Is larger always lekker? A comparative analysis of South Africa's water user associations (WUAs) and catchment partnerships (CPs) and their impact on water, energy, and food (WEF) security

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Abstract

Complexities in water, energy, and food (WEF) governance provide varied systems and pathways that shape welfare outcomes. The biggest question relates to the scale and complexities in resource management and governance, which reaches a certain equilibrium to achieve maximum welfare benefits. This is a proposition that is assessed in this study which sought to compare the WEF welfare outcomes of jurisdictions under Water User Associations (WUAs) and Catchment Partnerships (CPs). The study used a multi-stage purposively sampled cross-sectional survey of 1184 households from Greater Taung and Magareng Local Municipalities (Vaalharts Water User Association) and Matatiele Local Municipality (uMzvimvubu Catchment Partnership) in South Africa. The Household Water Insecurity Experiences, Household Multi-Dimensional Energy Poverty Index and Household Food In-Access Scale, Min-Max normalization and Propensity Score Matching were used to analyze the data. There was association between jurisdiction and the level of WEF security. Households under the jurisdiction of a WUA experienced 13.8%, 6.8% and 9.3% higher levels of water, energy, and food insecurity, respectively. The study concludes that households under the jurisdiction of a CP had higher levels of WEF security, with complexities or lack thereof resulting in higher welfare outcomes. Therefore, larger is not always lekker. The study recommends either (i) scaling down of WUA to CP and/or (ii) diversifying by increasing the breadth and scope of stakeholders within WUA. The governance systems should be integrated in an evaluation to ascertain any impact on the welfare outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101022
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Development
Volume51
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2024

Keywords

  • Catchment partnership (CP)
  • Complexity theory
  • Propensity score matching (PSM)
  • South Africa
  • Water user association (WUA)
  • Water-energy-food (WEF)

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