Effects of interactions between governance, intergenerational and gender dimensions on smallholder irrigation scheme in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Dlangalala, Senamile Fortunate.
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Smallholder irrigation schemes (SISs) face several challenges hindering them from performing at satisfactory levels. In South Africa, the government made considerable financial investments in developing SISs and revitalising them to improve their performance. However, poor performance persisted, indicating that the key root of poor performance could lie elsewhere, e.g., weak institutional arrangements, an aspect which is often overlooked, and in an inequitable distribution of land and other productive resources across intergenerational and gender dimensions. Researchers have argued that the absence of effective management regimes was underpinning the poor performance of SISs. This study sought to assess the effects of the interaction between governance, on one hand, and intergenerational and gender dimensions, on the other, on the performance of SIS in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The specific objectives were to describe the institutional arrangements for water management in SISs, to identify the determinants of farmer awareness of water governance dimensions across intergenerational and gender dimensions in SISs, and to investigate the effects of governance on cropland allocation across gender and intergenerational dimensions in SISs. The study was conducted in Mooi River, Tugela Ferry Irrigation Schemes located in Msinga Local Municipality and Ndumo Irrigation Scheme located in Jozini Local Municipality. Primary data were collected through focus group discussions, key informant interviews and a structured household questionnaire administered by Zulu-speaking enumerators. Stratified and systematic random sampling techniques were employed to select survey respondents. Empirical models used were the Descriptive Statistical technique, Principal Component Analysis, Ordinary Least Squares technique and Fractional Regression Generalized Linear model. The results indicated that the studied irrigation schemes had functional institutional arrangements, and all schemes had scheme committees, i.e., the leaders responsible for ensuring that all the scheme rules and policies are obeyed. Furthermore, the study revealed that formal water institutions were unknown and non-existence at the local level which led to a high reliance on informal institutional arrangements for water resource management. The statistically significant determinants of farmer awareness of water governance dimensions were along the gender, level of education, water management training, scheme location, membership in water users association, stakeholder participation, farmer’s involvement in scheme decision-making processes, and source of information. Age of an irrigator, size of a plot, type of land vi ownership, access to credit, revenue (farm income), and irrigation water sufficiency were found to have a significant influence on cropland allocation decisions. Through the application of Fractional Logit Generalised Linear Model, the study concludes that gender of an irrigator, farmer perceptions with scheme water governance and irrigation water schedule do not influence farmer decisions on cropland allocation in Mooi River, Tugela Ferry and Ndumo irrigation schemes. There is a need to raise irrigators’ awareness about formal water institutions, their intentions and the importance of knowing them. In addition, irrigators need to be capacitated on best management practices and in making informed production decisions. Therefore, improvements in communication between irrigators and external stakeholders are critical. Moreover, government and policymakers must incorporate customary laws when formulating national laws to increase compliance by smallholder irrigators with formal water institutions.