An Assessment of Small-scale Users' Inclusion in Large-scale Water Users Associations of South Africa

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"The management of water resources is being transformed in South Africa. All water users, especially the small-scale ones, are now invited to participate in this management. At the local level, the former whites-only Irrigation Boards (IBs) are to become more inclusive Water User Associations (WUAs), incorporating all water users. The actual outcomes of small-scale user involvement in the already accepted WUAs are not obvious. This report reviews the process of inclusion of small scale users in the new large-scale WUAs. The analysis presented here uses information from previously published case studies. In order to assess the potential benefits of having small-scale users on board, the research investigated the possible overlap between water-related problems of small-scale users and the functions of the WUAs. The presence of small-scale users in the WUA is always beneficial, even though they are faced with the problem of lack of funds for operation and maintenance. The possible benefit of the presence of drinking water users (rural communities and farm workers) stumbles on a lack of clarity when it comes to the responsibility of the WUA with regard to water quality and drinking water supply. It appears that the lack of internal organization of small-scale users such as farm workers and rural communities is a major stumbling block. While the presence of small-scale users at the management committee helps them in terms of capacity building and enables them to voice their problems, such a practice has still proved to be insufficient. This report recommends external monitoring of small-scale user inclusion after the transformation of an IB into a WUA. The problem oriented approach of this research may also facilitate assessment of the inclusion of small scale users in the catchment management agencies of South Africa, as well as in water resource management organizations in other developing countries where large- and small scale users share water from the same source."



water users' associations, water management, irrigation, agriculture