Pathways to water resilient South African cities


Start date: 1 May, 2019 End date: 31 October, 2022 Project type: Research collaboration projects in growth and transition countries (Window 2) Project code: 18-M05-KU Countries: South Africa Thematic areas: Urban development, 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: 4,979,683 DKK

Project summary

This project aims to identify opportunities for supporting the integration of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) as nature-based solutions (NBS) for increased water supply and water quality within the urban water system as part of a broader transition towards water sensitive futures in the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. The research will include physical experimentation with and evaluation of storm water harvesting for Managed Acquifer recharge (MAR) as decentralised water treatment infrastructure in Cape Town and an experimentation with, and evaluation of, the implementation of Water Sensitive Urban Design as nature-based solutions in Johannesburg. Additionally the aim is to assess how such solutions can be integrated with conventional water infrastructure as well as explore the governance processes necessary for enabling such integration of infrastructure and for supporting the emergent transitions to water sensitive futures in Cape Town and Johannesburg.


Midterm Report
The project is progressing but as the project relies heavily on stakeholder engagement and field experimentation, it has been substantially affected by Covid. Some activities have been delayed to 2021 where others have been changed to other more Covid friendly activities. In Cape Town the focus has been on stormwater infiltration experimentation which have comprised activities in three parts; i.e. field experimentation repurposing existing detention ponds which has been delayed; set-up of a more Covid-friendly stormwater harvesting test facility on UCT campus; and laboratory-based experiment. Designs for retrofitting the ponds incorporating landscaping to extend the amenity also build on input from local residents who after lockdown also got involved in online meetings. In Johannesburg, a database has been compiled of already-implemented solutions and case sites have been selected. Covid restrictions have resulted in delays with water monitoring, as well as engagement in the field. We have, however, partnered with other organisations working on similar case sites to share data to keep traction. Furthermore, an online survey was developed involving 160 practitioners. An actor analysis interviewing key stakeholders has been completed in both cities and results indicate engagement with water resilience but lack of coordination, capacity and ambiguity as to who should maintain and monitor implemented solutions limit learning and water resilience.

Go back to all projects