A cost-benefit analysis of the Working for Water Programme on selected sites in South Africa

  • SG Hosking
  • M Du Preez
Keywords: Alien vegetation, Non-water benefits, Marginal costs, Mountain catchment management, Social discount rate, Water yield, Livestock


The Working for Water Programme entails the removal of water-consuming alien vegetation and the restoration of low waterconsuming indigenous vegetation. It was implemented in 1995 to address the management of catchment areas in South Africa. The question of this programme\'s economic feasibility in the Western Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal has been addressed by various authors. This paper addresses its feasibility in the Eastern Cape Province and regions of the southern Cape. Cost-benefit analyses are carried out on six sites: Tsitsikamma, Kouga, Port Elizabeth Driftsands, Albany, Kat River and Pott River. It is shown that catchment management on all the sites carried out by the Working for Water Programme is inefficient.

This conclusion is subject to three qualifications. The first is that more work remains to be done on the evaluation of the nonwater benefits. Known non-water benefits, like fire damage reduction and preservation of biodiversity were not included in the calculations. The second qualification is that at lower discount rates, for instance 5%, the Kouga project is efficient. The third qualification is that if 30% cost savings could be achieved and a discount rate of 5% be employed, both the projects on the Kouga and Tsitsikamma sites will become efficient. These two projects are being run in catchments which serve areas where high consumptive demand exists.

WaterSA Vol.30 (2) 2004: 143-152

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eISSN: 0378-4738