Priority water research questions for South Africa developed through participatory processes

  • RM Siebrits
  • K Winter
  • J Barnes
  • MC Dent
  • M Ginster
  • J Harrison
  • B Jackson
  • I Jacobs
  • A Jordaan
  • HC Kasan
  • W Kloppers
  • R le Roux
  • J Maree
  • MNB Momba
  • AV Munnik
  • J O’Keeffe
  • R Schulze
  • M Silberbauer
  • D Still
  • JE van Zyl
Keywords: research, questions, collaboration, prioritisation, South Africa


This paper describes a collaborative process of identifying and prioritising current and future water research questions from a wide range of water  specialists within South Africa. Over 1 600 questions were collected,  reduced in number and prioritised by specialists working in water research and practice. A total of 59 questions were finally proposed as an outcome of the study and are categorised under the themes of change, data, ecosystems, governance, innovation and resources. The questions range in scale, challenge and urgency, and are also aligned with prevailing  paradigms in water research. The majority of the questions dealt with relatively short- to medium-term research requirements and most focused on immediate issues such as water supply, service delivery and technical solutions. Formulations of long-term research questions were sparse,  partly because some of the principles and methods used in this study were difficult to apply in the South African context, and also because researchers are influenced by addressing what are believed to be the more immediate, short-term water-related challenges in South Africa. This is the first  initiative of its kind to produce a comprehensive and inclusive list of research priorities for water in South Africa.

Keywords: research, questions, collaboration, prioritisation, South Africa


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0378-4738