In recent decades;many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have pursued national water permit systems;derived from the colonial era and reinforced by “global best practice.” These systems have proved logistically impossible to manage and have worsened inequality in water access. This study traces the origins of these systems;and describes their implementation and consequences for rural smallholders in Kenya;Malawi;South Africa;Uganda and Zimbabwe. The authors propose a hybrid water use rights system to decolonize Africa’s water law, lighten the administrative burden on the state and make legal access to water more equitable. This would strengthen smallholder irrigation;which is vital for boosting Africa’s food production and making it more resilient in the face of worsening drought.
Authors and Publishers
Barbara van Koppen and Barbara Schreiner
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is a non-profit, scientific research organization focusing on the sustainable use of water and land resources in developing countries. It is headquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with regional offices across Asia and Africa. IWMI works in partnership with governments, civil society and the private sector to develop scalable agricultural water management solutions that have a real impact on poverty reduction, food security and ecosystem health.
Mokoro is pleased to host the ’Land Rights in Africa’ site as a contribution to the land rights dialogue and related debates. This website was created in January 2000 by Robin Palmer, and was originally housed by Oxfam GB, where Robin worked as a Land Rights Adviser. A library of resources on land rights in Africa – with a particular focus on women’s land rights and on the impact of land grabbing in Africa – the portal has been well received by practitioners, researchers and policy makers, and has grown considerably over the years.