Part 3: Case Study

3. Challenges

The purpose of this activity is for students to learn about the types of real obstacles there are to implementing sustainability strategies. In discussion of the project’s challenges, students consider the difficulties of project implementation and recommend how such obstacles can be best approached.

The discussion is also a time for students to recognize that some of the challenges faced in the project are the types of obstacles that can occur with any project and that they should consider and address possible obstacles when they develop their own project strategies in Part 4.

Creativity should be encouraged. Remind them of the values and principles of sustainability from Part 1 and encourage them to recall the issue and strategy information from Part 2 in their discussions.


      • Choose students as discussion leaders and provide them with the Assignment and Discussion Questions to prepare to lead class discussions.

In Class

      •  Have students lead the class in consideration of the questions you assign.

Discussion Questions

  1. List Working for Water’s overlapping environmental and social goals. How would you prioritize them? Why?
  2. How are questions about prioritizing goals in Working for Water similar to other debates about how to move toward sustainability in Africa? What values and principles of sustainability can help guide us?
  3. How might Working for Water restructure their employment model so that workers have a more steady income?
  4. While many criticize Working for Water’s expensive cost, others believe that its symbolic value in South Africa warrants the expense. How should these valuations be compared and assessed?
  5. What species and eradication methods should be prioritized? Do you have enough technical information to make this decision? If not, what else do you need to know?
  6. How can private landowners be encouraged to clear their land?
  7. What further scientific and statistical studies can help in the ongoing decision-making processes regarding Working for Water?

Core Reading

  1. Working for Water, A South African Sustainability Case: Section C

Assignment Questions

  1. It has been noted that Working for Water’s less centralized partnership-based structure makes decision-making and accountability difficult. How would you suggest improving this?

    • Working for Water could add a team member to each contract that is responsible for communication with Working for Water and ensuring that Working for Water standards are met.

  2. How might the “exit strategy” be made more effective?

    • Contractors that are interested in hiring employees for long term employment could be favored in the bidding process. Contractors that organize the work procedures around mentoring the workers could also be favored. Working for Water could also provide more assistance educationally and financially to those in its Emerging Contractors Programme who merit such support.

  3. What are some of the symbolic roles of Working for Water in South Africa?

    • Children learn about the value of their country’s resources
    • Citizens are directly engaged in saving their country’s ecosystem
    • Progressive employers have a model for the provision of social services
    • Status of women is raised
    • Crime is reduced
    • Cost of living is reduced
    • Ecology gains public and political attention