The Politics of River Basin Organisations
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The Politics of River Basin Organisations

Coalitions, Institutional Design Choices and Consequences

Edited by Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink

Can River Basin Organisations (RBOs) actually improve water governance? RBOs are frequently layered on top of existing governmental organisations, which are often reluctant to share their power. This, in turn, can affect their performance. The Politics of River Basin Organisations addresses this issue by exploring the subject on a global level.
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Chapter 8: The politics of establishing catchment management agencies in South Africa: the case of the Breede–Overberg Catchment Management Agency

Richard Meissner and Nikki Funke


South Africa is a water-scarce country, a fact aggravated by climate change and international obligations to neighbouring countries with shared watercourses (Claassen 2010). Some of the political, social and economic pressures facing South Africa’s decision makers in the water sector include having enough infrastructure to secure water during low rainfall periods and supply areas of high demand, growing enough food to supply the population, and meeting the water demands of energy, industry and mining (Claassen 2010). At present most of the country’s water supply has already been allocated. The only remaining ‘supply options’ available are linked to reallocations between different water use sectors (De Lange 2010). An additional problem that aggravates South Africa’s situation of water scarcity is the deteriorating water quality in the country’s major river systems, water storage reservoirs and groundwater resources, which results in social, economic and health risks to society (Ashton 2010). Particular problems include acid mine drainage, eutrophication and soil erosion. In addition to the problems of water scarcity and water quality, the South African government also faces the challenge of redressing the backlog in water supply and sanitation that it has inherited from the apartheid government. The South African government started the process of developing and introducing a number of water reforms when it came to power in 1994, to address this backlog and manage South Africa’s situation of water scarcity.

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