Investigating barriers to and initiatives for agency participation in addressing the cumulative environmental effects of development for the Pietermaritzburg area of KwaZulu-Natal.
Cumulative Effects Assessment (CEA) is a more holistic assessment method that has emerged in the wake of experts recognising that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has a tendency to be a site –project specific process, which frequently lacks the capacity to assess multiple development actions within a region (Canter, 1997). Although CEA is part of environmental policy for many countries, including South Africa, research has revealed that CEA is often poorly applied and in many cases ignored (DEA, 2004;Canter and Ross, 2008).One possible solution to enhancing CEA, within the study area, is for the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs KwaZulu Natal (DAEA), the agency ultimately responsible for assessing the effects of development, to adopt a participatory approach with the Department of Water Affairs (DWA). This study explores the potential for KwaZulu Natal DAEA, and the associated members responsible for assessing the effects of development, to enhance CEA by engaging with the multi stakeholder Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) processes, in the institutional engagement space provided by the Catchment Management Agency (CMA). The rational for the DAEA adopting such an approach to enhancing CEA, in addition to the linkages between land and water, the linkages between DAEA and DWA's responsibilities and the opportunity for engagement, is that the theses forums encompass all the major stakeholder groupings within the region. This in conjunction with the DAEA's participatory policy would provide the ideal opportunity for DAEA members, involved in CEA, to reap the benefits of participation in enhancing CEA. The aim of this research is to investigate the potential to enhance CEA through participation between the DAEA, the DWA and the multi-stakeholder IWRM processes in the CMA engagement space. In particular the research has the objectives of firstly gaining an understanding of the barriers to such an opportunity and secondly exploring what stakeholders perceived as potential initiatives that could be established to overcome the barriers. The methods of investigation were primarily semi structured interviews. These interviews were conducted with seven staff members from the local chapter of the DEA, The Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs KwaZulu Natal (DAEA). Due to the limited number of DAEA members within Pietermaritzburg region staff from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, who deal with CEA under the auspices of the DAEA were also included. Further data sources included an extensive review of the relevant literature. Based on an analysis of the information gathered in the above mentioned manner, it was concluded that the current application of CEA is poor within the study area and participation between the DAEA and the DWA, although promoted in accordance with policy, was subject to barriers, many of them physiological, which severely hinder the process. It was also concluded that barriers to participation were preventing DAEA employees from recognising the full potential of the opportunity to engage with the established IWRM process in the CMA engagement space as a means to enhance CEA. Despite the many apparent barriers the majority of stakeholders did recognise the linkages between land and water, the linkages between the DAEA and the DWA and the value of what effective participation could mean for enhancing CEA. DAEA and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife employees did however not seem to acknowledge the true potential to enhance CEA by participating with the DWA as they were not taking advantage of the opportunity. Stakeholders did however suggested, that a dramatic change in attitude and mind set towards the way participation was approached was needed from all sectors and that the DAEA needs to acknowledge and take advantage of such opportunity to enhance CEA.