Sustainable Water Resource Handbook Volume 5



Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a concept that has struggled to gain traction in South Africa and further afield (Barnes, 2014).

There are many reasons for this, one of which is that, like sustainable development, it has many definitions. Jonker (2002) quotes a definition of IWRM that seems to suggest that we can manage things that we cannot manage, like components of the hydrological cycle. This thought may be a catalyst in urging us to define IWRM in another way: describe what we can manage, like people’s activities. Thus, Jonker (2002, p. 719) purports that we could define IWRM as follows: “managing people’s activities in a manner that promotes sustainable development (improves livelihoods without disrupting the water cycle).”This concept of managing people’s activities causes the reader to consider people’s practice from a grass-roots perspective within a broader, more strategic framework of IWRM. The concept also elicits a question about whether practice should be exercised responsibly. In a country that is water scarce, shouldn’t practice be synonymous with responsibility; and not only responsibility but also accountability and the duty of care? These value- laden words are best summed up in one: stewardship. In the following pages, leading organisations and other individuals present examples of practice that are responsible, accountable and care-filled. These are stewardship practices that are attempting to create an enabling environment for more effective water management.