The management of water resources in transboundary river basins is challenging.
Water resources in the Inkomati transboundary river basin, shared between South Africa (SA), Swaziland and Mozambique are intensively used, mostly for commercial agriculture, biofuel production, and exotic tree plantations. Water use is expected to intensify (‘Tripartite Interim Inkomati Agreement’, 2002).
The Inkomati is a closing basin where water use frequently exceeds water availability, thus affecting social, economic and ecological processes in its delta area. Sustainable water management in the delta starts upstream, with South Africa being able to comply with its obligations towards Mozambique and Swaziland.
Water resource management is an example of a wicked problem, where value- pluralism and unclear boundaries make it impossible to identify one correct problem definition, solution, or set of conditions to determine whether the problem has been resolved. Although other basins, including those outside Africa, e.g. in Western Europe, face different problems, these too can be defined as wicked problems, and defy simple solutions. Hence, although solutions cannot be transferred one-on-one from one basin to another, strategies to deal with wicked problems may well be transferable, especially where they succeed in taking account of a wide range of stakeholder interests in a dynamic environment.
In June 2016, five students went to South Africa to conduct fieldwork and comparative research for the JACANA Project under the supervision of Marleen van Rijswick and Anoeska Buijze. The project supports the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency in order to improve the strategic and operational water management.
By exchanging views and ideas with various stakeholders, the students aim to set up a reciprocal learning process. In doing so, the focus will be on vulnerable groups and to include their interests in the water management (by stressing on inclusiveness and participation). This project is financially supported by the Rotary Club De Bilt Bilthoven, Rotary De Bilt en Rotary Bilthoven-Zandzegge.
Download the research report: JACANA field work in Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland (pdf)
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Students and focus of their research projects:
- Benjamin Asante: Risk perception among stakeholders and water management practitioners
- Anne-Christine Makkinje: Perception of water among water users
- Bram Schmidt: Water redress
- Jasmin Schous: Involvement of women in water management
- Rebecca Wörner: Incentivising corporate compliance