Jumping the water queue: changing waterscapes under water reform processes in rural Zimbabwe
This paper contributes to the ongoing discussion on the implementation of water reforms in rural African waterscapes and explores how farmers in a tertiary catchment in Zimbabwe react to these reforms. It shows how privileged farmers have jumped the water queue by moving their agricultural activities upstream where they illegally divert water straight from the river, while downstream, in the smallholder irrigation scheme, farmers resort to rainfed farming. This unforeseen consequence of the 1998 water reform process, implemented during the economically unstable decade that followed, is explained by adopting a socio-nature approach. Empirical field data as well as processed satellite images are presented and the politicized implications of water reform processes in the Zimbabwean context are discussed. Besides the need to critically examine the content of water reform processes, more attention is needed for understanding what happens to the water that escapes stipulated plans, prescribed rules of control and visible decision-making arenas.
Keywords: irrigation, water reforms, river basin management, socio-nature, Zimbabwe