Ngqushwa is located in the Eastern Cape.It is bounded on the East by the Fish River and on the South by the Indian Ocean and has 118 villages under its jurisdiction and a population of 84 234 made up of 20 757 households.
Ngqushwa Municipality area is bounded by major drainage channels. The Great Fish River and Keiskamma River bound it on the west and east respectively. The coastal zone that forms the southern boundary of the Municipality contains many estuaries of the minor rivers rising from the area and flowing into the Indian Ocean. The sensitive nature of the coastline requires proper local conservation practices and polices to ensure that the valuable ecological resources in the area not unnecessarily exploited but are developed in a sustainable manner.
The deeply incised Great Fish and Keiskamma Rivers have enabled the development of alluvial terraces. Although, the terraces of the Great Fish River are easily accessible (limited to the Tyefu area), the isolated nature of the terraces and the steep scarp zone along the Keiskamma River restrict accessibility to these areas.
Geology and Soils
Geologically, the coastal area consists of unconsolidated beach sand and high coastal dune as well as fixed dune and semi-consolidated sand overlying the older sedimentary rocks. The inland area is mostly underlained by mudstone, sandstone and shale of Karoo sequence and the properties associated with this formation are high erodability and medium to high suitability for foundation. In terms of soil fertility, previous agricultural practices have indicated that areas with soils suitable for agricultural purposes are confined to the following areas:
The area is drained by two major rivers, that is, the Great Fish and the Keiskamma Rivers and by numerous small rivers arising from the inland areas and flowing into the Indian Ocean. Reports indicate that the Lower Great Fish River cannot be used for irrigation or domestic purposes due to its high salinity (Directorate of Planning, 1989). The inland portion of the Keiskamma River, on the other hand, has adequate water of high quality that can be extracted directly from the river for irrigation and / or domestic purposes. Additionally, the numerous smaller rivers flowing into the Great Fish or Keiskamma Rivers provide additional local storage facilities.
With regard to underground water supplies, some villages and irrigation schemes are supplied from boreholes and these sources remain vital water source in the areas. The aquifers in the coastal zone are known to contain large amount of good drinking water that can complement existing surface systems and supplies.
Being part of the Western Sub-region, the Municipality has a climate which varies with the elevation from cool humid sub-topical at the coast to hot and sub-arid inland. The climate is characterized by variable moderate to low rainfall ranging between an annual average of 700m at the coast and 400m at Tyefu with about 60% of rainfall occurring in summer and peaks being in October and February. The dominant wind directions are south - westerly (winter) and north - westerly (summer) with coastal area being subject to considerable winds.
The natural vegetation has been vastly transformed by grazing practices and the condition of the veld correlates strongly with management techniques and agents. Even though certain parts of the vegetation have been degraded and show evidence of severe veld mismanagement, especially with the presence of “alien plants”, a greater portion of the region is in an environmentally superior state and the region is favorable for livestock production.