The South African Civil Society Water Caucus

This network of about 20 organisations active inthe water sector was formed shortly after the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Since then the Water Caucus has met regularly, and is recognised by the Department of Water Affairs & Forestry as a critical voice to engage with in policy and implementation processes.

Issues and processes the SAWC has worked with include: large dams, national water resources strategy, regulation, water pricing, water quality, pre-paid metres, tricklers and cut-offs, NEPAD, and The Water Dialogues.

Water Caucus members in various parts of the country have set up provincial caucus groups to include community groups and to engage with local-level water issues. Functioning provincial caucuses exist in Mpumalanga, Western Cape, KZN, Gauteng, and Eastern Cape.


Water Caucus Manifesto

Water Caucus membership is open to all civil society organisations who subscribe to the Caucus Manifesto:

  1. Water and sanitation are human rights. All people are entitled to have access to water to meet their basic human needs, and rural communities are entitled to water for productive use to sustain their livelihoods.
  2. Water management must be accountable to communities at a local level.
  3. We respect the integrity of ecosystems as the basis for all life – both human and nature – with an emphasis on maintaining river ecosystems and groundwater resources.
  4. We reject the commodification and privatisation of water services and sanitation, and water resources.
  5. Further, we reject the role of the USA, the other G8 countries and Trans-National Corporations for their role in pushing privatisation and commodification.
  6. We reject the UN WSSD process and outcomes so far, as nothing more than structural adjustment of the South. We therefore resolve to work together with social movements to realise an alternative vision.
  7. We reject NEPAD and the plans for water in NEPAD as not being sustainable. It is structural adjustment by Africa for Africa. In particular we reject the privatisation of water and the hydropower focus. We commit ourselves to building a mass movement for the reconstruction and sustainable development of Africa.
  8. We undertake to educate and raise awareness and to mobilise communities towards the WSSD.


Reflection on Strategies and Tactics

National Workshop - November 2007

Reflecting on the world is what we as civil society organisations do all the time, but reflecting on ourselves is something more of a challenge, and this was the theme of the Workshop hosted by Environmental Monitoring Group and South African Water Caucus on 1 November 2007 in Kalk Bay, Cape Town.

The aim of the Workshop was to see what could be learned from listening to and discussing case studies of a different approaches followed  to CSOs including direct protest, petitions, dialogue, legal challenges, demonstration projects, etc.

The case studies presented illustrated a range of different approaches. The Water Dialogues is an example of research, conversation and relationship building. Masibambane could be seen as advocacy in implementation, with an emphasis on supporting local government. The assumption behind Citizens’ Voice is that if people are educated and aware of their rights, they will demand better services and help regulate local authorities. The Phiri Prepaid Meters case study is an example of direct action, leading to litigation.


EMG hosted the meeting. Victor Munnik facilitated and Liane Greeff took the photos.

Download the Proceedings (PDF 327KB) and the Case Studies (PDF 99KB).

Water Caucus Wshop

Water & Climate Change - Resources

Water and climate change - an exploration for the concerned and curious (2011) ed. Jessica Wilson, EMG, Cape Town - Hardcopy for R60, or download it in sections -- Main Text (2.1MB), Photo Essay (2.4MB), Guest Essays (380KB)  

Water demand management's shadow side: Tackling inequality and scarcity of water provision in Cape Town (2012) Taryn Pereira and Jessica Wilson, EMG Water & Climate Change Research Series Report 7 (315KB PDF)

The Energy-Water Nexus: Energy demand on water resources (2012) Brenda Martin & Robert Fischer, EMG Water & Climate Change Research Series Report 5 (973KB PDF)

You can't have your gas and drink your water (2012) Liane Greeff, EMG Water & Climate Change Research Series Report 6 (1.3MB PDF)

Drought in Eden: An exploration of municipality responses, community impacts and lesson for water and climate change from the 2009/10 drought in the southern Cape (2010) Taryn Pereira (1.8MB)

Climate Change and Water Services in SA (2009) Jessica Wilson & Taryn Pereira, EMG (500KB)

Climate change mitigation in the water sector: or how to reduce the carbon footprint of water (2009) Taryn Pereira, EMG (1.7MB)

Household Impacts of Water management Devices (2009) Taryn Pereira, EMG (128KB)

Water Handbook for South African activist and decision makers in urban areas (2008), Jessica Wilson EMG (2nd edition)

Straight Talk: To strengthen delivery in the water services sector (2009) Water Dialogues SA Syntheses Report, Ed. Mary Galvin,Water Dialogues SA

The story of an international multistakeholder process (2009) Chapman & Mancini  The Water Dialogues, London

A guide to multistakeholder work (2009) Hilary Colby, The Water Dialogues, London

Thirstyville is not for sale (2003) Illustrated by Carlos Amato, EMG