Land and Water Reforms in South Africa: "Men in White Coats"

Deepa Joshi, Natasha Donn-Arnold, Mart Kamphuis

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


Despite numerous legislative attempts to redress past injustices, the redistribution of land and/or water remains a key challenge in post-apartheid South Africa. South Africa is currently identified as being in a state of a water crisis – and there are contentious and deeply polarized viewpoints on how the water security situation is linked to the transformation agenda. Through the narrative of an “emerging” female black farmer’s experiences with land and water reforms, this article gives a first-person account of the institutional barriers that keep intact an unequal, inequitable and unjust agrarian structure. The analysis also makes explicit how the transformatory agenda does not address the complexity of inequalities by race, crosscut as they are by gender and other social variables. By aiming to integrate an erroneously conceived homogeneous formerly excluded in an agrarian system meant to exclude them, the post-apartheid land and water reforms not only fail, but in turn make the formerly excluded “failed”. These analyses suggest that a feminist agenda which calls for a structural overhaul of policies and strategies as well as institutional structures and cultures might provide a much-needed antidote to the de-railed reform/justice agenda in South Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater Security Across the Gender Divide
EditorsChristiane Fröhlich, Giovanna Gioli, Roger Cremades
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-64046-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-64044-0
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Water redistribution
  • Post-apartheid era
  • Water security
  • Female farmers
  • Reform agenda
  • Unjust agrarian system

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