Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

The Water Stewardship Initiative works with farmers to address water risks

Woolworths Holdings Breede Catchment Water Stewardship Programme

Runner-up: Innovations for Climate Change Adaptation

Part of the International Water Stewardship Programme, the Breede Catchment Water Stewardship Programme is a multi-stakeholder partnership involving the private sector, the public sector and civil society in order to formulate and implement measures to improve water security for all parties.

The core of this initiative works with deciduous fruit farmers in the Ceres area who supply Woolworths and Marks & Spencer with their stone fruits. The nine farms rely on the Breede River for the majority of their water supply.

According to Makhegu Mabunda, sustainability specialist at Woolworths, the water risks identified in a Worldwide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) study include physical risks associated with climate variability, extreme weather events, changing land uses, and regulatory changes that favour water allocation to industrial and urban use.

“The main objective of the Water Stewardship Initiative is to work with farmers to address water risks and build resilience at the farm and catchment level,” she says.

In order to mitigate these risks Woolworths and Marks & Spencer have entered a partnership together with civil society organisations WWF-SA, the AWS (Alliance for Water Stewardship) and governmental institutions including the Breede Gouritz Catchment Management Agency, members of the Witzenberg municipality, CapeNature and local farmers.

Over a period of a year various measures are been implemented: mapping of invasive species, improved wastewater management, on-farm education for water saving, cultivation methods, uptake and use of the AWS online tool. There is also ongoing dissemination of the lessons learned.

“The project has provided valuable insight to Woolworths and project partners about the value and the challenges of water stewardship approaches,” says Mabunda. “This was the overall objective, and ultimately there will be a more refined approach to be scaled up into other parts of the country, taking into account a more diverse group of stakeholders.”

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

DA’s egregious sexual harassment case finally begins

The party is accused of protecting a councillor, who’s also implicated in R1.2m graft

The ANC, DA and EFF ‘oblivious’ to climate crisis —...

The Climate Justice Charter Movement has critiqued the manifestos of the main parties contesting the local government elections and found them ‘shallow’

More top stories

Countries bear cross-border responsibility for harmful effects of climate change,...

The UN committee has been accused of ‘turning its back’ on the children who filed a groundbreaking legal complaint with it against five countries

Magashule files notice to have corruption charges dropped

Counsel for the suspended ANC secretary general tells court the former Free State premier falls outside category of who can be charged for corrupt activities

R1.5-billion in funding approved for riot-hit businesses

Agencies emphasise that speed is crucial to rescuing firms affected by July’s unrest

DA’s egregious sexual harassment case finally begins

The party is accused of protecting a councillor, who’s also implicated in R1.2m graft

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…