Bruce Lankford

Systems- & people-centred water and irrigation

ESPA in South Africa

Ecosystems and water

This research reports on the project that examined the impacts of ecosystem services and environmental governance on human well-being in the Phongola floodplain, South Africa

For the publication from this project:

B. Lankford, C. Pringle, Dickens C, Lewis, F, Mander, M, Chhotray, V, Goulden, M, Nxele Z and. Quayle, L. 2011. Hydrological modelling of water allocation, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in the Pongola Floodplain, South Africa. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. Volume 54, Issue 9: 1237-1260.

The Envecon paper that preceded the JEPM paper can be downloaded here: Envecon 2010 Lankford et al PRESPA final.   While the powerpoint at the Envecon conference is here:  Envecon Lankford PRESPA 2010

PRESPA Overview

The Pongola River ESPA was a project managed by Bruce Lankford (DEV, UEA), Chris Dickens and Kate Pringle (both INR, South Africa). The project team included Fonda Lewis, Myles Meander and Zibonele Nxele (from INR) and Vasudha Chhotray and Marisa Goulden (from DEV). It was one of 12 projects funded by NERC examining the linkages between eco-system services and poverty alleviation (ESPA). The research site in the Pongola/Jozini water system in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. The project ran from January 2009 to January 2010. The project was jointly run by DEV/ODG and by the Institute of Natural Resources (INR), Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.


The waters in the Jozini dam are used for three main purposes; Phongola river and floodplain releases, and two irrigation systems. For each of these purposes and the zones they represent, the research examined for the annual calendar, a number of research questions:

  1. What are the main ecosystem services in the areas and time windows?
  2. What water volumes do they require to be supported?
  3. Who & which stakeholders and users access these services?
  4. What monetary value do the services represent?
  5. How is the monetary value apportioned to or accessed by poor people?

With the above five questions in mind, three scenarios (pre-dam, current and future ‘improved management’) were explored with two key policy questions:

  1. To what extent have management decisions and overarching governance issues impacted on eco-system services and associated well-being?
  2. How might decision makers manage water from the Jozini dam to extend eco-system services to enhance well-being for more water users?

The final project report can be downloaded here: FINAL UEA Prepsa NERC Report – April 2010