Current Research Projects

Over the past five years, the project has explored the conceptual and philosophical basis for investing in Ecological Infrastructure (EI) and through this report, demonstrates how EI can be utilised to secure water for the benefit of society through research focused on selected case studies in the uMngeni Catchment.

There is an interdependent and co-constitutive relationship between EI, society and water security. Through the study, we identify approaches in the uMngeni Catchment where investment into the maintenance and/or rehabilitation of EI can produce long-term and sustainable returns for the delivery of water-related ecosystem services. The study inherently addresses aspects of water quantity and quality, economics, societal interactions, environmental systems and the governance of natural resources. It highlights that ensuring availability and sustainable management of water resources requires both transdisciplinary and detailed biophysical, economic, social and development studies of both formal and informal socio-ecological systems. It also argues that the human resources capacity to support these studies is critical to sustainable and transformative outcomes.

The following are outputs that have resulted from the project:


Martel, P. and Sutherland, C. (2019) in Cobbinah. P.B. and Addaney, M. (eds) Governing River Rehabilitation for Climate Adaptation and Water Security in Durban, South Africa, The Geography of Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Africa, Palgrave MacMillan.

Mazeka, B., Sutherland, C., Buthelezi, S. and Khumalo, D. (2019) Community-Based Mapping Methodology for Climate Change Adaptation: A Case Study of Quarry Road West Informal Settlement, Durban, South Africa, in Cobbinah. P.B. and Addaney, M. (eds) The Geography of Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Africa, Palgrave MacMillan.

Rodina, L., Baker, L.A. Galvin, M., Goldin, J., Harris, L.M., Manungufala, T., Musemwa, M., Sutherland, C., and Ziervogel, G. (2017) 151Water, equity and resilience in Southern Africa: future directions for research and practice, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 26–27:143–151.

Sutherland, C. (forthcoming) Involving people in informal settlements in NHG based on South African experience, in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science, Oxford University Press, Oxford.


GOKOOL, S. & JEWITT, G. 2019.  Identifying hotspots for investment in ecological infrastructure within the uMngeni catchment, South Africa. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 114.

HUGHES, C., DE WINNAAR, G., SCHULZE, R. E., MANDER, M. & JEWITT, G. P. 2018a. Mapping of water-related ecosystem services in the uMngeni catchment using a daily time-step hydrological model for prioritisation of ecological infrastructure investment – Part 1: Context and modelling approach.Water SA,44.

HUGHES, C. J., DE WINNAAR, G., SCHULZE, R. E., MANDER, M. & JEWITT, G. P. 2018b. Mapping of water-related ecosystem services in the uMngeni catchment using a daily time-step hydrological model for prioritisation of ecological infrastructure investment – Part 2: Outputs. Water SA,44.

MANDER, M., JEWITT, G., DINI, J., GLENDAY, J., BLIGNAUT, J., HUGHES, C., MARAIS, C., MAZE, K., VAN DER WAAL, B. & MILLS, A. 2017. Modelling potential hydrological returns from investing in ecological infrastructure: Case studies from the Baviaanskloof-Tsitsikamma and uMngeni catchments, South Africa. Ecosystem Services,27,261-271.

NAMUGIZE, J. N., JEWITT, G. & GRAHAM, M. 2018. Effects of land use and land cover changes on water quality in the uMngeni river catchment, South Africa. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C,105,247-264.

NAMUGIZE, J. N., JEWITT, G. P. W., CLARK, D. & STRÖMQVIST, J. Under Review. Assessment of the Hype Model for Simulation of Water and Nutrients in the Upper uMngeni River Catchment in South Africa. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions,1‐37.

NAMUGIZE, J. N. & JEWITT, G. P. W. 2018. Sensitivity analysis for water quality monitoring frequency in the application of a water quality index for the uMngeni River and its tributaries, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. WaterSA, 44:4. DOI: 10.4314/wsa.v44i4.01.

SIM, V., SUTHERLAND, C., BUTHELEZI, S., & KHUMALO, D. (2018) Possibilities for a hybrid approach to planning and governance at the interface of the administrative and traditional authority systems in Durban, Urban Forum, 29(4), 351-368.

SUTHERLAND, C. & MAZEKA, B. (2019) Ecosystem services in South Africa. In Knight, J. and Rogerson, C. (eds) The Geography of South Africa, World Regional Geography Book Series, Nature New York: Springer.

SUTHERLAND, C. SIM, V., BUTHELEZI, S., KHUMALO, D. (2016) Social constructions of environmental services in a rapidly densifying peri-urban area under dual governance in Durban, South Africa, African Biodiversity and Conservation, 46(2), 1-12.

VOGEL, C., SCOTT, D., CULWICK, C., & SUTHERLAND, C. (2016) Environmental problem solving in South Africa: Harnessing creative imaginaries to address ‘wicked’ challenges and opportunities, South African Geographical Journal, 98(3), 515-530.

WILLIAMS, D.S., Máñez COSTA, M., CELLIERS, L. & SUTHERLAND, C. (2018) Informal Settlements and Flooding: Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses in Local Governance for Water Management, Water, 10, 871.

Williams, D.,Manez Costa, M., Sutherland, C., Cilliers, L. and Scheffran, J. (2019) Vulnerability of informal settlements in the context of rapid urbanization and climate change, Environment and Urbanisation, 31(1), 157-176.


Deliverable 1: Full report on inception workshop and finalized project methodology

Deliverable 2: Annual Report

Deliverable 3: Report on the water resource quality status from a catchment perspective from Midmar and Baynespruit study sites

Deliverable 4: Economic Value – Methodology Report

Deliverable 5: Annual Report

Deliverable 6: Report on capacity development, popular articles and blog sites

Deliverable 7: Literature review and final methodology description to assess water resource connectivity and inter dependency (between surface and ground water, water quality and quantity, water and society, etc) from a landscape perspective

Deliverable 8: Annual Report

Deliverable 9: Report on synthesis of quantified costs incurred through the use of poor water quality by various stakeholders

Deliverable 10: Report on water quality in identified case study sub-catchments of the lower uMngeni catchment and the relationship between catchment and water quality

Deliverable 11: Annual Report

Deliverable 12: Report based on the tested evidence demonstrating how intact ecological infrastructure could have alleviated the costs resulting from degraded ecosystems

Deliverable 13: Report on the water resource quality status from a catchment perspective

Deliverable 14: Water resource connectivity, inter-dependency and social relations from a landscape perspective

Deliverable 15: Final Report




Dr. Shaeden Gokool – Identifying Hotspots for Investment in Ecological Infrastructure within the uMngeni Catchment, South Africa



Michelle Browne – Economic evaluation of ecosystem restoration with a focus on wetland rehabilitation in South Africa

Matthew Burnett – Managing the Ecological Consequences of Water Quality and Quantity in Real Time Using the FISHTRAC Monitoring System

Indrani (Hazel) Govender – Ecological Risk Assessment of the uMngeni Catchment

Dr. Catherine Hughes – Degradation of Ecological Infrastructure and Its Rehabilitation for Improved Water Security

Patrick Martel – A temporal analysis of changing hydrosocial relationships in Durban, South Africa

Dr. Jean N. Namugize’s – Effects of Land Use and Land Cover Changes on Water Quality of the Upper uMngeni River, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa

Simphiwe Ngcobo – A Climate Risk Index for Commercial Sugarcane in Southern Africa

Susan Risko – Water governance in the Msunduzi Catchment: The politics and construction of the socio-economic and environmental value of the Msunduzi River


Nonthando Buthelezi – Investments in Ecological Infrastructure: An Ex Ante Assessment of the Costs and Benefits of Rehabilitation in the Mthinzima Wetland in KwaZulu-Natal

Londiwe Dlamini – Adapting the Social-Ecological Systems Framework to understand impacts of flooding in the Palmiet River Catchment

Jedine Govender – An Assessment of the Water Quality of the Baynespruit River and Its Linkages to the Health of the Sobantu Community

Sessethu Matta – The Value of Community-Based Water Quality Monitoring Initiatives

Silindile Mtshali – Estimating the Impact of Acacia Mearnsii in the uMngeni Catchment Using Remote Sensing and Hydrological Modelling

Semeshan Naidoo – The Relationship Between the Infrastructure, within the Palmiet Catchment, and the Condition of the Palmiet River Water Quality and Riparian Zone

Theolin Naidoo – An Assessment of Stakeholder Dynamics in Proposed Wetland Rehabilitation Projects: A Case Study of Wetlands in the Baynespruit Catchment, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Hlengiwe Ndlovu – The Effect of the Lions River Floodplain on Downstream Water Quality

Sanele Ngubane – Assessing Spatial and Temporal Variations in Water Quality of the Upper uMngeni Catchment, KwaZulu – Natal, South Africa: 1989 – 2015

Nantale Nsibirwa – An Assessment of the Critical Source Areas and Transport Pathways of Diffuse Pollution in the uMngeni Catchment, South Africa

Nolwazi Ntini – Dynamics of a Hydrosocial Relationship: a Case Study of the Pinetown/New Germany Industrial Complex and the Palmiet River

Ayanda Sithebe – A Comparative Microbiological Assessment of River Basin Sites to Elucidate Fecal Impact and the Corresponding Risks

Dylan Teasdale – Comparing drought management from 1982/83 and 2015/16 in the uMngeni-Mooi system

Khayelihle Thethwayo – The impacts of rapid peri-urban densification on drainage systems: Case study of uMzinyathi in Durban


Londiwe Dlamini – 2015/2016 Drought: An Evaluation of the Management Responses on the Water Infrastructure in the uMngeni Catchment

Sheldon Gouws – Water Quality in the Karkloof Catchment

Sizophila Mahlobo – Water quality monitoring of Nguklu and Gqishi streams upstream of Midmar Dam

Nosihle Mkhize – Using Mini-SASS to Test the Water Quality of Rivers and Testing its Compatibility with Formally Assessed Water Quality Records

Silindile Mtshali’s – Estimating Chlorophyll Content in Water Bodies, Using Multispectoral and Hyperspectral Satellite Imagery

Nantale Nsibirwa – Estimation of Pollution Load for the Mthinzima Catchment, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Thabethe, Eddie – Citizen Science Monitoring: the Case Study of Howick Wastewater Treatment Works in the Umgeni Catchment

Nokulinga ZweZwe – Monitoring of Water Quality of Inflow Into Large Dams in the Upper Umgeni Catchment

* Student progressed onwards to a higher degree.

♰ Deceased

The overall objective of this project is to produce a refined and parameterized baseline land cover against which the hydrological impacts of various land uses can be assessed. This will allow for improved decision making around environmental change impacts and in assessing streamflow reduction activities.

Research in support of South Africa’s National Biofuel Strategy

Assessing the impact of erosion and sediment yield from different land uses in farming K5/2402/4

Demonstration of how healthy ecological infrastructure can be utilized to secure water for the benefit of society and the green economy through a programmatic research approach based on selected landscapes. Quantification of hydrological and economic aspects

Further develop the catchment-scale water use quantification and accounting methodology developed in WRC Project K5/2205. The water resource accounts are intended as a tool to assist water policy makers, water managers and water users in visualising water resources states and flows for various scenarios, and as a means of facilitating communication with each other. The out comes of the project include: (i) refinements to the methodology, (ii) broadening the scope of the methodology, (iii) application and evaluation of the methodology in the uMngeni, uThukela and Breede Catchments, and (iv) better understanding of the requirements of potential users of the water resource accounts.

The overall objective of this project is to use the ACRU model to quantify and assess the impacts of various land management changes on the generation of water flows, delivery of eco-system services within river catchments and the water quality of the catchments.

Knowledge exchange around the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management in South Africa

CWRR’s role is focused on climate impact modelling and consequences for society in the Shire River Basin in Malawi.

The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) is a joint initiative of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Germany in response to the challenges of global change. Our component of the project focuses on the impacts of global change on water through long term monitoring and the impacts on extreme events.

Testing the use of indigenous fish as a rapid indicator of water quality problems in South African rivers

Improving the understanding of the water use of different tree species, hybrids and clones, planted at different densities as well as improving the tools used in the assessment of streamflow licenses. This project is funded in part by the Dept of Water and Sanitation as it addresses pressing questions around streamflow reduction activities and water use licensing.

Establishing the state of the art of Water Energy Food nexus research and understanding in South Africa as a guide for future research projects

Monitoring and modelling of water use in these orchards to improve water use efficiency

This project aims to respond to an urgent need to integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into planning, finance and development in the water sector to improve water security and avoid further loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The CWRR’s portion of the project aims to develop water resource accounts in selected case study catchments and collaborate in developing methods for linking water, land and ecosystem accounts.

The general aim of the project is to conduct a review of available information and knowledge about the Water – Energy – Food nexus in South Africa. Secondly, the project also aims to conduct a state-of-the-art literature review on past, present and ongoing work on the Water – Energy – Food nexus focusing on current status, potential, challenges and opportunities for intersectoral WEF Nexus planning.

The aim of the research is to develop guidelines for rainfed production of underutilised indigenous crops and estimate water use of indigenous crops based on available models within selected bio-climatic regions of South Africa. these models include AquaCrop, ACRU and APSIM.

This project was commissioned to provide a spatially explicit validation procedure for the 1 km grid of ET and SM which are produced through the HYLARSMET and PyTOPKAPI models as well as other hydrological models.