Part 3: Case Study

2. Issue Connections

The goal in this activity is to develop students’ understanding of how issues in the case relate to regional sustainability issues in Part 2. This is accomplished through class discussion of questions that involve an issue or issues in the case. By connecting the issues to what was learned in Part 2, the real life implications of issues and issue interrelationships should become clear.


      • Choose students as Assignment Question and Discussion Question leaders and provide them  with questions to prepare to lead the groups in discussion.

In Class

      • Have students lead groups in consideration of each of the questions. Since the readings for this class are the same as the class before, there is ample class preparation time available so that multiple students can prepare to lead discussions on the same questions so that well-informed, lively discussions can take place in each small group of students. Each group can then report their conclusions to the full class.
      • For Discussion Question 2, use Figure 19 (below) to inform the students about what the literacy rate for urban and rural women and men is in South Africa and to initiate a discussion about the level of literacy in their own countries.

Discussion Questions

  1. Some question whether HIV/AIDS workplace peer education has a place in the Working for Water program. Referring back to the issue materials in Part 2, why is this type of education needed?
  2. In Working for Water’s Emerging Contractors Programme, contractors receive in-depth training and much higher wages than the workers that they hire. One requirement for participation in the contractor training is to pass a written test in Afrikaans. Would you argue that efforts to increase literacy rates are a necessary complement to poverty reduction projects in Africa? If so, how can this be done? Is the rate of literacy in South Africa similar to other African countries? If not, how does that change your literacy strategy recommendations?

Bar chart discussing literacy rates in men and women 25 years and above

    Source: Women and Men in South Africa: 5 Years On. Statistics South Africa. 2002. (10 Oct. 2007).Core Reading

Case Connection Questions

  1. Water: South Africa’s reserve requirement for water management includes an allowance for healthy ecosystem functioning. Do you agree that a share of the world’s water resources should be reserved in this way, or should all water be directed towards human needs?
  2. Water: We saw in the Working for Water case that before the 1998 National Water Act advocated the demand management approach, water rights were determined based on ownership of riverside land. Explain some sustainability problems associated with this earlier system. From a political/historical perspective, why are less than ideal types of water management polices observed in the real world? Connect this to South Africa's experience. (If you are using the CD version of the course see Historical Water Rights Supplemental Reading in Water Module.)

Core Reading

  1. Working for Water, A South African Sustainability Case: Introduction, Background, Section A and Section B (19 pages, same pages as assigned for Activity 1)

Assignment Questions

  1. Most Working for Water projects take place on public lands. What initiatives of the program are aimed at private landowners and why are these important? Does what you learned about landownership issues in Part 2 change your recommendations?

    • Working for Water subsidizes clearing projects on private land, but requires landowners to keep land clear afterwards or be penalized. This is important because alien plants spread from private to public land. Awareness campaigns, both about the science of alien plants and the criminal penalties, can also encourage private landowners to control alien species on their own land.

  2. Explain the “exit strategy.” Why is it a goal of Working for Water and what programs have been launched to promote it? How does this approach compare to poverty reduction strategies in Part 2?

    • The “exit strategy” is the attempt to have workers graduate from the program with the skills to find another job in the formal sector. This is a goal both because of institutional reasons and because Working for Water cannot provide jobs indefinitely or to everyone who needs one. Programs include the Emerging Contractors Programme and Value-Added Industries.

  3. What types of skills do participants in Working for Water learn? How does this help the country in the long term? Are these skills relevant outside South Africa?

    • Through the Emerging Contractors Programme, skills necessary for small business development are learned. Specific skills related to clearing alien plants can also be applied outside of Working for Water on private land. Education about reproductive health and STDs empowers women, reduces population growth, and slows the spread of HIV/AIDS.

  4. Explain why forestry interests and conservation interests are opposed regarding biological control of invasive species. What compromises are possible? What are the other major forest issues in Africa?

    • Fear that biological control agents will spread to plantations preoccupy the forestry industry, since the invaders that are targeted by Working for Water are often also commercially-planted species. Seed-attacking agents are one compromise. Another is to use biocontrol only in areas distant from commercial plantations.

  5. Why does Working for Water have workforce targets for women and disabled persons? What are strategies that might assist women or disabled persons?

    • Working for Water has a secondary mission of empowerment and fighting poverty and these two groups are economically vulnerable groups, especially in rural areas.

  6. How did the designers of Value-Added Industries view waste? Could this approach be applied to other types of waste in Africa?

    • Value-Added Industries eliminates waste (biomass) by using it as a raw material for new, useful products.