Bank’s R25m boost for EC water, biodiversity hotspots

30 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915527

Environmental Management & Control
Finance & Investment

NEDBANK has committed R25 million towards safeguarding critical water source areas, biodiversity hotspots and rural livelihoods with a strong focus on the Eastern Cape. The money will be spent in partnership with WWF South Africa which has a long working relationship with Nedbank.

For the past eight years, Nedbank and WWF have partnered to support sustainable farming across South Africa. In a statement, the conservation body said the next five-year phase of this work would now be scaled up to secure water source areas, strengthen sustainable local economies and improve rural livelihoods to see people living in harmony with nature.

“South Africa is one of the 30 most water scarce countries across the globe, and recent severe droughts have demonstrated how critical sufficient clean water is to maintaining economic growth and development while ensuring the health and well-being of our citizens,” the WWF said.

Bank’s R25m boost for EC water, biodiversity hotspots

It added that a study it had done with the CSIR revealed that 22 critical water source areas deliver most of South Africa’s freshwater, with just 10% of our land area delivering 50% of our river flows.

“In order to protect SA’s water security, WWF-SA has been working with key institutions to define, understand and improve the safeguarding and functioning of these areas to strengthen our national water security.”

It said the Eastern Cape is significant as South Africa’s second largest province with an estimated population of 7 million people comprising some 1.8 million households.

“It is also home to some of South Africa’s most critical water source areas – delivering close to 20% of SA’s water – and key biodiversity hotspots (including the Grasslands biome) and in urgent need of developing sustained rural livelihoods and employment for the youth.”

Justin Smith, WWF-SA’s Business Development Unit Head said that the organisation is focused on scaling-up numerous sector-specific interventions across multiple land use sectors.

“We want to mobilise collaborative efforts through community-public-private-partnerships (CPPPs) and coordinating the various components of our work within integrated landscape hubs, to work collectively at landscape level to balance competing demands and affect change,” he said.

To achieve this, WWF – through the support of this Nedbank partnership – will partner with and support existing local NGOs, community based organisations (CBO’s), national and provincial/ local government and private sector partners to promote the concept of “Landscapes for Livelihoods”.

He said the success of this approach had been demonstrated in the Eastern Cape’s innovative Umzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme (UCPP), co-founded and led by the Matatiele-based Environmental Rural Solutions (ERS) and Conservation South Africa (CSA).

This unique collaboration of more than 40 partners uses a model applicable to all of South Africa’s 22 critical water source areas and key catchments. It will continue to receive support through the Nedbank partnership. Another key area of work will be to encourage agricultural and water stewardship best practice in the dairy, fruit and forestry sectors, particularly in the Kouga and Tsitsikamma regions.

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