A situational analysis on the public participation processes in integrated water resources management in the Kat River Valley, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Naidoo, M. (2009) A situational analysis on the public participation processes in integrated water resources management in the Kat River Valley, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Public participation in water management processes is one of the internationally recognised and adopted principles of Integrated Water Resource Management. The South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry aims to facilitate the decentralisation of water management powers to the local community level via the establishment of regional and local water management institutions, namely Catchment Management Agencies, Water User Associations and Catchment Forums. The National Water Act (No. 36 of 1998) acknowledges that the discriminatory laws and practices of the past have prevented equal access to water and the use of water resources. The contribution of water management institutions to social and economic development, in particular poverty eradication and food security, is mentioned in the water act. The participation of poor rural communities living in the Kat valley, an area where an elite minority reap the benefits of water use for agriculture, is the focus of this research. Their participation, perceptions and experiences are documented and explored to determine how the promulgation of post-apartheid water policy and legislation has affected their access to water. The results of this research are based on data collected from several methods including surveys, workshops and observation. Analysis of these data revealed the complicated and stagnant nature of participation from Kat valley rural communities in local water management initiatives and organisations. Existing water management organisations were not successful in stimulating poor people’s participation as they were unable to address their primary concerns, namely a secure source of potable water, employment and access to water for agricultural purposes. This thesis asserts that the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, as the custodian of South Africa’s water resources, has not taken on a supportive, accountable role in assisting marginalised communities with improving their access to water for domestic purposes and securing access to water rights for productive use. This, in turn, has led to dissatisfaction among these communities and a wariness of participatory activities that focus mainly on raising environmental awareness. The establishment of effective accountability relationships among all stakeholders, pro-poor water management structures and initiatives, as well as integrated and co-operative management of natural resources, are needed to revitalise the present participation of poor communities living in rural areas.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:public participation; integrated water resources management; Kat River Valley; water supply
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Geography
Supervisors:Rowntree, K. (Prof.)
ID Code:1615
Deposited By: Nicolene Mvinjelwa
Deposited On:28 Apr 2010 08:03
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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