This study investigates the physical, socio-economic and institutional factors affecting water-use security among irrigating smallholder farmers in Msinga Local Municipality to recommend policy. Cluster analysis was used to classify farmers according to their water-use security status. The logit model was then used to investigate the socio-economic factors influencing farmers' water-use security status. It was found that the water-use security status of farmers was highly influenced by the irrigation scheme in which they were operating. Across the schemes, farmers in the head-end of the irrigation canal were more water-use secure than those in the tail-end. Older farmers and those with larger-sized farming land were more likely to be water-use secure. Those who had spent more years in the irrigation scheme and members of water users associations perceived themselves to be more water-use insecure. The poor monitoring and sanctioning, coupled with the ‘soft state’ environment, where unruly elements of society are not reprimanded, have failed agriculture in the survey areas as in most South African irrigation schemes. Thus, mere provision of water alone is not a sufficient condition for farmers to successfully farm on irrigation schemes. Instead, government supervision and law enforcement is also required to allow equitable access to water among irrigators.

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