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The physical area of this study is the Mbombela Municipal Area. However, this area straddles the Crocodile and Sabie River catchment and hence necessitates a broader approach than only considering the water use and water resources within the municipal boundaries. See Figure 1. The water resources of the Sabie and Crocodile catchments have been included in the study area for the purposed of sourcing possible future water resources for Mbombela.


Mbombela Municipal Area
Figure 1: Study area showing the Mbombela Municipal Area and the Sabie and Crocodile River catchments.


For the purposes of this study, eight distinct supply centred have been identified. These are shown in Figure 2 and listed below:

  • Nelspruit (including Mataffin, the Agricultural College and Matumi Golf Course);

  • White River Town (including White River Country Estate and Rocky Drift);

  • Hazyview;

  • Nsikazi North;

  • Nsikazi South;

  • Karino Plaston Corridor;

  • Matsulu, and

  • Smaller centres, i.e. Kaapsche Hoop, Ngodwana and Elandshoek.


Industrial development is mainly centred in and around Nelspruit, Ngodwana and Rocky Drift.


Figure 2: Water Demand centres
Figure 2: Water Demand Centres.



The current total population of the Mbombela Municipality is estimated to be about 550 000. Growth is expected to be somewhat higher than the national growth rate but nevertheless moderate at between 1.0 and 2.0% per annum. Since the future is uncertain, this study is not based on a single growth rate but rather considers two scenarios, a high and a low growth scenario.

For the low growth scenario, it is expected that natural population growth in the MLM will follow historical trends.  Little development will take place within the municipal boundaries, due to fairly low economic growth and the lack of large industries establishing in the MLM.  Due to low economic growth, in-migration into the area is expected to be low, as few additional employment opportunities will become available which normally attract large numbers of people.  The prevalence of HIV is expected to increase steadily, putting further strain on population growth.

In the high growth scenario, the local economy is expected to prosper, and new industries will establish in the MLM due to its strategic regional location in terms of especially the N4 Maputo Corridor.  Due to increased development and new industries, employment opportunities are expected to increase, which in turn will attract more people from outside the municipal areas to the municipality.  The major economic nodes in the municipality (Nelspruit, Hazyview and White River) will mostly be the preferred destination for jobseekers, not only from  the other surrounding rural areas, other local municipalities and Provinces (especially Limpopo), but also from Mozambique.

Higher in-migration into the area will in turn require additional social (schools, hospitals, community centres, etc.) and infrastructure (water, electricity, sanitation, etc.) services, as well as housing development to accommodate the additional population moving into the area.  The proposed university will attract large numbers of people, which will increase the demand for especially housing and retail and commercial facilities.


Economic activities

The main economic activities in the study area are agriculture, forestry and government. The town of Nelspruit became the provincial administrative centre with the formation of Mpumalanga as a province and with this followed a rapid expansion of provincial as well as central government activities.

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