Water Provision, Governance and Management in Post-Colonial Botswana: Policy Development and Practice in a Semi-Arid Environment, 1966-2020

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Mark Nyandoro


The continuities and policy shifts from the colonial to the post-colonial era inform the evolution of arid
Botswana’s water sector. This paper examines the major trends in Botswana’s water resource governance
from independence in 1966 to 2020. It evaluates the continuities and policy changes implemented by the
government of Botswana in that period. The country’s water sector changed from seemingly no identifiable
water policy during the colonial era to, with some exceptions, more tangible policies afterwards. The paper
argues that the colonial administration was reluctant to develop the water sector beyond the areas occupied
by white people such as Ghanzi and Tati. Therefore, post-colonial Botswana inherited a poorly developed
water distribution infrastructure with no clearly stated policies despite water’s critical function to the
future development of the country. The post-colonial era was thus characterised by significant efforts to
change water provision and governance by the independence government. The government consistently
sought to reverse and rectify the water management policies of the past for the benefit of present and future
needs. In this effort, it was complemented by strategic development partners and other stakeholders, hence
this collective effort led to transformative change for Botswana’s water sector in the post-1966 period.

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