The human right to water has been articulated in the UN Economic and Social Policy Documents. At the national level this approach is challenging to adopt especially for the least developed countries. The limited financial resources of countries like Zambia compound these challenges. Water rights in Zambia follow a common law property rights system. Common law is mostly applicable in urban centres whereas customary law is more applicable in rural areas. The dual application of the laws makes the translation of water rights at grassroot levels an interesting case to explore. Two different rural areas are used to highlight the issues faced by the communities in managing their water resources and their perceptions of water rights. The cases also bring out the role of the state and other actors like NGOs and community based organisations in water management.
International workshop on ‘African Water Laws: Plural Legislative Frameworks for Rural Water Management in Africa’, 26-28 January 2005, Gauteng, South Africa. 14 pp.