Managing Water Resources in Developing Countries: South Africa As An Example for Policy And Regulation - page 05

Policy and Legal Framework
Since 1994, the new water policy was developed with special attention given to the process of defining and adopting it. One of the facets of that policy-making process is the concentration on public participation. Elements of the policy and regulatory framework are shown in Figure 2.

 

Figure 2: Elements of Water Resources Regulatory Framework (Modified from Picciotto et al., 2002).

Figure 2: Elements of Water Resources Regulatory Framework (Modified from Picciotto et al., 2002).

 

One of the main and distinctive characteristics of the policy and legislative framework in South Africa is that it distinguishes and clearly separates policy and legislation into two main domains: water resources domain (resource management and protection), and water services domain (water services provision and management), while leaving policy and regulation of both within one department (Department of Water Affairs). Such a distinction is practiced in many countries but when it is, then usually the policy and regulation of the two domains are located in different departments. Research done in the development of a draft integrated strategy for water regulation shows that, internationally, water resources regulation is typically dealt with by environmental departments or agencies, while water services regulation is often dealt with by an independent regulator, or a range of departments often at local or provincial/state level. For example, in Zambia, water services are regulated by the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO), which regulates urban water supply and sanitation service provision, while water resources regulation falls under the Department of Energy and Water Development. Similarly, in Ghana, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission is responsible for economic regulation of urban water supply and sanitation, while the Water Resources Commission regulates water resources.

It is, however, noted that opposite examples can also be found.

The clear distinction and separation of the two domains allows for avoidance of inherent conflicts of interest between water resources protection and water utilization to meet human needs. Table 1 summarises the policy and legislative differentiation between water resources and water services sectors in South Africa.

According to Picciotto et al. (2002), "At its most general level, 'regulation' refers to the means by which any activity, person, organism or institution is guided to behave in a regular fashion, or according to rule. In principle, reference can be made to the regulation of any kind of social behaviour. In the context of socio-legal studies, the concept has two main advantages. First, it leaves a useful ambiguity over the extent to which such regular behaviour is generated internally or entails external intervention. A regulatory framework for water resources therefore consists of a great number of players and processes, some falling within what can be described as a formal regulatory process, i.e. regulation as practiced by the state, and some falling within a more informal regulatory process, for example through the media, community pressure groups, consumer behaviour and so on.