Introduction - Flows and practices: The politics of integrated water resources management (IWRM) in eastern and Southern Africa

Lyla Mehta*, Synne Movik, Alex Bolding, Bill Derman, Emmanuel Manzungu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscriptAcademic

1 Citation (Scopus)


For the past two decades, IWRM has been actively promoted by water experts as well as multilateral and bilateral donors who have considered it to be a crucial way to address global water management problems. IWRM has been incorporated into water laws, reforms and policies of southern African nations. This chapter provides a conceptual framework to study: the flow of IWRM as an idea; its translation and articulation into new policies, institutions and allocation mechanisms, and the resulting practices and effects across multiple scales - global, regional, national and local. The empirical findings of the complexities of articulation and implementation of IWRM in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda form the core of this book. We demonstrate how Africa has been a laboratory for IWRM experiments, while donors as well as a new cadre of water professionals and students have made IWRM their mission. The case studies reveal that IWRM may have resulted in an unwarranted policy focus on managing water instead of enlarging poor women's and men's access to water. The newly created institutional arrangements tended to centralise the power and control of the State and powerful users over water and failed to address historically rooted inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFlows and Practices
Subtitle of host publicationThe Politics of Integrated Water Resources Management in Eastern and Southern Africa
PublisherAfrican Books Collective
ISBN (Electronic)9781779223203
ISBN (Print)9781779223142
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Access to water
  • Donors
  • IWRM
  • Southern Africa
  • Water policies and reform

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