Implementing the South African water policy: holding the vision while exploring an uncharted mountain

  • HM MacKay
  • KH Rogers
  • DJ Roux
Keywords: Water policy, South Africa, Adaptive management


This paper discusses the long-term implementation of the South African National Water Policy of 1997, and addresses some of the difficult issues of the management and leadership of large change processes. Although the vision established by the water policy is clear, actually achieving that vision on the ground will require a robust, flexible, long-term implementation plan that is supported by all the role players responsible for water management in South Africa: Government, water services authorities, water services providers such as water boards, catchment management agencies (CMAs), water user associations, research organisations and the private sector. In this paper, we advocate a strategic, adaptive approach to policy implementation, which equates to "learn-by-doing", to meet the challenge of maintaining sufficient forward momentum in policy implementation, while still making sound decisions that take account of technical, environmental, economic, social and political factors.

Water SA Vol.29(4): 353-358

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eISSN: 0378-4738