Efficiency of common-pool resource institutions: focusing on water users associations in South Africa



Despite of the promulgation of new water laws post-apartheid by the South African government, some parts of the country are still faced with inequitable, inefficient and inadequate water supply. Water institutions in South Africa and other developing countries are faced with various and multi-faceted challenges that consequently lead to their failure to provide water resources effectively. The evident responsibility of governing water resources in developing countries is commonly played by local and national institutions, using the water sector’s fundamental regulations, policies as well as statutory enactments. This paper draws lessons from the international examples to analyse the motivation for WUAs and the challenges they are faced with. The method for data generation used in this article is document analysis. A narrative approach using the literature and document analysis provided an insight into the economic and institutional history of WUAs. The analytical framework to study path dependency and power relations in connection with WUAs in South Africa was drawn from a literature review of transition studies and NIE. This study established that the current and future decisions made by the WUAs in South Africa are not entirely independent of those made in the past under irrigation boards. The study argues that establishing WUAs cannot automatically substitute for the domains of relations which existed within irrigation boards.


Water users associations Common-pool resources Water resources management Path dependency 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Okavango Research InstituteUniversity of BotswanaMaunBotswana

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