| ||Start Date 01/04/2014 |
End Date 31/03/2016
| || Donor: || Water Research Commission (WRC) |
The project will aim at identifying sustainable development pathways for the establishment of CMAs in the different biophysical, social, economic, political and historical contexts of the diverse and highly unequal society of South Africa. By using conversations, workshops and other participatory tools it will allow the project team to create awareness and capacity for the different communities involved in CMA establishment. The repository as well as the guidelines envisaged will hopefully inform policy and lead to better decision making in the water sector.
Thus a strong emphasis of this project is on water governance as the canvas for water management and knowledge creation. It furthermore, suggests that future water governance frameworks need to include a ‘future politics’ of synergized decision-making that adopts a broad and integrative approach to socio-economic development. It is within this domain that governments and governmental entities, such as catchment management agencies (CMAs), as legislated water resources management institutions start to play a pivotal role. CMAs have been designed to create that ‘melting pot’ of diverse knowledge and expertise, intensely also drawing for this on stakeholder and other practitioners knowledge. With the CMAs being rooted in the catchments they are serving, issues of accountability and also trust building between government, industry and civil society and the wider public is of utmost importance. This is why CMAs have been assigned a pivotal role in SA's water governance system and especially its overall reform and transformation process.
However, with many of the delays around establishing CMAs and for those external players to government to engage in the process not only apathy has spread but the danger of falling back on the old ways of command and control is a possibility. The current initiative to push for the establishment of the 9 newly gazetted CMAs in a short and very structured approach has given hope to many that still believe the great potential that CMAs would have for sustainable growth and development in South Africa.
Therefore, this study will focus on CMAs and specifically the lessons learnt from the seemingly successful establishment of the two operating CMAs (viz. the Breede-Overberg CMA (BOCMA) and Inkomati CMA), as well as many other relevant processes linked to the establishment process that have occurred over the past 15 years within the South African water landscape. As CMAs can be understood as central actors in a specific water governance set-up (here on the scale of a catchment), we may draw on lessons learnt from their establishment. But these need to be seen and understood in their specific environmental, societal and historical context. Although the National Water Act (No. 36 of 1998), provides a broad framework of intend, CMA implementation has evolved and changed according to broader societal learning and continuous improvement in the process accompanying implementation. These, including current functions, needed to be mapped as well. The documentation of the establishment process of learning and change and current functions will form the basis of a repository for future practitioners, stakeholders and interested and affected parties that are participating in similar processes. A differentiation will need to be made according to systemic, organisational and individual capacities. Such a repository can play a valuable part in closing the gap between policy making, policy implementation and local management practices at catchment level. It will also give the most vital insights into vertical and horizontal integration.
These aspects are key components of a governance system since they determine the interaction different spheres of the policy process, from development to implementation, and local management practices. These then can have a positive impact on shaping the transformation process of South Africa’s water management and governance.
Based on the discussed above the following issues present themselves for detailed enquiry:
- HOW can the historical developments around the establishment of CMAs with a map or timeline reflecting key processes and events be described? This needs to include the contextualisation of what has happened into the evolving societal, policy as well as political canvas of that time. An emphasis will be given to the enabling or disenabling environment for CMA establishment.
- What have different stakeholders VALUED in the past and value nowadays in regards to the successes and strengths of the two operating CMA processes?
- WHY has success established itself in certain areas and not in others? Is this linked to local or regional circumstances, or organisational or individual dimensions of the actors involved?
- Can REFLECTION on weaknesses of the overall processes of CMA development (including the acting Proto-CMAs) inform us further about good practices for such a demanding organisational change?
- What could others LEARN from the experiences and evolution of CMA processes in order to improve their process implementation and practice? How can we maximise the strengths and minimise the weaknesses of these transformation processes?