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5 Responses

  1. This is a very good overview on decentralization in Africa. Maybe detailed follow-up case studies might help to better understand the variation. It might also be useful in order to understand the different decentralization outcomes and underlying reasons.

    1. Hi Everisto, Thank you – I completely agree, detailed follow up case studies would be helpful to understand the variation in outcomes and a logical next step. For my side, I’d be keen to know whether the different national legal governance systems underly the extent to which water users collectively engage in water governance within a country…. whether it water policy origins extend beyond the national legal/administrative frameworks.

      Especially, it would be very interesting to do cross-country case study of comparisons of water governance systems that are predominantly and administratively based on French civil law, English common law, Islamic customary law, and mixed origin (like in South Africa).

      As of now, I’ve come across a lot of case studies looking at places where WUA-type institutions have already been implemented, including their outcomes of effectiveness. But, I’d be curious to read more cases for what types of systems are in place in cases where WUAs have not been pursued.

  2. Would it be feasible to make a more detailed assessment of the extent to which WUA laws actually empower WUAs, not just to organize and be registered, but to control water distribution, improve infrastructure, determine permissible crops, etc?

    Similarly, would it be possible to assess the extent to which water rights provisions recognize customary water rights and enable collective water rights, for example held by communities or WUAs?

    1. I realized I’ve replied below and not directly to your comment.

      I also want to say that I’m eagerly awaiting the full results from Rights and Resources Initiative & Environmental Law Institute on “A Comparative Analysis of National Laws and Regulations Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Rights to Freshwater”.

      Although not only on Africa, their work takes a closer look at customary rights among several countries across the globe

  3. Hi Bryan, Thank you, I like your questions. I think it would be really helpful to know the extent to which WUA laws actually empower WUAs, and this would definitely require another assessment. In terms of feasibility, I anticipate that the topic could be challenging from a logistical standpoint to cover the continent of Africa, but possible for a few countries.

    First, the approach would need to define what empowerment means, and then be able have the means to assess this level of empowerment for WUAs within a country. While WUA laws provide the legal framework for WUAs to exist (which can help legitimize community-based governance), there is no guarantee that WUAs are empowered. On the other hand, there are definitely some cases of WUA development where WUAs are used as a means to control resources, where intentions to formalize decentralization-based structures simply re-iterate state governance. In this context, I imagine investigating WUA empowerment within a single country, would require some extensive contextual knowledge of a country and targeting investigation/observation of WUA empowerment at national, basin, and community levels, and across multiple stakeholders. Scaling this approach up for each country in Africa would be ambitious, but could possibly be done with a cross-case study based analysis for a few representative countries based on water policy origins and agroecological contexts.

    To your second question, the FAOLEX databased only notes whether a country has a water rights provision, but I think it would be possible (and with the right team) to review each country’s constitution to see whether and how customary water rights are recognized. Though, like trying to understand WUA empowerment, the challenge is being able to ascertain/measure how the recognition of customary water rights is actually upheld within a country. Yet, at the same time, I understand from the literature that for contexts across Africa where state/legal influences do not dominate water governance, customary forms of water governance are most often used regardless of whether they are recognized in the constitution, or used in parallel with other legally established forms of water governance. But, it would certainly be useful to know how customary rights are legally/nationally recognized across the African continent.

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