Journal Article

IDS Bulletin Vol. 34 Nos. 3

Politics and Water Policy: A Southern Africa Example

Published on 1 July 2003

Access to and management of water resources is inherently political. Drawing on fieldwork from the Sustainable Livelihoods in Southern Africa programme, largely undertaken in Zimbabwe, with some additional material from South Africa and Mozambique, this article examines the politics surrounding water resources and policy change in southern Africa and reaches some tentative conclusions of relevance to understanding current policy processes in regional water sector reform.

At the regional level, southern Africa has experienced rapid upheaval and socio-political change in the last 15 years. With the end of apartheid in South Africa, the post-independence political developments in Zimbabwe and the post-civil war situation in Mozambique, fundamental political and economic shifts have been made at ideological, institutional and policy levels. There is a new “regionalism” in which water resources feature very prominently (Chenje and Johnson 1996). This new political landscape includes new structures and forms of state-society relations of enormous relevance to and impact on access to resources by poor people. In many cases, there have also been significant shifts in economic policy with macro-scale impacts, sometimes in tandem with wider economic impacts caused by drought in the region (see articles 1 and 2 of this Bulletin; Marquette 1997; Benson and Clay 1998).

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This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 34.3 (2003) Politics and Water Policy: A Southern Africa Example

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Nicol, A. and Mtisi, S. (2003) Politics and Water Policy: A Southern Africa Example. IDS Bulletin 34(3): 41-53

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Alan Nicol

Sobona Mtisi

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IDS Bulletin, volume 34, issue 3


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