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Integrated Water Resource Management, Public Participation and the ‘Rainbow Nation’

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AbstractThis article provides varied examples of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and public participation interaction in South Africa. It critically examines the inadequate application of IWRM, and shows how the unbalanced interpretations of IWRM as well as a lack of good development practice and participatory rights manifest in negative outcomes for the poorest and most vulnerable. This paper, first, highlights that if decision-makers are primarily fixed on economic concerns, they induce inefficient IWRM framework that fails to balance water as a social, economic and ecological concern. Second: when the state fails to consult people and violate human and environmental rights, court battles ensue between the state and the people. These court cases are generally expensive for both sides and marred with delay. Third: positive outcomes can be attained through multi-stakeholder dialogue platforms which can operate as a sort of conflict resolution mechanism encompassing divergent views, but still offering beneficial outcomes. The frameworks and practical examples set by the Water Dialogues South Africa can facilitate public participation and capacity building if applied at local levels by decision-makers. IWRM with public participation at its heart engenders an ultimate objective for better water sustainability and water security in South Africa.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Law, Faculty of Business and Law, University of West England BristolBristolUK


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