A new study has found that outdated, colonial-era water permit systems across Africa are unintentionally criminalising millions of small farmers who can’t obtain permits. This undermines efforts to boost farming production and meet economic growth goals.
The study examined water permit systems in five African countries: Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The permit system was introduced by colonial powers in the 1920s. They were designed to regulate water use in the interests of the colonial project by granting permits only to white settlers.