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The politics of establishing catchment management agencies in South Africa: the case of the Breede-Overberg Catchment Management Agency

Richard Meissner, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa; Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Nikki Funke, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa
Karen Nortje, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08417-210326

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Abstract

We reflect on the politics of establishing catchment management agencies in South Africa with a specific focus on the Breede-Overberg Catchment Management Agency (BOCMA), which was recently replaced by the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA). We do so by applying the framework of adaptive comanagement and its institutional prescriptions: collaboration, experimentation, and a bioregional approach. We start by introducing the history of this catchment management agency (CMA) and then describe the establishment of CMAs in South Africa in general and that of BOCMA in particular. We follow the framework for rule types and types of river basin organizations set out by the editors of this special feature with reference to adaptive comanagement where applicable. We then discuss the politics and strategies involved in the introduction of the CMA concept to the National Water Act and the latest developments around these institutions in South Africa. This is followed by reflections on what can be surmised about BOCMA’s democratic functioning and performance to date. We conclude by reflecting on the future of operations of the new BGCMA and CMAs in South Africa in general. While our research shows that BOCMA’s establishment process has featured several elements of adaptive comanagement and its institutional prescriptions, it remains to be seen to what extent it is possible to continue implementing this concept when further developing and operationalizing the BGCMA and the country’s other CMAs.

Key words

adaptive co-management; Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency; Breede-Overberg Catchment Management Agency; catchment management agency; river basin organization; South Africa

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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