Pathways to water resilient South African cities (PaWS) 2.0 – Harnessing blue-green infrastructure to achieve water sensitive futures


Start date: 1 November, 2022 End date: 31 October, 2025 Project type: Research projects in countries with targeted development cooperation (earlier Window 2) Project code: 21-M01-KU Countries: South Africa Thematic areas: Climate change, Natural resource management, Water management and sanitation, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Partner institutions: University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Lise Herslund Total grant: 4,999,591 DKK

Project summary

The overall aim of this project is to identify opportunities for, and generate knowledge on, the functioning of a network of stormwater infrastructure within a city; and how it can be designed, expanded and aggregated in collaboration with key local, city and civil society actors, to transform mono-functional, often degraded stormwater ponds into multifunctional, blue-green infrastructure (BGI). In this way, a wider range of water-related ecosystem services in addition to flood control, such as water supply and water quality improvements can be provided that also contribute to improvements in biodiversity and liveability.

The project is built up around four interrelated work packages. WP1 works at the city scale to provide an overview and typology of ponds, a suitability (GIS-based) tool for practitioners and a background for case selection. The next two work packages zoom into the local (pond site) scale to conduct physical and governance experiments. WP2 experiments with and evaluates different techniques to widen the hydrological functions of ponds and their combination with other ecosystem services, community-based green infrastructure-related needs and the city’s resilience aspirations. Various scenarios of pond retrofitting combinations and landscape designs in the formulation of a toolkit will provide guidance on how ‘dead’ ponds can be transformed into active nodes while retaining their primary function of flood management. Concurrently, WP3 will concentrate on facilitating the transdisciplinary co-production of a landscape management plan at the pond by bringing together local community, city and provincial government, academic and civil society stakeholders. From this, WP4 zooms out to explore policy leverage points and possible governance arrangements to enable and support a mosaic of multi-functional retrofitted ponds (BGI) throughout the City. An online ‘Community of Practice’ will also be established involving key stakeholders across several SA cities. Via this platform project results can be communicated but also new networks and new agendas for water resilient cities in South Africa can be built.

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