.3Co-learning workshops................................................................................................................44
4.3LOCALLY DEFINED LAND USES AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES.....................................................................44
CHAPTER 5:GOVERNANCE, DECISION-MAKING, POWER AND ACCESS...........................................................48
5.1INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................48
5.2TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA.........................................................................................48
5.2.1Traditional leadership, in summary................................................................................................. 49
5.3METHODS TO EXPLORE GOVERNANCE, DECISION-MAKING, POWER AND ACCESS.......................................50
5.4GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES AND DECISION-MAKING IN COSTONE AND EZIBOMVINI...................................50
5.4.1Contested perceptions of resource access.......................................................................................51
5.4.2Power dynamics within water governance, management, access and collaboration...................................52
5.5BUILDING TRUST, SOCIAL AGENCY AND LOCAL CAPACITY.........................................................................52
PART II: CO-LEARNING FOR SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF COMMUNITY RESOURCES........................................54
CHAPTER 6:A TRANSDISCIPLINARY SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL GIS SUPPORT TOOL.............................................54
6.1COMMUNITY MAPS................................................................................................................................. 54
CHAPTER 7:COMMUNITY RESOURCES MANAGEMENT PLANS.......................................................................60
7.1INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................60
7.2METHODS.............................................................................................................................................60
7.3SUMMARY OF COMMUNITY RESOURCES MANAGEMENT PLANS................................................................. 61
CHAPTER 8:CO-DESIGNED INNOVATIONS AND ACTIONS..............................................................................64
8.1INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................64
8.1.1EcoChamps..............................................................................................................................64
8.2COSTONE SPRING PROTECTION AND RETICULATION SCHEME..................................................................65
8.3ALIEN CLEARING AND RESTORATION.......................................................................................................66
8.3.1Activities by the EcoChamps.........................................................................................................66
8.3.2Community led implementation of resource management plans............................................................67
8.3.3Community resources managementreviewand planning sessions........................................................68
8.3.4Community cross-learning: Community level resource conservation activities...........................................69
8.4MULTI-STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENTS.....................................................................................................71
CHAPTER 9:DECISION SUPPORT FRAMEWORK............................................................................................73
9.1INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................................73
9.2DECISION SUPPORT FRAMEWORK...........................................................................................................74
CHAPTER 10:SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS..........................................76
10.1SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS.....................................................................................76
10.2RECOMMENDATIONS..............................................................................................................................78
REFERENCES....................................................................................................................................................79
APPENDIX 1 COMMUNITY RESOURCES MANAGEMENT PLANS............................................................................82
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APPENDIX 2 - POLICY BRIEF...............................................................................................................................86
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1-1 Conceptual framework: coupled water-ecosystem-society systems assessment.......................................13
Figure 1-2 Overview of the report structure.....................................................................................................14
Figure 2-1Annual mean temperature anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station.........................................16
Figure 2-2Monthly mean temperature anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station.......................................16
Figure 2-3Number of heat waves recorded at the Mike’s Pass meteorological station..............................................17
Figure 2-4Maize showing heat stress inMrs CH’s CA plot (above) andMaize and cover crops looking vibrantwith good
canopy cover in Mrs PH’s field (below). Note: The pictures were taken on the same day and fields are in very close proximity......18
Figure 2-5Annual (hydrological years) rainfall anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station.............................19
Figure 2-6Annual (hydrological years) rainfall anomaly forthe Mike’s Pass meteorological station for the full period 1949
2021 using a combination of in-situ gauged data and infilled data....................................................................................20
Figure 2-7Monthly rainfall anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station.......................................................20
Figure 2-8Annual (hydrological years) streamflow anomaly for Catchment VI, Cathedral Peak..................................21
Figure 2-9Monthly streamflow anomaly for Catchment VI, Cathedral Peak............................................................22
Figure 2-10Number of rainfall events greater than 20 mm recorded at the Mike’s Pass meteorological station................23
Figure 3-1 Images showing the use of the Disc Pasture Meter (DPM), quadrat and 100m line transect. Features to note on
the photo on the right, signs of selective grazing and low sward height.............................................................................27
Figure 3-2 Image showing the colour change of the water in the tube if E. coli(left) is present and if coliforms (right) are
present...........................................................................................................................................28
Figure 3-3 Ezibomvini village boundary with the streams, wetlands and springs and locations of E. colitests, as well as the
known points of water extraction and use..................................................................................................................28
Figure 3-4 A Poplar stand growing within the wetland area adjacent to a stream (left) and an example of the gully erosion in
the catchment areas (right).....................................................................................................................................29
Figure 3-5 A wetland area where clay has been harvested from to be made into bricks............................................29
Figure 3-6Eroded areas in the Ezibomvini village............................................................................................30
Figure 3-7 Images of erosion within the Ezibomvini village.................................................................................30
Figure 3-8 Woody invasion in the upper areas of the Ezibomvini village................................................................31
Figure 3-9The comparison of aerial cover of grass species, forbs, bare soil and the basal cover of grass species..........32
Figure 3-10 Results from the E. colitesting. A green colour indicates the sample is positivefor E. coli, a yellow sample indicates
Coliforms Bacteria. The locations the samples were taken from are indicated on Figure 3-3..................................................33
Figure 3-11 Costone Village boundary with rivers, springs and points of waterextraction shown as well as locations of sampling
for E. coli..............................................................................................................................................34
Figure 3-12 Lower portion of Costone Village with rivers, springs and points of water extraction shown as well as locations of
sampling for E. coli, erosion areas and invasive species...............................................................................................35
Figure 3-13 Lower portion of Costone Village with rivers, springs and points of water extraction shown as well as locations of
sampling for E. coli, erosion areas and invasive species...............................................................................................36
Figure 3-14 Erosion downstream of the eye of the first spring (Spring A)................................................................. 36
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Figure 3-15 Images showing the erosion and presence of wattle near the third spring (Spring B)................................. 37
Figure 3-16 The comparison of aerial cover of grass species, forbs, bare soil and the basal cover of grass species..........38
Figure 3-17 E. colisamples taken from the three springs on the edges of the wetland (C E) on two different dates and at the
flow exit (F). A green colour indicates the sample is positive for E. coli, a yellow sample indicates Coliforms Bacteria.................38
Figure 3-18 E. colisamples taken from springs in the high lying areas in October 2021. A green colour indicates the sample is
positive for E. coli, a yellow sample indicates Coliforms Bacteria.....................................................................................38
Figure 4-1 Participants of participatory mapping workshops in Costone (left) and Ezibomvini (right)............................43
Figure 4-2 Participants describing significant places and ecosystem services during village walks in Costone and Ezibomvini
..............................................................................................................................................43
Figure 4-3 Map of important land uses, landscape features and ecosystem services identified by community membersthrough
a series of participatory GIS exercises in Costone.......................................................................................................46
Figure 4-4 Map of important land uses, landscape features and ecosystem services identified by community membersthrough
a series of participatory GIS exercises in Ezibomvini....................................................................................................47
Figure 6-1 Team members outline the different maps for the community in Costone (left). In Ezibomvini community members
looking through and discussing the various layers of the maps (right)...............................................................................54
Figure 6-2 Four layers of maps over Costone to be printed, laminated and delivered to the community........................56
Figure 6-3 Five layers of maps over Ezibomvini to be printed, laminated and delivered to the community.....................59
Figure 8-1 EcoChamps from Ezibomvini and Costone These activities include riverecology, E. colitesting, alien clearing,
building check dams, brush packs, planting on bare lands, spring protection and other ad hoc work in the communities..............64
Figure 8-2 Preparation and construction of spring protection and reticulation in Costone..........................................66
Figure 8-3 Wattle clearing, brush packing and planting of grass for erosion control in Costone..................................66
Figure 8-4 Costone. a: Grazing management (moving gate and fixingfence line of grazing camp), b-c: erosion control
(community members constructing check dams and stone packs), d: river cleaning (A group of women spent a day collecting waste
that was discarded in water courses in the community)................................................................................................. 67
Figure 8-5 Community members and EcoChamps working together on wattle clearing in one of thelarger streams in Costone.
The stumps of felled wattle trees have been treated with herbicide to stop regrowth............................................................68
Figure 8-6Ezibomvini cross-visit, with group discussing alien clearing at one of the riverine sites in Costone, gulley
reclamation at the stone packs above the dip tank and having a focus group discussion to talk through implementation strategies and
plans..............................................................................................................................................70
Figure 8-7 Community littler clean up days in different sections ofthe village and removalofthis waste by the Municipalwaste
removal truck..............................................................................................................................................71
Figure 8-8 A stakeholder visit to the donga rehabilitation and re-grassing site in Costone, a visit to the spring based water
supply system and a farmer explains the climate smart food security system.....................................................................72
Figure 9-1 Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA) learning groups and relationship building with local and external stakeholders
..............................................................................................................................................73
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LIST OF TABLES
Table 3-1 The dominant grasses for each vegetation type according to Mucina and Rutherford (2006).......................25
Table 3-2 Veld condition evaluated according to ecological score.......................................................................26
Table 3-3 Botanical name, ecological status, perenniality, grazing value and composition score of grass species at
Ezibomvini communal rangeland.............................................................................................................................32
Table 3-4 Results of the citizen science E. coliwater testing at the protected and unprotected springs used by the village and
the header tank for the village water scheme..............................................................................................................33
Table 3-5 Botanical name, ecological status, perenniality, grazing value and composition score of grass species at Costone
communal rangeland............................................................................................................................................37
Table 3-6 Results of the citizen science E. coliwater testing at the protected and unprotected springs used by the village and
at the outlet of the wetland.....................................................................................................................................39
Table 3-7 Results of the Umgeni Water laboratory testing of the samples from the protected and unprotected springs in
Costone..............................................................................................................................................39
Table 7-1 Summary of the community resources management plans in Costone and Ezibomvini, combined................62
Table 9-1 Decision support framework developed based on the learnings from this project......................................75
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ACRONYMS & ABBREVIATIONS
African ResearchUniversities AssociationWater Centre of Excellence
Conservation Agriculture
Catchment Management Agency
Cathedral Peak Nature Reserve
Climate Resilient Agriculture
Centre for Water Resources Research
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
Department of Agriculture
Department of Social Development
Department of Water and Sanitation
Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network
Institute of Natural Resources
Integrated Water Resources Management
KwaZulu-NatalDepartment of Agriculture and Rural Development
Locally Led Adaptation
The Northern Drakensberg Collaborative
Mahlathini DevelopmentFoundation
National Water Act
Okhahlamba Local Municipality
South African Environmental Observation Network
South African National Biodiversity Institute
South African Weather Services
Traditional Authority/ies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
The uThukela District Municipality
Veld Condition Assessments
Water Research Commission
Water Resource Management
Water Services Act
Water Service Provider
Water User Association
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CHAPTER 1:INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
1.1INTRODUCTION
Sustainable land management forwater,food and ecosystem services is crucial, and particularly challenging, in degraded, water
scarce and natural resources dependent communities, such as the agricultural villages in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal. These
communities are often disproportionately impacted by socio-economic hardships, as well as climate variability and weather-related
hazards. Such communities have evolved to deal with environmental and socio-economic disturbances that have shaped livelihood
strategies over generations (Ostrom 1990). Despite decades of initiatives to improve livelihoods and long-term sustainability of different
rural and indigenous communities globally, the successes of implementation are disparate and seemingly highly context-dependent.
Scholars have setout to investigate success factors in the implementation of these innovations. Increased participation by stakeholders
and community members, co-management and integration of knowledge systems have been suggested to positively impact the
implementation of natural resource management strategies (Reed et al., 2009, Tengö et al., 2014). It has been found that factors such
as power imbalances, poor income distribution and gender inequities, as well as external and internal disturbances undermine
sustainability, and thus, impede the potential of successful outcomes of community-basednatural resource management strategies
(Delgado-Serrano et al., 2018). Repeated evidence that the success of such innovations are greatly context-dependent, suggests that
there is a gap in the understanding of how the factors that make these smallholder communities contextually different influences the
land management decisions. These communities are largely characterized by their cultural and historical legacies that shape human-
nature relationships within specific cultural and institutional contexts, which in turn influence collaboration around these resources
(Cockburn et al., 2020). Accounting for the diversity of social-culturalvalues, attitudes and understanding of human-nature relationships
increases the context-sensitivity in decision-makingprocesses such as land and natural resource management, but is often overlooked
in both science and policy (Muhar et al., 2018). Motivations behind decisions are rooted in different social-cultural concepts such as
worldviews, collective traditions and experiences,beliefs andvalues, and play out both in individual and collective decision-making
processes. While conventional approaches to natural resource management have taken on technical problem solving processes, many
scholars have recently argued that when drawing on theories and methods from social sciences, the human dimensions of natural
resource management and environmental conservation can be better understood (Charnley et al., 2017). Decisions on natural
resources are linked to the property regime of the land being managed and are commonly categorized into four basic regimes: open
access, private property, communal property and state property (Feeny et al., 1990). This categorization is useful for theoretical
analysis but reality is often more complex with combinations of these regimes; overlapping or conflicting. Communal property, or
common-property, is usuallythe dominant property regime of smallholder communities such as those in focus in this project. Common-
property regimes are however often not equitable and sustainable in practice. In the South African context, traditional authorities were
established post-Apartheidto govern the communities’ land and natural resources. Rapid socio-economic and political change has led
to inequitable power structures in communities, where powerful actors have an advantage over the impoverished and women
(Benjaminsen et al., 2006, Cousins, 2009). The combination of traditional authority over communal land, and national legislation and
policy adds further complexity to the issues of decision-makingof natural resources.Unpacking the community resources governance
as well as the multifaceted dynamics between individual and collective decisions around these resources is thus crucialtowards equity,
long-term sustainability and resilience incommunal landmanagement.
1.2LOCAL CONTEXT TO THE STUDY AREA
The uKhahlamba Drakensberg mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, is a protected area that encompasses transboundary national parks, game
reserves, wilderness areas, and includes declaration of both Ramsar wetland importance and UNESCO World Heritage Site. These
areas are home to rich biodiversity of endemic and threatened species and habitats, and also host long-term research on grassland
management, soil conservation, and fire regime research. There are distinct fence line effects between the protected areas and the
nearby communities,but the dynamics between the two sides of the fence in terms of benefits or threats, are not scientifically explored.
Further, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg is a key water source area in South Africa, and provides water to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
It is of national priority to manage and protect this water source to sustain supply to the end users. Within the uKhahlamba Drakensberg
are the long-term Cathedral Peak research catchments where extensive, interdisciplinary monitoring and observation is ongoing
focused on the impacts of global environmental change, water, carbon, biodiversity and energy. Research has shown the rainfall in
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the Cathedral Peak catchments to be declining, with greater declines evident in the streamflow. Changes have been shown in the fire
regime overtime as well. Beyond this, the research in the catchments is improving our understanding of hydrological processes. The
knowledge that has been generated about the hydrology/hydro-meteorology of Cathedral Peak nature reserve (CPNR) has benefited
the management of the reserve, regional and national water planning but has not been of direct benefit to the impoverished,water
insecure communitydownstream of the reserve who have a fundamental right to access the resource. These communities, whose
livelihoods largely depend on natural resources and the land they are managing, receive only small pockets of ad hoc support from
provincial Government Departments such asKwaZulu-NatalDepartment of Agriculture andRural Development(KZNDARD) and
Department of Social Development(DSD) and civil society organizations. The UThukela District Municipality (UTDM) (11 326.12 sq
km in extent and has a population of approximately 724 000 people) oversees and coordinates social and economic development as
well as waterandhealth services for the three localmunicipalities under its jurisdiction (Okhahlamba, Alfred Duma and Inkosi
Langalibalelelocal municipalities). Due to lack of resources and other factors, the communities in this area have received little to no
support related to water services in their villages, relying instead on very old infrastructure (pre-1994) and undeveloped water sources
(springs and small streams) for their household water needs. There is no focus at all on agricultural and landscape-based water
resource management. Climate change mitigation and adaptation processes have been limited to training and awareness within
municipal structures, to enable development of environmental management plans. Could the research and monitoring in the CPNR be
of direct benefit and be used in the communities decision-makingto lessen their water insecurity? Further, could an understanding of
the multiple benefits of high quality water result in opportunities where the community could be compensated for ensuring that the
quality of the water does not significantly decline as it moves downstream? Research into the dynamic interrelationships between and
within the water-ecosystem-society domains will help explore answers to these questions.
Smallholder farmers in these communities rely heavily on their naturalresource base to support their non-commercial to semi-
commercial maize and livestock-based farming systems. Irrigation infrastructure isvirtually non-existent although some individualsuse
local sources for vegetable production at household level. Grazing management systems are managed by the traditional authorities
and for the most partis limited to setting annual dates for the cycles of livestock being moved into the mountain grazingareas (summer)
and being allowed back into the village confines(winter). Within thiscontext, it is imperative for the local communities to understand
and to start grappling with their resource management issues and to garner as much support for these processes as they can. Given
the very high levels of poverty in the area, these communities cannot be expected to implement these processes on their own, but
they can go a long way towards jointly setting their priorities of action and undertaking joint and collaborative activities within their
ambit of influence.
1.3CONNECTION TO EXISTING PROJECTS
MahlathiniDevelopmentFoundation (MDF) is a smallNGO workingin pro-poor agriculturalinnovation systems who have been
supporting smallholders in 20 villages (~550 direct participants, ~3000 beneficiaries) in the Okhahlamba Local Municipality. Local
understanding, planning and implementation of climate smart agroecological practices, linked to local value chains and economic
development can increase people’s adaptive capacity and resilience in the face of further change. To this end, MDF and their partners
have been working with two processes: i) Creating awareness and appropriate models for implementation of Conservation Agriculture
in conjunction with Grain SA in KwaZulu-Nataland the Eastern Cape(2013 -2019) and ii) Designing and implementation of a decision
support system for smallholder farmer in implementation of a locally appropriate basket of climate smart agriculture practices in
conjunction with the Water Research Commission(WRC)(2017-2020). The importance of also including broader natural resource and
water management concerns into these processes have already been noted and initial steps have been taken with the learning groups
involved to focus on these issues; primarily fodder flow and grazing management for livestock and access to and management of
water resourcesfor micro-scale irrigation. These processes have provided a strong entry point into these communities for the
exploration and adaptive planning related to integrated water resource management(IWRM)and ecosystem services that this project
undertakes.
This research builds on knowledge gained through severalprojects involving the lead and collaborating organizations, including the
Mahlathini led WRC funded project “Collaborative knowledge creation and mediation strategies for the dissemination of Water and soil
conservation practices and Climate Smart Agriculture in smallholder farming systems (K5/2719/4), and the project “Establishment of
a More Robust Observation Network to Improve Understanding of Global Change in the Sensitive and Critical Water Supply Area of
the Drakensberg” (K5/2236), led bythe Centre for Water Resources Research (CWRR), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) (Toucher
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et al., 2016). The research in this project further relates to other projects implemented through CWRR and the South African
Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), the Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network
(EFTEON), as well as outreach activities by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
The study area of this projectfalls within the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Thukela Catchment Living Catchment
Project under which collaboration and co-learning is taking place within a multi-stakeholder engagement process. Recently, the Institute
of Natural Resources (INR), MDF, and CWRR-UKZN have entered into a collaboration withWWF-SAto establish a Strategic Water
Source Partnership (SWSP) for the Northern Drakensberg withparticular focus on the upper uThukela. The Northern Drakensberg
Collaborative (NDC, formerly the Upper uThukela Catchment Partnership) will implement work related to climate resilience agriculture
and the control of alien invasive plants as well as supporting stakeholder engagement.Furthermore, UKZN, through the CWRR, forms
part of the African ResearchUniversities AssociationWater Centre of Excellence (ARUA Water CoE) along with several other South
African and African Universities. TheNDCincluding this project, hasbeen included in the Water CoE researchcollaborations as a
learning site in applying transdisciplinary social-ecological systems research into participatory water governance.
1.4METHODOLOGICAL AND CONCEPTUAL APPROACH
Scientific advancement in the field ofnatural resource management is increasingly being created using sustainability science, social-
ecological systems and resilience thinking approaches. Sustainability science is inherently transdisciplinary, and participatory multi-
method approaches are often required to address the complex human-nature interactions that occur within social-ecological systems
(Binder et al., 2013, Pacheco-Romero et al., 2020). Fundamental to the theory of social-ecological systems is the notion that feedback
between social and ecological systems are interdependent and interact at various spatial and temporal scales (Guerrero et al., 2018).
Although water forms part ofa social-ecological system, itsintegrating and fundamental characteristics calls for additionalemphasis
in water focused research and management. This project uses a novel conceptual framework where the water domain obtains explicit
attention within a social-ecological systems approach (Figure 1-1). This novel approach includes assessmentsof components therein,
and the feedbacks between, the coupled systems of water, ecosystems and society. This three-domain framework encompasses and
draws on concepts and methods from the dominating disciplines within each of the domains separately, as well as the interfaces
between the domains as follows: Water-Society: Sustainable management and use of water resources is the focus of IWRM, which
fundamentally draws on the scientific understanding of the process-based modelling and the dynamic interactions and feedbacks in
coupled human-water systems (socio-hydrology). Ecosystem-Water: There are also interlinkages between the hydrological processes
and the ecosystem functions (two-way dependencies), which is studied within the field of eco-hydrology. Ecosystem-Society: Societies
dependency on ecosystems for their well-being and livelihoods is commonly assessed through the concept of ecosystem services,
typically studied using a social-ecological systems theory.
Figure 1-1 Conceptual framework: coupled water-ecosystem-society systems assessment
The research conducted in this project includes assessmentof all the components: water resources and hydrological processes,
ecosystem functions and ecological processes, and people’s and societies’ resource use, management and dependence, as well as
cross-domain dynamics. This research hasobtaineda comprehensive understanding of not only the natural resource base, but also
the socio-economic benefits the communities obtain from natural resources such as water and ecosystems, within the communities
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and in the protected areas nearby. In addition, the social learning approachprovided for more informed decision-makingabout
appropriate adaptive measures to ameliorate negative impacts and synergise for positive re-enforcements in the social-ecological
system. This transdisciplinary research soughtto generate novel scientific knowledge to guide sustainable management of water
resources andpromote equitable development.
This project brings together experts from various scientific disciplines (hydrology,ecology, sustainability science, environmental
sciences, agricultural engineering and social sciences), community development practitioners and local communities, using a
transdisciplinary, participatory approach in order to 1) Enhance the knowledge base towards a shared understanding of the natural
resource base, climate variability, community needs and priorities, and governanceand power dynamics, and 2) co-learn for stimulating
action, building social agency and improve decision-making and governance outcomes.Figure1-2 provides an overview of how the
report is structured.
Figure 1-2 Overview of the report structure
1.5PROJECT AIMS
The following were the aims of the project:
1.To assess and quantify changes in rainfall patterns and water quantity over time to inform communities’ decision-making.
2.To develop a transdisciplinary social-ecological GIS support tool for decision-makingand management of water and natural
resources and link land uses with ecosystem services and livelihoods.
3.To survey ecosystem health and functioning including biodiversity of community land based on the needs of the communities
for their ecosystem services and livelihoods.
4.To improve the understanding of local decision-makingand resource use and management and identifythe social-cultural
factors that influence decisions.
5.To design and test a framework for supporting innovation and decision-makingfor sustainable resource use management
and improved livelihood opportunities.
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PART I: ENHANCING THE KNOWLEDGE BASE TOWARDS A SHARED
UNDERSTANDING
CHAPTER 2:ASSESSMENTOF RAINFALL AND WATER QUANTITY
PATTERNSOVERTIME
2.1INTRODUCTION
The first aim of thisproject was to assess and quantify changes in rainfall patterns and water quantity over time to inform communities’
decision-making. The outcome of this aim is a shared understanding of thecommunitywater resources (changes of water quality,
quantity, streamflow, recharge potential, sediment load). To achieve this aim, the hydroclimatological data from the Cathedral Peak
research catchments was assessed to determine any patterns and changes over time that have occurred.
The CathedralPeak Research catchments were established in 1945 for the purpose of investigating the influence ofland management
treatments on streamflow response. The catchments were highly influential in informing water policy in South Africa, particularly as it
relates to afforestation. In 1995 (and earlier at some stations), due to a lack of funding, monitoring ceased in the Cathedral Peak
catchments. Recognising the value of the historical data from the catchments for assessing long term change, the SAEON Grasslands-
Forests-Wetlands node became actively involved in the landscape in 2011, and over time intensified the monitoring of the catchments
and formally registering the Cathedral Peak research catchments as a Long Term Ecological Research site.
An assessment of the hydroclimatologicaldata is presented in the sub-sections which follow. The long term data including the historical
period is presented, and qualitative comparisons drawn at this stage. Given the gap in the records no trend tests have been applied
to determine quantitative trends.
2.2TEMPERATURE PATTERNS
The Mike’s Pass weather stationwas the primaryweather station at the Cathedral Peak research catchments. The initial weather
station was installed in 1948 and remained operational with high quality data for temperature until 1991. The Mike’s Pass weather
station was the first equipment that SAEON installed in the catchments in August of 2012. The mean annual temperature at the Mike’s
Pass weather station since monitoring resumed in 2012 has been above the historical (1951 - 1980) mean average temperature, and
has been greater than the mean by more than 0.5C each year with 2015 and 2019 being more than 1.5C warmer than the historical
mean average temperature (Figure 2-1).
The monthly mean temperature anomaly for the current period is shown in Figure 2-2. The monthly mean temperature has generally
been greater than the historical mean of the monthly average temperature, especially during the winter months. During the dryperiod
of 2015 the mean monthly temperature was,for some months, more than 3°C warmer than the historical mean of that months average
temperate. Interestingly, the month of October in the current period has often been colder than the historical mean for October (Figure
2-2).
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Figure 2-1 Annual mean temperature anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station
Figure 2-2 Monthly mean temperature anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station
Given the warmer temperatures seen in the current period of data relative to the historical records, changes in the nature ofheat waves
over time were investigated. To determine the number of heat waves over time, the South African Weather Services (SAWS)definition
of a heat wave was used. SAWS defines a heat wave as three consecutive days where the maximum air temperature is at least 5°C
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warmer than the mean maximum temperature of the hottest month of the year. The warmest month in the historical temperature record
for the Mike’s Pass weather station was January with a mean maximum temperature of 21.4°C (1951 1980 mean).
The number of heat waves being experienced at the Mike’s Pass weather station appears to be greater than what was experienced
historically (Figure 2-3). In the historical record available for the station, the greatest number of heat waves experienced in one year
was five in 1968. Some yearsno heatwaves were experienced, and the majority of years experienced one heat wave.During the
current period of monitoring, nine heat waves occurred during 2019, seven heat waves in both 2013 and 2018 and six heat waves in
2015. All years in the current period have experienced at least two heat waves, even 2023 where only three months of data is included.
Interestingly, the hottest dayon record forthe Mike Pass weather station was recorded in 1970,36.5°C. However, the next four hottest
days were recorded in 2016, 2015, 2018 and 2019 recording 35.16, 34.65, 32.92 and 32.67°C respectively.
Figure 2-3 Number of heat waves recorded at the Mike’s Pass meteorological station
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2.3PRECIPITATION PATTERNS
The SAEON Grasslands node has monitored rainfallfor a full ten (2012/2013 - 2021/2022) hydrologicalyears (Oct - Sept) in the
Cathedral Peak catchments. The primary weather station site, both now and in the historical period, is the Mike’s Pass weather station.
The rainfall data for the Mike’s Pass weather station is presented here, however, it must be noted that these rainfall totalshave been
checked against three other raingauges in the same enclosure as the weather station, and that the patterns align with those seen from
the other 32 raingauges across the Cathedral Peak catchments.
BOX 1: IMPACT OF HEAT WAVES ON CROP PRODUCTION IN COSTONE AND EZIBOMVINI
In January 2023, a six-day long heat wave was recorded at the Mike’s Pass weather station. The heat wave was broken with
one day falling below the SAWS definition of 5°C warmer than the mean maximum temperature of the hottest month of the year.
This was followed by a four-day heat wave.
Mahlathini Development Foundation (MDF) have been working with the Costone and Ezibomvini villagesfor a number of years,
encouraging and tracking the influence of conservation agriculture (CA) on crop production. Reflections on the influence of the
January 2023 heat wave on crop productionwere noted by the MDF team. By late January, the majority of participants’ in the
MDF maize program were showing signs of drought stress. A few of the lead farmers, such as Mrs PH, in Ezibomvini, however,
were spared andtheir crops remained vibrant. The two photographs below were both taken on the 24 January 2023 after the two
heat waves. The homesteads of Mrs CH and Mrs PHare right next to each other and their fields are separated by no more than
50m.
Both these farmers have been practicing CA since 2014, however the sites have quite different soil characteristics (some innate
and some due to farmer’s management strategies), which is likely to be responsible for the difference in the performance of the
crops.Mrs PH’sfields have higher clay percentage (43% versus 27% for Mrs CH), N% (0.19 versus 0.15), organic carbon (2%
versus 1.6%) and pH (5.1 versus 4.9). This set of photographs demonstrates that CA improves the capacity of crops to perform
well evenunder circumstances of mid-season dry spells, which are likely to become more common as we experience the impacts
of climate change, butonly ifall three principles of minimum tillage, increased soil cover and crop diversification are diligently
followed.
Figure 2-4 Maize showing heat stress in Mrs CH’sCA plot (above) and Maize and cover crops looking vibrant with good
canopy cover in Mrs PH’sfield (below). Note: The pictures were taken on the same day and fields are in very close proximity
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The annual rainfall totals for the hydrological years that have been monitored (Figure 2-5) have been lower than the historical mean (1
392 mm) taken as the period 1951 1980 except for the 2020 and 2021 hydrological years. The mean was taken for this period as
the confidence in the data was high. The gap in the data between 1990 and 2012 at the Mike’s Pass station limits the analyses. Thus,
using the SAWS station at the Cathedral Peak hotel, the Mike’s Pass station was patched for the period 1990 to 2011. The differences
in altitude, localised rainfall events characteristic of the area, and only having one gauge available to patch from, implies that the
patching is not ideal and is associated with high uncertainty. The annual rainfall anomalies from the 1951 1980 mean for the full
period including patched data are shown in Figure 2-6. Given the short current record period and the concerns about the quality of the
patched record, no trend analysis has been undertaken.
Figure 2-5 Annual (hydrological years) rainfall anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station
During thedrought experienced in the early 1980’s (1979 - 1984), the lowest annual rainfall total experienced was 792 mm in 1984,
and relative to the historical mean the total deviation for the six-year period was 1 677 mm. During the more recent drought (2014 -
2019), the lowest annual rainfall totalwas 765 mm in 2018, the lowest annual rainfall total on record forthe site. Althoughthe difference
between the total in 1984 and that in 2018 is relativelysmall, it is the total deviation for the more recent six-year period of 2 120 mm
that indicates the severity of the more recent drought relative to the 1980’s drought. Further to this, the more recent drought comes on
the back of two years of below average rainfall (2012 and 2013). The two most recent hydrological year (Oct 2020 Sept 2021 and
Oct 2021 Sept 2022) were wetter than the historical average by 200 and 260mm, respectively. Toprovide context, the standard
deviation of the historical annual rainfall is 206 mm, thus although wetter the 2020 hydrological year was within one standard deviation
of the historical annual rainfall, and the 2021 slightly greater than one standard deviation.
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Figure 2-6 Annual (hydrological years) rainfall anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station for the full period 1949
2021 using a combination of in-situ gauged data and infilled data
The monthly rainfall monitor to the end of March 2023 is provided in Figure 2-7. The above average rainfall for the 2020/2021
hydrological year is due to the above average monthly rainfall at the start of the 2020/2021 summer season. The winter monthsof the
2020/2021 were drier than average, as has been noted for the other hydrological years since the start of the contemporary record at
the site.
Figure 2-7 Monthly rainfall anomaly for the Mike’s Pass meteorological station
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2.4STREAMFLOW PATTERNS
Toucher etal.(2016) showed a declining trend in the streamflows for Cathedral Peak, Catchment IV from 1950 to 1995. With the
current streamflow period becoming longer, a full nine hydrological years of streamflow data is now available for the currentperiod an
analysis of the patterns in streamflow. Given the shortness of the record and the natural variability, no statistical analysis has been
undertaken.
As expected, the streamflow responses lag the rainfallexperienced as they are moderated bythe soil and groundwater stores. The
annual streamflow anomaly for the historical and current record period relative to the 1961 - 1987 mean for Catchment VI, Cathedral
Peak is shown inFigure 2-8. The lowest annual streamflow on record was experienced in the hydrological year of 2018, in alignment
with the lowest annual rainfall total. During the meteorological drought period, the streamflows in 2016 and 2017 were above normal.
The reasoning for this is related to the pattern of the rainfall experienced, the unusually wet July of 2016 and the February 2017 which
was 200 mm wetter than the historicalaverage for February. In alignment with the above average rainfall during the 2020/2021and
2021/2022 hydrological years, the streamflow was above normal.
The monthly streamflow anomaly for the current period (Figure 2-9) reflects the same pattern as the annual streamflow graph, showing
the influence of the wet July 2016 and February 2017 on the flows. As well as the influence of the wet start to the summer rainfall
season of 2020/2021, where the rainfall in October 2020 to January 2021 was above normal resulting in the above normal flows in
January and February 2021. Since March 2022 the monthly streamflows have been above normal, with the streamflow in January
2023 being 174 mm above the January mean. The high flows in January 2023 are due to rainfalls above normal from November 2022
to January 2023.
Figure 2-8 Annual (hydrological years) streamflow anomaly for Catchment VI, Cathedral Peak
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Figure 2-9 Monthly streamflow anomaly for Catchment VI, Cathedral Peak
2.5IN SUMMARY
The temperatures experienced in the Cathedral Peak region of KwaZulu-Natal are consistently higher than those experienced in the
past, with 2019 and 2015 being the hottest yearson record for the area. The influence of these warmer temperatures are evidentin
the increase in the number of heat waves being experienced in the area.
The rainfall in the Cathedral Peak area is highly variable, both spatially and temporally, as shown in the historical and current records
of rainfall for the area. This variability in rainfall results in a variable streamflow from the catchments, with the streamflow response
lagging the rainfall experienced. The 2018/2019 hydrological year experienced the lowest rainfall on record for the site, andlikewise
the streamflow was the lowest recorded.
The graphs shownhere were presented to the villages of Costoneand Ezibomvini during the co-learning workshops. The experiences
of the participantswere in alignment with the data graphs shown, with many participantsnoting that they felt that it was much warmer
now than what they remember and that the rainfall was different, citing that rainfall now comes in largerevents and less frequently.
However, the data does not support the participants’ experiences of fewer rain events with larger rainfall amountswhen it rains. The
number ofraindays between the historical and current period has not altered significantly, nor has the number of rainfall events greater
than 20 mm(Figure 2-10). The participants’ views could be influenced by their recent recollections from coming out of the drought
period that stretched from 2013 until 2020, into wetter than average conditions with the summer of 2022 being much wetter.
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Figure 2-10Number of rainfall events greater than 20 mm recorded at the Mike’s Pass meteorological station
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CHAPTER 3:MAPPING OF ECOSYSTEM HEALTH AND FUNCTIONING
3.1INTRODUCTION
To contribute to Aim 3 of the project, viz. “To survey ecosystem health and functioning including biodiversity of community land based
on the needs of the communities for their ecosystem services and livelihoods”, field and desktop surveys were used to developmaps
of the ecosystem condition for both the Ezibomvini and Costone villages.
The maps of ecosystem condition were informed by three aspects,
- field based surveys which focus on water sources, including springs and wetlands, erosion and invasive alien species
and woody encroachment
- use of land use and land cover satellite imagery and terrain maps, and
- Veld Condition Assessments (VCA)
The field based surveysin both villages were conducted between August and November 2021. However, the field component of the
veld condition assessments were only conducted in late January 2022 with the plant identifications and analyses continuing into
February 2022. The boundaries for the villages were determined with the community members during the co-learning workshops. The
field surveys considered areas outside of the village boundaries to ensure that any upstream factors affecting the ecosystem condition
were included. The maps produced are presented per village. Additionally, the water quality sampling undertaken by the community
and the EcoChamps are discussed in this chapter to contextualise the ecosystem health and function.
3.2METHODOLOGY
3.2.1Mapping Methods
At theinitial co-learning workshops, informal walks through the villages with village members were undertaken. During these walks,
landscape features that could impact water quantity and quality were noted. The primary concerns were wetlands, erosion, invasive
alien species and woody encroachment. Thus, these, along with the water sources, including rivers and springs, were the focus of the
mapping. Following the village walks, the features decided on were roughly identified usingGoogleEarth prior to field visits. The
primary method used to produce the detailed maps werein-field surveys to GPS key landscape features. During the field visits, the
features were ground-truthed andthe extent and condition of the features mapped. In cases where the landscape features could not
be accessed, Google Earth was used to supplement themaps. Post-processing of the GPS data was done in ArcGIS Pro with the
shapefiles exported to kml files for use in Google Earth Engine to facilitate easier sharing between team membersand ultimately
stakeholders.
3.2.2Veld Assessment Methods
Rangelands are indigenous vegetation that consists mainly of grasses and shrubs/trees that are grazed and browsed by livestock or
wildlife (Allen et al., 2011). These natural rangelands support livelihoods through the provision of a range of ecosystemservices. The
production of livestock is one of thekey ecosystem services through intensive ranching on private land or collective ranching on
communal lands (Reid et al., 2008). Communal rangelands and their associated residential areas make up 13% of the land surface of
South Africa and support a quarter of the country’s population and half the country’s livestock (Ward et al., 1998). Concerns have been
raised about communally grazed rangelands in Africa and similar systems across the world (Vetter et al., 2006).The comparisons
between commercial and communal rangelands have highlighted changes on land degradation and productivity (Todd and Hoffman,
1999). Communal rangelands are commonly considered overstocked, overgrazed, degraded and unproductive.
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Rangeland condition is the health of rangeland functioning in terms of ecological status, resistance to soil erosion and forage potential
for livestock production (Ndandani, 2016). Rangeland degradation is the continuous loss of species composition and invasion of woody
plants (Bosch and Theunissen, 1992). Communal rangelands condition in South Africa isdeclining due to poor management, land
degradation and climate change (Hoffman and Ashwell, 2001). In South Africa, land degradation is mostly due to overgrazing and
human activities (Vetter, 2003). Overgrazing decreases palatable plantspecies and increases less palatable species (Kgosikoma et
al.,2012). Additionally, overgrazing changes plant species composition, basal cover, diversity, richness and soil moisture while making
the rangeland more susceptibleto invasive alien plants and woody encroachment (Vetter, 2013). There is a direct correlation between
rangeland condition and animal production (van der Westhuizen et al.,1999) and therefore, these compromised communal systems
show a loss of rangeland productivity and poor livestock performance (Lesoli, 2008).
Species composition is one of the means of studying ecological changes in a rangeland (Malan and van Niekerk, 2005). An indicator
of rangeland condition is understanding grazing practises and its changes over time (Abule et al.,2007). Veld Condition Assessment
(VCA) is the health of the rangeland in terms of ecological status, resistance to soil erosion and the potential forage production for
continued livestock production (Trollope et al, 1990). The majority of techniques to determine and monitor veld condition require an
assessment of species composition and an estimate of basal cover for the sample site (Hardy and Tainton, 1993). Furthermore,
quantifying biomass production can provide realistic estimatesof stocking rates for sustainable grazing management (Kunst et al.,
2006). Veld condition assessments is essential for both commercial and communal rangelands to document the effectsof current
management on veld condition and to monitor changes over time and also for evaluating veld condition relative to its potential inthat
ecological zone (Hardy et al.,1999). Therefore, this study aims to evaluate two communal rangelands, Ezibomvini and Costone, in the
Northern Drakensberg to understand current health condition and recommend management tools.
The Veld Condition Assessment was carriedoutat Ezibomvini and Costone villages communal grazing lands as demarcated by the
communities. A community member accompanied the researchers on the fieldwork. These areas havea mean elevation of900 to 1
440 m, a mean annual precipitation of 710-1 120 mmper year and a mean annual temperature 16°C (Mucina and Rutherford, 2006).
Members of the communities and in some instances, neighbouring communities, share the communal rangelands. The rangelands
aregrazed continuously with no restrictions on stocking rates, but with seasonal variations. Cattle and goats are the bulk grazers while
sheep and horses are present in lower abundances. The communal rangeland falls within two vegetation types, namely the
Drakensberg FoothillMoist Grassland (GS10) and Northern KwaZulu-Natal MoistGrassland (GS4) as described by Mucina and
Rutherford (2006). The vegetation and landscape is describedasmoderately rolling and mountainous with river gorges of drier
vegetation types and covered in forb rich grassland dominated by Themeda triandraand Tristachya leucothrix. Acacia sieberianavar.
woodii woodlands are common in valleys and disturbed sites.
Table 3-1 The dominant grasses for each vegetation type according to Mucina and Rutherford (2006)
Northern KwaZulu-NatalMoist Grassland (GS4)
Drakensberg Foothills Moist Grassland (GS10)
Alloteropsis semialata subsp. eckloniana, Aristida congesta,
Cynodon dactylon, Digitaria tricholaenoides, Elionurus
muticus, Eragrostispatentissima, Eragrostis racemosa,
Harpochloa falx,Hyparrhenia hirta, Themeda triandra, and
Tristachya leucothrix.
Diheteropogon filifolius, Elionurus muticus, Eragrostis
capensis, Eragrostis chloromelas, Eragrostis curvula,
Eragrostis plana, Eragrostis racemosa, Heteropogon
contortus, Microchloa caffra, Monocymbium ceresiiforme,
Panicum natalense, Rendlia altera, Sporobolus africanus,
Themeda triandra, Trachypogon spicatus andTristachya
leucothrix.
Siteselection within the communal grazing lands was based on vegetation uniformity. At each site, four 100 m line transects were
demarcated across the landscape spaced with 20m between each line transect. We measured grass composition anddegreeof
dominance using the Step-Point method. At 2 m intervals along each transect, the nearest grass species was identified,anddistance
and tuft size measured. Forbs were excluded as they have a relatively low occurrence in the landscape. If no grasses were found
within a 0.2 m radius from the point, it is recorded as bare soil. A 1 x 1 m quadrant was randomly placed 50 times along the transect
to estimate grass and forb cover. Grass species were identified to species level and placed into ecological status classes using the
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method of Trollope (1989). Grass species are classified into four ecological classes based on grazing value, biomass production and
palatability (van Oudtshoorn, 2009). The grasses were grouped into Decreaser species, Increaser I, II and III species and further
grouped according to their life form (annual, perennial, and creeper).
Decreaser species aretufted and stoloniferous grasses that are abundant in good rangeland and decrease when over- or undergrazed.
These species are highly palatable and highly productive, and thus of high grazing value. Increaser I species are tufted grasses that
are abundant in underutilized rangeland. These species have medium palatability and intermediate productivity,and thus are of
moderate grazing value. Increaser II species are tufted and stoloniferous grasses that are abundant in overgrazed rangelands.
Increaser II species increase due to disturbance effects such as overgrazing. These species have a medium to low palatabilityand
high to medium productivity, and thus are of low grazing value. Increaser III species are tufted grasses common in overgrazed
rangeland. These species are competitive and difficult to remove, as well as being unpalatable and having low productivity. Thus, the
grazing value of Increaser III species is low.
The Ecological Score method was used to determine veld condition. The benchmark method cannot be used as a benchmark veld
that would represent best possible botanical composition and cover in relation to climate could not be found. The Ecological Score
uses data from the grass species composition survey, the percentage composition of each class is calculated and multiplied with the
specific class. The sum of the values represents an Ecological Index with a maximum of 1000. The veld condition is evaluated using
the guidelines inTable 3-2.
Table 3-2 Veld condition evaluated according to ecological score
Ecological Score
Veld Condition
0-399
Broadly indicates poor veld
400-600
Broadly indicates moderate veld
601-1000
Indicates good veld
Disc Pasture Meter (DPM) (Trollope and Potgieter, 1986, Zambatis et al.,2006) is used to determine the grass production (fuel load)
within most vegetation types (Figure 3-1). It’s a rapid, non- destructive method to determine dry mass yield of rangelands. For each
transect, 50 readings (disc height in cm) were recorded, 200 readingsper village,to calculate mean settling height of the disc. The
equation of Zambatis et al.,(2006) was used to determine grass Biomass (kg/ha):
Kg.ha-1 = [31.7176(0.32181/x)x0.2834]2Eq. 3.1
Where,
x = mean disc height in cm of a site
The percentage basal cover of each sample site was obtained bysubstituting the mean distance and the mean diameter values into
the following regression equation developed by Hardy andTainton (1993). The basal cover standards were recommended by Camp
and Hardy (1999). The basal covers are: 1-5% critical, 6-10% poor, 11-15% reasonable and 16%+ good to excellent.
Basal cover = 19.8 + 0.39 (D) - 11.87 (logeD) + 0.64 (d) + 2.93 (loged)Eq. 3.2
Where,
D = distance to the nearest tuft (in cm and rounded to the nearest cm), and
D = tuft diameter (in cm and rounded to the nearest cm)
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Figure 3-1 Images showing the use of the Disc Pasture Meter (DPM), quadrat and 100m line transect. Features to note on
the photo on the right, signs of selective grazing and low sward height
3.2.3Citizen science water quality tests
Following the initial village walks, the concern regarding water quality was the Escherichia colilevels in the water sources used by the
communities. Further there appeared to be high sediment loads in the rivers. Given the scope of the project, we were unable to initiate
an intensive water quality testing campaign. Further, with the aims of the projectthe desire was to include the village members,
particularly the water committees, in the research we were undertaking. Thus, citizen science methods of assessing the water quality
were used. The presence of E.coliwas tested using a semi-quantitative, relatively cheap, easy to use E. coliwater test system
developed by Praecautio. The advantage of the test is that it can be done in the field, there are no laboratory costs, nor any specialised
equipment or trainingrequired. Given that no specialised training was required, the water committee members and the EcoChamps in
the two villages were taught how to undertake the E.coliwater tests. The sites that would be tested were decided on together with the
village members at the co-learning workshops.
Each test comes in a sealed package. The test consists of a syringe, sealed tube with a powder in it. The person undertaking the test
uses the syringe provided to draw up 10 ml of water from the water source that is to be tested. Theyremove the lid of thetube, and
dispense the 10 ml from the syringe into the tube. They replace the cap tightly and shake the sample until the powder has dissolved.
The tube then needs to be incubated for at least 24 hours. The incubator option we used was a WonderBag. A hot water bottle was
placed in a large WonderBag. The tubes were placed into a small WonderBag which was placed on top of the hot water bottle inside
the large WonderBag. The presence or absence of E. coliwas determined by the colour change of the water in the tube after 24 hours
of incubation.
A positive resultfor E. coliis indicated by the liquid in the tube turning green(Figure 3-2). A yellow colour indicates the presence of
coliforms(Figure 3-2). A clear colour is a negative result for both E. coliand coliforms. The faster the water changes colour the higher
the levels of E. coliin the water. Drinking water should have no E. colipresent. A small number of coliforms (less than 10 per ml) are
allowed in drinking water, however the optimum is for no coliforms or E. coli(i.e. a clear tube after 24 hours).
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Figure 3-2 Image showing the colour change of the water in the tube if E. coli(left) is present and if coliforms (right) are
present
Praecautio indicate that their test results have a high level of accuracy if the concentration of E. coliis greater than 10 per ml. At lower
E. colilevels the accuracy is between 70 and 80%.
3.3EZIBOMVINI VILLAGE
Within theEzibomvinivillage boundary demarcated by the village members there are two distinct areas, a higher lying upper area
which consists predominantly of grassland, woody vegetation and wetlands, and the lower lying area which is dominated by
homesteads, agriculture and small grassland blocks. Four streams run through the Ezibomvini village and feed into the Lindequespruit
River. The field survey was undertaken for the catchment areas of two of the streams, and focused on the higher lying areas(Figure
3-3). The lower section consists of homesteads, agricultural zones and grasslands. A notable, unique and rare botanical feature of the
area is a natural Aloe hybrid population between Aloe arborescensand Aloe marlothii.
Figure 3-3 Ezibomvini village boundary with the streams, wetlands and springs and locations of E. colitests, as well as the
known points of water extraction and use
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3.3.1Ezibomvini village landscape features
Several springs are used for drinking water by the village. These springs are mainly in the higher lying area, near the rivers (Figure 3-
3).The water is mainly collected by buckets. The springs are also used by cattle. The springs, however, are not high yielding. Water
sources are limited, and are a significant concern in this village. The water collected from the rivers is used in household cleaning,
washing clothes and bathing. Cattle, goats, pigs and ducks drink from several points along theriver (Figure 3-3). The lower regions of
the streams are subjected to dumping of building rubble, household refuse, glass bottles and nappies. The presence of the above
mentioned will affect water quality. Given thedependence of the village on these water sources, the water quality is a significant
concern. Areas which appear to be wetlands were noted adjacent and near to the river systems(Figure 3-3). These areas were wet in
the dry season and had vegetation characteristic of frequently saturated areas. No formal delineation of the wetlands was undertaken.
Thecondition of the wetlands identified varied from severely impacted (Figure 3-4 and Figure 3-5)to near-pristine, however, the
majority of the wetlands were degraded and the functioning impaired with significant erosion present. Further, the riparian areas of the
streams have been eroded(Figure 3-4),in some areas significantly with deep gullies having formed. The impacts on the wetlands and
riparian areas noted in the field included cattle grazing, erosion, invasive alien species and clay harvesting for brick-making. The
degradation of the wetland and riparian areas in the upper higher lying areas of the village was noted as a significant concern. It is
likely that the extent of the degradation has already negatively impacted the water quantity and quality in the streams, with the risk that
further degradation could have significant negative impacts.
Figure 3-4 A Poplar stand growing within the wetland area adjacent to a stream (left) and an example of the gully erosion in
the catchment areas (right)
Figure 3-5 A wetland area where clay has been harvested from to be made into bricks
To illustrate the extent of impact and concern of potential impacts going forward,interventions should be put in place. A concrete water
tank with further tanks downslope were noted during the mapping survey. Community members were asked about the tanks. From
their knowledge and memory, the tanks were installed by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
(DALRRD), formerly Department of Agriculture (DoA)to gravity supply water to various households. A pipe from the tank was pointed
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out by the communityand it was noted that it no longer supplied water. It was understood that the tanks used to be fed by a spring
with a v-box protection high up in the catchment area. On visiting the site of the supposed spring site, significant erosionwas found,
no spring or evidence of it could be found and it appeared as if the v-box had collapsed years prior due to the significant erosion.
The areas of erosion were not limited to the riparian areas, with erosion mapped across the higher lying areas of the village(Figure 3-
6). Deep gullies have formed which, in some cases, have been invaded by alien species(Figure 3-7). Scattered rocky areas occur in
the high lying areas of the village.An extensive network of cattle paths was noted in the invaded, rockyareas. This is presumably
caused by herds of goats. These rocky areas have been invaded by woody vegetation (Figure 3-8),mainly Lantana camara(Lantana)
and Aloe marlothii(Mountain Aloe).
Figure 3-6 Eroded areas in the Ezibomvini village
Figure 3-7 Images of erosion within the Ezibomvini village
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Lantana is a category 1b invasive species in South Africa. The rocks provide a favourable micro habitat for Lantana and Aloe to flourish.
They provide shelter from veld fires,shade, and increased moisture.Field observations of the Mountain Aloe show all age groups
present in the population. The opposite is found forLantana, which mainly comprises of mature adults. The old aloe leaves and dead
lantana branches are collected for making fires. In this community, Lantana is dispersed by frugivorous birds defecating on the rocks.
The Lantana encroaches into and competeswith the grassland species, decreasing the available cattle grazing areas.
Figure 3-8 Woody invasion in the upper areas of the Ezibomvini village
3.3.2Veld Condition Assessment results for Ezibomvini village
The veld condition score for Ezibomvini indicated that the rangeland is in a poor condition or moderately degraded. Sixteen grassland
species were recorded with nearly 95% beingIncreasers (Increaser I12%, Increase II 86% and Increaser III 1%). Decreasers
were represented by Themedra triandra at 2.5%. The dominant species were Paspalum notatum, Sporobolus pyramidalis,Digitaria
tricholaenoides, andTristachya leucothrix triandra(Table 3-3).
Referring tothe dominant grass speciesdescribed by Mucina and Rutherford (2006) three species were present during the survey
with Eragrostis planaand Eragrostis curvulawith a relatively high occurrence, Themedra triandraabsent to low occurrence and P.
notatumas a new dominant exotic rangeland invader.
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Table 3-3 Botanical name, ecological status, perenniality, grazing value and composition score of grass species at
Ezibomvini communal rangeland
Group
Species
Perenniality
Grazing
value
Grazing value
score
Ezibomvini
% Score
Decreaser
Themedra triandra
Perennial
High
10
2.5
25
Increaser I
Alloteropsis semialata
Perennial
Average
3
0.5
1.5
Digitaria tricholaenoides
Perennial
High
6
7
42
Tristachya leucothrix
Perennial
High
9
4.5
40.5
Increaser IIa
Heterpogon contortus
Perennial
Average
6
2
12
Increaser IIb
Hyparrhenia hirta
Perennial
Average
6
1
6
Eragrostis plana
Perennial
Low
3
7
21
Eragrostis racemosa
Perennial
Average
2
4
8
Sporobolus africanus
Perennial
Low
3
4
12
Sporobolus pyramidalis
Perennial
Low
3
13.5
40.5
Increaser IIc
Aristida congesta barbicollis
Perennial
Low
0
2
0
Cyndon dactylon
Creeper
Average
3
0.5
1.5
Paspalum notatum*
Creeper
Average
3
50
150
Urochloa panicoides
Perennial
Low
2
0.5
1
Increase III
Diheteropogon filifolius
Perennial
Low
0
0.5
1
Cymbopogon pospischilii
Perennial
Low
2
0.5
1
Total
100
362
*exotic species
The grazing area veld in Ezibomvini was dominated by grasses and limited forbs(Figure 3-9). The basal cover for Ezibomvini was
16%, indicating good to excellent cover, with the bare soil being below 5%. The good basal cover and low percentage bare ground
was attributed to the dominance of a single grass, P.notatum, which has a creeping habit. The biomass production for Ezibomvini had
a yield of 1 342 Kg.ha-1. This low yield was also attributed to the dominance of P.notatumdue to its short sward height and prostate
habit.
Figure 3-9 The comparison of aerial cover of grass species, forbs, bare soil and the basal cover of grass species
3.3.3Citizen science water quality test results for Ezibomvini
The presence of Escherichiacoliwas tested at several points along two of the streams in the Ezibomvinivillage (seeFigure 3-3 for
the location of these tests) as a once offsnapshot in time during the village walks. The samples all tested positive for E. colior Coliforms
Bacteria(Figure 3-10). Following the initial tests, the decision taken together with the water committee was to continue testing two
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springs that are near to each other, oneis protected and the other is not. Additionally, the water in the header tank for the communities’
water scheme was tested.
Figure 3-10Results from the E. colitesting. A green colour indicates the sample is positive for E. coli, a yellow sample indicates
Coliforms Bacteria. The locations the samples were taken from are indicated onFigure 3-3
The E. colitests were undertaken regularly during summer and autumn of 2022 by the water committee members. Testing ceased in
winter of 2022. One test was undertaken in November 2022 and one in February of 2023. It must be noted that these tests, although
Praecautioindicate high accuracy, are citizen science, low cost tests that are not laboratory based. The results could indicate concerns
or trends. The indications from the results seemed to be that when flow conditions were high the water samples indicated no presence
of E.coli, however, as the flow levels dropped in March and April (Table 3-4). The spring protection seems to help in that the
unprotected spring showed levels of coliform bacteria in two of the April tests whereas the protected spring and tank were clear. The
presence of E. coliindicated that the water should not be used as drinking water unless treated first. The use of the springs by cattle,
the degradation of the catchment and wetlands through erosion, and the waste found in the streams, result in the water quality
degradation. Although only the presence of E. coliwas tested. The high sediment load in the rivers was noted on the village walks.
Table 3-4 Results of the citizen science E. coliwater testing at the protected and unprotected springs used by the village
and the header tank for the village water scheme
Location
Date
Unprotected spring
Protected spring
Header tank
2022/02/17
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/02/24
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/03/04
Green
Green
Green
2022/03/10
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/03/21
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/03/31
Green
No result
No result
2022/04/04
Brown
Clear
Clear
2022/04/11
Brown
Clear
Clear
2022/04/18
Green
Green
Green
2022/04/25
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/05/02
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/11/15
Clear
Clear
Clear
2023/02/27
Clear
Clear
Clear
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3.4COSTONE VILLAGE
The Costone village is characterized by a high altitude mountain boundary, three river systems, a large wetland in the community area
and grasslands. The high altitude regions contain springs that feed the three rivers thatflow down through the homestead areas(Figure
3-11). The steep mountain slopes are characterized by a rich diversity of indigenous trees. The lower regions are covered by
grasslands, wetlands, homesteads and agricultural zones. As the village area is substantially larger than the Ezibomvinivillage, the
full catchment areas of the rivers could not be walked. Thus, Google Earth images were used to supplement the field based mapping.
3.4.1Costone village landscape features
In contrast to the Ezibomvini village, Costone has a number of water sources (Figure 3-11). A borehole has recently been drilled in the
village, with a pump and tanks installed that supply water to a sectionof the village. There is a borehole with a hand pump above the
homestead area, near to which there is a protected spring (v-box) that feeds into two JoJo tanks from which community members
collect water (a significant distance from any houses however). A further key feature with regards to water, is a large wetland in the
lower homestead area of the village(Figure 3-12). There are three springs in this area that, at the end of the dry season, had fair yield.
Drinking water is collected from these springs, however, they are not protected thus are used by cattle for drinking as well.A wetland
assessment and delineation was not done. However, from the field survey it was noted that the majority of the wetland vegetation
remains intact. A portion is used for agriculture during dry years and left fallow in wet years. Cattle are allowed to graze within the
wetland. There is a good flow of water exiting the wetland into the river. The importance of protecting this wetland and building spring
protections to ensure a sustainable water source for the community wasevident.
Upstream of the larger wetland, a smaller wetland was noted(Figure 3-12). The smaller wetland was significantly degraded with the
impacts noted being overgrazing, clay harvesting for bricks and agriculture. There was no flow exiting this wetland.
Figure 3-11Costone Village boundary with rivers, springs and points of water extraction shown as well aslocations of sampling
for E. coli
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Figure 3-12Lower portion of Costone Village with rivers, springs and points of water extraction shown as well as locations of
sampling for E. coli, erosion areas and invasive species
Other water features identified were springs in the upper areas of the village. Three springs in the high lying areas surveyed (Figure
3-13), two of the springs (labelled A and B in Figure 3-11) were flowing while one was dry. The first spring was downstream of an
indigenous forest patch. The area immediately below the spring eye is eroding, with the gullies forming and wattle invasions in these
gullies(Figure 3-14). The impacts noted on the area below the spring are cattle paths and overgrazing. The eye of the second spring
was not observed during the field survey, however, wet areas in the landscapewere noted. The area is characterisedby deep
continuous grazing lines, and downstream by a mature Podocarpusforest patch. The third spring, which had the highest discharge,
was on a steep slope with wattle invasions on evident upslope of the spring eye, while significant erosion near and downstream of the
spring were noted(Figure 3-15).
In contrast to the Ezibomvini village area, the erosion in the Costone village area was primarily limited to near or adjacentto the
streams. Similarly, the extent of the alien invasive species noted was less than Ezibomvini. Isolated patches of Poplar trees near to
streams were noted. The riparian areas of the streams in stretches appeared to be in a near-pristine state, and the upper regions of
the village area had a high diversity of indigenous trees and shrubs.
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Figure 3-13Lower portion of Costone Village with rivers, springs and points of water extraction shown as well as locations of
sampling for E. coli, erosion areas and invasive species
Figure 3-14Erosion downstream of the eye of the first spring (Spring A)
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Figure 3-15Images showing the erosion and presence of wattle near the third spring (Spring B)
3.4.2Veld Condition Assessment results for Costone village
Similar to the veld condition score for Ezibomvini, the veld condition score for Costone indicated that the rangeland is in a poor condition
or moderately degraded. The Costone grazing area is however, larger than the Ezibomvini grazing area. Notably the villages share a
common dominant grass, a perennial exotic stoloniferous grass, Paspalum notatum. P.notatumoccurrence is at least 50% for both
villages. Ten grassland species were recorded with 100% been Increasers (Increaser I - 9%, Increaser II - 90.5% and Increaser III-
8.5%). The dominant species are Paspalum notatum, Eragrostis plana, Aristida junciformisgalpiniiand Eragrostis curvula(Table 3-5).
Table 3-5 Botanical name, ecological status, perenniality, grazing value and composition score of grass species at Costone
communal rangeland
Group
Species
Perenniality
Grazing
value
Grazing value
score
Costone
% Score
Increaser I
Tristachya leucothrix
Perennial
High
9
1
9
Increaser IIa
Heterpogon contortus
Perennial
Average
6
1
6
Increaser IIb
Eragrostis curvula
Perennial
High
5
7
35
Eragrostis plana
Perennial
Low
3
11.5
34.5
Eragrostis racemosa
Perennial
Average
2
3.5
7
Sporobolus africanus
Perennial
Low
3
2.5
7.5
Sporobolus pyramidalis
Perennial
Low
3
3
9
Increaser IIc
Paspalum notatum*
Creeper
Average
3
62
186
Increase III
Aristida junciformis galpinii
Perennial
Low
0
8
0
Diheteropogon filifolius
Perennial
Low
0
0.5
0
Total
100
294
*exotic species
As with Ezibomvini village, the veld in Costone is dominated by grasses and limited forbs. The aerial cover for grasses was93% and
for forbs was below 2%. The basal coverfor Costonewas also above 16% indicating good to excellent cover. The dominance of a
single grass, P.notatumwas the reasoning allocated to the good basal cover, further the creeping habitat of the species has reduced
bare ground. The biomass production had a yield of 1121 Kg.ha-1for Costone. The low yield is attributed to the dominance of P.
notatumdue to its short sward height and prostate habitat.
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Figure 3-16The comparison of aerial cover of grass species, forbs, bare soil and the basal cover of grass species
3.4.3Citizen science water quality test results for Costone village
The presence ofEscherichia coliwas tested at springs on the edges of the large wetland in Costone and at the point where the flow
exits the wetland (seeFigure 3-12for the location of these tests). The tests were undertaken on village walks during October and
November 2021, and provide a point in time. The samples all tested positive for E. colior Coliforms Bacteria(Figure 3-17). Additionally,
E. colitest were undertaken on the water flowing from the high springs (A and B, Figure 3-13 – 3-15) in October 2021. The tests
showed the presence of Coliforms Bacteria(Figure 3-18). These were a snapshot in time after the dry season.
Figure 3-17E. colisamples taken from the three springs on the edges of the wetland (C E) on two different dates and at the
flow exit (F). A green colour indicates the sample is positive for E. coli, a yellow sample indicates Coliforms Bacteria
Figure 3-18E. colisamples taken from springs in the high lying areas in October 2021. A green colour indicates the sample is
positive for E. coli, a yellow sample indicates Coliforms Bacteria
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Following the initial tests, the decision taken togetherwith the watercommittee was to continue testing two springs that are near to
each other, a v-box protection was built for the one as partof thisproject and the other was not protected. Additionally, the water at
the wetland outlet was tested. The E. colitests on both springs and the wetland outflow only revealed the presence of E. colion one
occasion at the start of March 2022. After noting 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 runoff from the surrounding areas flowed into the
spring intake area and they felt that this is what caused the contamination. However, from the project team view, given the snapshot
results and the presence of E. coliin March, the concern was high that the water may often have E. colior coliform bacteria present.
Table 3-6 Results of the citizen science E. coliwater testing at the protected and unprotected springs used by the village
and at the outlet of the wetland
Date
Protected Spring
Unprotected spring
Wetland outlet
2022/02/17
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/02/24
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/03/04
Green
Green
Green
2022/03/10
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/04/21
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/06/16
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/06/23
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/09/14
Clear
Clear
Clear
2022/12/05
Clear
Clear
Clear
2023/03/03
Clear
Clear
Clear
In March 2023, Mahlathini Development Foundation took water samples from the protected and unprotected springs to Umgeni Water
for a full drinking water quality tests (SANS241). As per the laboratory report, the samples were taken and kept at 4°C for two days
prior to analysis, which could affect E. coliand Coliform counts. The recommended levels of E. coliand Coliform bacteria should be 0
and <10 respectivelyfor drinking water purposes. Ideally, the sampling should have been done within 24 hours of collecting the sample.
Regardless of this, the results revealed that the water was generally favourable for drinking except for the presence of E. coliand
Coliforms bacteria(Table 3-7). Treatment of water for household use will be required. Chemical disinfectant should be added to the
header tanks of this system on a daily basis.
Table 3-7 Results of the Umgeni Water laboratory testing of the samples from the protected and unprotected springs in
Costone
Protected Spring
Unprotected spring
E. coli
54
28
Coliforms
1203
2420
3.5CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Overgrazing is seen as the main cause of land degradation in Africa at 243 million hectares (ELD Initiative and UNEP, 2015). In South
Africa a quarter of the land owned by the government and rural communities is degraded (Ndandani, 2016). These communal
rangelands are often characterised by high stocking rates and lack of a grazing management system (Lesoli, 2008). Communal
rangelands are a shared resource utilized by the community members where everyone has equal access to resources the rangeland
provides. However, management decisionsare often taken by individual cattle owners (Gxasheka et al., 2017) rather than by a
collective of those making use of the grazing area. Overgrazing occurs when animals defoliate grass before it has had time to recover
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(Voisin, 1988). This occurs when livestock remain in an area for too long or return too quickly. Recovery time is important for grasses
to restore roots reserves and asexual and sexual growth. The period required to recovery varies according to climate, season, and
vegetation type and growth habitat. The time frame can vary from 10 days to 90 days or up one year resting (Savory Institute,2015).
Recovery only occurs in the growing season and in the absence of grazing
The high abundance ofIncreaser II species indicates long term overgrazing at the loss of Decreaser species in both villages.The
increased abundance of species like P.notatum, Sporobolus pyramidalisand Eragrostis planais an indicator the system is fire
suppressed. Selective grazing has been shown to change the structure and species composition of rangelands and favouring
unpalatable species or species with low to average grazing value (Milchunas et al., 1988). Highly palatable species such as Themeda
triandra, Tristachya leucothrixand Tristachya leucothrixare lost through continuous selective grazing. Furthermore, trampling and
nutrient enrichment significantly impact species diversity (O’Connor et al., 2010). These factors together with the role of fire account
for the low grass diversity and veld composition. P.notatumis a highly persistent grass that is able to withstand close defoliation due
to its extensive rhizome network and low growing points and responds well to fertilizer. Furthermore, the grass is cold tolerant and can
tolerate short term droughts (Truter et al., 2014). These competitive adaptations of P.notatummake it resistant to selective grazing
and benefits from additional nutrients.
Besides grazing, the other primary disturbance mechanism in rangelands is fire. Controlled burning is the use of fire to change
rangeland vegetation to favour optimum forage and animal productivity (Trollope and Trollope, 1996). The use of fire is communal
rangeland is uncontrolled and influenced by the need to produce fresh green belt of grass. Livestock will select fresh grass from burnt
areas over unburnt areas (Trollope, 1989). The frequency and time of fires in communal areas often leads to rangeland deterioration.
The flush of green growth at the incorrect time of year is short lived and negatively affects growth vigour. Root reserves are depleted
and favourable species areweakening to the advantage of Increaser II species. Fire intensity refers to the rate of heat released during
a fire and determines vegetation recovery. Fire intensity is directly linked to fuel load. The fuel loads in both systems arelow due to
the dominance of a P.notatum. The rangelands cannot support intense burns due to the short and sparse sward blades. Thus leading
to a fire suppressed system.
On a positive note, degraded communal rangelands are resilient and can recover with changes in species composition and species
diversity. Harrison and Shackleton (1999) have shown changes in grass species composition and grass basal cover with the removal
of high and continuous grazing pressure in communal rangelands. The resultantchangesmay represent replacement of species
groups that already exist (Walker et al., 1997). An increase in palatable indigenous species will be favoured overannuals and
unpalatable species. Additionally, the absence of grazing showed an increase in the occurrence of palatable species. The protection
from grazing reduced the competitive advantage of undesirable species and lead to a decline (Frost et al, 1986). This createdopenings
to facilitate recolonizationof palatable species. P.notatumis a strongly stoloniferous, adaptable and long lived species. The grass was
able to withstand intense grazing and dominate species composition due to it to wide network of root reserves, which Strugnell and
Pigott (1978) substantiated through root studies. Therefore rotational resting may encourage perennial species to replace P.notatum.
The communal rangelands in both villages are moderately degraded and dominated by grass species with an average palatability and
low grazing value. Continuous overgrazing has led to a single species dominating the rangeland. Fire as a tool for regenerationis
misunderstood. These disturbances have changed the species composition and richness. The use of fire needs to be carefully planned
and rest periods where appropriate need to be incorporated after its use. Controlled burning must be integrated with other grazing
management techniques to gain the full benefits.Degraded communalrangelands areresilientand can recoverwith changes in
species composition and species diversity.
Changing current communal grazing managementdepends on the successof any intervention through the presence of local-level
institutions and organisation (Rasmussen and Meinzen-Dick, 1995). Moyo etal (2008) has shown communal range management is
complex and various factors are required to make implement grazing management interventions. The study highlighted that rotational
grazing through fencing and paddocks was the ideal method to improve rangeland health and productivity in communal areas but lack
of local level institutions, limited knowledge of rangeland management, lack of rules and restrictions on rangeland resources are
constraints that would reduce the effectiveness of fencing. Planning rangelandinterventions would require consideration of
socioeconomic and ecological factors, strengthening of local-level institutions and utilizing land more effectively.
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During the co-learning workshops, discussions wereheld to understand grazing management strategies and practices that are
required:
1.To understand historical management and the influence on grazing practices
2.Identify current factors determining present grazing strategies
3.The role of fire in the rangeland
4.Livestock stoking rates
The degradation linked to the overgrazing is the severe erosion evident in both villages. Large gullies have formed in areas related to
cattle paths and subsequent water movement down these cattle paths. The erosion is lessening the productive land available for
grazing and is also creating hazards and vulnerability in the villages due to the erosion undercutting roads, incising river channels and
increasing flow rates. Restoration activities are urgently required to address the erosion and to, at a minimum, slow the rate of erosion
with the intention ultimately to restore the landscape. Together with the community, the extent of erosionwerediscussed at the co-
learning workshops. The approaches to restoration were discussed,with local knowledge being gathered.
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CHAPTER 4:PARTICIPATORYMAPPINGOFLANDUSEANDECOSYSTEM
SERVICES
4.1INTRODUCTION
Ecosystem services, being the benefits humans obtain from interacting with ecosystems, relate to many dimensions of human well-
being. These interactions, between the natural environment, human skills and decisions, technology and infrastructure, social-cultural
organization and institutions, result in the co-production of ecosystem services (Duraiappah et al., 2014). The resilience of ecosystem
services is the capacity of a social-ecological system to reliably sustain a desired set of ecosystem services, inthe face of disturbance
and ongoing evolution and change. Building resilience of a smallholder agricultural community by focusing on the long-term provision
of ecosystem services is a means to sustain livelihoods and the human well-being of its inhabitants a task critical in South Africa,
and Africa as a whole. Novel ways of assessing different kinds of ecosystem services (e.g. provisional, regulating and cultural), as well
as linking them to livelihood strategies, makes the ecosystem service concept particularly useful for exploring human-nature benefits
and values associated with different kinds of land uses, property regimes and social-cultural contexts (Henriksson Malinga et al., 2018).
Ecosystem service assessments often origin from land use proxies, which involve assumptions of what ecosystem services are
associated with various kinds of land uses. Available land use/land cover maps are typically produced at course resolutions, based on
satellite imagery. These maps are useful for large-scale landscape and development planning and regional land management.
However, inorder to create more locally relevant land use maps for local decision-making, verification, ground-truthing and re-
classification of land uses are needed.The expert based mapping of resources and land uses presented in Chapter 3forms a valuable
basis for community co-learning of the natural resource base and its current state and condition. However, without understanding of
what the landscape is utilized, valued, and appreciated for - from the perspective of those who live there and depend on the resources
for their livelihoods - identifying solutions for sustainable management of communityresources are likely to be unsustainable and
unsuccessful.
This chapter describes how community members formed partof mapping their landscapesin terms of land uses, features of the
landscape of importance to the community, as well asa wide range of ecosystem services and livelihoods benefits associated with
land uses andspecific places.More detailed analysis of the rich set of spatial and qualitative information collected for this chapter will
be found in the MSc thesis of Mdoda Ngwenya, currently registered for a Master of Science degree in Environmental Hydrology at
UKZN.
4.2METHODS
The participatory mapping of land use and ecosystem services was conducted through a series of iterative participatory methods;
participatory mapping workshops, village walks and co-learning workshops.
4.2.1Participatory mapping workshops
Threeone-dayparticipatory mapping workshopstookplace in each of the communities; one group with women, one with men and one
with decision makers (i.e. people in the communities involvedin decision-makingprocesses such as grazing or water committees).
Motives for having separate groups with men and women are two-fold; firstly, the differential use and dependencies of resources and
parts of the landscapes between men and women are important to understand and captured. Gendered activities such as livestock
herding carried out by men, and fetching waterthat is usually women’s responsibilities, are enabled to be discussed at more depth if
the groups are separated. Secondly, persistent power dynamics between men and women can affect the confidence and freedom to
express ones views and perceptions by women in the presence of men.
High-resolution satellite images sourced from Google Earth were used in order for the workshop participants to mark and identify
relevant places, land uses, ecosystem services and features in their community landscapes (Figure 4-1). The boundaries that were
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marked out by the community leaders and members during the inception field visit to the communities were confirmed or revisedas a
start. The information gathered through the mapping activities was digitized using Google Earth, combining information from each of
the three workshops in the respective communities.
4.2.2Village walks
To build on the participatorymapping workshops, three-day village walks were conducted with a group of key informants in each
community, consisting of women, men and youth(Figure 4-2). The walk in Costone had five participants who visited nine places, and
Ezibomvini saw twelve participants visiting18places. On the first day, the participants revisited the maps from the participatory
mapping workshops, to identify key areas of significance for the communities to visit. The places to visit and routes for the walkswere
planned andmarkedby the group. Some parts of the routes were covered by a car due to long distances. At the various stops,
participants were engaged in conversations guided by questions including: (i) What is the local name of the place,(ii) why is important
or how it isused; (iii) what has changed and why; (iv)ifeveryone have access to these places or benefits,and (v) isthere any
management in place and what the participants think could be done.Coordinates, notes, recordings and photos of visited places were
captured and digitized using Excel spreadsheets and Google Earth.
Figure 4-1 Participants of participatory mapping workshops in Costone (left) and Ezibomvini (right)
Figure 4-2 Participants describing significant places and ecosystem services during village walks in Costone and Ezibomvini
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4.2.3Co-learning workshops
The expert based maps of land uses and ecosystem conditions including water sources (i.e. rivers,springs and wetlands),erosion,
invasive alien species, woody encroachment and veld conditions presentedin Chapter 3 were sharedand discussed with community
members in a series of two co-learning workshops per community. Participants marked out additional places of importance, including
land uses and ecosystem services that were added to the maps developed during the participatory mapping workshops and village
walks.
4.3LOCALLY DEFINEDLAND USES AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
The community participants have a rich and detailed understanding of their landscapes and describe a diverse utilization of, and
appreciation for, locally defined land uses and their benefits.A wide variety of ecosystem services are associated with specific land
uses and places in the landscape. These include crop and livestock production, hunting and wild plants for food; cattle manure for
fertilization; fire wood for household fuel; poles, soil and plaster sand for building material; a variety of species for traditional medicines
and spiritual uses; places for social relations, cultural heritage and spiritual ceremonies. Apparent in the landscape, and expressed by
most of the participants, many of the ecosystem services are declining due to overuse, land degradation, erosion and reduced water
availability.
The mountainous grasslands provide important land usesand ecosystemservicesin both communities such as grazingland, hunting,
medicinal plants, wild food, firewood and water sources. Wetlands play a crucial role in providing clean water, foods and flood control.
As explained by a participant from Costone during a village walk, there was a previous lack of aawarenessofthemultiple benefits of
wetlands:“Nami bengingakwazi ukubaluleka kwexhaphozi ngiqale ukwazi nje kuleminyakana ukuthi ixhaphosi libalulekile, Mina
bengazi ukuthi ixhaphozi yinto nje encolisayo,uthi uyafika ufice nje namanzi ebomvu, ubone ukuthi hhayi! Kusho ukuthi lento into
engasebenzi, kwahamba kwahamba nami ngezwa sesikhona la kwaMahlathini ukuthi ixhaphozi liyawacleaner amanzi”, which
translates to “I also didn't know the importance of the wetlands, I have just started to know in past few years that the wetland is
important, what I knew is that wetland is just a dirty thing in that when you come here, you find red water, something that is not normal!
You will think this is something that does not work. As time goes by, I heard it from Mahlathinithat the wetland cleans the water”.
Participants of the Ezibomvini villagewalkidentified a variety of wetlands species used as traditional medicine and food. These species
include Ugobho (River Pumpkin- Gunnera perpensa) which is described to be commonly utilised to treat period pains and to clean the
womb of the livestock (cattle and goat) after ithas givenbirth. “Imbuzi iyazala kubekhona udoti osalayo ongaphumi kahle bathi
isikhundla somntwana lapho kuhlala khona umntwana, mese uyayiphuzisa iwukhiphe wonke loyo doti ukuze izokwazi ukuthi
mesilandelwa futhi imuthole kanhle umntwana, explained one participants, which translates to “A goat gives birth and there is some
waste left that does not come out properly in the womb. The goat is given the medicine to drinkfor it to takeout all the waste so that it
givesbirth to a healthybaby that would follow. They reported the speciesto be scarce in the area even though they continue to utilise
it by buying it from pharmacy. The species is perceived to beover utilizeddue to its demand among women and due to tradeto local
people and herbalists. Participants explained theyused to have their own traditional wayof preserving the species by taking offa
seedling and leave other parts to grow,which isa practice no longer followed. The reasoningis said to be that if someone finds the
species anddo notcollect it, someone else will take it.Participants report that some people havestarted toplantthe species at home
whereit is more securedand can provide a source of income for the women, as explained with excitement by one participant: Uma
kuqhamuka okuyintombazanyana kuthi ngafa isilumo, ngithi uthenilandi! Ugobha thenilandi!This translates to “If agirl comes up and
says I'm dying of period pains, I just tell her R10! Ugobho R10!Another species that isreported to be depleted from the wetlands is
Isihlambezo, aherbal medicine commonly used by Zulu women to prevent ill-health during pregnancy (Varga and Veale, 1997).
Participants alsouse wetlands to collect different species of grass, including Istihalaand other species used for weaving handcrafts
such as mats, baskets and ukhamba(beer vessels), as well as uxhaphozi which is a wildfoodwithsimilar uses as spinach.
Participants acknowledged that springs are found within wetland areas, butsome expressed that they were unaware of the adverse
effects on cattle grazing on wetlands. Springs are recognized as a crucial source of water for the community members. In Costone,
the participantsidentified 16 springs across the community landscapeduring the village walks, while Ezibomvini recorded ten. Several
more springs were later mapped out in subsequent co-learning workshops.Water from springs are usedfor all household duties,
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includingdrinking, cooking, washing clothes and cleaning. Waterfrom springs is also usedto make mudbricks, especiallyin cases
wherethe river is farfrom households. Most of the springs are reported to be no longer functioning, somedry up in winter, while only
a few provide waterthroughout the year. Water availability inthesprings is also perceived to be decreased compared to previously,
as expressed by an Ezibomvini participants during the village walk:Mina nje mengikhumbula kulomthombo, mekuthiwa kunebhizi nje
benikha nize nidele engapheli amanzi, manje nje mengiwabheka ngathi singakha nje isiqomu esisodwa, awasafani nakudala, which
translates to “If I just remember this well, when there is something busy happening in the village, we would collect enough water, if I
am looking at it now, it seems as we could only collect a few water cans, it is not the same as it used to be”.
The participants acknowledge that all their springs are in a poor condition and not protected. One participant in Costone states
Njengoba ubona nje nawe,imfuyo iyafika ngezinye inkathi iphuze lamanzi iwangcolise futhi, kuthathe isikhathi eside ukuthiaphinde
acwengeke. Abanye bawakha enjalo emanzi bazame icebo likuwaclean ekhaya”, which translates to “As you can seeby yourself,
livestock sometimes come and drink this water and pollute it too, it takes a long time for it to be purified again. Others collect it as it is
and make a plan to clean it at home. It wasdescribed by the participants thatthe place to draw water from the spring is usually found
lower in the ground,andheavy rains washall the surface debris including soil and dry cow dunginto the spring and pollute it. Heavy
rains not only pollute the spring, but overflows it and makes it difficult to see the area to draw water from.
Livestock production is one of the most important ecosystem services for the communities. Livestock graze across the mountain areas
in summer and within the homestead/croparea in winter. The communities hold mainly cattle and goats with few households that farm
sheep and pigs. Participants explain that some families leave their cattle in the mountains the entire cropping season with herders,
while others fetch their cattle daily, especiallythose households living near the mountain. Due to the riskof livestock theft, some
community members prefer to have their livestock sleep at home every night.
During the village walks, participants discussed that the grazing areas are not well managed in the communitiesand express the desire
to control the grazing and manage the grasslands. In relation to fire, participants explain that theveldis sometimes burned by people
without waiting for the proper time, and this has caused the grass quality to decrease and soil erosion to takeplace, especial where
cattle walk to get to the grazing land. A participant from Costone elaborated:Into esingayifuni ukuthi kushiswe umlilo noma ikanjani,
nokuthi inkomo zidle noma ikanjani, nokungabibikho ngomthetho ngoba into edala nokuthi kuguguleke njengoba kuguguleke kangaka
ukuthi izinkomo ziyahamba zihambe noma ikanjani, lifike izulu line ifike inkomo inyathele kuqhuphuke lakuqhephukeka khona, lifike
izulu lithathe lakuqhephukelekhona, kathi mekuthiwa ziyalawulwa ukuthi indlela yezinkomo ila, zingahambi layithanda khona. This
can be translated to: “What we don't want is for the fire to be burned no matter how, and for thecattle to graze no matter how, and for
there to be no law, because the thing that causes soil erosion is that the cattle is walking anyhow, when the rain comes and the cow
steps on same path it gets broken, and when it rain comes again, all the soilfrom the broken path is taken away. So it better if the
walking paths could be controlled”.
Soil erosion in these communities is perceived by the participants to be caused by overgrazing, frequent movement cattle walking the
same path and natural opening of soil surface during dry periods. Large gullies have formed in places associated with livestock
pathways and then watermove down through cattle paths. Participants have developed an awareness from this project, that there is
an urgent need to prevent further soil erosion by implementingrestoration activitieswith the intention to restore the landscape.
The participatory mapping exercises identified mainly four alien invasive species, locatedin patches across the landscape of both
communities. The Costone community has wattle, poplar, lantana and gumtree plant species, while Ezibomvini has wattle, poplarand
Lantana. Costone has many patches of wattle species found along the mountain slopes, riverchannels and flat landscape, as
compared to Ezibomvini which is dominated lantana along the Nyunyana hill. The way wattle and gumtree patches are found in the
Costone community, it is apparent that theywere introduced in the area for specific purposes. Each species provides multiple
ecosystemservices to the communities such fencing yards and gardens, building houses and firewood for heating and cooking. Similar
results were found byNgorima and Shackleton(2017), where Acacia dealbata(Silver Wattle) in the Eastern Cape province is used for
firewood, fencing, and livestock fodder. The Ezibomvini community has two wattle patches that are strictly used for collecting poles for
funerals only. Participants explained that the community took a decision to restrict any harvesting after seeing patches deteriorating
because of overharvesting. Every bereaved family in the community thus has the right to cut down the poles that will be used when
the grave is dug. According to the community, a house is built inside the grave, and polescut toabout a meter are placed horizontal
to cover the coffin. Wattle poles are also used to make coffins as explained by a Costone participant:“Eminye imindeni ayilisebenzisi
ibhokisi lomngwcabo uma ingcwaba amalungu omndeni yabo ngokwesiko lwabo, ithatha wona uwatela ukwenza ibhokisi elibizwa
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ngokuthi Uhlaka lokungcwaba umuntu.This translates to “Some of the families do not use a coffin when they bury their family members
as part of their ritual and would use poles from this wattle to make their own coffincalled Uhlaka to bury a person”.
The poplar is described to be used to build the roof of traditionalhouses such as rondavels and Uguqa sithandaze (literally means
kneel and pray). These poles are harvested while they are young and able to bend. Some participants describe theyalsouse the
poplar poles to fence their home gardens.
The high use and associated benefits ofthese alien invasive speciesplays an apparentrole in the communities’ management
strategies around these patches. This project has contributed to an increased awareness of the species negative impact, particularly
on the water supply and its competition with the indigenous vegetation. Lantana, however, isnot appreciated by the communities as
theyhavethorny stems that makes it difficult for peopleto accessthe grasslands and forest patches. Theyalso prevent livestock from
accessing the forage through hurting the animal physically.
The extensive mapping of land uses and ecosystem services from the various expert based and participatory mapping activities have
been combined and provided to the community (see Chapter 6 for the various layers). Figure 4-3 shows the overview of Costone and
Figure 4-4 ofEzibomvini.
Figure 4-3 Map of important land uses, landscape features and ecosystem services identified by community members
through a series of participatory GIS exercises in Costone
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Figure 4-4 Map of important land uses, landscape features and ecosystem services identified by community members
through a series of participatory GIS exercises in Ezibomvini
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CHAPTER 5:GOVERNANCE, DECISION-MAKING, POWER AND ACCESS
5.1INTRODUCTION
In theory, natural resources available within common-property regimes are managed by, and accessible to, a given community, where
rights of equal access and use are shared by the community members. However, in practice, access to resources is often not equal.
In the South African context, post-apartheid land tenure reforms ensured the retention of indigenousor customary authority over
communal land by establishing traditional authorities to govern the communities’ land and natural resources. Formal and informal
agreements and kinship networks that influence community members’ access to land and naturalresources. Rapid socio-economic
and political change since the colonial era, which is when the policy of traditional land tenure was established, has led to inequitable
power structures in communities (Benjaminsen etal., 2006). This is manifested through both formaland informal agreements and
kinship networks that influence community members’ access to land and natural resources. Powerful actors have an advantage over
the impoverished, and women often lack opportunities to control and manage land (Cousins, 2009). The combination oftraditional
authority over communal land,and national legislation and policy adds further complexity to the issues of decision-makingtowards
long-term sustainability and resilience in land use management. Having an understanding of what landuses are present and what
management strategies are in place, is not sufficient for developing resilient and sustainable managementof the resources in
smallholder agricultural communities. The community resources governance structures as well as the multifaceted dynamics between
individual and collective decisions around the use and management of land, water and natural resources determine thesuccess of the
same (Kenter et al., 2016).Developing a shared understanding of decision-makingstructures and processes ofdecision-making, as
well as recognizing power imbalancesand unequal access to resources, is crucial for the co-development of sustainable and equitable
management strategies. Thischapter first provides an overview of the background to, and roles, responsibilities and legislation of
Traditional Authorities(TA)in South Africa. It then moves to discuss governance structures in Ezibomvini and Costone, as well as
insights into decision-making, power and access that hasemerged through avariety of engagements with community members
including meetings, workshops, focus group discussions, interviews and participation by the project team in the community activities
related to the project.More detailed analysis of aspects related to participation,power and governance willbe found in the Master
thesis of Philisa Dunyana, currently registered for a Master degree in Environmental Sciencesat Rhodes University.
5.2TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
Section 211(2) of the Constitution regards Traditional Authorities(TA)as primary agents of development(Republic ofSouth Africa
(RSA), 1996). They are seen as the representatives of the community and as such are entrusted with an important responsibility,
namely that of harmonising community customs and traditions with the ethosof the Constitution (Albertyn andGoldblatt, 1998).
In termsof the legislation, the role oftraditional leadership is to:
-Promote democratic governance and the values of an open and democratic society
-Progressively advance gender equality within the institutions of traditional leadership
-Promote freedom, human dignity and the achievement of equality and non-sexism
-Strive to enhance tradition and culture
-Promote nation building and harmony and peace amongst people
-Promote the principles of co-operative governance in their interaction with all spheres ofgovernment and organs of state
-Promote an efficient, effective and fair dispute-resolution system, and a fair system of administration of justice.
A whole suite of new roles has also been proposed in the White Paper on Traditional Leadership and Governance (Department of
Provincial and Local Government, 2003). In essence,the white paper argues for traditional leadership to support local and regional
municipal and government structuresindevelopment roles and thatthe governing structures should enable such participationand
partnerships. Some of the new roles, which are extensive, include for example:
- Land and Agriculture:
- Play a role in land administration
- Advise government on agricultural development and improvement of farming methods
- Promote sustainable use of land and
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- Advise government and participate in programmes geared to prevent cruelty to animals
- Environment and Tourism:
- Promote environmental management and
- Promote sustainable use of cultural resources within communities
- Natural Resource Management:
- Promote sustainable traditional approaches to water resource management
These new roles are based on the premise and assumptions that South African customary law existed long before the adoption ofthe
Constitution and among other things, aims atharmonising the different cultural practices that exist in thecountry. It isapparent that
some traditional cultural practices that still exist are in conflict with the Constitution but, until they are challenged before a court of law,
they will remain enforceable in our communities (Bennet, 2004).
Issues related to resource use and management in particular are still not clear.The post-Apartheid approach to water resource
management (WRM) has been guided by global trends that include a shift from supply to demand management, decentralisation of
water management decisions and a more integrated and participatory approach to WRM. The active involvement of an informed public
in the management and allocation of South Africa's scarce water resources is central to this approach. Both the Water Services Act
(WSA), No. 108 of 1997 (RSA, 1997), and the National Water Act (NWA), No. 36 of 1998,(RSA, 1998) are based on principles of
participation and social justice and contain provisions that require the involvement of citizens in the management of water resources,
mainly through the establishment of catchment management agencies (CMAs) and water user associations (WUAs). Incorporation of
traditional systems of governance including the customary practices and laws relevant to WRM, have been largely overlooked
(Kapfudzaruwa andSowman, 2009). Waterservice authorities (WSAs), water service providers (WSPs) and other state agencies such
as Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and DALRRD, have now assumed authority in terms of water provision and
management. As an example, each traditional authority has a ward councillor representativein the WSA, as well as the ‘politically’
elected ward councillor for the area. The politically elected councillors are considered the mandated representatives regarding water
issues for their wards. How or whether these councillors interact with the traditional governance system is not considered.
At present, traditional leaders are still responsible for land allocation in communal tenure areas and take an active role inconflict
management and resolution between communitymembers.Although theland allocation system of the traditional leadership has
servicing and financial implications for the municipality, there is little or no communication between the institutions. Legislation demands
inclusive spatial planning and land use management system as well as municipal control and as such municipal planning has no
influence on traditional council decisions or vice versa, leading to fragmented development and conflict (Dubazana andNel, 2016).
Traditional Authorities also nominally manage grazing in their communities and generally provide strict dates for harvesting of field
crops and allowing of livestock back into the village areas, from grazing areas, during the winter season. They are represented in the
livestock associations and dip tank committees for most villages. Again, there is a mismatch between their governance roles and those
assigned to local government and the DALRRD.
The issue of the role of traditional leadership in natural resources managementhas only very recently been given some attention and
includes suggestions for governance related to land use management, livestock grazing and environmental law enforcement.
5.2.1Traditional leadership, in summary
Traditional leadership is expected to provide democratic governance directly or through supporting the government institutions across
all spheres within their communities, without clear avenues, processes, structures or finance provided to do so. The local government
processes have however failed in most respects to provide the leadership, support and funding required for coherent land use,water
and natural resources management, leading to largely unregulated overuse and mismanagement of resources in communal tenure
areas.Local inhabitants have to some extent stepped into this void and made their own arrangements, generally clearly designed to
provide personal benefit to some individuals, and none of which are necessarily supported legally. This situation has furtherweakened
the position of women and the poor in these communities.
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5.3METHODS TO EXPLORE GOVERNANCE, DECISION-MAKING, POWER AND ACCESS
MDF has through decades of engagement with groups and individuals of Ezibomvini and Costone, gained an in-depth understanding
of the governance structures in the two communities, as well as navigated decision-making structures influencedby power imbalances
and unequal access to natural resources and decision-making processes. Further data to gain understanding into the community
members’ perceptions of the complexities of decision-making, power and access in the Costoneand Ezibomvinicommunities has
been collected throughout the project. This has taken place when the project team has engaged with communities through meetings,
co-learning workshopsand community activitiesusing participant observations, taking note of conversations that relate to decision-
making processes, power imbalances and unequalaccess. Directquestions relating to power and accesswere further asked to
participants duringthe village walks and participatory mapping workshops described in Chapter 4.2. Focus groups discussions have
taken place, namely one groupof 20 participantsin Ezibombini, and two groupsof five and 22 participants respectively,in Costone.
The discussions covered topics such as natural resource management and land use, land use practices in past, present and future,
who makes decisions, and for whom, who have access to resources,communities’ relationships to traditional authorities and ward
councillors, roles of ward councillors,changes in access to resources over the past decade; and the impact of climate change on
natural resources and community members’access thereto. Furthermore, in-depth semi-structured interviews were held withmultiple
stakeholders including local authorities, NGOs,water committee members in Costone and Ezibomvini as well as with EcoChamps to
address questions related to power dynamics within water governance, management, access and collaboration.
5.4GOVERNANCESTRUCTURES AND DECISION-MAKING IN COSTONE AND EZIBOMVINI
These villages, in the Emmaus region of rural Bergville fall under the Amangwane Traditional Authority. The Nkosi for the area, Mr N
Dladla resides in Eqeleni, a village nearby and each village also has a TAward councillor, Mrs Hlongwanefor Costoneand MrFaqa
Dubazane for Ezibomvini. The villages are represented in the OLMby ward councillors elected according to political party affiliations,
in this case Mr Cyprian Dladla, an Inkatha freedom Partycouncillor, who resides in Costone. In each of the twovillages there are a
few further committees or organisational structures. Prominent among these are the Dip tank committees, which also serve as the
Livestock Associationsfor these villages, overseen by the KZNDARD. Water committees consisting of communitymembers andTA
councillors are also present in adjacent villages but were not present in either Costoneor Ezibomvini prior to their more recent
processes involving NGOs. Specific interest groups also exist among which different church groups are the mostcommon. It is notable
that community organisation in both Costoneand Ezibomvini were very weak upon entry by MDF, who started working in these villages
around 2013-2014. Relationships with both the TA and the OLM have also been strained, conflictual and minimal.
In both communities, decision-making processes appear to be primarily driven by the community members, particularly men, with an
emphasis on maintaining peace and preserving natural resources. Different aspects of community land use and livelihoods activities,
such as protection of forests, grazing rangelands, cropping, and harvesting, involve decisions made collectively by specific groups, or
by individual members.
When it comes to protecting the forests used for collecting wood for burials, the community men discuss and share their ideasamong
themselves, subsequently informing other community members about the agreed-upon approach. This demonstrates a partial
participatory decision-making process within the community, whereideas are shared and consensus is reached (women excluded
from some areas of decision-making, including livestock management). Regarding grazing rangelands, livestock farmers take charge
of protecting these areas and prevent others from settling or farming there. In case of disputes arising from new occupants, the local
chief assists in resolving the conflicts. This implies a shared responsibility between the livestock farmers and the chief inmanaging the
grazing lands and addressing any conflicts that may arise. Forcropping decisions, each individual has the autonomy to decidewhat
they will farm in a given season. According to dates given by the local chief, livestock farmers take their livestock to grazing areas
away from the crop fields to avoid any disputes arising from livestock damaging growing crops as many crop producers lack proper
fencing. At harvesting season, the chief gives precise harvesting dates to community members and failures to complete the harvest
within the given time frame is considered the farmer's fault as the livestock owners are allowed to bring back the livestock from
mountains to forage in the crop fields and common areas around homesteads.Any dispute arisingfrom this matter is solved at the
discretion of the field and livestock owners.
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The common view is that water resources generally freely accessed by the community members without restrictions or regulations. It
is mentioned that the Costone community has faced issues with the ward committee regarding access to water sources provided by
the municipality (occasional boreholes or tanks with a tap), but they have found ways to overcome these challenges and use the water
freely. The soil does not seem to be regulated, except from individual homesteads including crop fields. Boundaries, on the other hand,
are controlled by the local chiefs, suggesting their involvement in defining and managing the land boundaries within the community.
Overall, decision-making processes in these communities involve a combination of collective discussions among someselected groups
of community members, individual autonomy in certain areas, and the involvement of the local chief and councillor in resolving disputes
and managing resources. While there is a focus on community participation and preserving natural resources, there are also challenges
and tensions in the relationship between the community and certain governance structures,as highlighted in thecase of municipal
water access and the perceived lack of effective leadership.
The conversations with community membersand observations during community engagementportray a sense of frustration and
discouragement within the community regarding both the Induna, the TA, the councillors, and the local chief. The community members
feellet down by their leaders who are not effectively addressing their needs and concerns, and instead, seem to prioritize their own
interests. The community's relationship with both the local chief and the councillorsis strained, and their roles lack clarity and
effectiveness. These challenges within the governance structure contribute to a growing sense of frustration, highlighting the need for
improved leadership and communication to address the community's needs and build trust.
5.4.1Contested perceptions of resource access
In Costone and Ezibomvini, designated grazing areas and forest/plantation patches are for communal use and is regulated by the TA
to a certain extent. Similarly, water sources are considered open access to all. Mostly, the relation is done through the resolution of
individual conflicts that arise, rather than active engagement of the community as a whole. It was commonly expressed during
workshops, focus group discussions and village walks that community members typically have free and equal access to natural
resources. When exploring the matter of management solutions and interventions in-depth, however, contradictions to the notionof
free and equal access has surfaced. Discussion during the co-learning workshops brought some more insight into the matter. There
are a number of issues related to land use, water and natural resource management that are both partisan and unregulated - either
through local norms existing governance structures or legal frameworks. The community organisation is coloured by the prevalent
thinking of community members and highly influenced by the more prominent members of the community. This is an inevitableand
somewhat unfortunate outcome of the need to develop communal practice without the benefit of guiding governance and legal
frameworks and principles. Another inherent difficulty with these processes is that if individuals are unwilling or even obstructive related
to agreements made, there is very little recourse for the community groups to ‘force’ compliance.In both communities, there is a lack
of effective management by the local authorities, resulting in people taking matters into their own hands andmaking their ownrules
regarding resource use and management. The concept of ownership has emerged, where individuals claim resources such as land,
water sources, and trees as their own. Thus, public access to resources has diminished, not only because offactors such as a dryer
weather and land degradation, but also as individuals increasingly claim and manage their own land, including water sources, wattle,
and poplar stands. Some provide free access to communitymembers but deny access to those from further away. Others consider
the resources as their own and are unwilling to share. Concerning land allocation, the demand for land for settlement is much higher
than available land. This has meant encroachment into farming and grazing land and also allocations that include both very eroded
land and wetlands. It has also led to an informal ‘land market’ where land is ’sold’ to newcomers by ‘existing’ owners and a pattern of
claiming of resources by individuals. There is little recognition in the claimed ownership of also having a responsibility to manage.
Grazing in this wetland is however open access and the wetland has been severely damaged through heavy annual winter grazing.
In some instances, infrastructure for water access has been vandalized as a response to perceived unequal access.With the newer
group based local water access schemes, individuals from outside the community or with authority in the TA have come into thevillage
and with vehicles and filled up large drums of water,refusing entreaties to be part of the groups in terms of payments and effort
provided. The absence of external authority has contributed to the current situation and participants recognize the need for some form
of management in such circumstances to prevent the destruction of infrastructure and ensure access to resources. There is no external
authority currently intervening in these disputes.
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5.4.2Power dynamics within water governance, management, access and collaboration
The power dynamics within water governance in the upper uThukela Catchment as a whole have an effect on power dynamics within
water management, access and collaboration inand between individual communities. The analysis of power dynamics in collaborative
water governance processes in the catchment revealed various aspects that influence the effectiveness of collaboration. One aspect
is political party contestation, whichinvolves competition between different political parties in power, leading to negativecompetition,
duplication of services, poor operational flow, and a lack of urgency in addressing water challenges, such as those in the communities.
Furthermore, negligence has been observed since the amendment of water acts in 1994, leading to a lack of trust, conflicts, and poor
service delivery.The lack of willingness to participatein community and multi-stakeholder engagements focusing on topics such as
water availability and access,by the water service authority, is a significant barrier. Their absence hinders sound decision-making and
necessary support and alignment between parties of different levels in the governance structures.Additionally, undisclosedplansand
agendasby ward councillorsto gain or maintain power, resulting in inconsistency in decision-making and low or non-existing priorities
regarding water supply for communities.
The mechanisms of access to water resources in the Upper Thukela catchment include institutional arrangements, rights, and
entitlements. Formal and socially embedded institutions shape access, while rights and entitlements regulate access. These
mechanismsinvolve various stakeholders such as local government structures, traditional councils, water committees, and traditional
courts.Marginalized communities face discrimination based on socio-economic status, lack of agency and political affiliations, leading
to violations of human rights and undermining dignity.
Access to wateraffectssocial associationat a local level, particularly women and children, who primarily collect water for domestic
use, are affected by the outcomes of water access.Understanding the consequences of power dynamics and implementing strategies
to overcome barriers are crucial for effective collaboration. Institutional arrangements, rights, and entitlements shape access to water
resources, while outcomes of collaborativegovernance systems impact political voice, social association, accessto water, livelihoods,
and catchment outcomes. Addressing power imbalances and promoting transparency, accountability, and meaningful participation are
essential for equitable and sustainable management of water.
5.5BUILDING TRUST, SOCIAL AGENCY AND LOCAL CAPACITY
Within this context of governance, decision-making, power and access outlined in this chapter, one of MDF’s goals was to provide for
a process of building socialagency in these villages,facilitated by initially setting up voluntary learning groups in Climate Resilient
Agriculture (CRA). The learnings groups were set up to facilitate exploration of adaptive strategies and improved agricultural practices,
as this was a priority for community members. Over time, these CRA learning groups, being inclusive, open, participatory and
developmental, have become the hubs from which further community organisation and relationships with external stakeholders have
developed. They have provided community members with a process for engagement, for developing systems of representation and
building motivation for involvement in the larger water and resource management issues, which have been mired in intractable conflict
in the past.
Village savings and loan associations were setup, followed by water committees (inclusive ofTA representation)and marketing
committees. The CRA learning groups have hosted and built relationships with a range of external role players including research
organisations and universities (such as the research team involved in this project) other NGOs, SAPPI, GrainSA the uThukela
Economic Development Agency and the Department of Health, thus a wide range of institutions. The CRA learning groups have also
been drawn into multi-stakeholder processes and platforms under the auspices of WWF-SA, the WRC and SANBI and now represent
their communities in the recently constituted Northern Drakensberg Collaborative (formerly the Upper uThukela Catchment
Partnership) - a multi-stakeholder platform focused on water and resource conservation issues in the region.
It is important to note that this gradual development of capacity and trust within these two villages have formed the backbone of greatly
improved collaborative efforts in the community - between community members and also with local authority representatives, enabling
them to develop systems and rules for water and resource management at community level, to which the Traditional Authorities have
been party to.
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The existing CRA learning groups, including the enhanced trust with, and facilitated by MDF, enabled a valuable entry point for the
project team of this project. The ongoing activities in the communities were efficaciously and positively expanded, or builton, with the
activities rolled out through this project.
This has enabled community members to engage in a number ofdifferent activities that have brought both socialand environmental
improvement in their communities. Members have engaged in:
- Joint farming activities:providing land preparation and planting support to each other, engaging in bulkbuying of inputs
together, learning and implementation for a range of CRA practices and integration of livestock through production of fodder and winter
supplementation. Rulesaround livestock movement and management have been an emergent characteristic of this, as has increased
involvement in farming by community members as well as intensification of agricultural activities for greater productivity. Other
outcomes have been much reduced runoff and erosion in and around fields.
- Joint water access activities:Community members have formed localised water structures andhave provided labour and
financial support towards provision of small multipurpose use water schemes from protected spring and boreholes reticulated to either
communal standpipes or household connections. Emergent characteristics of this participatory process of water access design have
been increased awareness of water resources, how they are used and water quality issues. Community members have undertaken
operational and maintenance control of their small schemes and have developed rules for daily management. They have become
more aware of the importance ofboth wetlands and groundwater in their systems and the basic requirementsfor protection ofthese
water sources.
- Joint economic activities:providing for better financial management and cash flows of individual members, increased access
to village based and local markets in their marketing groups, increased ability to manage group funds for mutual benefit and increased
ability to engage in productive activities rather than only consumptive ones.
- Joint socialactivities:through the learning group community members have become more aware of and willing to assist
vulnerable individuals and groupings in their villages, including for example young single mothers and ailing pensioners. Emergent
characteristics here have been the improved status of both women and youth in these villages, and has seen women both young and
more mature take on prominent leadership positions in their community structures.
- Joint resource conservation activities:this is a more recent development, as a result of the intensive participatory mapping
and planning processes undertaken in this project, linked to information provision regarding the state of their communal resource, such
as veld assessments, climate information, and resource assessments. Now, more specifically in Costone, community members,
through the CRA learning group and Dip tank committee have been engaged in regular environmental workdays, undertaking erosion
control measures, grazing management, river clean ups, alien clearing and road maintenance. In Ezibomvini, which lacks the social
coherence of Costone, due to the continual influx of new and unrelated people, the drive towards action has been a lot slowerand
requires a greater level of intervention by the facilitating organisations It is not unwillingness as much as lack of relationships that
have provided for a much slower process.
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PART II: CO-LEARNING FOR SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF COMMUNITY
RESOURCES
CHAPTER 6:A TRANSDISCIPLINARYSOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL GIS SUPPORT
TOOL
6.1COMMUNITY MAPS
A series of map layers were produced for each ofthe communities, with geographical information about the community landscapes
generated throughan iterative process involvingexpert based mapping of resources and land uses, participatory mapping, village
walks and co-learning workshops. The maps include layers of land uses and landscape features such as grazing areas, homesteads,
water points, springs, rivers, wetlands, alien invasives, indigenous and planted forests, erosion, ecosystem services and the
communities’ restoration priority areas. Preliminary maps were presented to the communities during the final co-learning workshop
were participants provided feedback and suggested editsand additions (Figure 6-1). The maps(see Figure6-2 and G) were then
updated according to the feedback and prepared for printing to be handed out. The maps are available to the communities as printed
and laminated A3 maps for continued decisions of community resources and management strategies.It was agreed to provide five
and sixsets of maps to Costone and Ezibomvini respectively, to be held in the different sub-sections of each village, to ensure easy
access for both meetings and the resource management activities.
Figure 6-1 Team members outline the different maps for the community in Costone (left). In Ezibomvini community members
looking through and discussing the various layers of the maps (right)
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Figure 6-2 Four layers of maps over Costone to be printed, laminated and delivered to the community
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Figure 6-3 Five layers of maps over Ezibomvini to be printed, laminated and delivered to the community
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CHAPTER 7:COMMUNITY RESOURCES MANAGEMENT PLANS
7.1INTRODUCTION
Co-learning about the climate, the environment, andthe communities’ needs, priorities and decision-making structures, between
scientists, the MDF facilitation team, community members and leaders, has enabled the development of participatory community
resources management plans that are community-led and expert guided. The process has empowered the communities to plan,
innovate and take action towards sustainable and equitable management of their resources and to build social agency. This chapter
describes how the learnings and outcomes described in Chapters 2-6 were employed tofacilitate the communities to develop detailed
management plans for selected priorityareas and take action on these learningsfor deeper and more long-lasting impacts.
Figure 7-1 Co-learning workshops in Ezibomvini and Costone. Top row: First workshop, bottom row: second
workshop
7.2METHODS
Two co-learning workshops were held in each community to create a shared understanding between scientists, the MDF facilitation
teamand the communities aboutland and water resources, the communitiesneeds and priorities, decision-making structures as well
as climate change and variability thathave consequences on social, economic, environmental and agricultural aspects of the area
(Figure 7-1). Duringthe first workshop, the participants and researchers reflected on, and discussed the implications of changing
rainfalls and temperatures, erosion, water quality and availability, alien invasive species, veld condition and grazing, and communicated
around land management practices and options, as well aslandscape use and dependency. The maps from Chapter 3 were shared
and discussed, and additional features were marked out on the maps to be included in the transdisciplinary social-ecological GIS tool
(Chapters 4 and 6).The second workshop startedwith recapping the learnings from the previous workshop, and additional features
were marked out, similar to the first workshop. Thereafter the participants were asked to brainstorm and list priority areas of concern
that are of need for protection, restoration or targeted management. In both communities, the priority areas were identified as water
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sources (springs, streams and rivers), wetlands, alien invasives (poplar, wattle, eucalyptus and lantana), erosion and gullies, and
grazing land/livestock management. These areas were marked out on maps (Figure 7-2) and the participants were divided into two
groups to each work on a selection of the priority areas. Guided by a pair of facilitators, the groups were tasked with developing
management plans for the priority areas, using a method developed from elements of the Strategic Adaptive Management approach
(Rogers and Luton, 2011, Palmeret al., 2018). The management plans developedincluded detailed and structured information about
the priority area and location, the importance of the area for the community, what needs to be done to manage, restore and/or conserve
the area, what are the actions required, who will be involved from the community and from other organizations, timeframe for the
actions and what resources are needed for the actions.
Figure 7-2 Priority areas of Ezibomvini (left) and Costone (right)
7.3SUMMARY OF COMMUNITY RESOURCESMANAGEMENT PLANS
Both Ezibomvini and Costone developed detailed plans for their respective communities, with clear action plans including whoto take
charge, whoto be involved and agreedtimeframes. The participants were generally engaged and enthusiastic and it was observed
that the process encouraged agency and commitment to take action and follow through with the plans. Ezibomvini community however
had less engagement, and participants were often hesitant to commit, while Costone has acted with intention on the commitments and
followed through with many of the actions. Costone’s activities following the development of the management plan is described in
Chapter 8.3.2. The priority areas and action plans were fairly similar in both communities, with variations with regards to people involved
and timeframes. Table 7-1 provides a combined summary of the management plans from Costone and Ezibomvini.Detailed
management plans for each community are found in Appendix 1.
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Table 7-1 Summary of the community resources management plans in Costone and Ezibomvini, combined
Key Area
Management required
Notes
Grazing areas
(Amadlelo)
- Livestock feed
and water,
firewood,
medicinal plants
Restoration and management.
- Clear Lantana and use poison after cutting to stop
regrowth
- Rotational grazing
- Control wildfires and make firebreaks. Storage drums for
emergencies with fire one can use
- Explore financial benefit grant/incentive mechanisms
- Monitor and manage nutrition of veld (erosion control,
overgrazing control, removal of poisonous weeds, re-seed
of palatable species)
- Awareness raising in the community and for livestock
owners.
- EcoChamps to do clearing
- Dip tank committees and livestock
associations
- Better community collaboration with dip tank
committee as well as TA and councillors
- Community workdays
Wetlands
(Amacaphuza)
- Reeds (incema)
- Food and water
for cattle, also in
winter
- Medicinal plants
- Fire retardant
- Runoff and flood
water
management
- Improved water
quality
- Fertile soils with
earthworms
Small management changes to manage condition of
wetlands.
- Fencing to ensure good condition and make drinking
troughs for livestock
- Awareness raising on wetlands functions and services
- Replanting important species into wetlands; then
someone needs to police this and ensure people don’t just
harvest everything
- Protection and restoration of important medicinal species
for sale: Stop people with big bags who come in and take
for selling
- Avoid pigs coming in as they mess things up
- Avoid fires and burning
- Livestock inclusion managed, e.g. allow livestock in at
certain times only, design grazing camps, allow livestock
to graze on the edges, cut and carry feed.
- TA involvement and ‘landowners’ in wetland
areas to outline rules and responsibilities
- Community as a whole to follow these
- Local water and land use committees to
undertake specific actions related to water
access and management
- Issues around rights around use of water
and important medicinal plants need further
interventions
- Suggestion: talk to livestock association then
bring their comments and suggestions to the
water committee to continue the conversation
and include all
Erosion control
-To ensure
availability and
quality of water
and soil resources
Restoration
- Awareness raising and outline of responsible actions to
enforce
- Avoid expanding of minor erosion into dongas.
- Prevent siltation and pollution.
- Allow re-vegetation, naturally or through re-seeding
- Prevent run-off
- Check dams, brush packs, stone packs,
- Prevent livestock from causing further damage
- Control wildfire - make fire breaks
- TA and livestock committees to undertake
some actions
- EcoChampsto assists
- Some actions and contributions from
community as a whole, e.g., loan of tractors,
small financial contributions
- External support
- Continued support from UKZN and MDF in
mapping, planning, proposal development,
community structures and management
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Storage drums for emergencies with fire one can use
Alien trees
- Eucalyptus,
poplar,wattle
plantations, and
patches
Small changes
- Promote better management by ‘owners’
- Cut down and poison lantana and encroaching poplars
- Ensure management of wattle patches
- Remove trees from water sources and streams in all
cases
-TA, Nkosi and ‘owners” encouraged to
undertake management activities as trees are
useful in the community and cannot just be
cleared.
Springs and
streams
- Water provision
for drinking,
laundry, irrigation,
construction and
livestock
- Water quality
and quantity -
Issues are floods,
livestock
trampling, children
use as toilet, litter
Protection, restoration, and management must protect
the water sources to ensure supply.
- Should protect water so that livestock don’t disturb the
sources
- Protect the springs; with fencing and the ditches above
to avoid water from flowing in overland and contaminating
these springs.
- Check water quality.
- Remove eutrophication.
- Check springs regularly.
- Drinking spots for livestock
- Community awareness and education and for children
- Maintain the water infrastructure that is there.
- Avoid doing laundry in the water sources and keeping
them clean, no pampers, no urination, no use as toilet, no
dumping of dead animals.
- Protect springs with pipes to be able to irrigate the
gardens (reticulation to taps)
- Also use grey water for irrigation.
- Water harvesting and use.
- Make sure children don’t play around the water
sources… or pollute them
- TA, local municipality, water committees and
localised groups of people using specific
water sources to work together on access and
management plans and implementation
- Community must come together and make
rules and regulations regardinghygiene and
water
- Those that are involved should talk to others
and ensure they also learn - involve the TA
councillors and Nkosi
- Asking MDFto help with fencing and funding
for water access
- Day to day activities of cleaning springs,
digging furrows to reduce contamination to be
done by locals
- Dig refuse pits for disposal of waste in
each locality
- Awareness raising andcommunications
- Involve schools
- EcoChamps to assist with spring protection
and management and schools’ interventions
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CHAPTER 8:CO-DESIGNED INNOVATIONS AND ACTIONS
8.1INTRODUCTION
While theworkdescribed in Chapters 2-7 has aimed toincrease the communities’ knowledge and understanding of their natural
resource base to be better prepared to make decisions for improving their management practices, the communities are not technically
and financially equipped to test and experiment innovations, and to take action on management strategies developed. This project
therefore committed to provide the participants with additional support for management actions and community experimentation to test
innovations thatthey, through this long-term co-learning decision-makingprocess, have thoroughly reached consensus to implement.
Building the innovation testingbased on thorough decisions and taking actions on co-developed management strategies, including
reflecting on how decisions are made(Chapter 5), have resulted in tangible impact and potential for long-lasting change. This chapter
first describes the involvementof a youth group,theEcoChamps” in ecosystem and water resource management and restoration
activities in Costone and Ezibomvini. Itthen presents the processand outcomes of co-designed innovation for spring protection and
reticulation in Costone, as well as therestoration, alien clearing activities and other actions derived from the co-developmentof the
community resources management plans, review and follow up planning and a cross-community visit. Lastly, this chapter describe the
multi-stakeholder engagement processes in which these communities have been involved over the project duration.
8.1.1EcoChamps
Eight EcoChamps (four young community inhabitants of Costone and four of Ezibomvini) have been involved in training and application
of a number of ecosystem and water resource management and restoration activities in both communities. These activities include
river ecology (clarity tubes, MiniSASS and velocity plank), E. colitesting, clearing alien plants, building check dams, brush packs,
planting on bare lands, spring protection and other ad hoc work in the communities. The EcoChamps have worked together across
both communities and assisted community groups, such as the water committees, and thus contributed to cross-community learning,
sharing and relationship strengthening. The EcoChamps were also represented during themulti-stakeholder workshops arranged for
the NDC.
Figure 8-1 EcoChamps from Ezibomvini and Costone These activities include river ecology, E. colitesting, alien
clearing, building check dams, brush packs, planting on bare lands, spring protection and other ad hoc work in the communities
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8.2COSTONE SPRING PROTECTION AND RETICULATION SCHEME
As a preparation of the resource innovation in the communities, water and resources mapping walks(“water village walks”) were
carried out in the two communities. These walks were aimed at co-assessing the water sources with the most potential to be protected
and developed for water provision to the communities. The projectteam and key informants from the communities (water committee
members) were accompanied by an agricultural engineering consultant which provided valuable opportunities toco-learn about the
landscape, resources, options, needs and priorities.
After the water village walks, the agricultural consultant developed potential layoutand access scenarios for a number of options for
Costone, aligned with the priorities of the community representatives and feasibility. The prioritization looked at thegeographical
positions, strength and condition of these sources as well as their potential to supplyas many households as possible with water.
These scenarios were used to work with the committee and community membersto finalise the options for implementation. It was
decided to protect a springin a wetland and reticulate water to 5000L header tanks with four taps downstream (one added a little later
by participants themselves) to support28 households. The spring suppliesaround 10 000L/day. Among the 28 households, 17 are
located below the spring and gets access to 500L/day at a distance of 200-400m for one of three taps. An additionaleleven households
are located nearbyand have access to the reticulated water but without easy access to taps, or have access toa fourthtap, with an
allocation of 200-380L/day. The participants contributed financially to establish a maintenance fund, and with labour to dig ditches,
bring building material to the site and assist with the construction work, which also the EcoChamps assisted substantially with. As it is
a gravity fed system, ongoing financial contributions are not required.A spring committee was formed which has beendevoted,
functioning well and actively supported by the traditional ward councillor.
Roles of committee members include:
Responsible for any issues arising with the water scheme
Solve problems with people not following the rules
Allocate the use of water and ensure everyone who is eligible getsaccess
Check regularly that the system is working and used properly
Open a bank account for the financial contributions and undertake small maintenance activities
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 TA and councillor
Request assistance from community level water committee for issues they cannot solve
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 water.The small conflict around taps however did
indicate that for some levels of conflict and decision-making stillrequire a respected3rdparty with ‘authority”, which in this case was
MDF.Such support may still be required to make decisions and ensure positive actions and outcomes.
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Figure 8-2 Preparation and construction of spring protection and reticulation in Costone
8.3ALIEN CLEARINGAND RESTORATION
8.3.1Activitiesby the EcoChamps
The EcoChamps have played a role in building check dams to prevent run-offin a number of eroded areas in both communities. The
check dams were built using available stones (stone packing) starting from the top of the mountain to the bottom part of the mountain.
These check dams were built using the contour line levels to ensure stable structures, properly keyed into the banks of the gulley and
reduce the speed of water flow down slope. The check dams quickly reduced the runoffand blockedsoil that sank tight intothe stone
packs, andformednew soillayers. When stones were not available, the EcoChampsexperimented with various alien invasive species
to construct brush packs. Lantana was proven unsuccessful and the EcoChamps had issues getting permission from those claiming
ownership on wattle and poplar stands. Where wattle was available, however, successful erosionregulation was createdusing brush
packs. Planting of grass species on bare lands where the soil has been retained in the check dams, has been experimented with and
tried out in both communities. With support and funding from the INR and PepsiCo, Costone has seen somesuccessful restoration in
some areas (Figure 8-3). The work of the EcoChamps on clearing aliens and prevent erosion has been fruitfulnot only in the ecological
and hydrological impact, but it has also been instrumental in capacity building, knowledge sharing, co-learning and catalysing actions
by the broader community.
Figure 8-3 Wattle clearing, brush packing and planting of grass for erosion control in Costone
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8.3.2Community led implementation of resource management plans
Through the efforts of the Livestock association, the CRA learning group and the Water committeein Costone, community members
have been mobilized to work together, in a genuine effort to implement the co-developed community resources management plan
described in Chapter 7. In Ezibomvini, a more expected scenario, of no further activity has played out. There, further intervention by
the facilitation team would be required. Below sections outlinethe extensive work carried out in Costone, during the course of only a
few weeks.
The community made an agreement to have community workdays on Thursday every week, or as close to that as possible. Initially a
decision was made to spend two days on each activity and then move on to the next. Later, it was howeverdecided that if an activity
logically requires abit more time then the groups would be flexibleon the issue.The EcoChamps overseen by Mahlathini and the CRA
learning group have been centrally involved in all activities and have provided skills and information related to what they have already
learnt to the community members. Examples include how to do stone packs and check dams, use of herbicides to reduce regrowth
after alien clearing and how to do brush packing.
Three community workdays in the eroded area above thedip tank have been undertaken. The first day was spent changing the position
of the gate leading into the grazing camp, from the dip tank and fixing the fenceline of the main grazing camp(Figure 8-4 a). This
would allow for a reduction of erosion pressure on the paths usedby cattle andfor erosion control activities to proceed. For the following
two days, stones were collected and transported closer to the site and then moved by community members to the eroded areas for
construction of stone lines, stone packs and check dams in heavily eroded areas(Figure 8-4 b,c). The water committee further
organised a river cleaning day as part of their campaign to stop community members from discarding their waste and nappies inthe
water courses (Figure 8-4 d). They have also agreed on a few central sites where pits have been dug for waste disposal.
Figure 8-4 Costone. a: Grazing management(moving gate and fixing fence line of grazing camp), b-c: erosion
control(community members constructing check dams and stone packs), d: river cleaning (A group of women spent a day collecting
waste that was discarded in water courses in the community)
As a way to include more community members, it was decided to start on wattle clearing in the water courses and to allow all
participants in these activities to collect firewood from there. The main patch of wattle that is managed by the Nkosi for communal use
for funerals, was not touched, although there have been discussions around clearing the lantana on this site and also thinning the
stand to allow for regrowth of grass. This will be the next step once river clearing has been completed. Two community workdays were
held for wattle clearing.Community members are aware that the seed stock for these wattle are the big patches high up in the grazing
areas. These are however difficultto get to and quite far away from the village. Community members have opted for an easier initial
activity.
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Figure 8-5 Community members and EcoChamps working together on wattle clearing in one of the larger streams
in Costone. The stumps of felled wattle trees have been treated with herbicide to stop regrowth
8.3.3Community resourcesmanagementreviewand planning sessions
Workshopswere held in both Costone (45 participants) and Ezibomvini (52participants)towards the end of the project, in October
2023, to review the progress in the resource management planning and implementation.
The participants in Costone selected committees to proceed with the activities. Three committeeswere formed, each led by three
representatives. The actions that were planned were as follows:
-Continueworking on the second water access initiative from higher up in the hills, assisting with construction of two
small v-boxes and weirs, the tank stands and ditches for piping.
-Stone packing in gullies alongside and below the dip tank, just above the low-level bridge and the road is to be
undertaken in February 2024, to ensure that the road remains passable for taxis and local community members
-A focus on rotational grazing and setting up of grazing camps was considered important. A Livestock association
member mentioned that a meeting had been held in Bergville where assistance through the OLMand the DALRRD
was promised for fencing for grazing camps. Although the community members are somewhat doubtful that this will
materialize, this process will be taken forward as the only option presently available for funding assistance
-There was an issue regarding the Mbhorompo, Emahlathini and Emadakane villages, who have been helping
themselves to the cleared wattle for firewood. They are part of the broader Stulwane area in which Costone is located
and have taken it as their right to also benefit from this activity. The Costone community would like to propose a
meeting with other communities involved to explain the purpose of the clearing and management and also invite them
to work together in this and also practise these activities intheir villages. A suggestion was made to meet with the
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ward councillor and thenjointly have a meeting with the Emahlathini community in this regard as a starting point. The
meeting was scheduled in October2023, and the community requested MDF’s involvement
-A local KZNDARD extension officer has also compiled a list of all active gardeners across the villages working with
MDF, to garner further support for these participants in their production and marketing activities
In Ezibomvini the resource management process is not as well developed as in Costone and the community wasnot yet ready to
select representatives. Their commitment to maintaining work done in spring protection for the area as well as to continue some
initial clearing work started by the EcoChamps is a significant step for this village and also a good indication of their improved social
agency toward better governance in the area.
-A decision wasmade to undertake resource management activities on Thursdays every week, rotating between the
different activities planned, and the work was to be started with the litter clean-up workdays
-Planned alien clearing above the village, working on clearing the Lantana invasions there. A request for support with the
required herbicide was made. In this regard, theEcoChamps wouldassist the community in the correct procedures for
cutting as well as herbicide application. It was agreed that it is better for the community themselves to collect small
amounts of money for their activities than to wait for assistance form government and outsiders, which can take a long time
to materialize
-The community had also beencleaning the spring that provides them with water, whichgets clogged by sediment after
heavy rains. They have collected money to buy cement to rebuild the basin there, to make it easierto clean on a more
ongoing basis
-Sharing of knowledge at the schools has been undertaken and they will continue with this activity
This progress shows that the communities, especially the Costone group are taking on challenges that are starting to encompass the
broader community and spearheading a process for broader involvement as an organic, evolutionary step in this process and also
how the government stakeholders are slowly being brought on board by the community themselves to provide the needed support
and assistance. It is evident that the community has developed enough confidence to engage stakeholders and ask for support it a
significant step in their improved agency and in developing improved governance in their communities.
8.3.4Community cross-learning: Community level resource conservation activities
Fifteen members of the village-based learning group in Ezibomvinivisited Costone in the end ofSeptember2023to learn about the
resource conservation activities this group has undertaken in their village(Figure 8-6). The Costone community showcased their litter
clean-up campaign to keep their rivers and streams clean, showed the gulley reclamation and erosion control work theyhave
undertaken in their grazing area, the wattle clearing in their riverine systems and their work on digging ditches in preparation for their
most recent local water scheme development. This entails reticulating water from two sources high up in the hills, to the two sections
of their village, to benefit around 75 households. They explained that community workdays were undertaken every Thursday. Activities
are organised through the CRAlearning groups, the livestock association and the traditional authority in the village.The initial push for
these activities were undertaken during the winter season and participants benefited from having access to wood from the cleared
wattle in the riverbeds. During spring, most of these activities are on hold, to allow for the community’s field cropping activities.
Some of the learnings shared by the Costone group is that it is good to start with only the few people who initially turn up for the joint
working days and nottry tomake sure everyone is there from the start. Other community members will see them working and will join
the activities over time. This is how it worked in Costone. In addition, unity in the community is very important. When they started, they
had different smaller groups doing different activities, as their plan was ambitious and there is a lot to do. So one group worked on
wasteclearing and another on stone packing. This caused a bit of unhappiness in terms of the division of labour. Thereafter, they
worked at a more measured pace with everyone involved in one activity at a time, which worked much better.
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Figure 8-6 Ezibomvini cross-visit, with group discussing alien clearing at one of the riverine sites in Costone, gulley
reclamation at the stone packs above the dip tank and having a focus group discussion to talk through implementation strategies and
plans
The Ezibomvini participants reported the following:
-There is little unity in Ezibomvini and when meetings are called to discuss the resource management issues veryfew people
participate, which makes it hard to passon messages and start the work
-After the first meetings in March and June, a Livestock association member went to have a chat with the owners of the land
where the wetland is,asked for permission and explained to them that there is aplan made to protect the wetland and replant
indigenous vegetation and medicinal plants back to the wetland. The family agreed and gave the community permission, as
the wetland falls within their ‘land allocation’ and nominally belongs to them.He then went to another wetland at the top
where there is an abundance of medicinal plants (Kalumuzi and Gobho). The idea is to take root stock from this wetland to
replant in the degraded and over-harvested wetland lower down
-A decision was made to advertise the community litter clean-up community campaign and the first working day at the ward
council meeting in October2023
-The community had identified the access road as one of the key areas. They had planned to do some repairing for vehicles
to be able to go into the area. A community ward committee member started by requesting from the OLM to assist withtheir
road constructing machinery, and some repairs were undertaken. For the community it was unexpected and very positive
thatthese kinds of requests were actually heeded by the municipality
-A CRA learning group facilitatorcommented that the cross visit has given them ideas of how to goabout implementing their
plans
A suggestion during the discussions was to set up localresource management committees who could assist to provide some focus
and organise the community level working days. The areas are large, and it would be good to have representation from the different
sections to assist in communication. In addition, these committees would have to be diversified by having youth, women, and men, to
encourage men and youth to take part as it is usually the women who take the lead and participate.
An immediate outcome of this cross-visit was that the Ezibomvini community went back to their area with renewed purpose and
immediately started a litter clean-up campaign for their streams and water sources(Figure 8-7). They had the additional foresight and
connection with the OLMto arrange for this litter to be picked up by the municipal waste removal truck. This activity also assisted to
raise awareness within the community as a whole to ensure that community members would refrain from discarding their solid waste
and used disposable nappies in and around water sources in the future.
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Figure 8-7 Community littler clean up days in different sections of the village and removal of thiswaste by the Municipal waste
removal truck
8.4MULTI-STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENTS
The community members and leaders have been participating in, and hosting, a number of multi-stakeholder engagement events
throughout the project.These engagements were arranged by the convening team of the WWF-SA funded Northern Drakensberg
Collaborative (NDC) (formerly the DSI/WRC funded SANBI Living Catchment Project), which this projectteam forms part of. Shared
trustand relationships have been established with a wide and diverse range of stakeholders within the upper uThukela Catchment,
starting with the first SANBI Upper uThukela Living Catchment Project multi-stakeholder meeting in Bergville in May 2021.
Around 110 delegates from the spheres ofgovernment, academia, research institutions and civil society organisations attendedthe
2nd Catchment-based Indaba on Ecological Infrastructure within which the MDF hosted a field visit in the Ezibomvini and Costone
communities. A group of 24 visitors representing the INR, SANBI, the Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), Amanzi Ethu
Nobuntu, UKZN, EzemveloKZN Wildlife, The Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Project (MDTP),
WRC, and WWF-SA, visited three project participants and were discussing the implementation of CRApractices, resource
conservation and water managements practices as well as crop-livestock integration.
In June 2022, almost 40 stakeholders who live, work or have an interest in the water resources in the upper uThukela catchment,
including community representatives from Costone and Ezibomvini, met at the OLMin Bergville for a one-day Adaptive Planning
Process (APP) workshop. This workshop built on the workshopinMay 2021, and included a structured process to collaborate towards
creating a shared vision between a wide and diverse range of stakeholders. The participants consisted of 17 women and 22 men,
representing the local communities, water committees, action groups, youth EcoChamps, representatives ofthe Amakhosi areas
AmaZizi, AmaNgwaneand AmaSwazi; as well as ward councillors, and representatives from OLM, WWF-SA, WILDTRUST, DWS,
SAEON, UKZN, University of Free State, Rhodes University, the Farmers No-till Club and KZNDARD.
Building on the SANBI Living CatchmentProjectpartnership in the Upper uThukela, WWF-SA has supported the strengthening and
expansion of the partnership to include other stakeholders within the Northern Drakensberg Strategic Water Source Area (SWSA),
now established astheNorthern Drakensberg Collaborative (NDC). Two additional multi-stakeholder meetings were held in November
2022 and May 2023, in the OLMand the Alpine Heath Resort and Conference Facility, respectively.
In order to allow for enhanced learning and reflection around real-life cases of spring protection, community action, climate smart
agriculture and environmental rehabilitation, the NDC held ameeting in the Emmaus communityhall, and a fieldvisitto Costone
community, in September 2023. One of the intended outcomes of the fieldtrip was to take the partnership forward towards establishing
themes of communities of practice that have more focused interactions, as well asto showcase the work of the Costone community.
A group of about 45 people met atthe community hall in Emmaus, comprising farmers from Costone and Ezibomvini, staff from
EzemveloKZN Wildlife, MDTP, EFTEON, INR, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), African Conservation trust (ACT), Agricultural
Research Council (ARC), WILDTRUST, members of clearing and restoration teams working with WILDTRUST and INR, and a
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representative of the local No-till Club. The participants then travelled through to Costone, where community membersexplained their
activities to visitors(Figure 8-8).
One farmer explained the processthat has been taken to protect springs and improve access to waterfor households, which is currently
being expanded to include additional households. This process is led by the locally elected water committee and is community driven,
managed and owned. A youngEcoChamp from the villageexplained the nature of the restoration activitiesand how some of the
interventions have been taken forward through community action that is undertaken on a voluntary basis. At another homestead,where
lunch was served, there was opportunity for more discussion as well as a demonstration of some the agricultural technologies being
promoted by MDF, such as the two-row minimum tillage planter, the agroecological and water conservation practices and the micro-
tunnels for intensive vegetable production.
Figure 8-8 A stakeholder visit to the donga rehabilitation and re-grassing site in Costone, a visit to the spring based water
supply system and a farmer explains the climate smart food security system
The participation of the project team and the communities in the wider stakeholder network facilitated by the NDC, has been, and will
continue to be, valuable to all partners. The progress and findings from this project have been shared and communicated in all the
multi-stakeholder engagements since the start in May 2021. For further sharing of thesevaluable findingsand recommendations, a
policy brief has been producedfor dissemination within the NDC and elsewhere(Appendix 2). This policy brief will be translated into
isiZulu and shared with Costone, Ezibomvini,other communities andadditional relevant stakeholders.
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CHAPTER 9:DECISION SUPPORT FRAMEWORK
9.1INTRODUCTION
This chapter outlines the community level learning and decision support process for implementation of Climate Resilient Agriculture
(CRA) practices and improved local governance. This processfocuses on capacitating village level learning groups of smallholders
farmers in improved agricultural production, local economic development and natural and water resources management through a
systemic innovation development approach that includes building ofsocial agency in the villages. The CRA learning groups provide a
voluntary platform for community members to explore the impact of climate change on their resources, their livelihoods and farming
systems, incorporating a wide range of perspectives (scientific, local and traditional). The cyclical process of innovation is shown below
outlining also how the CRA learning groups become the central point for development of further focus areas and social organization
and interact with external stakeholders (Figure 9-1).
Figure 9-1 Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA) learning groups and relationship building with local and external
stakeholders
The following principles of Locally Led Adaptation (LLA) to climate change (Cogeret al., 2022) have been incorporated into this
process:
-Devolving decision-makingto the lowest appropriate level
-Addressing structural inequalities faced by vulnerable and marginalized groups including women, youth,children and people
living with disabilities
-Providing patient and predictable funding thatcan be accessed more easily: Supporting long-term development of local
governance processes, capacity, and institutions
-Investing in local capabilities to leave an institutional legacy for adaptationinitiatives over the long term
-Building a robust understanding of climate risk and uncertainty
-Flexible programming and learning: Enabling adaptive management
-Ensuring transparency and accountability
-Collaborative action and investment
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9.2DECISION SUPPORT FRAMEWORK
Based on the learnings and outcomes of this projectwe propose a decision support framework - a framework that supports innovation
and decisions for sustainable resource use management and improved livelihood opportunities. We propose that support for
sustainable and equitable community resources managementis designedbased on the following principles:
Community-based initiatives arepromising approaches to lessen the impacts of climate change while empowering people
and bolstering community resilience. Local innovation and agency are critical complements of these programs in fostering
sustained community resilience
Community-based approaches with direct engagement of the vulnerable population, and which are adequately supported by
international agencies, national and local government, academics, experts, and non-profit organizations, have the potential
to develop locally relevant, culturally appropriate, and sustainable solutions
Solutions are developed in context by integrating indigenous knowledge, scientific information and global experiences. They
focus on supporting livelihood opportunities, and they are governed at the community level, making use of existing social
capital and other complementary programmes
The process would include participatory solutions and iterative learning at the local level, complemented by transformative
action at national, regional, and international scales. Monitoring and learning are a key part of the process
The scope would consider the impacts of climate change alongside poverty, ecological integrity, gender equality, and other
development priorities
The outcomes include proactive planning for maximising Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) attainment and disaster risk
reduction, which allows climate change adaptationactivities to tap into and find synergies with these cross-cutting
imperatives
The methodological process of ensuring knowledge co-creation and innovation development in and beyond these CRA
learning groups entails three broad facilitated interventions. This entails analysing the present situation, identifying
intervention options and processes and implementing these and building improved systems and social agency. This is also
a cyclical process where learning and implementation can be strengthened and deepened over time
The overall outcomes of such as process are expected to be:
- Improved participatory decision-makingto support implementation and innovation.
- Improved governance - new community-based structures
- Improved governance - improved rules and logistics within community-based structures.
- Improved governance - coherent collaboration with stakeholders and role players.
The process with steps outlined are shown in Table 9.1.
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Table 9-1 Decision support framework developed based on the learnings from this project
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CHAPTER 10:SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS &
RECOMMENDATIONS
10.1SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
This project set out to 1) Enhance the knowledge base towards a shared understanding of the natural resource base, climatevariability,
community needs and priorities, and governance decision-making and power dynamics, and 2) co-learn for stimulating action, building
social agency and improved decision-making and governance outcomes, in two communities in the Drakensberg. This was achieved
by bringing together experts from various scientific disciplines (hydrology, ecology, sustainability science, environmental sciences,
agricultural engineering and social sciences), community development practitioners and local communities, using a transdisciplinary,
participatory approach.
The findings below outline the new knowledge co-generated in the project to enhance the knowledge base of the project team and
community participants:
Hotter temperatures with variable rainfall and streamflow: The temperatures in the areas are higher than those experienced
in the past, with 2019 and 2015 being the hottest years. Related to the warmer temperatures being experienced in the
villages, are an increased numbers of heat waves. The rainfall is highly variable, which results in variable streamflow from
the catchments. 2018/2019 had the lowest rainfall and lowest streamflow on record. A drought period stretched from 2013
until 2020,followed by an unusually wet period, with the summer of 2022 being much wetter than average.While most of
the data used in these analyses were not predominantly collected for the use in this project, it was interpreted and
communicated with the communities for their use and benefit.The communities incorporated theirenhanced knowledge of
rainfall, temperature and water flows into their planning and management of community resources and livelihood activities.
We thusshow the importance of sharingclimate related information with local users such as smallholder agricultural
communities that are those mostly affected by the adverse effects of climate change and variability.
Moderately degraded rangelands with low grazing value: The communal rangelands in both villages are moderately
degraded and dominated by grass species with an average palatability and low grazing value. Continuous overgrazing has
led to a single species dominating the rangeland. Fire as a tool for regeneration is misunderstood. These disturbances have
changed the species composition and richness. The communities have begun to alter their management of degraded
grasslands and livestock herding based on theirenhanced knowledge gained from this assessment.
Severe erosion and gully formation: The degradation linked to the overgrazing is the severe erosion evident in both villages.
Large gullies have formed in areas related to cattle paths and subsequent water movement down these cattle paths. The
erosion is lessening the productive land available for grazing and is creating hazards and vulnerability in the villages due to
the erosion undercutting roads, incising river channels and increasing flow rates. Enhanced knowledge in the communities
have led to widespread community-led initiatives to battle erosion, and simultaneously control alien invasive vegetation.
Diverse but subsiding land use benefits and ecosystem services: The communities have a rich and detailed understanding
of their landscape and describe a diverse utilization of, and appreciation for, locally defined land uses and their benefits.A
wide variety of ecosystem services are associated with specific land uses and places in the landscape. These include crop
and livestock production, hunting and wild plants for food; cattle manure for fertilization; fire wood for household fuel; poles,
soil and plaster sand for building material; a variety of species for traditional medicines and spiritual uses; places for social
relations, cultural heritage and spiritual ceremonies. Many of the ecosystem services are declining due to overuse, land
degradation, erosion and reduced water availability. The iterative process to develop expert-led, participatory maps of the
community resources was vital in enhancing the shared understanding of the landscape, understanding the links between
management practices and generation of ecosystem services availableto the communities, and ininitiating community led
landscape planning and management.
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Contestation of access to communal resources, decision-making and governance structures:Overall, decision-making
processes in these communities involve a combination of collective discussions among some selected groups of community
members, individual autonomy in certain areas, and the involvementofthe local chief and councillorin resolving disputes
and managing resources. While there is a focus on community participation and preserving natural resources, there are also
challenges and tensions in the relationship between the community and certain governance structures. The concept of
ownership has emerged, where individuals claim resources such as land, water sources, and trees as their own. Thus, public
access to resources has diminished.
Below we present the outcomes ofthe transdisciplinary and participatory co-learning approach between the project team and
community participants for stimulating action, building social agency and improved decision-making and governance outcomes:
A transdisciplinary landscape GIS support tool: A series of map layers were produced for each of the communities, with
geographical information about the community landscapes generated throughan iterative process ofexpert based mapping
of resources and land uses, participatory mapping, village walks and co-learning workshops. The maps include layers of
land uses and landscape features such as grazing areas, homesteads, water points, springs, rivers, wetlands, alien
invasives, indigenous and planted forests, erosion, ecosystem services and the communities’ restoration priority areas. The
map reading literacy and ability to interpret spatial information was significantly improved during the course of the project,
which enables the communities to use the printed maps for continued decisions of community resources and management
strategies.
Community Resources management plans: Co-learning between the project team and community participants about the
climate, the environment, and the communities’ needs, priorities and decision-makingstructures enabled thedevelopment
of participatory community resources management plans that are community-led and expert guided. The process particularly
empowered the Costone community to plan, innovate and take action towards sustainable and equitable management of
their resources and to build social agency. Ezibomvini did not see the same rate of success and require more support.
However, aftera cross-learning workshop between the two communities, the Ezibomvini gained momentum for initiating
community led activities and took action.
Co-designed innovations and restoration actions: Community resources innovations and management actions were co-
developed between community participants and the project team. An engineer assisted with co-designing an innovation for
spring protection and reticulation in Costone providing 28 households with water. Along with the efforts of a youth group, the
“EcoChamps”, community members in Costone initiated a number of restoration actions derived from the community
resources management plans. Such actions include grazing management alterations, alien clearing, river cleaning and
erosion control activities using check dams with stone and brush packs and planting on bare soil.
These findings and outcomes were co-developed, discussed and reflected on in a series of engagements, co-learning workshops and
cross-visits in the communities. This project highlight the importance in creating a shared understanding of the communities’ resource
base between scientists, practitioners and community members, the communities’ dependency and management of their landscape,
governance and decision-making structures and mechanisms for social learning, generation of agency and action, and assuringlong-
lasting and fair impact. This project has led to improved governance within the communities by establishing new community-based
structures and improved rules and logistics within these structures. Enhanced participatory decision making generated through this
project has supported sustainable and fair implementation and innovation, and ensured coherent collaboration within the communities,
and with other stakeholders and collaborating partners.
This project contributes with new knowledge and enhanced understanding of the mechanisms and processes required to stimulate
action, build social agency and improve decision-making for sustainable and equitable management of communityresources.Lessons
learnt from this project include 1) the importance of genuine, caring and intentional presence in the community for building trust, 2)
experienced and skilled facilitation,continuously within and outside of structured workshops, as well as, 3) the significance of livelihood
support for participants to enable effective, collective engagement in broader community matters. These aspects of transdisciplinary
science-action research requires funding support for longer term engagement, significant funds for meaningful facilitation ofcommunity
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engagements, and largerproportions offunds thatdirectly benefit communities to support their livelihoods. The learnings from this
project can be used to inform the design, implementation and funding of similarly aimed projects and programs.
Although there is evidence that both social and environmental shifts towards sustainability and equity have occurred in both
communities during the duration of the project,the communities require continued, long-term support to remain within this positive
trajectory. Further research is recommended to assess and analyse the mechanisms and factors contributing to successful mobilization
of agency and action that was initiated in this project, and what is required to assure long-lasting and fair impact.
10.2RECOMMENDATIONS
Sustainable management of water and natural resources is a complex and context dependent issue and needs to be
addressed with co-created knowledge from scientific experts, facilitation practitioners and community members jointly
Restoration activities in these communities are urgently required to address the erosion linked to overgrazing and to, at a
minimum, slow the rate of erosion with the intention ultimately to restore the landscape
Rangeland management requires an integrated approach including well informed and controlled fire management strategies
with resting periods and controlled grazing to avoid further degradation and loss of productivity
Mapping and assessment of landscape resources requires a participatory approach to build a shared understanding ofthe
landscape’s capacity, use and benefits including ecosystem services
Enhanced understanding of climate patterns, ecosystem health and functioning, and consequences of management
practices enables better-informed and climate-resilient community resource decisions
Enhanced understanding about the community governance structures, decision-making processes, and community needs
and priorities enables betterguidance from project experts towards equitable and sustainable management of natural and
water resources
Addressing power imbalances and promoting transparency, accountability, and meaningful participation are essential for
equitable and sustainable managementof natural and water resources
Co-learning processes involves experienced and skilled facilitation, continuously within and outside of structured workshops
A carefully designed, expert guided and community led co-development ofadaptivecommunity resources management
plans enables social agency, stimulates action, and improves decision-making and governance outcomes
Collaboration with mandated government structures providing communities with an innovationplatform for trying out and
integrating locally relevant ideas have the potential for long-lasting impact
Supporting participants’ livelihoods opportunities prior to, or in parallel with, community engagementactivities enables
collaborative commitment and engagement that is not hindered by individual poverty struggles
Building trust throughgenuine, caring and intentional presence in the community is essential to stimulate commitment and
collaboration between the project team and community participants
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APPENDIX 1COMMUNITY RESOURCES MANAGEMENT PLANS
Community Resources Management Plan Costone
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Community Resources Management Plan Ezibomvini
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APPENDIX 2 - POLICY BRIEF
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