The Makana Water Forum and the Institute for Water Research recently hosted a Makhanda water tour for a delegation of German, Ethiopian and South African researchers visiting Rhodes. The group is exploring ways of designing and measuring the impact of, transformative research (research that aims to positively transform complex societal and environmental problems). Makhanda’s water system and its management during the current water crisis were used as a real example of a complex and problematic situation.
The tour visited the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works, Mayfield Waste Water Treatment Works and Ntsika Secondary School. At each site, a municipal worker guided us around the site answering any questions we had (Mzwanele at the James Kleynhans and James at Mayfield Sewage Works). At Ntsika Secondary School, principal Madeleine Schoeman and teacher Hilton Adonis shared how the school had adapted to the water crisis, largely with the help of a borehole, treatment and tank system supplied by the Gift of the Givers.
Councillor Ramie Xonxa and the MakanaHealth and Safety assisted in organising the tour as well as providing insight into management developments in response to the water crisis. It was encouraging to hear that the Water Crisis Joint Operating Committee (comprised of local, provincial and national stakeholders and officials) is now meeting weekly to strategise and advise on navigating the water crisis.
On the whole, the trip was informative but also a sobering reminder that almost all of Makhanda’s water supply rests on the Eastern System. A system dependent on water from the Fish and Orange Rivers, both of which are under immense pressure from other users and drought.
* Matthew Weaver, co-ordinator of the Makana Water Forum, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute for Water Research (IWR) at Rhodes University and Capacity Development Coordinator for the Tsitsa Project, Environmental Learning Research Center (ELRC), Rhodes University.