WIT Press

Water Sensitive Cities In South Africa: Developing A Community Of Practice


Free (open access)





Page Range

51 - 62




338 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


K. Carden, D. Ellis, N. P. Armitage


South Africa is a rapidly-urbanising developing country with complex water management challenges, both in terms of significant resource shortages as well as access to water-based services, with associated negative impacts on surface and groundwater quality. Alternative approaches to conventional water management which aim to facilitate a change from ‘water-wasteful’ to ‘water-sensitive’ environments are required if serious economic and socio-political threats are to be averted. As a first step towards advancing this vision for South African cities, a Water Sensitive Design (WSD) Community of Practice programme was established in 2014, with the aim of highlighting the critical linkages between the various aspects of this new paradigm through engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. The main focus areas have been the establishment of a project register to aid in the broad consolidation of WSD practices throughout the country, the development of an information transfer system, awareness-raising and training activities (using the recently-published implementation framework and guidelines for the adoption of WSD in South Africa, and including the development and monitoring of appropriate Learning Alliances and other information-exchange platforms), and scoping studies to identify the main drivers and barriers associated with implementing WSD into the planning and implementing environment at local and national government level. Initial findings indicate that the Community of Practice programme has the potential to generate a new understanding about innovative practices and reflexive learning within WSD in South Africa, and to develop knowledge connected to policy development and change to influence planning and design towards water sensitive cities.


water sensitive urban design, Community of Practice, Learning Alliances, water sensitive cities