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Rainfall in South Africa is very uneven and seasonal. This means that some parts of South Africa’s landscape are more critical in providing us with water. Our water law accepts that some areas need more protection than others. So if we want to protect the vital organs of our living water landscape, where should we focus our efforts?

WWF South Africa conducted research with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to assess where most of our water comes from. By modeling information about rainfall and river run-off, the research revealed that only 8% of our land area produces 50% of our surface run-off. We wanted to know where these areas occur, what are the threats to water security in these areas and how can we protect them for future generations.

South Africa’s strategic water source areas can be grouped into 21 areas (indicated on map). Five of the water source areas are of local importance, but have limited downstream dependents and impact – these are mainly on the coast in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The remaining 16 water source areas are of national importance and form the headwaters of major river systems which supply significant downstream areas and/or the economy, including inter-basin transfers. These are South Africa’s strategic water source areas. Disrupting water supply from these 16 strategic water source areas would effectively turn off the taps to our economy and seriously impact our food and water security.

Download the report (PDF 3.31 MB):

Introduction to
South Africa's
Water Source Areas
Introduction to South Africa's Water Source Areas