Mainstreaming Gender in Water Management in South Africa

  • Barbara van Koppen
  • Barbara Schreiner
  • Eiman Karar
Part of the Global Issues in Water Policy book series (GLOB, volume 2)


Gender mainstreaming figures high in the post-1994 policies and laws in South Africa in general, and water policies in particular. This chapter analyses the implementation of these policies in two domains: within DWAF as a gender-sensitive workplace with sound gender training of its staff, and externally in the performance of DWAF in implementing its mandate for the benefit of all its citizens, in particular poor black women. In this task, gender concerns were effectively mainstreamed as part of the general efforts to democratise water management, especially in the creation of new equitable institutions such as Catchment Management Agencies and in public participation processes. Changes appeared more difficult in existing male-dominated institutions, though. With regard to the core issue of improving women’s access to water, the water services efforts implicitly benefitted women in particular. In contrast, women’s access to water for small-scale productive uses has deteriorated.


Affirmative action Gender Multiple water uses Water policy and law 



This chapter was prepared with the support of PN17 “Integrated water resources management for improved rural livelihoods”, a project of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food.


  1. Backeberg GR (1994) Die politieke ekonomie van besproeiingsbeleid in Suid-Afrika. Voregle ter vervulling van ’n deel van die vereistes vir die graad Philosophiae Doctor. Departement Landbou-ekonomie. Voorligting en Lndelijke Ontwikkeling. Fakulteit Biologiese en Landbouwetenskappe. Universiteit van Pretoria, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  2. DWA (Department of Water Affairs) (1970) Report of the commission of enquiry into water matters. Republic of South Africa, Pretoria, R.P. 34/1970Google Scholar
  3. DWAF (Department of Water Affairs & Forestry) (2006) National overview of the outcomes and actions. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria, Consolidated report on Provincial Water Summits. May 2006Google Scholar
  4. DWAF (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry) (2007) Regulations on financial assistance to resource poor farmers. Government Notice. R.1036 National Water Act (3611 998): no. 3 30427Google Scholar
  5. Faysse N (2004) An assessment of small-scale users’ inclusion in large-scale water users associations of South Africa. IWMI Research Report 84. IWMI, ColomboGoogle Scholar
  6. ICMA (2007) Annual Report 2006/7. Inkomati Catchment Management Agency, NelspruitGoogle Scholar
  7. Lahiri-Dutt K (ed) (2006) Fluid bonds: views on gender and water. Stree, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  8. Lowe Morna C (2007) Genderlinks
  9. Makhura T, Ngqaleni MT (1996) An analysis of women’s status in agricultural development in the Northern Province. In: Lipton M, Ellis F, Lipton M (eds) Land, labour and livelihoods in rural South Africa.  Chapter 13, vol 2. Indicator Press, Durban
  10. Maluleke T, Cousins T, Smits S (2005) Securing water to enhance local livelihoods (SWELL): community-based planning of multiple uses of water in partnership with service providers: a case study on its application in Bushbuckridge. South Africa. Retrieved 19 May 2008 from
  11. Mjoli N, Njiro E (2007) Assessment of gender equity within water user associations in South Africa. Status Review Report. K8/754. Water Research Commission, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  12. Office of the Status of Women (1999) National policy framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality. The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  13. Perez de Mendiguren Castresana JC (2004) Productive uses of water at the household level: evidence from Bushbuckridge, South Africa. In: Moriarty, Patrick, John Butterworth, Barbara van Koppen (eds) Beyond Domestic. Case studies on poverty and productive uses of water at the household level. IRC Technical Papers Series 41, IRC, NRI, and IWMI, DelftGoogle Scholar
  14. RSA (1996) The Constitution of the republic of South Africa (Act No. 108 of 1996). Government Printer, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  15. Schreiner B, van Koppen B (2003) Policy and law for addressing poverty, race, and gender in the water sector: the Case of South Africa. Water Pol Official J World Water Council 5(5/6):489–501Google Scholar
  16. Shah T, van Koppen B, Merrey D, de Lange M, Samad M (2002) Institutional alternatives in African smallholder irrigation: lessons from international experience with irrigation management transfer. IWMI Research Report No 60. IWMI, ColomboGoogle Scholar
  17. Stimie C, Chancellor F (1999) Smallholder irrigation – South African women’s part in rehabilitation and design of irrigation projects. GRID Issue 13, February 1999Google Scholar
  18. Van Koppen B (2002) A gender performance indicator for irrigation: concepts, tools, and applications. Research Report 59. International Water Management Institute, ColomboGoogle Scholar
  19. Van Koppen B (2007) The basin development trajectory of the Olifants basin in South Africa before 1994. Unpublished. Water Research Commission, Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  20. Van Koppen B, Khumbane T, de Lange M, Mohapi N (2006) Gender and Agricultural Productivity: Implications for the Revitalization of Smallholder Irrigation Schemes Program in Sekhukhune District, South Africa. In: Lahiri-Dutt (ed) Fluid bonds: views on gender and water. Stree, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  21. World Bank (2008) World Development Report 2008. Washington DC: World Bank. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara van Koppen
    • 1
  • Barbara Schreiner
    • 2
  • Eiman Karar
    • 3
  1. 1.International Water Management InstitutePretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Pegasys Strategy and DevelopmentPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.Water Research CommissionPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations