Water, sanitation and climate data resources

This list of resources has been updated for #WRCHack2019 https://wrchack.github.io/ and #WRCHack4Water 2020

Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) water information systems

National Integrated Water Information System (NIWIS) provides access to many of the DWS datasets. The various dashboards allow you to download a CSV or EXCEL file, some have historical data. Examples include:

Drinking-Water Quality Compliance. To access data:

  • Use the "Filter Options" button to select data from 2016 to 2020

  • Click on the Province + to expand provincial data to municipal level

  • Download the CSV file

  • Note that the data is presented as a %: the total number of samples taken over the period/ number of failed samples (hover your mouse over the cell to see values). So to analyse trends over time, you will need to select smaller time periods (e.g. month or year) then download these individually. (Let us know if you see a better way to do this!)

You can access additional water quality-related data via Resource Quality Information Services (RQIS) or Water Quality Monitoring Network pages.

Water Supply Reliability: only shows the latest data, but can select down to a municipal level (click on the table names) and compare municipalities

Groundwater Quality: can select data from 1966 to 2019 (use the "Filter Options" button), down to specific stations around the country (click on the table names)

Surface Water Storage (e.g. dam levels): can select data for the past 5 years (click below the graph), down to specific dams (click on the table names)

Raw water charges (e.g. for irrigation vs. domestic vs. forestry) can select data from 2016 to 2019 (use the "Filter Options" button), down to specific water management areas around the country (click on the table names). Also access more detailed and older charge data from the WARMS page.

Spatial data on water resources: can be accessed from RQIS. Includes the location and boundaries for drainage regions, water management areas, rivers, dams, lakes and lagoons. Most data is available as KMZ file type which can be converted to GeoJSON or similar using an online tool like Geoconverter. Then you can visualise them in an online tool like Kepler or download and install QGIS.

Water Resources of South Africa, 2012 Study (WR2012) data: Extensive source of data on "GIS maps, WRSM2000 (Pitman) rainfall-runoff model, WR2005 database, Reports, Quaternary data spreadsheets, Patched observed streamflow data, Catchment rainfall groups, Catchment based rainfall, Point rainfall, Naturalised streamflow, Water quality, Monitoring, Land/water use, Present day streamflow and Reservoir records." Free registration to download the data.

Water permit data has been extracted by Oxpeckers

The previous Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) - now Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) - hosts the SASDI portal which provides various water-related datasets. As many of these are spatial datasets in SHP file format, you will need to convert and use them as noted above.

South Africa's Environmental Geographical Information Systems (E-GIS) webpage includes downloads for various environmental datasets.

National Oceans and Coastal Information Management System (OCIMS)

SANBI Biodiversity GIS: SANBI provides spatial datasets on various biodiversity themes, many of which are related to water availability and use - such as wetland locations and boundaries.

miniSASS: "The most important feature of the new website is the miniSASS Map, which allows you to explore your catchment, find your river, look at any existing miniSASS results and then upload your own miniSASS results! The map also lets you explore your catchment to see the land uses and activities that might be improving or worsening water quality."

Sanitation services

Statistics South Africa collects data on the availability of sanitation at household level in different municipalities. This is done through:

  • Citizen reporting via Census 2011, Community Survey (CS) 2016 and General Household Surveys (GHS). View and download Census and CS data on Wazimap. Access PDF summary reports for GHS or source data on SuperWEB2.

  • Municipal reporting on the provision of services in the Non-financial Census of Municipalities. See Table 8 for water supply and Table 9 for toilet facilities. You can download the summary PDF report as well as the XLSX ‘unit data’ from 2005 to 2018.

Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO) Quality of Life Survey collects details on water and sanitation in the Province. Download from UCT Datafirst platform. Also read how GCRO is applying this data to understand COVID-19 vulnerability.

ISMaps project page shows how 2015 data from City of Cape Town was used to map the type of toilets available to residents of informal settlements.

Asivikelani project is collecting citizen reporting on access to water, clean toilets and waste removal in informal settlements during COVID-19. May be downloaded as XLS.

Check-IT is an example of crowd-sourcing data on toilet and tap operation, starting in Khayelitsha

Weather and climate

South African Weather Service (SAWS) hosts a number of data products, most of which are not free or open access.

However, there is a pilot access to their data API which you can try - and decide if you would like to purchase a commercial subscription.

AfriGIS Weather API: "exposes the South African Weather Service (SAWS) data feeds as an Application Programming Interface (API). The API includes measurements, forecasts, thunderstorms, lightning and weather alerts"

You could try extract some climate information from SAAQIS air quality monitoring stations which also track humidity and temperature.

The pilot access to API includes "fifty (50) credits per day, for a maximum of sixty (60) days"). Try this demo API GET to see what type of data is available:


US NOAA Climate Data Online including daily summaries for various South African sites, download in CSV format.

The CSIR GreenBook provides climate-related insights and projections.

DAFF Portal

The previous Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) - with the agriculture component now part of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) - operates a portal with various maps and datasets.

Most of the water-related data on the DAFF portal is provided in Shapefiles (SHP) (instead of the KMZ files from the DWS RQIS). As with the KMZ files you can convert SHP files to another open format such as GeoJSON using Mapshaper or Geoconverter, or download and install QGIS.

Some examples from the DAFF portal include:

Temperature Avg long-term annual (2001, SHP file)

Rainfall - mean annual (?, SHP file)

Rivers (?, SHP file)

Dams (?, SHP file)

Global water databases

The Global Terrestrial Network - Hydrology provides a useful list of major water-related data sources. This is useful for comparing South Africa to other countries, and over multiple years. Two examples:

The FAO AQUASTAT "core database provides the platform for organizing and presenting over 180 variables and indicators on water resources and their use which include water withdrawal, wastewater, pressure on water resources, irrigation and drainage, and few components on environment and health. They can be searched and extracted, along with their metadata, for 200+ countries and for different regions over an extensive-time period (from 1960 to 2017)": http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/data/query/index.html?lang=en

The GEMStat which allows you to "access GEMStat water quality data and to produce a statistical and graphical analysis of water quality data at station, country or catchment level." https://gemstat.bafg.de/applications/public.html?publicuser=PublicUser#gemstat/Stations

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