South African Water Politics: Connection, Deconnection, and Reconnections

Special Report: Networks and Borders: Geopolitics (II)
By David Blanchon

The South African waterscape has been highly modified by a complex network of 19 inter-basin transfers. These huge infrastructural systems built since the 1960s have transformed South African rivers into “hybrids,” where natural and artificial processes are now undistinguishable. Indeed, the natural boundaries of river basins became progressively blurred and some rivers have been transformed into mere aqueducts. Water does not flow towards the sea anymore, but goes to money and power.
The aim of this paper is to explore how the construction of this hybrid network has shaped new hydropolitical geographies and its implications on water management policies in the post apartheid South Africa.

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