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Silent dialogue? Combining land and water reforms in small-scale irrigation schemes in South Africa

Saruchera D., Anseeuw W., Farolfi S., Olwoch J.. 2010. In : WaterNet. 11th WaterNET WARFSA GWP-SA Symposium 2010, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 27-29 octobre 2010. s.l. : s.n., 16 p.. WaterNET/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium 2010. 11, 2010-10-27/2010-10-29, Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe).

In South Africa, with the advent of democracy, both land and water institutions have undergone, and are still undergoing reform measures, especially to address equity and promote rural development. However, despite the apparent inter-linkages of land and water in rural livelihoods and agricultural development, the implementation of such reforms has been done separately. Water reform advocates for the registration and licensing of all non-domestic water use. In terms of the National Water Act (1998), water should be governed in a decentralised manner where new institutions (Water User Associations - WUA, and Catchment Management Agencies - CMA) are established to encourage user participation in decision making, efficiency and equity in water use. On the other hand, in the framework of land reform, with the future implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act of 2004 (CLARA), communal land is to be restructured, probably privatised. Two major questions come to the fore: Does the separate implementation of the water and land reforms have implications for rural livelihoods and agricultural development, particularly regarding inconsistencies of water and land rights respectively? Would articulating the two reforms lead to improved opportunities to address equity and promote rural development? Field work conducted on the communal small scale irrigation schemes of Nzhelele and Thabina highlighted not only the lack of coherence between the land and water reform programmes, but it also showed the implementation constraints of the programmes individually. Although articulating land reform to water reform seems necessary - the lack of effective implementation of water reform remains an obstacle, constraining rural livelihoods and agricultural development. In addition, for it to effectively address equity and promote rural development, it seems necessary for the water or land reforms to be linked to broader agrarian reforms, taking into consideration support services, market access and the overall rural, often multiple, livelihoods and strategies.(Résumé d'auteur)

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