ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202208.0168.v1
Subject: Biology, Agricultural Sciences & Agronomy Keywords: drought; institutions; smallholder farmers; water security
Online: 9 August 2022 (03:49:28 CEST)
Disasters such as the 2015-2018 drought in South Africa usually negatively impact agricultural water, especially in smallholder farming systems. This study assessed the availability of irrigation water, performance of irrigation infrastructure, and water governance systems in Genadendal, Western Cape, with a focus on smallholder farmers. Data for streamflow, dam levels, and rainfall were acquired from water institutions and analysed using Microsoft Excel. The performance of the infrastructure and water governance were assessed based on the perceptions of smallholder farmers and key informants. A questionnaire was administered to eight smallholder farmers, followed by a focus group discussion with 15 smallholder farmers. Interviews were conducted with eight key informants who worked in water-related institutions. Qualitative data from the interviews were analysed using thematic content analysis. The study showed adequate agricultural water resources during the 2015-2018 drought period for the smallholder farmers who relied on water from dams. However, smallholder farmers who relied on the Riviersonderend River experienced severe water shortages during the same period. The findings also showed that there was poor performance of irrigation water infrastructure due to inadequate maintenance. Lack of coordination among institutions, insufficient funding, political interference, fragmentation of roles and responsibilities, lack of human resources, and farmers’ lack of participation and commitment in water resources management contributed to the dysfunctionality of irrigation water governance systems, leading to water insecurity. This study recommends adequate funding for the operation and maintenance of infrastructure. Furthermore, water institutions need to support smallholder farmers with training skills in agricultural water management and infrastructure maintenance. Further studies are recommended to quantify the water lost due to the poor performance of water infrastructure and to develop effective water governance in Genadendal.