Resource Poor Farmers Benefit from Water Sector Transformation | Western Cape Government

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Resource Poor Farmers Benefit from Water Sector Transformation

19 March 2007
Water is a constitutional right and the National Water Act of 1998, guides the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry to provide water more equitably to all races, creed and gender.

In efforts to address the imbalances of the past, specifically where water and economic-related matters are concerned, the Department has moved towards transforming former Irrigation Boards to Water User Associations. Water User Associations are a group of water users in an area abstracting or using water directly from a resource - be it a river, dam, etc. These associations have become the most practical method for the Department to ensure inclusiveness, representivity and democratization of water.

Unlike Irrigation Boards, Water User Associations largely have people or users from all races, creeds and sectors. In the past municipalities could choose to become members of an Irrigation Board, but today, under Water User Associations, they are compelled to share water with other users and belong to a Water User Association. These associations (organizations) also have a say in municipal management tools for infrastructure and growth, such Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Water Services Development Plans (WSDPs), which are crucial to ensure that people in the area have adequate water supply and sanitation facilities.

People benefiting from these associations are resource poor farmers, like farmers with very little or no water at all for their livestock and farming purposes. The way in which the Department grants licenses for using water has often come under the spotlight, but the Department issues a licence to all users prior to usage.

Hex Valley Case Study (De Doorns)

The Water Act stipulates that water belongs to the nation, not to individual water users. With the many demands and needs for water in each area of the Region, the Department needs to ensure that water is shared fairly (equitably). Thus the Department is encouraging and compelling water users using water directly from various water resources such as dams, rivers, groundwater, boreholes and others, to obtain a license for usage.

Through Water User Associations, such as that of Hex River Valley, poor farmers or Resource Poor Farmers are able to access water through a shared system. In fact, the Department has put the following rules towards obtaining a license for using water from any resource (Compulsory Licensing for water booklet):

    Take into consideration the representivity of the individuals and or groups applying
  • How many Historically Disadvantaged Communities (HDIs) are represented?
  • Will access promote Broad-Based Economic Empowerment (BBBEE)?
  • Is the allocation of water to each user within the group fair? Is usage in the public interest
  • Does or will usage create a balance between economic development and the protection of our resources?

On Wednesday, the 21st March 2007, the Department invites the Media to communicate a message of transformation in the water sector. The Hex River Valley Water User Association, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Breede Valley Municipality will be launching the licensing of the new Osplaas dam, which will benefit both resource poor farmers, established farmers and communities around this new dam which have met the licensing criteria stipulated above.

Program for the 21st March 2007 (Human Rights Day):

- 09:00 : Site visit of the Osplaas Dam, (De Doorns), just past Worcester, N1. Meet at the Hex Valley Water User Association Offices and depart for the site visit.
11:00 - 13:00 : Back to the Community (The People's Center). (De Doorns East, not far from the dam)

Download the National Water and Sanitation Weeks 2007 Events Calender.

For Enquiries

Nandi Mgwadlamba
Cell: 082 909 3493
Media Enquiries: