Poor water man. risks land reform

Poor water man. risks land reform

If South Africa’s water resources are poorly managed, it will not only be commercial farmers who will suffer. Professor Andries Jordaan, a research fellow at the University of the Free State, reckons that new farmers will end up suffering the most.

“If new farmers suffer due to badly managed water resources, then land reform will fail. We cannot allow that to happen,” Jordaan said at the Agri SA Water Symposium held in Somerset West on 26 August 2019.

Data gathered so far indicates four potential scenarios for agriculture in SA, depending on the way that water is managed in the country. Among the economic factors that will play a role in determining which scenario ultimately
develops, are

• capital availability;
• the shift (or lack thereof) in production systems;
• corruption;
• the price of energy;
• incentives or disincentives;
• water infrastructure investments;
• and the foreign exchange rate.

The extent to which innovative thinking takes place will also play a role. Among the political factors identified from the data, there are

• the land reform policy;
• racial disparity;
• internal political conflict;
• the level of conflict in society;
• and the extent of the political understanding of water challenges.

Possible Scenarios for Agriculture in South Africa
1. The first possible scenario is if the traditional approach to water management continues. According to Jordaan, this scenario would lead to more land degradation and high levels of water pollution and ultimately to SA becoming a welfare state. We can also add legal action to this scenario.

2. The second possible scenario is termed the frustration scenario. In this scenario there are

• low levels of governance and governance capacity;
• poor enforcement of water management policies;
• conflicts of water use;
• an increased demand for water
• and high water tariffs.

“Water users will ignore water management regulations and exploit water resources,” said Jordaan. This scenario would also lead to Day Zero threats for urban areas during dry periods, especially in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Gauteng.

3. The so-called Z-scenario. The Z refers to a scenario similar to Zimbabwe’s circumstances. It would involve

• disinvestment in agriculture;
• food insecurity;
• a recession developing;
• illegal land invasions;
• increased violent conflict;
• farmers relocating to other countries;
• Day Zeros and other problems.

“Experts say this scenario will involve general water shortages, no safety and security in rural areas, deforestation, illegal mining, and land grabs,” said Jordaan.

4. The best-case scenario would involve

• strong leadership as well as private
sector involvement;
• good governance;
• equal access to water;
• regional collaboration;
• efficient water management authorities
• and the enforcement of water guidelines and regulations.

Such a scenario would involve economic growth; innovative water infrastructure
management; and applying climate smart technology in agriculture.

It is in our hands to change the future.

Source Carin Smith
Aug 29 2019