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Overview KSA's & Impact Areas

Key Strategic Areas (KSA's)

The WRC has five key strategic areas (KSAs) which relate to water-centred knowledge, each providing an integrating framework for investment in addressing a portfolio of key water-related needs. These KSAs allow for multidisciplinary studies and are focused on solving problems related to national needs and supporting society and the water sector. While each of the KSAs is unique and mutually exclusive (minimal overlaps), they collectively attempt to cover the complete spectrum of water-related topics of strategic importance.

A crucial characteristic of a KSA is its modus operandi. In order to function effectively, each of the KSAs is aligned with the WRC’s mission and vision and has a clear business plan. Each forms an impact area in which outputs and impacts of research are also assessed.

Each KSA addresses a distinct research portfolio. This consists of a portfolio of key thrusts with each thrust containing a portfolio of programmes. Programmes are either built around a portfolio of existing projects or may be designed in advance as an investment unit. Each of the KSAs provides for pilot or seed investigations, R&D projects/programmes and capacity-building initiatives. The KSAs also aim to support technology transfer, commercialisation and pilot implementation projects as well as other knowledge dissemination drives.

Of the five key KSAs, four are water-centred and address investment focused mainly on knowledge creation, while the 5th addresses mainly knowledge dissemination and information management.


The focus of each of the KSAs is as follows:

  • KSA 1: Water Resource Management
    Generating the knowledge, tools and skills to ensure that water resources of South Africa are protected, utilised, developed, conserved and managed to achieve environmental, social and economic sustainability.

  • KSA 2: Water-Linked Ecosystems
    Providing knowledge to ensure sustained functioning of aquatic ecosystems and ongoing provision of ecosystem goods and services.

  • KSA 3: Water Use and Waste Management
    Researching effective and efficient water service provision to, and use of water in, the domestic, industrial and mining sectors. This includes the prevention of pollution and the development of technologies for treatment of water and wastewater.

  • KSA 4: Water Utilisation in Agriculture
    Meeting needs of present and future generations of subsistence and commercial farmers through researching the role water (quantity and quality) plays in agriculture and forestry and supporting the development of water-efficient production technologies, decision-support models and information systems.

  • KSA 5: Water-Centred Knowledge
    Providing internal, knowledge-based support for the WRC and service to the water sector and society through IT services, knowledge sharing, scientific communication and the furthering of public understanding of science.
    In addition, four Impact Areas provide for an integrated view of research investments within and across the KSAs, as they relate to the key national priorities of society, economy, the environment and public health. Each domain has a research portfolio which draws together relevant research projects that fall under the management of the four water-centred KSAs

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Impact Areas

The core strategy of the WRC requires a number of key crosscutting issues of national importance to be addressed. Each of the KSAs, through its own portfolio of thrusts and programmes, makes an important contribution to addressing these issues. However, to ensure that the WRC research portfolio as a whole achieves the desired impact with regard to each of these key strategic issues, they are dealt with specifically in four Impact Areas (previously referred to as Crosscutting Domains) established purposely to provide for the necessary integration and leadership roles and functions. Apart from being of national importance, the issues addressed by the Impact Areas enjoy regional and international priority, as the agendas of major events and movements such as the WSSD, successive meetings of the World Water Forum as well as NEPAD have clearly shown.

The integrating function of the Impact Areas entails drawing together programmes and projects which address the relevant crosscutting issues and which are under way within the portfolios of each of the KSAs. Leadership and support is also provided for new KSA initiatives which can further knowledge with regard to Impact Area-related strategic thrusts. The domains may also drive specific programmes/ projects that are overarching and relate to all KSAs in a general manner.

The Impact Areas address the following key issues:

  • Water and Society

  • Water and the Economy

  • Water and the Environment

  • Water and Health

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