This paper examines the institutions governing access to borehole water in two wards in Sangwe communal area in Chiredzi District, Zimbabwe. One ward has had a long history of external intervention, while the other ward has relatively few boreholes. The study examined the contrasting institutional dynamics that have evolved, particularly around borehole committees as a result of the community based approach to water management promoted in recent years. In both sites questions can be raised about the sustainability of such decentralised resource management institutions, particularly as many richer members of the 'community' have no investment in the community sources as they increasingly have access to private water supplies. This paper concludes with a discussion of the challenges of 'community' management approaches in the context of high levels of social and economic differentiation and options of private access to resources.
Sobona Mtisi and Alan Nicol