Water Policy in South Africa: Trust and Knowledge as Obstacles to Reform
The historical patterns of access to water and other areas of public service delivery in South Africa have been markedly skewed. Despite the reversal of the regime and the fact that South Africa is a middle-income country, there are a significant number of people who are water-poor and poor in governance and institutional capacity to manage water. The recurring themes in integrated water resource management, reticulation pipes, weirs and pumps, stream flow regulations, and ecological requirements are dominant in water sector discourse and are alienating for those who do not master the language. There are constraints determined by racial, economic, or social structures that retain and reproduce dominant power relations. The paper considers the relationship between knowledge, agency, and shame and posits that unequal relations of power and knowledge restrict agency, jeopardize the building of trust, and may perpetuate feelings of shame. The role of the state in opening up water policy networks and redressing issues of knowledge, power, and agency is critical. JEL codes: Q25, Q34, Q28, H75
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