The Drakensberg above Maclear was burning when we arrived for field work last week. It was a typical winter veld fire that had swept through the farm land and got into the forested kloofs. We could see it snaking over the horizon and it was till going strong next day when we went into the upper Tsitsana valley.
Over the next couple of days we attended Kate’s Green Village workshop in Sinxahu Village and travelled around the Tsitsa Valley ground truthing our maps. It got windy and stormy, as you can see, making for some very dramatic landscape pictures . By the time we had finished our field work a cold front had moved in and on the last morning we got up to an icy wind and snow showers. So in the four days we went from fire to ice.
We’re just starting work as one of two teams in the Water Research Commission’s Green Village Project. Ours is a team from the Geography Department’s staff and students led by Kate Rowntree collaborating with colleagues from the University of Fort Hare’s Agriculture Faculty. There will be approximately twelve of us working with rural communities to try and find solutions to the erosion problems in the area above the proposed Ntabelanga Dam. The dam’s going to be built in the upper reaches of the Umzimvubu River – to those of you who know the Eastern Cape it’s the deep river valley that you cross on the N2 just north of Mthatha on your way to Durban.
It’s a beautiful area as well as one with many development problems. We’ll be busy trying to see if we can find sustainable village-based practices to prevent sediments eroding into (and filling) the dam. The pictures here give you a good idea of what the area’s like.
I’ve already been busy working on some maps of the catchment we are working in. That’s to help us find which villages to work with. Here are a couple of them. We’ll be working mostly in the area north and east of Maclear.