South Africa

South Africa’s Water Challenges

In South Africa, the world's 25th most populous country, demand for water is projected to exceed supply by 17% in 2030. The population and the economy are growing, and inefficiency exacerbates supply problems in a country that is already water scarce, receiving less than half the average level of rainfall around the world.

The country will have to resolve tough trade-offs between agriculture, key industrial activities such as mining and power generation, and large and growing urban centers. These trade-offs can cause tension and conflict among water users. No actor alone has the ability to solve these challenges, but much can be achieved if water users work together to identify shared solutions and implement strategies, policies, plans, and programs.

Approach and Results

2030 WRG provides support to South Africa’s Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN), a multi-stakeholder platform that brings companies, government, and civil society together to address the country’s most pressing water issues: improving water efficiency and reducing leakage, managing effluent and wastewater, and managing agricultural and supply-chain water.

The projects coordinated through the SWPN have led to the implementation of multiple successful programs. The No Drop Program is reducing water losses in municipalities through a water-use efficiency rating system and a rewards/penalties system. A Mine Water Coordinating Body in the Mpumalanga Coalfields is driving sustainable mine water management. And the roll-out of an irrigation management system in large irrigation schemes is significantly reducing water losses. To date, this initiative has reduced freshwater abstraction by 55 million m³ per year across nine irrigation schemes, equivalent to about 2% of the water gap between water supply and demand anticipated in 2030.

As part of a collective action response to Covid-19, the SWPN, 2030 WRG, and GIZ surveyed key stakeholders and found that partners were actively responding to the crisis through established on-the-ground interventions, with extra support provided to the most vulnerable communities. A special Covid-19 newsletter was issued, providing timely information on managing the pandemic from a water perspective.


The SWPN has quickly established itself as a leading vehicle to foster collaboration across government, industry, and civil society. The network includes approximately 100 partners, including 12 international organizations, 37 public sector organizations, 6 financial institutions, 35 private sector partners, and 10 civil society partners.

Multi-Stakeholder Platform Documents