What is water governance?

Water governance is defined by the political, social, economic and administrative systems that are in place, and which directly or indirectly affect the use, development and management of water resources and the delivery of water service delivery at different levels of society. Importantly, the water sector is a part of broader social, political and economic developments and is thus also affected by decisions outside of the water sector.

Water governance addresses among other things:

1. Principles such as equity and efficiency in water resource and services allocation and distribution, water administration based on catchments, the need for integrated water management approaches and the need to balance water use between socio-economic activities and ecosystems.

2. The formulation, establishment and implementation of water policies, legislation and institutions.

3. Clarification of the roles of government, civil society and the private sector and their responsibilities regarding ownership, management and administration of water resources and services, for example:

  • Inter-sectoral dialogue and co-ordination
  • Stakeholder participation and conflict resolution
  • Water rights and permits
  • The role of women in water management
  • Water quantity and quality standards
  • Bureaucratic obstacles and corruption
  • Price regulation and subsidies
  • Tax incentives and credits.