Programme OS5g Human rights and local
Local water governance in South Africa: to which extent participatory
approaches facilitate multi-stakeholder negotiations?
The Kat River Valley experience
Author(s): S. Farolfi, H.
Gumede, K. Rowntree, N Jones, J. Burt,
S. Farolfi: Cirad, UMR G
Eau - University of Pretoria
J. Burt, H. Gumede & K. Rowntree: Rhodes University
N Jones: Australian
National University of Canberra
Keyword(s): Local Water Governance, Participatory Approaches, Multiple Stakeholders, Institutions,
Companion Modelling, South Africa
Session: OS5g Human rights and local
Abstract Post-Apartheid South Africa (SA) is facing the
challenges of democratization in the use of natural resources. In the water sector, the National Water Act of 1998
introduced new principles such as decentralization of water management and subsidiarity between central and local
New institutions for local water governance are being established: Catchment Management Agencies
(CMAs) and Water Users Associations (WUAs).
CMAs and WUAs will have to put in place processes of
participatory decision-making and facilitate negotiation among water users having different socio-economic
characteristics, unequal access to information and knowledge, different political influence and therefore a different
capacity with regard to lobbying and negotiation.
In this context, an action-research oriented approach aimed at
facilitating local negotiation and common decision-making seems to be particularly appropriate.
A community of
researchers called ComMod (Companion Modelling) recently developed a scientific posture regarding the adoption
of simulation models and role-playing games for assisting participatory management of natural resources. There are
two main features of this approach. The first is to take into consideration, from the beginning of the modeling
process, the stakeholders’ view of the studied problem. The second is to validate model hypothesis through the
experience of the stakeholders. This results in an iterative process of comprehension, confrontation and analysis that
involves local users, institutions and researchers. This iteration is also aimed at validating or refuting the tools, such as
models and role-playing games, which will be adopted by stakeholders for local negotiation.
approach was adopted as one of the approaches to facilitating multi-stakeholder negotiations related to water
allocation in a SA water catchment (the Kat River, in the Eastern Cape) where a WUA was recently
The objective of the paper is to describe and assess the impacts of a participatory
approach called Companion Modelling on selected aspects of the negotiation process taking place among local
stakeholders in the Kat River Valley.
The entire process of Companion Modelling in the Kat
River Valley was monitored through step-by-step valuations such as interviews conducted by the research team with
stakeholders during and at the end of each workshop. As part of a larger project conducted by a group of
researchers based in France, a global assessment of the process was also run by external evaluators through
interviews with the designers of the ComMod approach and with local participants.
interviews and global assessment’s results are analysed and compared. A common framework for the interpretation
of these outcomes is proposed following action-research related criteria. These criteria are, among others, collective
learning, reflection and application of specific issues such as complexity, interaction of system components and
The proposed analysis will provide insights on the actual contribution of a
participatory approach such as ComMod to facilitate multi-stakeholders’ negotiations around water allocation and
governance in the Kat River Valley. Discussion and reflections on the appropriateness of a questionnaire-based
survey to elicit social outcomes of such an approach will conclude the paper and alternative methods will be