An appraisal of policies and institutional frameworks impacting on smallholder agricultural water management in Zimbabwe uri icon

abstract

  • Policies and institutional frameworks associated with and / or impacting on agricultural water management (AWM) in smallholder farming systems in Zimbabwe were analyzed through literature reviews, feedback from stakeholder workshops, key informant interviews and evaluation of policy impacts on implemented case study projects/programmes. The study showed that Zimbabwe has gone a long way towards developing a water management policy addressing both equity and access, through the Water and ZINWA(1) of 1998. However, lack of incentives for improving efficient management and utilization of water resources once water has reached the farm gate was apparent, apart from punitive economic instruments levied on usage of increased volumes of water. For example, the new water reforms of 1998 penalized water savers through loss of any unused water in their permits to other users. In addition, the ability of smallholder farmers to access water for irrigation or other purposes was influenced by macro and microeconomic policies such as Economic Structural and Adjustment Programme (ESAP), Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (ZIMPREST), prevailing monetary and fiscal policies, as well as the Land and Agrarian Reform policies. For instance, the implementation of ESAP from 1991 to 95 resulted in a decline in government support to management of communal irrigation schemes, and as a result only gravity-fed schemes survived. Also AWM projects/programmes that were in progress were prematurely terminated. While considerable emphasis was placed on rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure since the fast track land reform in 1998, the policies remained rather silent on strategies for water management in rainfed systems. The piecemeal nature and fragmentation of policies and institutional frameworks scattered across government ministries and sectors were complex and created difficulties for smallholder farmers to access water resources. Poor policy implementation strategies and lack of funding were some of the major weaknesses in Zimbabwe's AWM policies. It was apparent that the prevailing institutional frameworks that underwent restructuring exercises since 2000, failed to effectively deliver services to smallholder farmers due to lack of human and financial capital. Nevertheless, the study showed that policies that can improve efficient utilization of agricultural water in rainfed systems need to target timely provision of the prime movers, i.e. credit, input markets and viable output markets, among other factors, so as to fully utilize good rainfall seasons. It was recommended that a forum led by ZINWA be set up to harmonize AWM issues across sectors and monitor their implementation. Such a forum would be mandated mainly to run periodic water management workshops in which relevant and interested stakeholders participate. (c) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2012
  • 2012