Progress in transforming Irrigation Boards

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pretoria - The Department of Water and Sanitation is strengthening inter-sectoral planning between land, water and agricultural sectors to ensure rapid transformation of irrigation boards in line with the Constitution, Water Act and National Development Plan (NDP).

The department was briefing the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation on Tuesday about its progress on the transformation of irrigation boards.

Historically, irrigation boards were established to support farming among poor, white farmers before democracy.

The department said that it has since initiated reforms in the functions of irrigation boards that now ensure that it supports water resources management in the country.

The functions currently include the prevention of unlawful abstraction or storage of public water, among others.

“Currently, there are 278 Irrigation Boards across the country and only 99 of these boards have met the transformation requirements as set out in the Water Act. The core of these transformation requirements include amongst others, access to water for the previously disadvantaged communities and representation in gender, race, youth and people with disabilities,” the department told the committee.

The department also presented its interventions to ensure the rapid transformation of irrigation boards, in line with the Constitution of South Africa, the Water Act and the NDP.

Among the interventions include water allocation reform, compulsory licensing and water user authorisations.

“The department is already strengthening inter-sectoral planning between Land, Water and the Agricultural sectors to effectively address transformation objectives. It is also developing a pro-active design of a land-water strategy that will support accelerated agrarian reform and integrated funding models for previously disadvantaged individuals,” the department said.

The department added that it is also undertaking a legislative review that will see the repeal of the Water Act as part of its interventions to speed up transformation in the sector. –

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