The allocation of water to previously disadvantaged sectors is an important concern throughout South Africa. In drier areas where available water resources are heavily utilised, such as the Sand River Catchment, this represents an even greater challenge. This paper addresses how catchment management reforms are being implemented to improve the allocation of water resources in South Africa, using the Sand as a case-study. It argues that as well as supporting emerging farmers to engage in small-scale irrigation, more emphasis needs to be given to the rural water supply sector and especially productive uses of domestic water at a household level (to support activities such as backyard irrigation, beer brewing, brick-making and construction). The paper considers: how the needs for water to support rural livelihoods can be articulated (to achieve policy changes) and supplies improved to promote productive water uses (given technical, economic, resource and other constraints); where additional water resources for productive water use at the household level (and small-scale irrigation) will come from; and, drawing upon experiences from the Water, Households and Rural Livelihoods (WHIRL) project (involving South Africa and Indian partners), how lessons can be learnt from some other countries (such as India) where water resources legislation and institutional reform have been largely unsuccessful to date.
Paper prepared for 2nd WARFA/Waternet Symposium: Integrated Water Resources Management: Theory, Practice, Cases; Cape Town, 30-31 October 2001. 6 pp.