The impact of compulsory licensing towards achieving equitable access to water resources in Mhlathuze catchment

Phangisa, John Isaac
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An assessment was conducted to determine the impact of compulsory licensing (CL) towards achieving equity in access to water resources in the Mhlathuze catchment, which falls within the Pongola-uMzimkhulu Water Management Area. Compulsory licensing in Mhlathuze Catchment was undertaken to address, among other things, over-allocation of water and to promote equity in access to water resources. This report presents quantitative results of the contribution that compulsory licensing made towards the fair allocation of water resources in the Mhlathuze catchment. The findings of this study are important since they may help managers to improve management of water resources and implementation of future CL projects. Several reform initiatives have been implemented at the dawn of democracy in South Africa, including CL, but to date, the actual impacts of these programmes/projects are unknown. This gap in knowledge may result in the misconception by managers and decision makers that the existing reform initiatives are effective, which may result in wasteful expenditure. This study was undertaken as one of the tools aimed at bridging the knowledge gap on the impact of compulsory licensing, which is a water-based reform initiative in South Africa. The assessment was carried out using secondary data collected from the Department of Water and Sanitation and included the proposed, preliminary and final allocation schedules, and the compulsory licensing master spreadsheet. The data were first coded and presented in Microsoft Excel where they were then arranged to reflect the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs), and Historically Advantaged Individuals (HAIs) categories for ease of comparison and analysis. Further to this, water allocation to afforestation was first converted from hectares to volumetric reduction before analysis. This exercise was important because the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) allocate water to afforestation in terms of hectares to be planted. The conversion was done using parameters from the stream flow reduction activities (SFRAs) hydrological tables and a conversion equation. The conversion analysis showed that there was 334.9 Mm3/a of available water in the catchment, which is made up of 272.9 Mm3/a available water in the catchment and 62 Mm3/a of water from the Thukela transfer scheme. Of the available water, 315.2 Mm3/a (94%) was allocated to active water use sectors, 10.7 Mm3/a (3%) was set aside for future allocations and 9 Mm3/a (3%) was surplus. These results reveal that over-allocation of water in the catchment was addressed and a surplus of water secured. Results of the analysis against the Mhlathuze equity target revealed that the minimum target of 10% pertaining to agricultural (irrigation) water in the hands of black people was achieved during CL implementation, with allocation ratios ranging from 30%, 69% and 1% between the HDI, HAI and BBBEE categories, respectively. The results further showed that water allocation ratios of economic sectors ranged from 12%, 35% and 2% between HDI, HAI and BBBEE, categories’, respectively. Of the remaining 51%, 45% was allocated to the domestic sector, 3% was set aside and another 3% was surplus water. These results indicate that 35% of available water in the Mhlathuze catchment was in the hands of the HAI group and only 12% in the hands of black people. Although this analysis is at catchment level as opposed to national level, where the 30% water allocation target applies, the results still presented a skewed state of volumetric water allocation in the catchment. However this is justifiable since the primary purpose of undertaking CL in the Mhlathuze catchment was to address the aspect of over-allocation before considering the equity aspect.
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