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Swartkops Estuary Water Quality Management Pilot Project: an integrated approach

The Benguela Current Convention (BCC) has through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) secured funding from Global Environment Facility (GEF), which enabled support provided for initiatives underway to improve the water quality at the Swartkops Estuary, Gqeberha. Activities include water quality monitoring; installation of filtration strips & sustainable drainage systems (SUDs) and deploying artificial wetlands at pollution hotspots along the estuary. Collaborations with relevant stakeholders are strengthened for an integrated approach to realise positive results, thus involve the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE); Department of Water & Sanitation (DWS); provincial Department of Economic Development and Environmental and Tourism (DEDEAT); Nelson Mandela Metro; the Nelson Mandela University; Walter Sisulu University and Zwartkops Conservancy, among others.

On 16 May 2022, the project managing team was honoured by a visit by the UNDP executive delegate, Ms Madeleine Nyiratuza. Ms Nyiratuza is the UNDP regional technical specialist for water, ecosystem and biodiversity for Africa. She is based in the UNDP regional service centre for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The visit kicked off with a briefing session that was hosted by the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) at the ocean science campus. After the briefing session at the university, the team went for the field visit on areas where the project implemented physical pollution reduction interventions.

Site visit included a boat ride, on a boat that was procured by the project to access middle reaches of the estuary for monitoring and data sampling, to get to different points of the estuary.  Visited the installed sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) at Markman Canal and Kat Canal and floating wetlands at Pond 6.

The UNDP executive was impressed with the project work and strengthened partnerships to address water pollution at the Swartkops estuary. She encouraged more of community involvement in the project to participate in the intervention initiatives, change behaviour and secure better livelihood towards sustainable environmental protection, through activities like solid waste recycling projects and eco-tourism, that could benefit community. She further encouraged pursuing and supporting the municipality with its responsibility with community services to address waste water and domestic waste. Ms Nyiratuza supported the re-activation of the Catchment Management Forum or Stakeholder Engagement Forum for an integrated management of the estuary. She requested the project team and all relevant stakeholders including the NMU, to identify priorities for the possible next phase of the project, to expand and upscale on implemented initiatives to bring the positive results for the estuary.

Compiled: T Sineke – BCLME111 national project officer for South Africa


  • Site visit briefing session
Ms Madeleine Nyiratuza and NMU research scientists – Rachel Kibble and Priscah Lakane
Ms Zimbini Nkwitya (DFFE), Ms Sisipho Fuzile & Dr Thandi Mmachaka (DWS)

Extreme left is Ms Tembisa Sineke (BCC), middle Ms Madeleine Nyiratuza (UNDP) and Ms Sibulela Mama (BCC) at the extreme right
The SuDS installed at Markman Canal. The team joined by the Dale Clayton (Zwartkops Conservancy)
The SuDS construction at Kat Canal, Perseverance, Uitenhage

The SuDS construction at Kat Canal, Perseverance, Uitenhage
Boat tour inside the estuary utilising the project procured boat

Boat tour inside the estuary utilising the project procured boat

Installed artificial wetlands at Pond 6 at KwaZakhele township

Installed artificial wetlands at Pond 6 at KwaZakhele township

Litter and domestic waste in open spaces at KwaZakhele township, Gqeberha

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