Catchment Management Forums
This presentation represents a seminar and
discussion that took place at the EMG offices on
15 April 2015. The session was led by Dr. Victor
Munnik, speaking from his involvement in a
WRC-funded participatory action-research
project aimed at supporting the DWS initiative to
revitalise catchment management forums
(CMFs) in South Africa.
Thanks to Victor Munnik for sponsoring his time to lead
the session and for the use of his presentation.
Thanks to Willie Enright for the contribution of slides
from his presentation on Water Management
Thanks to all who participated!
• Part 1: Seminar by Dr. Victor Munnik
– Introduction & Background
• Water Management Institutions
• Catchment Management Forums
• Water Management Areas
• Water Resources Management in South Africa
– The DWS Revitalisation Initiative
– The WRC Research Project
• Research Aims
• Research Processes
• Findings, Issues and Opportunities
• Part 2: Discussion (PDF Download)
Water Management Institutions
• National Utility
• Government Departments
• Water Boards or Irrigation Boards (IBs)
• Water User Associations (WUAs)
• Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs)
• Catchment Management Forums (CMFs)
• Private Organisations / NGOs
What are CMFs?
• There are different shapes and
understandings of catchment management
• They are part of same system as catchment
management agencies (CMAs), so cannot be
understood on their own.
• They are the main vehicle for citizen
participation in water resources management
• Currently, they deal mostly with water quality
Roles of CMFs (1)
• Outreach and facilitation to extend civil-
society participation in the water sector.
• Identify and consult with civil-society
stakeholders in WRM.
• Facilitate and support civil-society and
• Build public awareness and capacity of
stakeholders & water institutions in WRM.
Roles of CMFs (2)
• Monitor and report on water resources and
water resource problems.
• Coordinate WRM strategies and activities.
• Identify local water management challenges
and advise on WRM decisions.
• Consult on establishment of CMAs and test
different WRM institutional options.
Challenges with CMFs (1)
• They require transformation:
– Transformation is a big responsibility placed on
– CMFs include corporate citizens.
– But there is unequal participation. This includes
issues like: where the venue is, how people get
there, what language is used, translating science.
• A real question is:
– Can CMFs handle this; can you have
transformation initiated by citizens participating in
Challenges with CMFs (2)
• They have no teeth:
– Catchment management forums (CMFs) have no
real delegated powers and are not taken seriously.
– This leads to fatigue of participants and declines in
• The historically skewed allocation of water is
a big issue that sits under the surface.
– CMFs are not able to tackle reallocation of water.
– CMFs are not tackling water services. DWS is
keen to deal with this fact, as this responsibility
falls within local government.
Water Management Areas
• From the 1990-1994 policy process, there:
– Used to be 19 Water Management Areas (WMAs).
– There was discussion to design provincial
boundaries around catchments, but that didn't
– The WMAs have been consolidated. Still designed
along drainage boundaries, but they align more
closely with provincial boundaries.
– This may not be a bad thing at all, as our research
has found. Alignment between political structures
and catchment structures might be desirable.
WRM in South Africa (1)
• Under Apartheid, water belonged to the
landowner - riparian ownership.
• Now water belongs to South African citizens.
• Water is held in public trust by Government
as the custodian.
• This distinction has important legal/ policy
• A move from riparian rights for water-use to
the conditional licensing of water-use.
WRM in South Africa (2)
• In the policy framework – water use should
be governed democratically.
• Key question: How to make this idea of a
participatory democracy work in practice?
• Forums have a large role to play in a
• Catchment management forums (CMFs)
have a really big task in terms of living up to
this participatory democracy idea.
• The CMFs follow a hydrological or catchment
• Following the 2013 National Water Resources
Strategy 2 (NWRS2):
– Undertake legislative review to re-translate the
cooperative model of catchment management
– Establish regional steering committees to
coordinate the revival and revitalisation of CMFs in
their respective catchments.
– Members of regional steering committees to form
part of a national reference group.
– Formulate a strategy for revitalising establishment
and existence of CMFs.
• The DWS strategy for revitalising catchment
management forums (CMFs), should:
– Have a financial and non-financial support model
– Advocate establishment of CMFs.
– Create incentives for establishment of CMFs.
– Foster interdepartmental relations to support
The WRC Research
• Aims to support the DWS initiative through
developing research-based understanding.
• Takes a participatory action research
approach towards co-creating a vision of
revitalising the catchment management
– In the context of a new roll-out of CMAs, and
potentially, the integration of water resources and
– Based on historical redress and the empowerment
of local people in managing water resources.
– A strong focus on public participation.
Research Aims (1)
• To understand:
– History; the shaping forces of history on water
management, institutions and participatory
democracy in the water sector.
– Successes, challenges and limitations of CMFs.
– The absence of certain groups and agendas that
should be heard/ have influence.
– The nature of obstacles to participation and how
to remove them.
– Transformation; how to improve the representivity
Research Aims (2)
• To understand:
– The role that CMFs could play in supporting
catchment management. e.g. citizens monitoring
– The place of CMFs in the developing catchment
– How DWS and the broader water sector can best
support CMFs as vibrant institutions in practice.
Research Aims (3)
• To understand:
– How to go beyond catchment management
agencies (CMAs) and deal with local government
– How to go beyond CMFs as governance-type
institutions to institutions that actually do things
e.g. dev. projects, land care, public works.
– The potential use of payment for ecosystem
– The dynamics and debate between CMFs, water
user associations (WUAs) and irrigation boards
(IBs) that exist in the same space.
Process: Synthesising Research
• Hosting consultations with DWS, ICMA,
BOCMA and existing catchment management
• Drawing together histories of CMFs.
• Analysing the functions, challenges,
successes and failures of CMFs.
• Analysing the absence of groups and
obstacles – use examples where they do
• Identifying pathways to transformation.
Process: Regional Research
• Regional research to understand actual
workings, challenges, successes etc.
• Looking at:
– Upper Vaal and Rand Water investigation 2010.
– IUCMA, Crocodile River Forum, Upper & Lower
Inkomati, Sabie and Sand Rivers
– AWARD’s work with forums in Sabie-Sand and
– Umsunduzi River and DUCT.
– BOCMA, Swartkops, Kat-river Forums.
– Follow current regional CMA roll-out processes.
• Regional workshops
• Support participation in regional DWS
• Identify participants for national workshop
from research and regional workshops.
• Create a forum of forums to co-create
recommendations (sync with DWS initiative) –
Aug 2015 in the form of a WAT Indaba.
• Balance the forum of forums in terms of
participation of marginalised groups.
Process: Policy Research
• Policy research as a parallel process to align
with the developing policy space (i.e. DWS
• Recommendations from literature, regional
research & policy knowledge to be discussed
at forum of forums.
• Forum recommendations to be written up in
policy format to fit into policy space.
• Regular consulting & meeting with core team.
• Strong reference group, including DWS
practitioners, CMAs and civil society.
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (1)
• Different regions exhibit different dynamics
and models of practice.
• Forums have very diverse histories.
• Forums have very diverse workings.
(e.g. the Olifants forum is industry based; the
Croc and other forums supported by IUCMA
and KZN take a wall-to-wall approach;
BOCMA uses other forums)
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (2)
• After riparian rights are removed, water
belongs to “the people of South Africa” with
Government as the custodian. How is this
• The re-allocation of water has been slow.
Many historic rights have survived
unchanged. There is skewed allocation. In
agriculture, lack of support to emerging
farmers makes this situation worse.
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (3)
• Many questions exist around Integrated
Water Resources Management (IWRM).
– Participation vs good science? Empower to
– Why is water reallocation so difficult?
– There is a call for pragmatism – principled
participation or exclusion to “get on with it”?
– When forums “don’t have teeth” citizens lose
interest. So, how to get action?
– At the same time, how to preserve civil-society
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (4)
• Decentralisation is good for participation and
accessing local knowledge, but in practice it
gives stronger water users (e.g. industries
and mining companies) the space to
• There is an absence of communities and their
agendas from forum discussions (there are
exceptions to this e.g. in Upper Vaal near
Kuzulwa Mine where there has been a strong
group of black community activists chairing a
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (5)
• Because CMF participation is voluntary, the
manner of communication and language used
is very diplomatic, polite and indirect. People
are scared to talk-straight or point out
offenders. This communicative culture needs
• The scientific language of water quality
excludes many participants.
• There is a strong need for capacity building.
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (6)
• Water resource management is important and
complex. Water managers may be reluctant
to risk real participation.
• Licensing, the most important instrument, is
not working well. Nobody wants to risk CMF
processes causing further delay to already
• Local government, who is both regulator and
polluter, is often absent as a participant in
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (6)
• The running of forums – administration,
logistics, communication, database
management – uses up citizens’ energy and
resources (KZN and Croc solved some of
these issues – see Rand Water 2010 report).
• Citizens’ energy drives CMFs, but it is limited
and sporadic, along with participation.
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (7)
• New thinking around multiple-use systems
and a holistic approach to local water use.
• The use of CMFs to improve communication
between local government and catchments
(e.g. through IDPs).
• DWS has proposed to involve local
government much more strongly, not only in
governance, but projects (e.g. land care,
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (8)
• Functions devolved to CMFs (e.g. land care
to look after wetlands; adopt-a-river) could be
• Citizens’ monitoring is feasible, but citizens’
forensic monitoring is difficult.
• Awareness building is feasible; involve youth
(e.g. existing programmes like Adopt-a-River)
• Working for water and payment for ecological
services (PES) is possible.
• There are legal/ accountability challenges
(but unique insight from the DUCT example).
Findings, Issues & Opportunities (9)
• There are opportunities for support e.g.
through universities. (e.g. DUCT is an
interesting network model, where the CMF is
the outcome of activities in a network.
• The revitalisation of catchment management
forums (CMFs) through the introduction of
new participation and new agendas shows
potential. Citizen-based catchment
management is feasible via this route. This
could be made part of the new CMA roll-out.
Download a PDF of the discussion:
Discussion: Revitalising CMFs