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In the 1990s, South Africa, like other southern African countries, embarked on an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)-inspired water reform process that culminated in the promulgation of the National Water Act in 1998, four years after achieving democracy. The adoption of IWRM, which emphasizes second generation water issues (such as demand management, water quality, environmental flow requirements etc), and not the development of water infrastructure, begs the question whether this can make a meaningful contribution to the development agenda in a country where, during apartheid, the water rights of millions of the black majority population were systematically expunged due to unjust legislation and underinvestment in water infrastructure. This paper analyzes the suitability of post-apartheid water legislation and water investments vis-a-vis the water needs of the historically disadvantaged individuals, and how local people have tried to cope with the situation. While the post-apartheid water legislation contains some useful pro-poor provisions these have not been complemented by strategies to operationalize them, a situation not helped by state funding that is biased towards formal irrigation. We use the concept of ‘hydraulic property rights creation’ to investigate how local people, as individuals and as groups, assert rights over water, and how such claims are legitimized. Self initiative and poor performing public-owned/managed domestic and productive water schemes have become important catalysts for local investment. However, local efforts need to be strengthened by ensuring that the favorable legal provisions are operationalized, appropriate financial support mechanisms for individuals and groups for development of water infrastructure are in place, and institutional shortcomings are addressed. (pp. 80–108)

EMMANUEL MANZUNGU
University of Zimbabwe
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PINIMIDZAI SITHOLE
University of Western Cape
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BARBARA TAPELA
University of Western Cape
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BARBARA VAN KOPPEN
University of Western Cape
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