Policies lost in translation? Unravelling water reform processes in African waterscapes: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Policies lost in translation? Unravelling water reform processes in African waterscapes

1st Edition

By Jeltsje Sanne Kemerink-Seyoum

CRC Press

198 pages

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Since the 1980s a major change took place in public policies for water resources management. The role of governments shifted under this reform process from an emphasis on investment in the development, operation and maintenance of water infrastructure to a focus on managing water resources systems by stipulating general frameworks and defining key principles for water allocation.

This interdisciplinary research examines how this water reform process unfolds within four African waterscapes that are historically constituted by natural and social processes. The study analyzes the interplay between public policies designed and implemented by government agencies and the institutions that govern access to and control over water resources among groups of agricultural water users.

The findings of this research show that the water reform policies have led to similar outcomes in dissimilar contexts and that water policy only to a limited extent leads to progressive institutional change concerning agricultural water use, especially in this neoliberal era. Moreover, this research shows that excluding targeted investments in the development of hydraulic infrastructure for historically disadvantaged groups has narrowed the options of the governments to redress the colonial legacy and the capacity of small-scale farmers to move their livelihood beyond subsistence.

Table of Contents

1. An Introduction

1.1 Societal relevance: Simplicity on paper, complexity in practice?

1.2 Scientific relevance: complexity on paper, simplicity in practice?

1.2.1 Conceptualizing institutions

1.2.2 Conceptualizing policies

1.2.3 Conceptualizing the interplay between policies and institutions

1.2.4 Understanding waterscapes

1.3 Objectives of the dissertation and research questions

1.4 Research methodology

1.4.1 Epistemological considerations

1.4.2 Research strategy

1.4.3 Research approach and methods

1.5 Structure of the dissertation

2. Assessment of the potential for hydro-solidarity within plural legal conditions of traditional irrigation systems in northern Tanzania


2.1 Introduction

2.2 Theoretical insights: hydro-solidarity and legal pluralism

2.3 Introduction to the case study area

2.4 History of the Manoo irrigation system

2.5 Impact of legal pluralism on water sharing practices

2.5.1 Water sharing with other irrigation systems

2.5.2 Water sharing within Manoo irrigation system

2.5.3 Water sharing practices at irrigation zone level

2.6 Discussion and conclusions

3. Contested water rights in post-apartheid South Africa: The struggle for water at catchment level


3.1 Introduction

3.2 Theoretical framework: contested water rights

3.3 Historical and institutional context of the catchment

3.4 Contested water rights in the catchment

3.4.1 Category 1 – Access to and control over water

3.4.2 Category 2 – Content and interpretation of water rights

3.4.3 Category 3 – Participation in decision making

3.4.4 Category 4 – Discourses underlying water law and implementation policies

3.5 Discussion and conclusions

4. The question of inclusion and representation in rural South Africa: challenging the concept of water user associations as a vehicle for transformation


4.1 Introduction

Table of Contents

4.2 Theoretical considerations

4.3 Setting the scene

4.4 Establishment of water user associations

4.4.1 Process on paper

4.4.2 Process in practice

4.5 Reflections on inclusion

4.6 Reflection on representation

4.7 Discussion

5. Why infrastructure still matters: unravelling water reform processes in an uneven waterscape in rural Kenya


5.1 Introduction

5.2 Theoretical considerations

5.3 Setting the Scene

5.4 Narrating the Kenyan water reform process

5.5 The Kenyan policy model

5.6 Unfolding the policy model in Likii catchment

5.7 Unravelling the implications for water users

5.8 Discussion

6. Jumping the water queue: changing waterscapes under water reform processes in rural Zimbabwe


6.1 Introduction

6.2 Theoretical considerations

6.3 Setting the scene

6.4 The Zimbabwean water reforms

6.5 Unfolding the water reforms in Nyanyadzi catchment

6.6 Reordering the Nyanyadzi waterscape

6.7 Discussion

7. Discussion and conclusions: From water reform policies to water resource onfigurations

7.1 Introduction

7.2 A synopsis of the research findings

7.3 The emerging water resource configurations

7.4 Policies lost in translation?

7.5 Connecting policies with the outcomes

7.6 Contribution to policy practice

7.7 Contribution to theories, concepts and methodology

7.8 Further research

7.9 Epilogue: a critical reflection on the research


Annex A: Water allocation practices among smallholder farmers in the South Pare Mountains, Tanzania; can they be up-scaled

Annex B: The quest for water: Strategizing water control and circumventing reform in rural South Africa

About the Author

Jeltsje Sanne Kemerink-Seyoum holds a lecturer position in Water Governance with the department of Integrated Water Systems and Governance at UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, The Netherlands. Kemerink obtained a master degree in civil engineering from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands with a specialization in river engineering and management. For her PhD research, Kemerink conducted research on the interplay between policies and institutions within four African waterscapes and how this is affected by changes in water legislation. Her research interests include understanding institutional change processes that govern water use, constitutive processes of socio-nature within waterscapes and water politics.

About the Series

IHE Delft PhD Thesis Series

IHE Delft PhD programme leads to a deepening of a field of specialisation. PhD fellows do scientific research, often with conclusions that directly influence their region. At IHE Delft, PhD researchers from around the world participate in problem-focused and solution-oriented research on development issues, resulting in an inspiring research environment. PhD fellows work together with other researchers from many countries dealing with topics related to water and the environment.

PhD research is often carried out in the ‘sandwich’ model. Preparation and final reporting – the first and last portion of the programme – are carried out in Delft, while actual research is done in the fellow’s home country, under co-supervision of a local institute. Regular contacts with the promotor are maintained through visits and long-distance communication. This enables researchers to employ solutions directly to problems in their geographical region.

IHE Delft PhD degrees are awarded jointly with a university. The degrees are highly valued and fully recognised in all parts of the world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / Water Supply