The South African Water Sensitive Design Community of Practice (WSD CoP) facilitates the widespread implementation of WSD through knowledge sharing, capacity development and stakeholder engagement activities to bring about a paradigm shift in the water sector. The overall aim of the WSD CoP programme is to “strengthen the researcher / stakeholder and implementer interface in order to leverage partnerships and facilitate, manage and document technology transfer opportunities from the planning and design phases through to the piloting (adapting) and implementation phases”.
The South African Water Research Commission (WRC) established a dedicated WSD CoP programme in 2014 (anchored and facilitated by the Future Water institute at the University of Cape Town) to facilitate the implementation of WSD, and specifically the knowledge-sharing and capacity development required to encourage a paradigm shift in the water sector. The WSD CoP has recently entered its second phase (in a WRC/South African Department of Science and Technology Water Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap partnership), with a focus on identifying opportunities for broadening its reach and strengthening its national presence to ensure greater sustainability. The WSD CoP is a key enabler and anchor for all other projects in the WRC’s WSD Lighthouse (research focus area).
The specific objectives of the WSD CoP include:
WSD is seen as the enabler which could move South African national and local authorities closer to meeting developmental goals. If South Africa is to advance the notion of WSD, however, there needs to be a societal openness to embracing water sensitivity as part of its broader developmental vision. This will involve re-organizing planning departments and processes, adopting new and adapting old technologies, reviewing and applying new policy and legislation, building capacity (skills, competencies and judgment), initiating demonstrators for technology transfer with partners, actors and stakeholders and ensuring that the principles of WSD are increasingly rapidly understood and accepted by on-the-ground water users, whether for domestic, industrial or agricultural purposes. The WSD CoP plays a key role in furthering these aspects.