Integrative policy instruments for implementing the National Water Act : a case study of the Mgeni Catchment.
Vilakazi, Ntombifuthi Pretty.
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South Africa experienced a paradigm shift with the introduction of the National Water Act in 1998 (NWA). Previously, water resource management was based on a centralized approach. Today, it is framed by the Integrated Water Resources Management approach and rests on the three important principles of equity, sustainability and efficiency. The implementation of these principles is characterized by decentralized decision-making within a framework that brings together all water stakeholders in a new form of communication, particularly those of marginalized groups. However, no matter how clear and ambitious the objectives of the NWA are, the problem of effective implementation remains significant. A mix of centralized and decentralized management instruments, aiming at integrated and adaptive management, has created considerable complexity. This then calls for integrative instruments to allow for greater coordination and enhanced stakeholder participation, in order to produce an integrated management outcome. Although a set of instruments is available under the South African (SA) NWA, these do not seem to be sufficient. Perspectives emerging from a study undertaken in the Mgeni Catchment, using key-informant interviews and household surveys, suggest that this is based on a lack of institutional and management capacity, missing Catchment Management Agencies, limited monitoring and evaluation and lack of integration between the water stakeholders and other sectors that impact on the water resources. Further, it seems that specific elements are creating bottlenecks as well as a loss of responsibility in a decentralized system e.g. the National Water Resource Strategy. This study adopts a social perspective on water resource management and examines the suggestions proposed by water stakeholders in the Mgeni Catchment in relation to major constraints to the implementation process.
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