The working for water programme: Evolution of a payments for ecosystem services mechanism that addresses both poverty and ecosystem service delivery in South Africa


J.K. Turpie; C. Marais; J.N. Blignaut

Type of Document:
Scholarly Article


Elsevier Press

Date of Publication:

Place of Publication:
Not Available


South Africa’s government-funded Working for Water (WfW) program is a payments for ecosystem services (PES) initiative to improve the biodiversity, land potential, and hydrologic function of mountain watersheds by invasive plant removal. The program is funded as a poverty-relief scheme, but is generating interest among water utilities and local governments as they see the hydrological benefits. This paper describes the development of WfW, its unique characteristics, and possibilities for future expansion and adaptation of the program.


1. Introduction 2. Water as a key commodity for PES in South Africa 2.1. Water scarcity 2.2. Threats to water supply 2.3. The restoration process 3. The Working for Water Programme 3.1. Background 3.2. Mandatory payments by water users 3.3. Voluntary payments by water users 4. Characteristics of the WfW programme 5. Achievement of programme objectives 6. Expanding the Working for Water model 7. The rationale for an ‘umbrella service’ for PES 8. Fitting a WfW type model into a broader PES framework 9. Conclusions

Additional Bibliographic Information

Ecological Economics 65(4): 788-798

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