The Tsitsa Project (TP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative centred on a partnership between the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF), Rhodes University (RU), LIMA Rural Development Foundation (LIMA), University of Fort Hare (UFH) and University of the Free State (UFS). The universities of Stellenbosh and Wits are nominally involved with student representatives but do not have full partner status. While these three organisations are the core partners in the TP, the project works with a wide range of other stakeholders including local catchment residents, traditional authorities, implementers of restoration activities, municipalities, government departments, partner universities, and so on.
The Tsitsa Project began in 2014. The Tsitsa Project (previously known as NLEIP*) was born when two dams were planned on the Tsitsa River – provisionally called the Ntabelanga and Lalini Dams. These dams are a key part of the Mzimvubu Water Project and intended to supply water to communities as far away as Mthatha and to irrigate an area near Tsolo.
Key parts of the Tsitsa Catchment (~494 000 ha) are degraded, posing the possibility that the dams will fill with sediment and silt within a few decades. The solution is to entrench landscape restoration to prevent silting and sedimentation, and at the same time, improve and protect the livelihoods of the people found in and around the catchment.
The Tsitsa Project has grown considerably and now aims at developing and managing both land and water by using sustainable development principles. Sustainable development involves improving the environmental, economic, and the social conditions of the people who live in the Tsitsa catchment.
The project approach has been different from most similar projects
Working from these points, the Tsitsa project recognises how much background work, stakeholder engagements and effort is needed to implement the project’s aspirations. At the time of writing (late 2018), we feel we have made a good start and are gradually building trust and are optimistic about improved collaboration.