This paper investigates the factors that enable sustainability in Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) in three different parts of the world: India, South Africa and Indonesia.
In India and South Africa, provincial governments constrained by the scarcity of personnel and finances are opting to transfer the management of water resources to the communities that use them. This transfer is made possible by the establishment of Village Water Supply Committees (VWSCs) charged with overseeing the operation and maintenance of schemes for rural drinking water supply. However, the experience of creating these community-managed WUAs has not been an unmitigated success.
In Bali, Indonesia, a strong indigenous civic tradition undergirds long-enduring Irrigation Communities called subaks. Using anthropological insights from the manner in which subaks operate to ensure environmental, social, economic and cultural sustainability, this paper draws lessons for VWSCs in India and South Africa.
It argues that cultural sustainability can promote good ecological practice, sound economic management and robust forms of social organisation and that ignoring it places at risk the overall sustainability of community-managed resources. Equity or social justice needs to be an explicitly-stated goal in the drive for sustainability. For this reason, policy makers and development practitioners need to establish institutional frameworks that deal effectively with any values and beliefs that foster divisiveness, which makes sustainability hard to achieve and viable VWSCs difficult to create.
|Keywords:||Community-Based Resource Management, Sustainability, Water Users’ Associations, Rural Water Supply, Village Water Supply Committees, Irrigation Communities, Equity, Institutional Rules, Subak, Indonesia, India, South Africa|
Independent Researcher, Chennai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
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