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(KSA 1) Water Resource Management

THRUST 1:  Water resource institutional arrangements 

Scope: This thrust focuses on articulating the thinking for the new roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders, based on catchment and water management area boundaries. The marked shift from central management of resources to a more localised scale is critical to the main founding concepts of IWRM. The defined management boundary based on watershed boundaries is another fundamental provision in IWRM as a concept. This thrust will support the suitable implementation of IWRM in South Africa. The further articulation of the NWA for the benefit of all South Africans and the fulfilment of the developmental role of the state within the water resource limitations will be investigated. Lessons learnt and evaluations of the IWRM applications in South Africa to date will be part of this portfolio, focusing on home-grown approaches and experiences in water resource management.

 Programme 1 : Water governance and institutional reforms

Scope: The principle of subsidiarity, or, as sometimes referred to, democratisation of water resource management, has brought about challenges, both conceptually and in terms of application.  Although current reforms in South Africa are based on sound IWRM principles, to date the implementation thereof continues to break new ground, proving that institutional engineering cannot provide a one-size-fits-all solution to the new management paradigm. Further understanding and research are hence needed to learn and to decide on best practice as defined in the South African or similar socio-economic settings.

Programme 2: Compliance and enforcement

Scope: For the implementation of state-of-the-art legislation like the NWA, a matching enforcement and compliance regime needs to be in place to ensure effective implementation.  The regulatory environment in the South African water sector is in its infancy and requires substantial support from research in creating the understanding and knowledge for informed decision making. Benchmarking and best practice are crucial here to accelerate learning.

Programme 3: Pricing and Financing WRM

Scope: The issues of financial sustainability, affordability of charges by users, transparency and corporate governance are becoming central in the decentralisation era.  The new infrastructure agency responsible for new developments and maintaining national assets provides good groundbreaking research opportunities, especially to assess if water tariffs can indeed pay for managing and sustaining water resources. Does pricing water and introducing the water resource charge exclude the poor and will it further cripple local government from delivering services? The waste discharge charge is another serious introduction to the water sector fraught with considerable challenges. This programme can project and assess such issues.

Programme 4: Transboundary Water Resources

Scope: This programme will provide tools and guidelines for resolving potential water-centred conflicts for the management of shared international rivers and transboundary aquifer systems, including development of appropriate institutional forms and functions, development and harmonisation of policy and regulation in shared river basins, strategies for knowledge-sharing and joint management of shared river basins. A need has been identified to define the roles and interrelationships between local WRM institutions and international basin organisations.

Programme 5: Future Scenarios

Scope: This activity has been assigned a separate programme to ensure that local South African expertise is qualified to explore future scenarios and answer the ‘what if’ questions in support of reflection and evaluation of national policy applications. Projecting the water resource management and development institutional arrangements landscape 10 or 15 years from now would be of interest to decision makers to define policy reviews and enhance decision making. This is considered as one of the tools for assisting in learning and allowing for dialogue to take place around options. Other tools exist which will also be explored in due course such as Game Theory specially in support of water allocation options.

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