Governing River Rehabilitation for Climate Adaptation and Water Security in Durban, South Africa

  • Patrick Martel
  • Catherine Sutherland


Water security and climate adaptation governance have converged in Durban, due to the city’s focus on using ecological infrastructure to secure water for the future, address risks, promote resilience and adapt to climate change. In the absence of well-established and institutionalised rules for climate change at the national scale in South Africa, state and non-state actors in Durban are increasingly drawn into the horizontal governance of climate change. The city has focused on climate adaptation approaches that are experimental, promote learning-by-doing and are aligned with developmental, capacity building and poverty alleviation agendas. This chapter compares the governance approaches of two river rehabilitation projects within Durban, to reflect on the convergence of water security and climate adaptation agendas. Through their implementation both projects have prioritised state–citizen relationship building, empowered communities and promoted capacity building processes.



This research was supported by funding received from the Water Research Commission of South Africa (WRC 2354) and the Rockfeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities programme. The authors would like to thank Dr. Elsa Lee from Cambridge University for reviewing an earlier version of this chapter, as well as Bahle Mazeka from University of KwaZulu-Natal for the production of the maps. The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an earlier version of the chapter.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Martel
    • 1
  • Catherine Sutherland
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Built Environment and Development StudiesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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