IWRM avant la lettre? Four key episodes in the policy articulation of IWRM in downstream Mozambique

Rossella Alba*, Alex Bolding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The first substantive piece of water legislation ever adopted in Mozambique, the Lei de águas of 1991, was crafted before IWRM (Integrated Water Resources Management) was endorsed as the newly emerging global consensus on water governance. Yet, the Lei de águas already incorporated the river basin concept and its decentralised water management, making Mozambique a case of IWRM 'avant la lettre'. In this chapter, we reconstruct the drivers behind four key policy episodes that shaped the travel of IWRM to Mozambique, viz. the Lei de águas 1991, the SADC Water Protocol, the National Water Policy 1995, and the 2007 national reforms and regulations, drawing from the experiences of two Mozambican river basins, the Limpopo and the Pungwe. In terms of process, we observe that domestic concerns, a small Mozambican water policy elite nurtured by international donors, and the agenda of financial institutions highly shaped the articulation of IWRM. In terms of outcomes, several contradictions emerge: i.e. centralised State management seems to have become further entrenched, stakeholders have virtually no say in water matters and the most powerful and wealthy stakeholders use payments to secure water cheaply at the expense of unregistered smallholder users who depend for their livelihoods on primary water.
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


  • Elite
  • IWRM
  • Mozambique
  • Policy articulation
  • Stakeholder participation


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