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Water SA

On-line version ISSN 1816-7950
Print version ISSN 0378-4738


MEISSNER, Richard; FUNKE, Nikki; NIENABER, Shanna  and  NTOMBELA, Cebile. The status quo of research on South Africa's water resource management institutions. Water SA [online]. 2013, vol.39, n.5, pp.721-732. ISSN 1816-7950.

The South African water resource management institutional landscape has seen some dramatic changes since the new dispensation came into power in 1994. Not only have legislation and policies changed, but there has also been a significant increase in the number of non-state actors in the policy development process. Water resource governance has therefore become more complex and its regulatory component is being implemented by a number of legislative institutions: catchment management agencies, water user associations, irrigation boards, and international water management bodies. Policy development is influenced by a myriad of non-state actors, scientists included. A comprehensive literature review of research on water resource management institutions published between 1997 and 2011 shows that scientists are focusing predominantly on catchment management agencies and aspects regarding their institutionalisation and organisational functionality. There is much less of a focus on other entities, such as advisory committees, international water management bodies, irrigation boards, the water tribunal and water user associations. What the review has also revealed is that research on water resource management institutions has been conducted predominantly by scientists from the natural sciences. There is therefore an evident need for a research focus on water resource management institutions other than catchment management agencies. In addition, there should be a focus on informal aspects of water resource governance and new theoretical developments, also from disciplines other than the natural sciences, in the fields of water resource governance and politics.

Keywords : Water resource management institutions; literature review; catchment management agencies; water user associations; legislation; irrigation boards; catchment forums; international water management bodies.

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