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UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft (2012)

From paper to practice : an analysis of the impact of the water reforms on the water use practices in Nyanyadzi River catchment, Zimbabwe

Chinguno, N.L.T.

Titre : From paper to practice : an analysis of the impact of the water reforms on the water use practices in Nyanyadzi River catchment, Zimbabwe

Auteur : Chinguno, N.L.T.

Etablissement de soutenance : UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2012

There has been different impetus for water reforms around the world but common to most countries is that the old water dispensation was replaced with IWRM inspired legislation. The objectives of the water reforms in Zimbabwe was to abolish colonial water ownership rights, improve water allocation and emphasize on efficient use of water, through decentralized water resources management that allows for stakeholder involvement. By reforming water laws the intention is to change formal and informal institutions related to water management that will result in different water use practices at local level. However it is important to note that water reforms are implemented into legal plural societies where multiple actors who have divergent interests and different levels of authority interact. In Zimbabwe, undergoing major shifts in socio-economic and political dynamics at the time of the water reform process, it meant severe challenges were faced on implementing the reforms from paper to practice. This study focuses on how the water reform process impacted water use practices at local catchment level through case study research in Nyanaydzi River Catchment. Empirical data was obtained through semi structured interviews, focus group discussions, observations and documents analysis. The research shows that there is a disconnect between what the new Water Act (1998) states on paper and the water use practices that follows from the empirical data as the stakeholders interpret, renegotiate and rearrange the water reforms. The research shows that there is no equal representation in the Subcatchment and Catchment Councils created as the decentralized participative platforms as well as within the Irrigation Management Committees which were chosen at a lower level to implement the IWRM inspired water reforms. The data shows the platforms perpetrate political differences and corruption, denying those without financial capacity access to water. Water users still steeped in preceding socially embedded water use practices and faced with economic challenges do not see the sense in formalizing "God given" water and are resisting the neoliberal constructs of the water reforms. Water rights from the old dispensation were translated into user rights. Upstream furrow irrigators perceive the water reforms as an opportunity to obtain increased security in terms of access to water even though they claim they are not able to pay the water charges. Downstream water users in the Nyanyadzi River catchment feel their water security is threatened if they have to share their already limited water with the upstream water users as water development plans such as dams are yet to be initiated. The research concludes that the water reforms are not realizing the intended objectives within Nyanyadzi River Catchment. This is due to shortcomings in the new water legislation as well as the implementation process of the water reforms including an over-emphasis on neoliberal constructs. Other factors include the underestimation of the persistency of socially embedded normative orders that continue to influence water use practices as well as the ignorance of the politically contested nature of the participative platforms. The water reforms could not be isolated from other developments in the sociopolitical local environment that have influenced the implementation process and it was therefore concluded the impact on water use practices was due to many contributing factors.

Sujets  : water reforms ; water use ; water rights ; catchment areas ; Zimbabwe


Page publiée le 12 janvier 2017, mise à jour le 12 octobre 2018