Building capacity towards a better water future

FETWater Phase III is a knowledge transfer and capacity building programme linking learning resources and training capacity to integrate water resource management expertise in areas where they are needed most.

FETWater Networks

The FET Water program focuses on the six thematic priority (networks) areas namely water infrastructure, water monitoring, water planning and implementation, water regulation & requirements, water use, service & sanitation, Institutional management & goverance.


The International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is one of the six intergovernmental programmes (ISPs) of the United Nations system and the only programme devoted to water research, water resources management, and education and capacity building. Since its inception in 1975, IHP has evolved from an internationally



The International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is one of the six intergovernmental programmes (ISPs) of the United Nations system and the only programme devoted to water research, water resources management, and education and capacity building. Since its inception in 1975, IHP has evolved from an internationally coordinated hydrological research programme into an encompassing, holistic programme to facilitate education and capacity building, and enhance water resources management and governance. In this regard, IHP has been the stimulus of strong interactions between scientific research applications and education. IHP facilitates an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to watershed and aquifer management, which incorporates the social dimension of water resources, and promotes and develops international research in hydrological and freshwater sciences. IHP also applies its know-how in marshalling top scientific talent from around the world to support activities aiming toward better management of the earth’s water resources. The IHP approach emphasizes the following: learning by doing; free exchange of information, ideas and expertise through workshops, seminars, symposia and publications; collaboration among specialists in the natural and social sciences; and dialogue among planners, decision makers, local populations and international communities of scientists and engineers. Therefore, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) operations through IHP have potential to reach into the field where people live on a daily basis facing numerous water problems.
The Nairobi meeting of the IHP-VII Working Group held in 2013 identified needs and priorities that focused on six thematic areas to assist Member States in their challenging endeavor to better manage and secure water and to ensure the necessary human and institutional capacities. The six thematic areas included the following:

  • Theme 1: Water-related Disasters and Hydrological Changes
  • Theme 2: Groundwater in a Changing Environment
  • Theme 3: Addressing Water Scarcity and Quality
  • Theme 4: Water and Human Settlements of the Future
  • Theme 5: Eco-hydrology, Engineering Harmony for a Sustainable World
  • Theme 6: Water Education, Key to Water Security

View Themes


Based on the identified needs and priorities by IHP-VII Working Group, the current IHP Phase VIII (2014-2021) is focused on developing appropriate Responses to Local, Regional, and Global Challenges to promote Water Security. Specific objectives of IHP-VIII include Enhancing Water Resource Management, Promoting Water Resource Governance, and Supporting Integrated Programmes facilitating capacity building. In this regard, the implementation of IHP-VIII in South Africa supports the National Priorities of government, as the IHP-VIII thematic areas advance the National Water Resource Strategy 2 (NWRS2) of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the National Development Plan: Vision for 2030. The NWRS2 strategic priorities supported by IHP-VIII thematic areas include;

  • Water Conservation & Water Demand Management,
  • Planning,
  • Infrastructure development and operation,
  • Maintenance of water resources infrastructure,
  • Achieving equity including Water Allocation Reform (WAR), Institutional establishment & governance, Compliance monitoring and enforcement

In addition, the DWS will be able to promote the involvement of all water sector stakeholders which enhance integration and alignment.

Central to the quest to finding solutions to Water Security is the availability of the human critical mass to develop and implement required solutions. In this regard, the IHP-VIII has also identified human capacity to be the leverage point that countries or regions should strengthen in order to resolve their water and other socio-economic challenges. Therefore, activities supporting Human Capital Development or Training theme will be cross-cutting over all other IHP themes in Phase VIII. It is envisaged that the IHP-VIII will make a meaningful contribution to the DWS and the whole water sector by supporting water related programmes and strengthening efforts focused on developing solutions for the identified water issues stated in DWS’s NWRS-2, such as water scarcity, water runoff, water resource infrastructure, floods and droughts, water planning and shortages, water demand, groundwater potential, water quality challenges, water resources quality, and inefficient use of water resources.

It is against this background that the South African National Committee (SANC) of UNESCO IHP with oversight role in the implementation of UNESCO IHP has appointed the Water Research Commission (WRC) as Secretariat (administrative role) to coordinate day-to-day activities of IHP.

Operational Plan

IHP Phase VIII comprises of six themes focusing on broad water related challenges. IHP Phase VIII is therefore focused on developing appropriate Responses to Local, Regional, and Global Challenges to promote Water Security, with specific objectives that include; enhancing water resource management, promoting water resource governance, and supporting integrated programmes facilitating capacity building. After the signing of the agreement between the WRC and DWS, the IHP Phase VIII programme will kick-start through establishment, coordination and support of the following:


  • Contract signatories
  • Reconstitution of the SANC for UNESCO IHP and Management Committee by DWS (programme partners to be involved).
  • Submission and approval of the Business and Work Plans by WRC;
  • Transfer of funds to the WRC by DWS;
  • Management Committee Meetings Planning (Four times per year, two weeks before SANC meetings)
  • Ensuring consideration of DWS’s priorities & strategic issues
  • Guiding for Technical Groups (Networks)
  • Reviewing of Technical Groups Reports
  • Serving as project Reference Group
  • SANC annual meetings planning (At least twice per annum)
  • Planning meeting
  • Annual General Meeting
  • Themes confirmation
  • Designation of Technical teams (networks) for activities implementation
  • General IHP support
  • SANC Chair & structure
  • General correspondence & query handling
  • Information distribution & sharing
  • IHP National Committee & Management Committee Membership update
  • National Committee Funds Management
  • Quarterly reporting
  • General IHP coordination
  • Programme strategy & plans
  • Liaison with UNESCO IHP Office & UNESCO NatCom (DBE)
  • Production & publishing of national Committee Reports
  • IHP National Committee linkages to be incorporated in new FETWater website
  • Appointment and management of designated Technical Teams (networks)

Annual SANC for UNESCO IHP symposium

The SANC for UNESCO IHP symposium takes place annually and will be convened by the WRC serving in its capacity as secretariat. The first symposium was held in March 2017, and had the following theme: “Fostering learning, inspiration and wonder – and provoke conversations that matter”. The main objective of the symposium was to unpack some of technical and non-technical issues that will inform policy in order to meet regulatory requirements. The next symposium is scheduled to take place in March 2019 and will have the following theme: “Turning water threats into opportunities to secure Southern Africa’s water future”. The current drought that Cape Town is experiencing further necessitates the need to have a more progressive public discourse centered around better planning for effective decision making based on sound data.

Current activities in IHP related Projects


The GGRETA is part of the Water Diplomacy and Governance in key Transboundary Hot Spot Programmes, as part of the Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential (PCCP), UNESCO Programme. The GGRETA programme is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and cooperation (SDC) and is implemented by the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) in close cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UNESCO International Groundwater Assessment Centre (IGRAC) and local project teams.


The first phase of the project (2013-2015) focused on an in-depth assessment of the STAS which allowed establishing a shared science-based understanding of the resource. Reports of Phase 1 are available and recommended a further phase of the project, the Phase 2 (2016-2018). Phase 2 of the project activities include consolidation of the technical results achieved and the tools developed in the first phase. Phase 2 also focuses on strengthening capacity on groundwater governance at the national and transboundary levels in order to support the process of establishing a Multi-Country Cooperation Mechanism (MCCM). One of the global pilot projects under GGRETA is the Stampriet Aquifer System (STAS), which is a transboundary aquifer system shared by South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Below is a table on the workplan for the STAS.


In the same concept as the STAS, the Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer Project was initiated to address the governance of the transboundary aquifer shared by South Africa and Botswana. The first Phase (2015 – 2016) was to assess the geophysical status of the aquifer which produced the baseline and hydrogeology reports. The reports also recommended the continuation of the study to further develop the Strategic Action Plan (SAP) and Stakeholders Relationship Management. This resulted in the second phase of the project. The second phase (2017 – 2019) is aimed at supporting the long-term joint vision and cooperation on the shared groundwater resources of the Limpopo River Basin (Ramotswa Aquifer is located at the upper part of the Limpopo River Basin).



The UNESCO Chairs Programme promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. The Programme supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence.
The UNESCO chair for Geohydrology is hosted at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town. It was established in 2001 following the introduction of the National Water Act of 1998 by the National Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). As the chair mainly focuses on groundwater related education, research and outreach, the Centre strives to contribute towards sustainable utilization of groundwater resources in South Africa, Africa and the developing world.

The UNESCO chair will be participating in all future SANC for UNESCO meetings in order to provide feedback on activities. Discussions will be centered on how to strengthen the UNESCO Chairs contribution to transformative change towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development through cooperation.


FETWater Phase III (2014 – 2019) currently focuses on six new thematic areas listed below, with the objective of achieving sustainability beyond 2017:

  • Water Infrastructure
  • Water Monitoring and Assessment
  • Water Planning and Implementation
  • Water Regulation Requirements
  • Water Use, Services and Sanitation
  • Water Management, Institutional Governance

The mode of operation of FETWater is through effective co-operative networks involving Education and Training providers; and employees of the public and private sector including non-governmental organisations and donor agencies. Table 6 below shows the nine occupational qualifications under development in the FETWater programme.

Marketing and Communication
Website and linkages to UNESCO IHP activities

The website is already under development and will market the FETWater programme under the SANC for UNESCO IHP banner and educate users about the new products and services on offer for the water sector and other related UNESCO IHP activities.

Knowledge dissemination

There will be one road show to profile UNESCO IHP in the country in line with Mandela Year.

Scientific articles

The DWS project office and WRC are going to produce the SANC IHP National configuration article for publication.



Capacity Building African Case Studies

IHP National Committees Guideline

Strategic Plan for IHP-VIII – July 2012

170314 SANC IHP K Pietersen

Armitage Stormwater Harvesting for UNESCO-IHP, Pretoria 14 March 2017

Changing Landscape for capacity building_ CEO WRC

Critical challenges in managing mine water in South

FINAL_5th_ Strategic Plan for IHP-VIII__ July 2012


Jay_WaterConference.Nudges march 2017

NGS A4 smaller file size

NGS IHP Fanus Fourie20170314 [Compatibility Mode]



Sawunyama_IHP Symposium14032017

Sylvester – WRC Symposium – 14 March 2017

Armitage Stormwater Harvesting for UNESCO-IHP, Pretoria 14 March 2017

Critical challenges in managing mine water in South

FETWATER 14 March2017

GW Modelling FETWater

IHP-FET bigdatabigflows

Matthews WRC Symposium 14 Mar 2017

NGS IHP Fanus Fourie20170314

Pegram Floods-&-design-WRC-14-March-2017

Sawunyama_IHP Symposium14032017

Sylvester – WRC Symposium – 14 March 2017

Armitage Stormwater Harvesting for UNESCO-IHP, Pretoria 14 March 2017

UNESCO-IHP presentation – Inga Jacobs-Mata

Villholth_RAMOTSWA Cooperation and Learning_SANC_Mar 2017

For more information, contact us