Khathutshelo Neluheni is agriculturist in Agronomy/Horticulture by education/profession. He is now working for the German company Rodeco Consulting GmbH. This consulting company has been subcontracted to implement the “Southern African Development Community” Integrated Water Resource Management (SADC IWRM) pilot projects in six countries namely; Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The funding of this project is done by many parties, BMZ, DIFD & AusAid. GIZ is the implementing agency for the Transboundary Water Management Programme, within which the IWRM pilot project falls.

Khathu is the community coordinator for the pilot project in South Africa, more precisely in the hamlets of Mvala, Mutshuludi, Tshitambe, in the Tshikundamalema area (131 households in total). His role is mainly the one of a project coordinator . But he also does community and stakeholder mobilization, and advises about both water management and agriculture. This is a pilot project, started in May 2013, and due to finish in May 2015.

The IWRM project Khathu is working on has a threefold goal: 1) sustainable water resource management and requirements, 2) supplying water to the communities (both for drinking and for agriculture) and 3) drawing lessons. The project is complex since it involves many aspects: it has to take care of the social parts, fit in the community rule, consider the role of the women, and integrate the participation of different stakeholders.

The Tshikundamalema area is located in the Limpopo region. It’s in the north-east of South Africa, close to the Kruger National Park. The area is dry, with 450mm of water per year, and the rain only falls during three months from December to February. And the current climate change adds uncertainty to the rainy season, in terms of its epoch and the quantity of the rainfalls. Since the terrain is sloppy, the water does not accumulate, and just forms streams, then rivers, and end up lost to the sea. In addition, the sources of water are very localized.

One of the propositions would be to find a way to store the water, to be able to use it all year long for farming, for example using an underground storage, which could be filled with the rain water. The water from underground storage needs to be filtered. Khathu is currently assessing the technology involved in such underground tanks in other places of South Africa. Another way is to harvest the rainwater, and store it in roof tanks. This solution has been backed by government funds. The project must also comply with environmental law, therefore the need of an Environmental Impact Assessment.

As community coordinator, Khathu also faciliates trainings on agriculture, showing the locals how to improve it, and on preventing the pollution. In Tshikundamalema area, many people are unemployed, and only have their farm as mean of subsistence, so their only way to earn money is to produce some extra and sell it. The crops are of subsistence, mainly maize, with some vegetables like beans or tomatoes. They also own some goats or cows. Currently, only very few of them (2 or 3 of the 131 households) are able to sell part of their products to other communities. This initiative is backed by the governmental Water and Sanitation department.

After the phase of study, is the project will focus on procurement for consultants to implement the propositions. He meets monthly with the comity of the various stakeholders. Should the project be successful, it will for sure be reproduced elsewhere in South Africa.