Community Based Organisation

The institutional structures for the involvement of civil society in water management, at the local level in general, exists within the Limpopo River basin; however, in all of the riparian states, progress has been slow in putting this into practice.



The Water Act provides some mechanisms for stakeholder participation within the water sector in Botswana (GTZ 2005); however, stakeholder involvement is limited due to the lack of institutional structures for participation. Under the Settlement Policy of Botswana, there is a provision for establishing Committees, such as, the Village Development Committees which determine the location of water facilities (GTZ 2005). Water committees are also now being formed for both urban areas (major population concentrations), as well as in the villages as part of the National Development Plans.

According to an assessment of stakeholder involvement within the basin conducted by GTZ (2005), Botswana has “not taken meaningful steps to assist in the setting up of stakeholder based institutions to partner with the state in water management”. The assessment concludes that stakeholder participation needs to be formalised and institutionalised within Botswana before the benefits of increased involvement will be realised.



Mozambique’s National Water Act provides a mechanism for stakeholder involvement (GTZ 2005). Through the Act, National Water Councils are established at the national level to facilitate multi-sectoral stakeholder meetings, although it should be noted that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are not part of these organisations. Regional Water Administrations (RWA) has been designated as the management structure within Mozambique’s five catchment regions. The membership of the Regional Water Administrations is intended to be civil society and government. Below these organisations is River Basin Management Units (RBMU), followed by Water Committees at the local level (GTZ 2005).

The Water Committees are locally-based and are intended to perform the day-to-day management of water resources. The role of the Water Committees includes assessing water conditions, specially related to flooding and drought, and collecting fees at the local level. It is important to note that the institutional structures and framework for stakeholder involvement have been articulated, but have not yet been put into practice (GTZ 2005).


South Africa

In South Africa, community-based Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs) are being established to take responsibility for administering and implementing the catchment management strategy for their catchment area. This strategy is intended to be formulated with extensive stakeholder consultation, through the establishment of non-statutory bodies such as Catchment Management Fora or Catchment Steering Committees (ORASECOM 2007c). The principal objective is to devolve water management responsibilities to a regional level through the stakeholder participation process which is integral to their establishment.

The National Water Act also provides for Water User Associations to be set up as localised bodies (within a particular WMA), which are defined as “associations of individual water users that undertake water related activities for mutual benefit”, and are statutory bodies – i.e. have a legal identity. There are two types of Water User Associations: sector-based, comprising members with similar water uses, and multi-sectoral, acting in the interests of members with a number of different water uses. South Africa has made very slow progress in establishing the Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs).

The Multiple Use Water Services (MUS) Group

The Multiple Use Water Services (MUS) project in the Limpopo basin is being carried out in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In South Africa, the project is focused on further developing a community-based planning approach for multiple uses in the Bushbuckridge area. The MUS project in South Africa is designed to pilot a community-based planning called Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods, or SWELL, led by the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD). A multi-stakeholder platform has been established to monitor project implementation. At the national level, a range of stakeholders in the sector have started initiatives around multiple uses of water, in terms of policy, research, documentation and implementation. The focus is on local governments applying a MUS approach in their day-to-day work and linking the national level to local governments.

In Zimbabwe, the focus has been on recompiling existing experiences in Zimbabwe, and making those available in a concise form for sector stakeholders, with a view to scaling up the experiences. The main partners for the MUS project in Zimbabwe are the Institute for Water and Sanitation Development (IWSD) and the Mvuramanzi Trust. The project started by working through a learning alliance at national level, linked to the Water and Environmental Sanitation Working Group (WES-WG), chaired by UNICEF, with the aim to provide a platform for sharing lessons learned. Specific studies are being conducted to consolidate experiences from the different organisations working on the topic in the sector, focused on the experiences in the field, as well as policies and strategies.

Source: IRC 2009


The 1998 Water Act in Zimbabwe introduced Catchment and Sub-catchment Councils and abolished the previous Water Development Advisory Councils and Riverboards (GTZ 2005).

The membership of Catchment Councils consists of local authorities, mining industry representatives; commercial farmers, and other relevant government institutions. Catchment Councils members are intended to be nominated by the sub-catchment councils.

The function of the Catchment Councils (GTZ 2005) are to:

  • Prepare catchment outline plans, in conjunction with ZINWA
  • Determine and grant water permits
  • Regulate and supervise the exercise of permits
  • Supervise the performance of sub-catchment councils
  • Ensure users comply with the provisions of the Water Act

The institutional framework exists for stakeholder participation in Zimbabwe, but has not yet been put into practice in a meaningful way.

Members of the community participate in an awareness meeting in Venda, South Africa. Source: CSIR 2003


Current ongoing initiatives.

LIMCOM's current ongoing interventions being undertaken