SDG 15 and Socioecological Sustainability: Spring Waterscapes and Rural Livelihoods in the Save Catchment of Zimbabwe

  • David ChikodziEmail author
  • Daniel Tevera
  • Dominic Mazvimavi
Part of the Sustainable Development Goals Series book series (SDGS)


Ecosystem destruction has been given as the primary reason for implementing Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15). This chapter investigates the role of springs in securing rural livelihoods in the Save Catchment of Zimbabwe. It invokes SDG 15 in the debate on springs by examining rural community vulnerabilities regarding the management of spring water and other ecosystem services. Purposive sampling was utilised to select participants for the questionnaire survey and key informant interviews. In the study, springs were shown to be an important component of rural livelihoods. Access to spring waterscapes in the Save Catchment has led to an improved food security and income to rural households. However, climatic variability, weak institutional control and overutilisation have reduced the capacity for springs and their waterscapes to support sustainable livelihoods. The findings reveal that degradation of spring waterscapes is occurring and the productive capacity of springs is being diminished. In view of the multiple uses of the springs in the study area, appropriate management strategies need to be instituted if the goals of SDG 15 are to be achieved.


Spring waterscapes Sustainability Degradation SDG 15 Save Catchment 


  1. Aronson, J., & Alexander, S. (2013). Ecosystem restoration is now a global priority: Time to roll up our sleeves. Restoration Ecology, 21(3), 293–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Campbell, B. M., Du Toit, R. F., & Attwell, C. A. M. (1989). The save study: Relationships between the environment and basic needs satisfaction in the save catchment. Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Chikodzi, D. (2018). Unusual waterscapes and precarious rural livelihoods: Occurrence, utilisation and conservation of springs in the Save Catchment, Zimbabwe. PhD Thesis, University of the Western Cape, Capetown.Google Scholar
  4. Chirau, T. J., Nkambule, S., & Mupambwa, G. (2014). Rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe : Heterogeneity, diversification and vulnerability. International Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies, 5(1), 5–15.Google Scholar
  5. Dixon, A. B., & Wood, A. P. (2003). Wetland cultivation and hydrological management in eastern Africa : Matching community and hydrological needs through sustainable wetland use. Natural Resources Forum, 27, 117–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ferguson, A., & Derman, B. (2004). Whose water? Political ecology of water reform in Zimbabwe. In Political ecology across spaces, scales, and social groups (pp. 61–75). Rutgers: University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Knüppe, K. (2011). The challenges facing sustainable and adaptive groundwater management in South Africa. Water SA, 37(1), 67–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Mambo, J., & Archer, E. (2007). An assessment of land degradation in the save catchment of Zimbabwe. Area, 39(3), 380–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Marambanyika, T., & Beckedahl, H. (2016). Wetland utilisation patterns in semi-arid communal areas of Zimbabwe between 1985 and 2013 and the associated benefits to livelihoods of the surrounding communities. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 71(2), 175–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Matiza, T. (1992). The utilisation and status of dambos in Southern Africa: A Zimbabwe case study. In T. Matiza & H. N. Chabwela (Eds.), Wetlands conservation conference for Southern Africa. Proceedings of the SADC wetlands conference (pp. 91–104). Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.Google Scholar
  11. McGregor, J. (1995). Conservation, control and ecological change: The politics and ecology of colonial conservation in Shurugwi, Zimbabwe. Environment and History, 1(3), 253–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mogale, L., Turner, S., & Buscher, B. (2010). Towards an effective commons governance system in southern Africa? International Journal of the Commons, 4(2), 602–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Owen, R., Verbeek, K., Jackson, J., & Steenhuis, T. (Eds.). (1995). Dambo farming in Zimbabwe: Water management, cropping and soil potentials for smallholder farming in the wetlands. Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Rebelo, L. M., McCartney, P. M., & Finlayson, C. M. (2009). Wetlands of sub-Saharan Africa: Distribution and contribution of agriculture to livelihoods, in wetlands. Ecological Management, 18(1), 557–572.Google Scholar
  15. Stocking, M. (1996). Soil erosion: Breaking new ground. In M. Leach & R. Meanes (Eds.), The lie of the land: Challenging revised wisdom on the African environment. London: James Currey.Google Scholar
  16. Svotwa, E., Manyanhaire, I. O., & Makombe, P. (2008). Sustainable gardening on wetlands in the communal lands of Zimbabwe. Electronic Journal of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 7(3), 2754–2760.Google Scholar
  17. United Nations. (2018). The sustainable development goals report 2018. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  18. Wortley, L., Hero, J. M., & Howes, M. (2013). Evaluating ecological restoration success: A review of the literature. Restoration Ecology, 21(5), 537–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Whitlow, R. (1990). Conservation status of wetlands in Zimbabwe: Past and present. GeoJournal, 20(3), 191–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Zimstat. (2013). Provincial report Manicaland Zimbabwe population. Harare: Zimstat.Google Scholar
  21. Zinhiva, H., Chikodzi, D., Mutowo, G., Ndlovu, S., & Mazambara, P. (2014). The implications for loss and degradation of wetland ecosystems on sustainable rural livelihoods : Case of Chingombe community, Zimbabwe. Journal of Environmental Management and Public Safety, 3(2), 43–52.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Chikodzi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Tevera
    • 1
  • Dominic Mazvimavi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geography, Environmental Studies & TourismUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa
  2. 2.Institute of WaterUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations