In the first year (2013) alien plant species and refuse were removed from parts of the project region, which covers 41.5 hectares. This also created jobs for the disadvantaged local population. Furthermore, preparations were made for installing a water testing station, and a workshop was held for supervisors and workers on ‘impacts of climate change’. Both sides were forced to learn that when implementing a project, things do not always go according to plan. This happened when new problems arose in the course of the project that also needed to be solved. For instance, a particularly aggressive, fast-growing plant that is difficult to remove – Spanish Reed (Arundo donax) – became established in the project region. Various methods needed to be tried out in order to achieve better results. This was compounded by the steep topography of the project region, which makes it more difficult to manage the landscape. In the long term it will only be possible to successfully reduce uncontrolled waste disposal, and thus improve the quality of water in channels and rivers, by raising public awareness. Right now, the different environmental awareness of many local residents leads them to toss refuse from their houses down the slope that was cleared of rampant plants as part of the project.
The formal conditions for financial support also constituted an additional challenge for the two cities. This included for instance the allocation of annual funding by financial year, which in Durban runs from July until June of the following year. Nonetheless, all things considered the partners are satisfied with the success of the work they have done. In 2014 they placed special emphasis on making up for the time lost as a result of delays in launching the project. The water testing station was installed and commissioned, and large swathes of the degraded wetland that was previously used by a sugar cane plantation were restored to a near-natural state. The partners did have to face a setback when measuring probes were stolen from the testing station, however. They decided to commission a new design that allowed the probes to be sunk in the stream so that they remained out of sight. Now that they are below the water level the new probes are once again working perfectly, and readings can be taken at regular intervals.