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Rhodes University (2022)

Institutional innovations for improved water security in smallholder irrigation schemes in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces, South Africa

Phakathi, Sandile

Titre : Institutional innovations for improved water security in smallholder irrigation schemes in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces, South Africa

Auteur : Phakathi, Sandile

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2022

Résumé partiel
Smallholder irrigation schemes are regarded as a key strategy to eliminate poverty and increase food security in rural areas in South Africa. While the South African government has invested heavily in rural development schemes, most irrigation schemes face a myriad of challenges, including deficient infrastructure, weak institutional arrangements and water insecurity. Weak institutions have been identified as a major bottleneck in the performance of smallholder irrigation schemes in developing countries, including South Africa. Two main reasons have been identified for this challenge. Firstly, the agency of the irrigators was ignored during the design of the schemes. Treating farmers as passive rather than active agents resulted in institutional arrangements that were not context-specific, as well as weak farmer commitment to the ownership and management of the schemes, leading to system breakdown. Despite being noble in intention or design, institutions designed by outsiders often fail due to a lack of legitimacy. Secondly, institutions have failed to evolve to cope with dynamic challenges and opportunities in the sector. Stability over a reasonable period is required for institutions to effectively perform their crucial role of establishing reasonable expectations in dealings among people. Institutional innovations are required to keep up with the changing nature of development. In particular, farmer-led institutional innovations have been touted as key to improving the management of water resources in irrigation schemes. Farmer-led institutional innovation refers to a process, in which farmers themselves initiate, establish, and improve institutions based on their context-specific challenges or opportunities. Farmers’ groups are regarded as an important institutional arrangement to reduce transaction costs, improve social networks, and increase livelihood outcomes. However, little is known about the internal dynamics of these farmer groups, how they operate, and whether or not they are inclusive and innovative, as well as what makes certain groups more successful than others. Furthermore, there is a paucity of research on whether these farmer groups embrace institutional innovations to improve water security and strengthen their design principles that are crucial for collective action. It is against this background that this study aimed to examine the internal group dynamics within the farmer groups ; determine whether smallholder farmers are capable of implementing institutional innovations that are novel, useful and legitimate ; determine the nature of these innovations (incremental or radical) and their role in improving water security.

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Page publiée le 16 mai 2022