The Take Back Our Rivers initiative is a flagship project of the eThekwini Conservancies Forum that seeks to restore the river health of rivers across eThekwini Municipality, through a process of hands-on river assessments, rehabilitation interventions and various restoration strategies including clearing of invasive alien species and mobilising the communities. The approach that this initiative takes is partnership-based, practical and action orientated, with a particular focus on engaging communities from various economic backgrounds with the intention of encouraging these communities to take co-responsibility with the designated authroities for the health of the stretch of river that they live on and/or use.
One of TBOR’s sub-projects, the Aller River Pilot Project designed by the eThekwini Conservancies Forum (with the Kloof Conservancy as the implementing agency), received a generous grant of R600 000 by the eThekwini Municipality, as part of its commitment to Climate Change mitigation and responsible natural resource management. This pilot project got off the ground in June 2016 and is scheduled to run until the end of March 2017. The aim of the pilot project is to test the methodology upon which the TBOR is built, particularly that aspect concerned with building capacity and custodianship amongst “river communities”, as this will ultimately support the sustainability of the intervention.
The wider TBOR initiative is seen as an integral part of the international 100 Resilient Cities Programme of which eThekwini is a part. This programme aims to help cities around the world become more resilient to the impact of accelerating physical, social, and economic challenges of the 21st century, primarily driven by climate change.
In October 2016 eThekwini Conservancies Forum announced that it would be collaborating with a team of researchers from Education and Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge to extend and enhance the community engagement element of our work on the Aller River. Further funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the UK enabled the project to consolidate the work being done in eThekwini and create links and partnerships with other water-based communities in the Norfolk Broads in East Anglia in the UK. This phase 2 of the project ended in January 2018.
In February 2018 the Aller River Project continued into Phase 3 with funding provided by the National Lotteries Commission. This will enable the project to further develop and deepen its involvement in finding local solutions. Phase 3 is scheduled to run until end of October 2018.
The eThekwini Conservancies Forum sees strong potential for enhancing the impact of its own efforts as a result of working with the outcomes of the research from the AHRC Pathways to Understanding the Changing Climate Project managed by the team from Education and Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.
It is hoped that the work on the Aller River and the bigger TBOR project will contribute to the development of knowledge surrounding Global Goals for Sustainable Development through this collaboration. In this way the important work being done with local communities may eventually benefit other communities around the world facing similar challenges.
For up-to-date postings on the progress of this project follow the eThekwini Conservancies Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/EthekwiniConservanciesForum/
You can also view a video on the Phase 1 of this project on YouTube