Water, Stakeholders and Common Ground. Challenges for Multi-Stakeholder Platforms in Water Resource Management in South Africa

Eliab Simpungwe undertook this PhD study to examine the benefits and the challenges of pursuing a multi-stakeholder participatory approach in the management of water resources at catchment level. The study targeted two CMFs in the historically marginalised areas of the Eastern Cape Province – the Mthatha Catchment Management Forum and the Kat Catchment Management Forum.

While the rationale behind the MSP approach to water resource management is appealing, several factors create barriers between the ideology and reality on the ground. First, achieving a ‘common ground’ that facilitates internal collaboration and coherence among participants is highly elusive. Second, ‘institutional arrangements’ as exhibited by CMFs were not appropriate for the anticipated task of these institutions. An unstructured administration, lack of mandate and absence of financial support rendered the management of complex water regimes at catchment level a far-fetched objective.

PhD candidate: Eliab Simpungwe

Promotors: Linden Vincent, Dorothea Hilhorst, completed 2006,