Water security is influenced by the complex interplay between ecological, socio-political, governance and water management systems. Achieving water security is essential for ensuring sustainable development, and challenges with water security are closely linked to the overall experience of poverty that many countries throughout the world, including South Africa, confront. These problems can broadly be understood through three main factors: water availability, access and usage; water governance and management underpin these factors.
This paper focuses on the application of the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Tanzania. It asks: how did IWRM affect the rural and fast-growing majority of smallholder farmers' access to water which contributes directly to poverty alleviation and employment creation in a country where poverty and joblessness are high?
In Tanzania like in other parts of the global South, in the name of 'development' and 'poverty eradication' vast tracts of land have been earmarked by the government to be developed by investors for different commercial agricultural projects, giving rise to the contested land grab phenomenon. In parallel, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been promoted in the country and globally as the governance framework that seeks to manage water resources in an efficient, equitable and sustainable manner.
This paper examines the water dimensions of recent large-scale land acquisitions for biofuel production in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Northern regions of Ghana. Using secondary sources of data complemented by individual and group interviews, the paper reveals an almost universal lack of consideration of the implications of large-scale land deals for crop water requirements, the ecological functions of freshwater ecosystems and water rights of local smallholder farmers and other users.
Water is absent in the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of Food Security’ (FAO, 2012). This paper explored whether and how the people-centred approaches and the human rights values that underpin this document can be better applied in the water sector and how more recognition of the land-water interface can support this.
Because of the logics of both colonization or de-colonization, the need to counter the anarchy of groundwater use, or the dissemination of global 'best practices' of IWRM, states have often assumed full ownership or custody of groundwater. Regulating groundwater use includes giving drilling and abstraction authorizations/licenses, establishing an inventory of wells and reducing use in existing wells.
Traditionally, the spread and extent of human settlement beyond the major riparian zones of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and across many other arid regions of the world, has been determined by availability of groundwater supplies, accessed through hand-dug wells andsprings. In more recent times, groundwater is the preferred means of supplying water to meet the growing demand of the rural, dispersed communities and the small urban towns across SSA.
The diversity of small-scale irrigation in the Ethiopian Blue Nile basin comprises small dams, wells, ponds and river diversion. The diversity of irrigation infrastructure is partly a consequence of the topographic heterogeneity of the Fogera plains. Despite similar social-political conditions and the same administrative framework, irrigation facilities are established, used and managed differently, ranging from informal arrangements of households and 'water fathers' to water user associations, as well as from open access to irrigation schedules.
Ever since the oil, financial and food crises of 2008, sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed a marked increase in large-scale investment in agricultural land. The drivers of this investment are varied and include growing food, water and energy insecurity as well as social and economic interests of investors and recipient countries. The shape of these investments and their eventual outcomes are equally influenced by the existing land and water governance systems in the host countries.