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Full Project Title: Water rights in informal economies in the Limpopo and Volta Basins (PN66)

Introduction

Driven by the new global discourse in the 1990s on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in general and market-driven water allocation in particular, new water legislation and related institutional innovation strengthened the legal device of ‘permits’ (viz. licenses, administrative water rights, etc.). Novel approaches to overcome the flaws of public investments of the 1970s and 1980s were initiated; gender issues articulated; “multiple-use water services” approaches taking especially poor women’s multiple water needs as a starting point piloted and upscaled.

Yet, problems tend to persist of sub-optimal use and lack of maintenance of new water facilities, insecure land tenure, and exclusion of women and the poorest. Indigenous and local water law and related land tenure may entail important strengths to build upon while weaknesses can be overcome.

The aim of the project was to contribute to gender-equitable rural poverty alleviation by establishing stronger and more sustainable water rights of poor rural women and men to better develop water resources for multiple uses.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • The findings showed that introduction and enforcement of permit systems brings major administrative burdens for the state and for small-scale users, whose administrative obligations are disproportionate to the volume of water used. The need is to first, rethink regulation, and second, if permit systems are still adhered to, to adopt the solution emerging in the Water Allocation Reform of South Africa, which is to issue priority General Authorizations.
  • The project quantitatively assessed of the distribution of water use and examined implementation of the new laws. Research revealed that the few, often corporate formal urban and rural users use by far the largest bulk of the water resources, while the many small-scale farmers only use a tiny fraction of the nation’s water resources.
  • The concept of ‘hydraulic property rights creation’ appeared particularly appropriate to understand and analyze the processes through which people obtain claims to water in the right quantities, qualities, at the right site and right moment in reality.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • For water lawyers and high-level policy makers in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa: Acknowledging and giving more legitimacy to informal water arrangements; recognizing the merits and obstacles of permit systems; considering alternative solutions such as General Authorizations.
  • Reflecting more critically on the history of permit systems and the drivers behind the water law reform; systematically studying and debating the vibrancy of informal water arrangements, instead of declaring ‘illegal’; finding the space to express their own doubts and field experiences on the suitability of permit systems in rural Africa.
Publications and Outputs

Selected publications and outputs

Burkina Faso

  1. Bélemlilga, Eléonore et Emma Palm/Zowelengre. 2009. Revue littéraire et règles coutumières en matière de droit de l’eau. Ouagadougou, Direction Générale des Ressources en Eau and Challenge Program on Water and Food
  2. Cessouma, Bamadou, and Eléonore Belemlilga. 2009. 2009. Revue litteraire des technologies de mobilisation des ressources en eau au Burkina Faso. Ouagadougou : Direction Générale des Ressources en Eau and CPWF.
  3. Bélemlilga, Eléonore, Cessouma Bamadou, and Zowelengré Emma. 2009. Case study of Béguédo in the White Volta. Direction Générale des Ressources en Eau and Challenge Program on Water and Food.

Ghana

  1. Ofosu, Eric Antwi, Everisto Mapedza, Barbara Van Koppen, Pieter van Der Zaag, Regassa Namara. 2010. Gendered access to shallow wells and riverine dugouts in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Oral presentation at the Groundwater Conference San Francisco and submitted to Water Resources Research Special Issue.
  2. Ampomah, Ben, and Bernadette Adjei. 2009. Statutory and customary water rights governing the development and management of water infrastructure and technologies in the Volta basin. Accra, Ghana: Water Resources Commission and Challenge Program on Water and Food.
  3. Ampomah, Ben, and Bernadette Adjei. 2009. Statutory and customary water rights governing the development and management of water infrastructure and technologies in the Volta basin. Accra, Ghana: Water Resources Commission and Challenge Program on Water and Food.

Mozambique (monograph chapters)

  1. Introduction – Water rights in Informal Economies in Mozambique Barbara van Koppen and Pieter van der Zaag.
  2. Analysis of water and related laws of Mozambique Carlos Manjate.
  3. Quantitative Analysis of Water Demand and Supply in the Lower Limpopo Agostinho Vilanculos and Eunicio Macuacua.
  4. Does the Limpopo river basin have sufficient water for massive irrigation development in the plains of Mozambique? Pieter van der Zaag, Dinis Juizo, Agostinho Vilanculos, Alex Bolding and Nynke Post Uiterweer
  5. Water rights in informal economies: the case of the Ndonga Community Carlos Manjate, Emilio Magaia and H. Gueze.
Final Report
Project Partners

Project partners

IHE-Unesco, WNet, WRC-SA, PLAAS

Project Lead

Project lead

IWMI

For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.

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