Water is integrated in society in South Africa in many ways that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, for example, as irrigation and supply of drinking water. The water resources and benefits provided by water to society are crucial for well-being and quality of life. Use of water requires infrastructure, such as irrigation systems, water supply networks, sewers and wastewater treatment plants. These technical systems are also vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In the future, the water demand is expected to increase. However, water resources are expected to be scarcer due to climate change. Sustainable water management is required to meet this challenge.
Stellenbosch University of South Africa and SINTEF of Norway collaborate in this project. The researchers will study water resources in Hessequa Municipality, Western Cape. How water is used and the technical water systems of a selected study area will also be assessed. The work will focus on social aspects such as livelihoods, participation and local organisation in different parts of the population, as well as technical and financial aspects such as energy efficiency and costs. Combining this knowledge with climate change predictions will improve our understanding of how society is affected by climate change in respect of water availability and uses of water, and thereby how water resources and infrastructure should be managed.
The methods applied aim to account for the needs of different groups in society and facilitate dialogue and capacity-building among a broad set of stakeholders, including water managers, local government and researches.