The evaluation of the heritage of the 1956 South African water policy

  • Published December 21, 2016
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    Volume 7 2016, Issue #4 (cont.), pp. 113-119

Purpose: Water management issues in poor communities in South Africa were never addressed directly by apartheid policies. The 1956 water policy was found not to be holistic in the management of the resource within the country. The growing economy of South Africa resulted in explosive urbanization, which gave rise to an increasing number of townships. The purpose of the paper is, therefore, threefold, namely: it outlines the water management challenges resulting from the 1956 water policy, it outlines the progression of implementing the apartheid ideologies in water management and, lastly, it relates the old policy of water management to today’s environment. The 1956 water policy had a colonial perspective, thus, this has created an observable challenge in the current endeavors of the water management regime. These challenges are presented in the paper in an effort to illustrate that the failures of today’s policies are largely historically embedded.
Design/methodology/approach: A comprehensive framework of the evolution of the water management regime from the DWA’s library was used. Databases that contained historical policies of South Africa were also used to do a rigorous literature review. Because of the nature of the research, the study, therefore, uses both qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation.
Findings: The old apartheid policies created a challenging ideological environment in the townships. This has resulted in the difficulty of implementing the current water policy in water management. The unintended consequences are difficult to factor into the current policies. Over time, communities collaborated and became defiant. The defiance of the water policy by the communities resulted in non-payment for the use of the resource.
Implications: The challenges surfacing in the paper seem to imply that the current policy implementation in water management has an observable challenge that has a potential of hindering policy discourse in water management.
Originality/value: New democracies have a tendency of being overly ambitious about the inclusive nature of the policy discourse. Ideologically, this means that implementation of the new policies cannot be done without challenges. This paper attempts to highlight that the 1956 water policy systematically created certain social norms and ideologies that have the potential to hinder new policy ideals in the townships.

Keywords: water policy, black townships, apartheid ideologies, social dilemmas and water management practices.
JEL Classification: Q25, J71

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