The Capacity for Catchments uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure project is implemented by WESSA in partnership with WWF and funded by the Maas Maasen Fund. The project focuses on securing ecological infrastructure within the Umngeni catchment in KwaZulu-Natal through capacity building of the key role players (especially local authorities) to become responsible custodians of the uMngeni freshwater ecological infrastructure. The uMngenu River catchment covers an approximate area of 4 416km2. The river is 225km long and flows through UMgungundlovu District Municipality, along with its tributaries, entering the Indian Ocean just north of the city of Durban.
‘Ecological infrastructure’ refers to “functioning ecosystems that deliver valuable services to people, such as fresh water, climate regulation, soil formation and disaster risk reduction” (SANBI fact sheet, undated). This includes provisioning services (e.g. food, fresh water, fuel), regulating services (e.g. climate regulation, flood regulation), and cultural services (e.g. aesthetic, spiritual, educational, recreational). Ecological infrastructure is often considered to be the “nature-based equivalent of built or hard infrastructure” (SANBI, 2012).
The project has conducted workshops with traditional leaders, key municipal officials and other key departments officials and members of the other key organisations. Dialogues and presentations have been also given in a spirit of promoting the active protection and valuing of the freshwater ecological infrastructure. This capacity building work continues to grow in the municipalities and leaders of our communities so that the catchment is restored and protected by all that work and live in it.