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Integrated water resources management studies in the Mbuluzi Catchment, Swaziland.

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Problems in the water sector range from degradation and depletion of water resources as a result of the impacts of land based anthropogenic activities, to the impacts of natural hydrological disasters and floods, while inadequate availability of water is at the core of most water related disputes in arid and semi-arid areas at local, regional, national and international levels. In the past, finding practical solutions for these problems fell neatly within the traditional scope of water resources management, which hinged almost entirely on economic viability of engineering oriented endeavors. However, a new set of management challenges has arisen following the high priority nowadays given to equity in water allocation and the protection of the natural environment above other issues. These new challenges have created a need for devising and adopting suitable management approaches, especially that would take social considerations into account. One of the approaches that provides promise relative to the new directions in dealing with contemporary water issues is integrated water resources management (IWRM). One objective of this study was to critically review the definitions and the fundamental principles of IWRM with the view of determining its applicability in developing countries and highlighting difficulties that may be faced regarding the adoption and implementation of this integrated approach. Swaziland is atypical example ofa developing country that is engulfed by the diverse water resources issues highlighted above and is currently engaged in updating water management legislation. Hence, Swaziland's experiences were used to put in perspective the key points and barriers regarding the adoption and implementation of IWRM. The catchment, the recommended spatial unit of IWRM, poses the first practical barrier, as catchments often cross both political and administrative boundaries, thereby creating the need for many water management problems to be solved across catchments with international security issues, cultural issues, different levels of development and different hydroclimatic regimes. The successful implementation of IWRM depends on effective participation of stakeholders. Lack of information flow between stakeholders of different backgrounds limits informed participation. Therefore, it is necessary to develop tools such as decision support systems (DSSs) that will foster easier multilateral information flow and aid decision making. IWRM requires information which itself should be managed in an integrated manner and be readily accessible. This is not always the case in developing countries with shortage of funds for data collection, manipulation and storage as well as adequately trained and experienced staff With the shortage of sufficiently long and reliable hydrological data for water management, the alternative is to synthesize records through hydrological modelling. Another objective of this study was to evaluate and test the suitability of the ACRU modelling system, a daily time-step agrohydrological model, to simulate catchment level hydrological processes and land use impacts as part of the assessment studies which form an integral part of integrated water resources management. ACRU was set up for the Mbuluzi, a 2958 km2 catchment in Swaziland. The catchment was subdivided into 40 sub catchments, after which the model was used for assessing both the impacts of land use and management changes on runoff yields and available water resources by evaluating present and future sectoral water demands, determining whether river flow from Swaziland into Mozambique meets the quantitative requirements of the international agreement existing between the two countries, and evaluating sediment yield and its spatial and temporal variation as well as its response to potential changes in land management. The physical-conceptual structure of the model, its multi-level adeptness regarding input information requirements, coupled with in-built decision support systems and generic default values make ACRU a suitable modelling tool in developing countries, as it makes it possible to obtain reasonable simulations for a range of levels of input information. Together with the model's multi-purpose nature, the ability of simulating ''what if scenarios", which was utilised in this study, makes it useful in the generation of information for IWRM. Future research needs which were identified include finding means of encouraging effective communication between scientists, water managers and other stakeholders, who may be "lay people". There is a need to conduct research that will lead to equipping ACRU with sediment routing and deposition algorithms, as well as routines to account more explicitly for dam operating rules and ecological issues, which would render its output even more useful in IWRM than the model's present structure allows.


Thesis (M.Sc.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2001.


Hydrology--Mathematical models., Stream measurements., Streamflow--Swaziland--Mathematical models., Water resources development--Swaziland., Water resources development--Mathematical models., Mbuluza Catchment (Swaziland), Theses--Bioresources Engineering and Environmental Hydrology.