Determinants of farmer awareness of water governance across gender dimensions in smallholder irrigation schemes in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa
Water is a vital resource for irrigated agricultural production. Its availability and accessibility are critical for alleviating poverty and achieving food security in rural households. However, smallholder irrigated agriculture in South Africa faces limited water supply emanating from scheme governance problems, with weak institutional arrangements that fail to equitably and effectively govern water resources. South African water policy has been transforming over the years. However, statutory laws remain unknown in smallholder irrigation schemes. This study sought to assess farmer awareness of water governance and identify the determinants of farmer awareness of water governance dimensions across gender dimensions in Mooi River, Tugela Ferry, and Ndumo irrigation schemes. The study employed principal component analysis to generate water governance indices, that is, formal institutions, the existence and effectiveness of scheme constitutions, scheme committees and enforcement of informal rules in the scheme. The ordinary least square regression technique was then used to identify factors determining farmer awareness of formal and informal water institutions in the three irrigation schemes. The findings suggest that formal water institutions are unknown and factors such as household characteristics, scheme location, stakeholder participation and involvement in scheme decision-making processes significantly influence awareness of governance. Therefore, there is a need to raise farmer awareness of formal water institutions and to strengthen the informal institutions which are functional, recognised and in line with irrigation management transfer.
Keywords: farmer awareness formal institutions informal institutions principal components analysis smallholder irrigation schemes