Abstract

Water adequacy is central to maximised agricultural production in irrigation schemes. Smallholder Irrigation Schemes (SISs) are designed to distribute water efficiently, adequately and equitably. Water governance, defined as the institutions, processes, procedures, rules and regulations involved in water management, plays an important role in water allocation and subsequently water adequacy. The intersectoral institutions involved in water governance in SISs, i.e., government, Water User Associations (WUAs), Irrigation Management Committees (IMCs) and traditional authorities, interact to formulate and design policies for running SISs. However, multilevel interaction amongst the active stakeholders at multiple levels shapes policy and underlies SIS performance. This research aimed to investigate the impacts water governance had on adequacy of water in irrigation schemes and was premised on the hypothesis that governance had no effect on water adequacy. Water adequacy describes water supply relative to demand. Adequacy indicates whether the water delivery system supplies the required amount to a section in the irrigation scheme over a period of time (daily, monthly or seasonally). Two irrigation schemes, the Mooi-River Irrigation Scheme (MRIS) and Tugela Ferry Irrigation Scheme (TFIS) were used as case studies. A descriptive analysis showed that 86% of the farmers in the TFIS had adequate water, whereas 24% had water adequacy in the MRIS. A Binary Logit model was employed to investigate the factors that influence water adequacy among irrigators. The regression model identified eight statistically significant factors that influenced water adequacy: the irrigation scheme, location of plot within the scheme, training in water management, training in irrigation, SIS irrigators' knowledge about the government's aims, availability of water licences, payment of water fees and satisfaction with the irrigation schedule. The study concluded that governance factors had influence on water adequacy in the selected SISs. The implication is that stakeholders should make irrigators aware of government Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) policy and strategies. The study recommends that the SISs introduce rules, procedures and protocols to support irrigators to enhance scheme governance and lead to the realisation of government policies.

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