The strategic objectives have embedded in them all of the elements of the WRC’s  Knowledge Tree and at the same time aim to enhance the development focus to ensure higher resource security and improve livelihoods in and around water and related systems. Fostering research and implementation partnerships at all levels will ensure that we create not only a robust science system but also a customer base for our research, development and innovation outputs.

High-impact, outcomes-based projects will form the basis of the portfolio while funding R&D projects that are complementary to existing products and solutions for maximum impact. Solutions exchange will be encouraged through a complementary model as well as through process improvements with relevant stakeholders.

The portfolio of projects will continue to build capacity at all levels and ensure that this capacity is maintained in the sector and beyond. In order to improve water security, a competent portfolio that will diversify South Africa’s water supply mix and develop processes and technologies that will enhance and embed resilience in water resource and ecosystem use and protection will be built.


Water Resources and Ecosystems strategic objectives

Strategic objective

Description of strategic objective

To establish better governance models aimed at facilitating equitable, productive and sustainable use of water resources and ecosystem goods and services Typical areas related to water management reforms and the related governance aspects that will be covered include: governance at the national level, water

sector legal frameworks and broader institutional arrangements, transparency and accountability, civil society participation and the equitable provision of access and services. The sustainability of installed schemes ultimately depends on how we operate and manage these schemes or interventions. Governance is a crosscutting issue within the water sector but also needs strengthening across the energy, agricultural and mining sectors to ensure sustainability as well as integrating the activities of departments responsible for water (DWS, CoGTA, DAFF).

To improve our understanding of hydrological and ecosystem processes that will enable efficient management and decision-making This Thrust focuses on developing a scientific understanding of the hydrological cycle and inter-linkages in order to promote systematic water assessment and planning. Sound water resource assessment and planning can only be achieved with reasonably accurate and consistently recorded and processed data and information.
To improve environmental and climate change resilience and disaster and risk mitigation through improved understanding of the atmospheric,

water, land and people interactions

The Thrust will address research to improve our understanding of the connectivity between land, water, atmosphere and people. Any change induced to the environment through natural and anthropogenic means may have an impact on the biophysical

and socio-economic environment, ultimately affecting resource use, and should be assessed to be able to quantify the risks, determine response and adaptive strategies while implementing IWRM. The Thrust will also focus on movement of people (migration), changing land use and response of aquatic ecosystems to these population dynamics.

Converting natural assets into societal, economic and environmental benefits whilst maintaining healthy trade-offs This Thrust is focused on research, innovation and development which specifically address tested sustainable management tools necessary in natural systems decision- making, and guide sustainable utilisation of these systems for the provision of the benefits that people depend on. Central to this is the need to manage the social and economic requirements of society from natural ecosystems and the implementation of policy and legislation. Outputs from research should contribute to improving the lives

of people while also contributing to improving the condition of water resources and the environment at large.

To provide innovative solutions for water and ecosystem degradation and depletion and its impact on public health This Thrust will focus on research on water resources (rivers, dams, groundwater) and their quality in terms of chemical, biological and ecological health as well as flow and how it links to or affects quality. The health/quality of these resources have an effect on water users (domestic, recreation, ecological, traditional, religious, industrial, mining and raw water abstraction) and similarly the users have an impact on the resources. There is a need to focus on research and development as well as innovative tools for monitoring, modelling, and the prediction and early warning of impacts.
To provide applicable and marketable technological solutions that will enable improved management of water and land resources Use of electronics, earth observations, early warnings, numerical models, remediation technologies, sampling and analysis technologies, as well as innovations critical in water resource protection will form a key component of this Thrust.