Published on 28 May 2008
Water, politics and development: Introducing Water Alternatives
François Molle, Peter P. Mollinga and Ruth Meinzen-Dick
Published on 28 May 2008
Water, politics and development: Framing a political sociology of water resources management
Peter P. Mollinga Department of Political and Cultural Change, ZEF (Center for Development Research), Bonn University, Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL PREAMBLE: The first issue of Water Alternatives presents a set of papers that investigates the inherently political nature of water resources management. A Water, Politics and Development initiative was started at ZEF (Center for Development Research, Bonn, Germany) in 2004/2005 in the context of a national-level discussion on the role of social science in global (environmental) change research. In April 2005 a roundtable workshop with this title was held at ZEF, sponsored by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft/German Research Foundation) and supported by the NKGCF (Nationales Komitee für Global Change Forschung/German National Committee on Global Change Research), aiming to design a research programme in the German context. In 2006 it was decided to design a publication project on a broader, European and international basis. The Irrigation and Water Engineering Group at Wageningen University, the Netherlands joined as a co-organiser and co-sponsor. The collection of papers published in this issue of Water Alternatives is one of the products of the publication project. As part of the initiative a session on Water, Politics and Development was organised at the Stockholm World Water Week in August 2007, where most of the papers in this collection were presented and discussed. Through this publication, the Water, Politics and Development initiative links up with other initiatives simultaneously ongoing, for instance the 'Water governance - challenging the consensus' project of the Bradford Centre for International Development at Bradford University, UK. At this point in time, the initiative has formulated its thrust as 'framing a political sociology of water resources management'. This, no doubt, is an ambitious project, methodologically, theoretically as well as practically. Through the compilation of this collection we have started to explore whether and how such an endeavour might make sense. The participants in the initiative think it does, are quite excited about it, and are committed to pursue it further. To succeed the project has to be a collective project, of a much larger community than the present contributors. All readers are invited to comment on sense, purpose and content of this endeavour to profile and strengthen critical and public sociologies of water resources management.
KEYWORDS: Water control, politics, development, political sociology, public sociology, social power, governance
Published on 28 May 2008
A political economy of water in Southern Africa
Larry A. Swatuk Programme on Environment and International Development, University of Waterloo, Canada; email@example.com ABSTRACT: Southern Africa is a region characterized by extensive socio-economic underdevelopment. Given water's key role in social organization, water allocation, use and management in Southern Africa is embedded in deep historical and structural processes of regional underdevelopment. Gini coefficients of income inequality in several states of the region are the most extreme in the world. Recent data from South Africa shows that Gini coefficients of water inequality vary directly with income inequality. Recent attempts to improve water resources management in the region through IWRM have failed to consider these facts, focusing instead on a mix of institutional, policy and legal reforms. The results of these reforms have been poor. In this essay, I employ a modified version of Allan's (2003) 'water paradigms' framework to locate and assess the positions and interests of actors involved in water resources management in Southern Africa. The essay shows that Southern Africa's history of underdevelopment has created a dense web of powerful political, economic and social interests linked by a shared technocentric understanding of and approach to water use: i.e. water for 'high modern-style' development, or as labelled by Allen, 'the hydraulic mission'. What is less readily acknowledged is the wide-spread societal support for this mission. For this reason, ecocentric approaches to water management most commonly associated with influential international actors such as the IUCN and World Wide Fund for Nature have limited local support and are of minor relevance to Southern African decision-makers. However, actors supportive of an ecocentric perspective demonstrate considerable ability to inhibit water infrastructure development across the region. In the face of abiding poverty and inequality, and vulnerability to water insecurity, widespread societal support for a technocentric approach to resource use offers a pathway toward broad-based social benefits through the capture of the region's water resources. It is up to those with an ecocentric interest to ensure that these activities do not reproduce the environmental errors of the past.
KEYWORDS: Southern Africa; Southern African Development Community (SADC); underdevelopment; Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM); technocentric; ecocentric; hydraulic mission
Published on 29 May 2008
Water rights arenas in the Andes: Upscaling networks to strengthen local water control
Rutgerd Boelens Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The threats that Andean water user collectives face are ever-growing in a globalizing society. Water is power and engenders social struggle. In the Andean region, water rights struggles involve not only disputes over the access to water, infrastructure and related resources, but also over the contents of water rules and rights, the recognition of legitimate authority, and the discourses that are mobilized to sustain water governance structures and rights orders. While open and large-scale water battles such as Bolivia's 'Water Wars' or nationwide mobilizations in Ecuador get the most public attention, low-profile and more localized water rights encounters, ingrained in local territories, are far more widespread and have an enormous impact on the Andean waterscapes. This paper highlights both water arenas and the ways they operate between the legal and the extralegal. It shows how local collectives build on their own water rights foundations to manage internal water affairs but which simultaneously offer an important home-base for strategizing wider water defence manoeuvres. Hand-in-hand with inwardly reinforcing their rights bases, water user groups aim for horizontal and vertical linkages thereby creating strategic alliances. Sheltering an internal school for rights and identity development, reflection and organisation, these local community foundations, through open and subsurface linkages and fluxes, provide the groundwork for upscaling their water rights defence networks to national and transnational arenas.
KEYWORDS: Water rights, legal pluralism, cultural politics, social mobilization, peasant and indigenous communities, translocal network alliances, Andean countries
Published on 28 May 2008
River-basin politics and the rise of ecological and transnational democracy in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies Program, Dartmouth College, USA; email@example.com
Department of Geography, Dartmouth College, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: In recent years, debates over 'deliberative', 'transnational' and 'ecological' democracy have proliferated, largely among scholars engaged in discussions of modernization, globalization and political identity. Within this broad context, scholars and practitioners of environmental governance have advanced the argument that a democratic society will produce a more environmentally conscious society. We want to make a volte-face of this argument and ask: to what extent does engagement with environmental politics and, specifically, water politics, contribute to processes of democratization? After reviewing some of the contributions to debates over 'ecological' and 'transnational' democracy, we explore this question within the context of conflicts over river-basin development in Southeast Asia and southern Africa. We argue that there are multiple pathways to democratization and that, in some cases, the environment as a political issue does constitute a significant element of democratization. But notions of 'ecological' and 'transnational' democracy must embody how both 'environment' and 'the transnational', as mobilized by specific social movements in specific historical and geographical circumstances, are politically constructed.
KEYWORDS: Ecological democracy, transnational democracy, Mekong river basin, Zambezi river basin, environmental politics
Published on 28 May 2008
Lost in translation: The participatory imperative and local water governance in North Thailand and Southwest Germany
University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Water management in Thailand and Germany has been marked by a command-and-control policy-style for decades, but has recently begun to move slowly towards more inclusive and participatory approaches. In Germany, the push for public participation stems from the recently promulgated European Union Water Framework Directive (EU WFD), while participatory and integrated river basin management in Thailand has been strongly promoted by major international donors. Drawing on case studies from two watersheds in North Thailand and Southwest Germany, this paper analyzes how the participatory imperative in water governance is translated at the local level. Evidence suggests that in both countries public participation in water management is still in its infancy, with legislative and executive responsibilities being divided between a variety of state agencies and local authorities. Bureaucratic restructuring and technocratic attitudes, passive resistance on the part of administrative staff towards inclusive processes, and a trend towards the (re)centralization of responsibilities for water governance in both study regions undermines community-based and stakeholder-driven water governance institutions, thus calling into question the subsidiarity principle. State-driven participatory processes tend to remain episodic and ceremonial and have not (yet) gone beyond the informative and consultative stage. Meaningful public participation, promised on paper and in speeches, too often gets lost in translation.
KEYWORDS: Water governance, command-and-control, public participation, North Thailand, Southwest Germany
Published on 28 May 2008
Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The aim of this article is to provide an informed plea for more explicitly identifying, naming and unravelling the linkages between water control and gender in irrigation. The fact that power, expertise and status in irrigation tend to have a strong masculine connotation is by now quite well established, and underlies calls for more women in water decision making, engineering education and professions. Yet, the questions of how and why water control, status and expertise are linked to masculinity, and of whether and how such links work to legitimize the exercise of power, are seldom asked. To date, associations between masculinity and professional water performance have largely been taken for granted and remained unexamined. The resulting perceived normalcy makes mechanisms of (gendered) power and politics in water appear self-evident, unchangeable, and indeed gender-neutral. The article reviews examples of the masculinity of irrigation in different domains to argue that exposing and challenging such hitherto hidden dimensions of (gendered) power is important for the identification of new avenues of gender progressive change, and for shedding a new and interesting light on the workings of power in water.
KEYWORDS: Irrigation, water, gender, politics, masculinities, engineers
Published on 28 May 2008
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UR199, Montpellier, France; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Analysis of water policy shows the importance of cognitive and ideological dimensions in the formulation of policy discourses. Ideas are never neutral and reflect the particular societal settings in which they emerge, the worldviews and interests of those who have the power to set the terms of the debate, to legitimate particular options and discard others, and to include or exclude particular social groups. This article focuses on three types of conceptual objects which permeates policy debates: nirvana concepts, which underpin overarching frameworks of analysis, narratives - i.e., causal and explanatory beliefs - and models of policies or development interventions. It successively reviews how these three types of concepts populate the water sector, investigates how they spread, and then examines the implications of this analysis for applied research on policy making and practice.
KEYWORDS: Water management; water policy; policy making; IWRM; narratives
Published on 29 May 2008
Distilling or diluting? Negotiating the water research-policy interface
Frances Cleaver Bradford Centre for International Development, University of Bradford, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Franks Bradford Centre for International Development, University of Bradford, UK; email@example.com ABSTRACT: This article examines some of the tensions in the generation of knowledge about water governance and poverty, and the translation of this knowledge into policy and practice. It draws on the experience of the authors in developing a framework for understanding water governance and poverty, their work on a project in Tanzania and their attempts to engage with policy makers. The authors propose that the negotiation of knowledge is a political process shaped both by power relationships and (often implicit) normative values. Such negotiation may be impeded by the contrasting positions of academics as uncertainty creators and policy makers seeking unertainty reduction. The authors critique instrumental approaches to the generation of knowledge and policy based on the amalgamation of perceived success stories' and 'good practice'. They favour instead approaches that attempt to understand water governance arrangements and outcomes for the poor within widerframeworks of negotiations over the allocation of societal resources. This implies the need to rethink the research-policy relationship and to build reflexive knowledge generation into the research‐policy interface.
KEYWORDS: water governance, success stories, research-policy interface.
Published on 05 June 2008
Modern myths of the Mekong: A critical review of water and development concepts, principles and policies. (Kummu, M.; Keskinen, M. and Varis, O. (Eds). 2008). Rajesh Daniel
Published on 23 September 2008
A South African perspective on a possible benefit-sharing approach for transboundary waters in the SADC region
Anthony Turton Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria, South Africa; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The concept of benefit-sharing is emerging in the international discourse on transboundary water resource management with greater intensity than a decade ago. While it sounds simple, the concept is complex and benefits are difficult to quantify and thus the concept remains unconvincing to potentially sceptical negotiating partners. Any discourse on water resource management is based on a core logic. This paper tries to distil some elements of a proposed benefit-sharing approach, presenting an alternative core logic, showing how these differ from what can be thought of as the traditional paradigm. This work is linked to ongoing research at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), into benefit-sharing and processes of policy harmonization, within the context of developing countries.
KEYWORDS: benefit-sharing approach, hydro-political complex, inter-basin transfer (IBT), Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), Parallel National Action (PNA), River Basin Commission (RBC), sovereignty
Published on 24 September 2008
The politics of model maintenance: The Murray Darling and Brantas river basins compared
Anjali Bhat Center for Development Research (ZEF), Bonn, Germany; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This paper explores river basin management in two highly developed basins whose basin governance arrangements are currently undergoing transition: The Murray-Darling basin of Australia and the Brantas basin of Indonesia. Though basin-scale management has been longstanding in both of these cases and the respective models for carrying out integrated river basin management have been considered noteworthy for other countries looking to develop basin institutions, these basin-level arrangements are under flux. This paper indicates some of the difficulties that exist for even widely favoured 'textbook' cases to maintain institutional efficacy within their given shifting contexts. This paper explores drivers behind policy reform and change in scale at which authority is held, concluding with a discussion of the nature of institutional transition given political realities in these basins.
KEYWORDS: River basin management, governance transition, Brantas, Murray-Darling, Indonesia, Australia
Published on 27 September 2008
Liberalization reform, 'neo-centralism' and black market: The political diseconomy of Lake Nasser fishery development
Christophe Béné WorldFish Center Regional Offices for Africa and West Asia, Cairo; firstname.lastname@example.org
Bastien Bandi WorldFish Center Regional Offices for Africa and West Asia, Cairo; email@example.com
Fanny Durville Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, Alexandria Egypt; firstname.lastname@example.org ABSTRACT: Despite its relatively modest importance, and the current difficulties faced by the government in implementing liberalization in the rest of the country, the Egyptian authority decided to embark on a reform of the Lake Nasser fishery in the early 2000s. The objective of this article is to analyse the evolution of this reform from a political economy perspective. The paper looks retrospectively at the general context of the reform, describes the different institutional and economic changes that have resulted from its realization, identifies how the distribution of power between the different actors has altered the course of its implementation, and finally assesses the outcomes of the reform. The analysis shows that, while some major institutional changes have taken place, those changes have had little to do with a 'liberalization' as conventionally understood in neo-classical literature. Instead, the new status quo turns out to be one where the central government and its different parastatal agencies have managed to maintain their existing advantages. The failure to reform more thoroughly the system also led fishers and fish traders to engage in a large-scale black market activity in which a substantial amount of fish is smuggled through unofficial trade channels.
KEYWORDS: Small-scale fisheries, governance, political economy, reform, Africa, Egypt
Published on 30 September 2008
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The concept of community has become increasingly important in debates over alternatives to privatization, and is invoked by both proponents and opponents of private sector provision of water supply. This paper presents a critique of the concept of community water supply when it is invoked as an alternative to privatization. The analysis presents a typology of proposals for community ownership and governance of water supply, and proceeds to critique some of the flawed assumptions in the concepts of community deployed in these proposals, together with references to more general debates about the viability of the 'commons' as enacted through community-controlled water supply systems. The paper closes with a brief discussion of the future evolution of the debate over 'community' alternatives to privatization, focusing on water supply.
Published on 30 September 2008
Antonio A.R. Ioris
School of Geosciences and Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability, University of Aberdeen, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: One fundamental limitation of the contemporary debate over water institutional reforms has been the excessive concentration on scientific assessments and management techniques, with insufficient consideration of the underlying politics of decision-making and socio-economic asymmetries. This article examines the 'sociology of water regulation' to demonstrate how the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Scotland is profoundly influenced by broader political and economic circumstances. The ongoing reforms of regulatory institutions became entangled in the reorganisation of a devolved Scottish Administration in the late 1990s, which has directly influenced the channels of representation and the overall decision-making processes. It is claimed here that, despite a discursive construction around sustainability and public participation, the new institutional landscape has so far failed to improve long-term patterns of water use and conservation. The article also analyzes how the exacerbation of the economic dimension of water management has permeated the entire experience, serving as a political filter for the assessment of impacts and formulation of solutions. The ultimate conclusion is that formal changes in the legislation created a positive space for institutional reforms, but the effective improvement of water policy and catchment management has been curtailed by political inertia and the hidden balance of power.
KEYWORDS: Water institutions, water institutional reforms, Water Framework Directive, devolution, Scotland
Published on 30 September 2008
Contested hydrohegemony: Hydraulic control and security in Turkey
Jeroen Warner Disaster Studies, Wageningen University and Centre for Sustainable Management of Resources, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands; email@example.com ABSTRACT: The article seeks to expand the understanding of the emerging concept of hydrohegemony (Zeitoun and Warner, 2006). Illustrated by Turkey's strategy with respect to the Euphrates-Tigris it looks at the layered nature of water-related political strategies at different levels. The article therefore introduces hegemony as a layered phenomenon whose multi-level interactions impinge on each other. It zooms in on Turkish hegemony in its hydraulic control and security strategies, and the international repercussions of that strategy. The present analysis suggests that Turkey's basin and regional hegemony is contested and constrained from different sides, not least at home. Its water projects are a flashpoint of domestic, basin as well as global politics. It argues that the need to access capital in the international market to realise these ambitions necessitated a 'passive revolution' in Turkey which opened a window of opportunity utilized by the internationalised counter-hegemonic moves against Turkey's dam projects in Southeast Anatolia, notably the ongoing Ilisu dam on the Tigris.
Published on 28 January 2009
Ecology and equity in rights to land and water: A study in south-eastern Palakkad in Kerala
Independent Researcher, Thrissur, Kerala, South India; firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerala Institute of Local Administration, Thrissur, India; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This article explores the impact of the existing property rights regime over land and water on the sustainable and equitable management and use of these resources, in the context of changing irrigation practices in a paddy-growing area in the south-eastern part of the Palakkad district in Kerala, India. Since land rights determine rights to water in the area, the article discusses the changing rights regime over land, primarily after the implementation of land reforms in 1970. It shows how the implementation of land reforms and nationalization of private forests have paid little attention to the ecological context in which redistribution was taking place. As a result, while an agricultural-cum- forested landscape was divided into privately owned and government owned parcels, the ecological relationships between these different land use categories were ignored. In the same vein, land and water were treated as separate entities, with redistribution of land rights overlooking the distribution of water rights. The compartmentalized view of resources coupled with the consolidation of the private property regime has resulted in a situation where landowners exploit the resource without any consideration for its ecological characteristics and inter-resource linkages. The failure to view land and water in integration has precipitated inequitable access and unsustainable use of water. In addition, the availability of external water supplies and the introduction of energised pumping facilitate the enclosure of water within privately owned land parcels. The article concludes that a re-envisioning of rights to resources within the concerned ecological context is necessary if sustainable and equitable resource use and management are to be achieved.
Published on 29 January 2009
Viewpoint - Butterflies vs. hydropower: Reflections on large dams in contemporary Africa
Henry Shirazu Alhassan School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The current acute needs for improved water resources and energy management in the contemporary development of Africa has renewed the interest in large dams in recent times, especially in the energy sector, because of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), concern about climate change, the increase in crude oil prices and alternative sources of funding for large dams. So, the rethink about large dams as an energy source in the face of increasing costs of crude oil and climate change is also based on finding cheaper and renewable sources of electricity. However, the renewable credentials of large dams, and their compatibility with sustainable development, are disputed. Using the Akosombo dam and the Bui dam project - both in Ghana - as case studies, this paper analyses the potential and significance of large dams within the ambit of Africa's contemporary development. The paper argues that despite criticisms of large dams and the promotion of alternatives, large dams are still very important to Africa's development as they are technologies with well known positive and negative socio-economic and environmental impacts which could be mitigated. The alternatives to large dams, in contrast, have relatively unknown long-term socio-economic and environmental impacts. In addition, there is scepticism among local people and other stakeholders about the alternatives to large hydropower dams because of the impression that some western-backed non-governmental organisations (NGOs), some northern countries, and some multilateral and bilateral institutions are intentionally seeking to undermine significant development in Ghana and other African countries.
Published on 21 January 2009
Organising water: The hidden role of intermediary work
Timothy Moss Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning, Erkner, Germany. email@example.com Will Medd Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org Simon Guy University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. email@example.com Simon Marvin Salford University, Manchester, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The increasingly complex challenges of making water management more sustainable require a critical and detailed understanding of the social organisation of water. This paper examines the hitherto neglected role that 'intermediary' organisations play in reshaping the relations between the provision and use of water and sanitation services. In response to new regulatory, environmental, social, and commercial pressures the relationships between water utilities, consumers, and regulators are changing, creating openings for both new and existing organisations to take on intermediary functions. Drawing on recent EU-funded research we provide the first systematic analysis of intermediary organisations in the European water sector, examining the contexts of their emergence, the ways they work, the functions they perform, and the impacts they can have. With a combination of conceptual and empirical analysis we substantiate and elaborate the case for appreciating the often hidden work of intermediaries. We caution, however, against over-simplistic conclusions on harnessing this potential, highlighting instead the need to reframe perspectives on how water is organised to contemplate actor constellations and interactions beyond the common triad of provider, consumer, and regulator.
Published on 01 February 2009
Water and poverty in two Colombian watersheds
Nancy Johnson International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya; email@example.com James Garcia Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia; firstname.lastname@example.org Jorge E. Rubiano Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia; email@example.com Marcela Quintero Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia; firstname.lastname@example.org Ruben Dario Estrada Consorcio para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Ecorregion Andina, Cali, Colombia; email@example.com Esther Mwangi International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, DC; firstname.lastname@example.org Adriana Morena Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical, Cali, Colombia; email@example.com Alexandra Peralta Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State Univ.; firstname.lastname@example.org Sara Granados Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical, Cali, Colombia; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Watersheds, especially in the developing world, are increasingly being managed for both environmental conservation and poverty alleviation. How complementary are these objectives? In the context of a watershed, the actual and potential linkages between land and water management and poverty are complex and likely to be very site specific and scale dependent. This study analyses the importance of watershed resources in the livelihoods of the poor in two watersheds in the Colombian Andes. Results of the participatory poverty assessment reveal significant decreases in poverty in both watersheds over the past 25 years, which was largely achieved by the diversification of livelihoods outside of agriculture. Water is an important resource for household welfare. However, opportunities for reducing poverty by increasing the quantity or quality of water available to the poor may be limited. While improved watershed management may have limited direct benefits in terms of poverty alleviation, there are important indirect linkages between watershed management and poverty, mainly through labour and service markets. The results suggest that at the level of the watershed the interests of the rich and the poor are not always in conflict over water. Sectoral as well as socio-economic differences define stakeholder groups in watershed management. The findings have implications for policymakers, planners and practitioners in various sectors involved in the implementation of integrated water resources management (IWRM).
Published on 30 January 2009
Transforming Rural Water Governance: Towards Deliberative and Polycentric Models?
Published on 21 January 2009
Path dependencies and institutional bricolage in post-Soviet water governance
Jenniver Sehring Institute of Political Science and Social Research, University of Wuerzburg, Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Following their independence, the two Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan decided on similar water governance reforms: transfer of local irrigation management to water user associations, introduction of pricing mechanisms, and establishment of hydrographic management principles. In both states, however, proper implementation is lacking. This paper aims to explain this contradiction and focuses on agricultural water governance reforms at the local level as an interdependent part of a multilevel water governance structure. Based on empirical findings, four variables through which the neopatrimonial context in both countries impacts water governance are identified: the decision-making process, the agricultural sector, the local governance institutions, and internal water-institutional linkages. A historical-institutionalist perspective shows how path dependencies limit reform effectiveness: institutionalised Soviet and pre-Soviet patterns of behaviour still shape actors' responses to new challenges. Consequently, rules and organisations established formally by the state or international donor organisations are undermined by informal institutions. Yet, informal institutions are not only an obstacle to reform, but can also support it. They are not static but dynamic. This is elucidated with the concept of 'institutional bricolage', which explains how local actors recombine elements of different institutional logics and thereby change their meaning.
KEYWORDS: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, irrigation, water governance, new institutionalism
Published on 31 January 2009
Developing participatory models of watershed management in the Sugar Creek watershed (Ohio, USA)
Jason Shaw Parker Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences, Columbus, OH, US; email@example.com Richard Moore Human and Community Resource Development, Agriculture Administration, Columbus, OH, US; firstname.lastname@example.org Mark Weaver Political Science, College of Wooster, Wooster, OH; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has historically used an expert-driven approach to water and watershed management. In an effort to create regulatory limits for pollution-loading to streams in the USA, the USEPA is establishing limits to the daily loading of nutrients specific to each watershed, which will affect many communities in America. As a part of this process, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency ranked the Sugar Creek Watershed as the second "most-impaired" watershed in the State of Ohio. This article addresses an alternative approach to watershed management and that emphasises a partnership of farmers and researchers, using community participation in the Sugar Creek to establish a time-frame with goals for water quality remediation. Of interest are the collaborative efforts of a team of farmers, researchers, and agents from multiple levels of government who established this participatory, rather than expert-driven, programme. This new approach created an innovative and adaptive model of non-point source pollution remediation, incorporating strategies to address farmer needs and household decision making, while accounting for local and regional farm structures. In addition, this model has been adapted for point source pollution remediation that creates collaboration among local farmers and a discharge-permitted business that involves nutrient trading.
Published on 21 January 2009
Place-based knowledge networks: The case of water management in South-West Victoria, Australia
Kevin O'Toole School of International and Political Studies, Deakin University, Australia; firstname.lastname@example.org Anne Wallis School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Australia; email@example.com Brad Mitchell School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Australia; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: This article aims to investigate the need for effective exchanges between knowledge generators and knowledge users in water management. Firstly, we explore the use of adaptive management for water governance and then outline the communication issues of water-management knowledge at a regional scale. Central to this approach is the need to harness 'local' knowledge that can be used to develop community participation in local water governance. Accordingly, we propose a three-network communication model to illustrate the process and identify the issues of concern for developing place-based strategies. Since research plays a central role in knowledge generation, one of the first ways to proceed is to recognise local research and incorporate it into an inclusive decision-making process. One way to achieve this is through the development of regional networks that are openly available to all, and we explore this by focusing on the place of 'network thinking' at local scale using a newly developed regional network for local knowledge dissemination in south-west Victoria, Australia. We conclude that so far this new network is too heavily reliant upon one web-based tool and outline a broader range of strategies that can be used to achieve its aims.
Published on 28 January 2009
Polycentrism and poverty: Experiences of rural water supply reform in Namibia
Thomas Falk Institute for Co-operation in Developing Countries, Marburg, Germany; email@example.com Bernadette Bock Ministry of Environment and Tourism of the Republic of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia; firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Kirk Institute for Co-operation in Developing Countries, Marburg, Germany; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Calls for new paradigms in water resource management have emerged from a broad range of commentators over the past decade. These calls arose as it became increasingly clear that the pressing problems in water resource management have to be tackled from an integrated polycentric perspective, taking into account interdependent economic, societal, environmental, institutional and technological factors. Adhering to the calls, Namibia designed polycentric water management approaches, with the objective of maximising economic and social welfare in an equitable manner and without compromising the sustainability of vital rural ecosystems. Understanding the barriers to integrated and adaptive management requires a critical reflection on conventional modes of governance. In this regard, Namibia has achieved great strides by shifting from monocentric public water management systems towards strongly community-based polycentric management. This paper investigates how polycentric rural water supply reform impacts on natural resource management and water users' livelihoods in three communal areas of Namibia. The analysis takes into account the effects of historic discriminative policies and the resulting low financial, human and social capital of rural communities. We conclude that the devolution of institutional and financial responsibility for water supply to users has had a positive impact on rural water management. However, the introduction of cost recovery principles conflicts with the objectives of the Namibian government to alleviate poverty and inequality. The high level of inequality within the country as a whole and also within communities impedes the development of fair fee systems. Polycentrism faces the major challenge of building on existing structures without replicating historic injustices. It allows, however, for the state to mitigate any negative impact on livelihoods. While the reform is in the process of full implementation, the government is discussing various options of how the poor can be guaranteed access to water without diminishing their development opportunities. The Namibian experience demonstrates the difficulties in developing effective incentive mechanisms without undermining major social objectives. Our analyses show that, compared to naive monocentric governance approaches, polycentrism offers much broader opportunities for achieving multidimensional objectives. Nonetheless, a reform does not become successful simply because it is polycentric.
KEYWORDS: Community-based natural resource management, decentralisation, cost recovery, poverty alleviation, Namibia
Published on 29 January 2009
Viewpoint - Further ideas towards a water ethic
Adrian C. Armstrong School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: This essay expands the water ethic of Armstrong (2007) by identifying four main functions of water: as a source of life, as a land-forming element, as a habitat, and as a mover of materials (i.e. a geomorphological agent). It is suggested that from these functions, four guiding principles can then be derived: 1) in allocating water, human beings allocate life potential; 2) altering water fluxes affects the function of a whole system; 3) water is a (fundamental) component of the earth system in its own right; 4) water fluxes are essential for the continued function and maintenance of both biological and non-biological systems. From these a full ethical evaluation of any proposed action could be based on an environmental axis as well as on the economic axis in decision making. Such full analyses can often be reduced in practice to a series of 'rules of thumb' for everyday decisions. Some candidate rules are suggested. Focusing on practical decision making and action on the function of water offers a potential way of implementing the Leopold 'land ethic'.
KEYWORDS: Water ethic, water for life
Published on 17 May 2009
Fishing for influence: Fisheries science and evidence in water resources development in the Mekong basin
Richard M. Friend M-POWER, c/o USER, Chiang Mai University, Thailand; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: During the last decade there has been a concerted effort in the Mekong basin to research the capture fisheries in an attempt to influence national and regional water resource policy and practice, particularly hydropower development. As a result of this research effort, the Mekong capture fisheries are better documented than ever before. There is broad consensus on the key conclusions of this research - on the scale and value of production, its importance to local livelihoods, and the ecological drivers of the natural productivity. Despite this research success the agendas of water resources management have not changed, and the pace of hydropower development has accelerated. This presents a dilemma for fisheries science and research in its efforts to influence policy. This paper considers the models and assumptions of policy influence that have underpinned this fisheries research effort, and presents alternative approaches for fisheries science to better engage in influencing policy. The paper argues that addressing the neglect of capture fisheries in the Mekong is fundamentally a governance challenge of setting development values and pathways. Meeting such a challenge, in the context of the Mekong, requires a democratising and civic science that broadens the decision-making arena as much as it produces new evidence and arguments.
Published on 22 May 2009
African models for transnational river basin organisations in Africa: An unexplored dimension
Douglas J. Merrey Independent Consultant. PO Box 27043, Monument Park 0181, Pretoria, South Africa; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: One of the many legacies of colonialism in Africa is the multiplicity of river basins shared by two or more - and often far more - countries. Since changing national boundaries is not an option, African governments have no choice but to develop transnational institutions for developing shared water resources. Therefore, one finds a plethora of bilateral and multilateral committees, commissions, and authorities intended to facilitate agreements for infrastructural investments, management of water flows (quantity and quality), and response to disasters, especially floods. These efforts are supported by - indeed often, at least behind the scenes, driven by - western and international development partners. With few exceptions, the results to date are not impressive, as governments drag their feet on ratifying or implementing agreements and investing in creating the necessary institutional infrastructure, and donors' funds go unspent because such agreements are conditions precedent for investment. Despite the work done by many international and local non-government organisations (NGOs) as well as some governments, hardly any of the residents of African river basins are aware of these commissions. All of them are based on organisational models derived from western experiences and governing principles and are created by inter-governmental agreements. The citizens residing in the basin are rarely consulted. In some cases, powerful national hydraulic bureaucracies seek to control the process in an effort to gain leverage over infrastructural investments. There is a body of literature seeking to explain the ineffectiveness of transnational river basin management to date, largely based on political science, sociology and economics. Some but not all observers are concerned with the degree of democracy in the political process. This paper addresses a dimension that has received very little attention and therefore complements the existing literature. It explores the hypothesis that transnational river basin management institutions will achieve a higher degree of legitimacy and effectiveness in the long run if they are based on African institutional models rather than pursuing the current approach of imposing external models. This assumes the existence of local African indigenous models or principles that can be adapted to such large-scale hydraulic institutions. The paper argues this may indeed be the case though more detailed research is needed to document them, and a creative consultative political process would be needed to build on these foundations.
KEYWORDS: African institutional models, international waters, legal pluralism, river basin organisations, Southern African Development Community, transboundary rivers, transnational river basins
Published on 27 May 2009
Continuing discontinuities: Local and state perspectives on cattle production and water management in Botswana
Emmanuel Manzungu Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe; email@example.com Tiego J. Mpho UNDP-Government of Botswana Environment Support Programme, Gaborone, Botswana; firstname.lastname@example.org Africa Mpale-Mudanga Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Gaborone, Botswana; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: From 1885 when the modern state of Botswana was founded until the discovery of significant mineral deposits in 1967, one year after independence, the livestock industry, particularly cattle production, played a significant role in the country's economy. Today there are concerns about how the livestock industry, because of its importance to many rural households, and its potential to diversify the mineral-dominated economy, can be revived. In recognition of the country's semi-arid climate, the government has promoted a policy of developing water sources for livestock watering. The state has acknowledged the policy has largely been ineffective, but continues to implement it. This paper attempts to explain this paradox by examining state and local perspectives in the management of water and related resources in the Botswana part of the Limpopo river basin. The discontinuities between the local inhabitants and state practitioners are analyzed within the wider physical social, political, and economic landscape. We ascribe the continued implementation of an ineffective policy to modernisation claims.
Published on 30 May 2009
Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Institutional arrangements to provide water services have been reshaped extensively worldwide. This paper provides a theory-informed account of the way in which water service provision has been physically and institutionally restructured in the Algarve, Portugal over the years. Ever-expanding demands for water services by the tourism sector, along with European Union (EU) regulations and money, made the local people dependent on national policy for water service provision. Parts of the Portuguese national elite, favouring the construction of water resources as "strategic", "social" goods rather than "economic", "scarce" goods, worked towards installing national level control over water services. They became part of the state's decentralised hegemonic spatial strategy for expansion of tourism in the Algarve. The district level was constituted as a decentralised level of national resource governance. The case study shows the role of European policies in restructuring the spatio-temporal order in the Algarve and strengthening the influence of the national state within the region. The reconfiguration of the water sector in Portugal illustrates 'Spatial Keynesianism' with half-hearted mercantilisação of water services as an outcome of a juxtaposition of a nationally rooted state-led water service provision within more flexible approaches originating at the European level. A consequential outcome has been that water quality, sewage treatment and reliability of services, has significantly improved in line with European requirements.
KEYWORDS: European policies, rescaling, water management, national state, sanitation, Algarve, Portugal
Published on 30 May 2009
Ana Elisa Cascão
Department of Geography, King's College of London, United Kingdom; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The aim of this article is to identify where and how power relations in the Nile river basin have changed over the past decade, and to analyse how these dynamics have influenced not only the political relations between upstream and downstream riparians but also the management and allocation of the shared Nile water resources. The article sheds light on the ongoing political and economic changes in the upstream countries (as well as in Sudan) and on how these dynamics might affect and challenge both the regional balance of power and the ongoing regional cooperation process. A critical analysis of the relationship between power shifts and the evolution of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) will be provided. Finally, the article questions how unilateralist and multilateralist hydropolitical trends have co-existed in the Nile basin, and identifies possible future scenarios.
KEYWORDS: Nile river basin, power relations, change, unilateralism, cooperation, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia
Published on 01 June 2009
The politics of PVC: Technology and institutions in upland water management in northern Thailand
Nathan Badenoch Northern Agriculture and Forestry Research Center/Ramboll Natura, Vientiane, Lao PDR; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Conflict over water has grown in the mountainous areas of Thailand since the replacement of opium with alternative crops. PVC-sprinkler irrigation has enabled dry-season expansion of these cash crops on sloping lands, intensifying demand for water when it is most scarce. The technology and institutions that form the backbone of these irrigation systems have evolved simultaneously in a process of adaptive governance, in which local farmers draw on local social resources to balance competition and cooperation. Common conceptions of upstream-downstream conflict, pitting Thai against ethnic minorities in a struggle for resources, dominate the discourse of watersheds in Thailand. Upland water users themselves are diverse and their resource management systems are dynamic, even if they are not recognised as legitimate users of water. Understanding how upland communities create local systems of resource governance through dry-season irrigation is highly relevant for governance at higher levels, such as in the efforts to establish watershed networks and river basin organisations.
KEYWORDS: Water management, adaptive governance, sprinkler irrigation, institutional development, Northern Thailand
Published on 24 September 2009
Is the water sector lagging behind education and health on aid effectiveness? Lessons from Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Uganda
Katharina Welle STEPS Centre/SPRU, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK; email@example.com Josephine Tucker Overseas Development Institute, London, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org Alan Nicol World Water Council, Marseille, France; email@example.com Barbara Evans University of Leeds, School of Civil Engineering, Leeds, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: A study in three countries (Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Uganda) assessed progress against the Paris Principles for Aid Effectiveness (AE) in three sectors - water, health and education - to test the assumption that the water sector is lagging behind. The findings show that it is too simplistic to say that the water sector is lagging, although this may well be the case in some countries. The study found that wider governance issues are more important for AE than having in place sector-specific mechanics such as Sector-Wide Approaches alone. National political leadership and governance are central drivers of sector AE, while national financial and procurement systems and the behaviour of actors who have not signed up to the Paris Principles - at both national and global levels - have implications for progress that cut across sectors. Sectors and sub-sectors do nonetheless have distinct features that must be considered in attempting to improve sector-level AE. In light of these findings, using political economy approaches to better understand and address governance and strengthening sector-level monitoring is recommended as part of efforts to improve AE and development results in the water sector.
KEYWORDS: Aid effectiveness, water, health, education, governance, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Uganda
Published on 24 September 2009
The Water Resources Board: England and Wales' venture into national water resources planning, 1964-1973
Christine S. McCulloch School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford, UK email@example.com
ABSTRACT: An era of technocratic national planning of water resources is examined against the views of a leading liberal economist and critics, both contemporary and retrospective. Post Second World War Labour Governments in Britain failed to nationalise either land or water. As late as 1965, the idea of public ownership of all water supplies appeared in the Labour Party manifesto and a short-lived Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, 1964-1966, had amongst its duties the development of plans for reorganising the water supply industry under full public ownership. However, instead of pursuing such a politically dangerous takeover of the industry, in July 1964, a Water Resources Board (WRB), a special interest group dominated by engineers, was set up to advise on the development of water resources. In its first Annual Report (1965) WRB claimed its role as "the master planner of the water resources of England and Wales". The WRB had a great deal of influence and justified its national planning role by promoting large-scale supply schemes such as interbasin transfers of water, large reservoirs and regulated rivers. Feasibility studies were even carried out for building innovative, large storage reservoirs in tidal estuaries. Less progress was made on demand reduction. Yet the seeds of WRB's demise were contained in its restricted terms of reference. The lack of any remit over water quality was a fatal handicap. Quantity and quality needed to be considered together. Privatisation of the water industry in 1989 led to a shift from national strategic planning by engineers to attempts to strengthen economic instruments to fit supply more closely to demand. Engineers have now been usurped as leaders in water resources management by economists and accountants. Yet climate change may demand a return to national strategic planning of engineered water supply, with greater democratic input.
Published on 24 September 2009
School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: In July 2009, in the closing moments of the G8 meeting in Italy, President Obama responded to a question from the floor regarding investments in Africa to tackle food security and poverty. His answer (quoted below) included the phrase "the right irrigation". This opinion piece reflects on the phrase, places it within a policy debate and suggests that the development community can respond to Obama's call for the 'right irrigation' in sub-Saharan Africa by taking a comprehensive approach that utilises a mixture of technologies, builds on local capabilities, brings sound engineering know-how, is supported by a range of other services, and acknowledges other water needs within catchments. Cost-effectiveness and community ownership will be important.
Published on 24 September 2009
Institutions that cannot manage change: A Gandhian perspective on the Cauvery dispute in South India
Narendar Pani National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: There is a growing recognition that water conflicts extend well beyond issues of water scarcity. Perceptions of scarcity are themselves based on assumptions of what is sufficient. And what is considered sufficient is in turn influenced by a number of social, economic and even political considerations. There is thus a need for a more inclusive method of understanding water conflicts and the institutions needed to address them. Among such alternative methods is the one used by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. This paper adopts the Gandhian method to reinterpret the interstate dispute over the water of the south Indian river, Cauvery. It then uses this more inclusive method to identify the conflict-easing and conflict- enhancing aspects of the dispute. In the process, the limitations of the existing institutions in addressing the conflict become evident.
KEYWORDS: River basin, conflicts, institutions, Gandhi, Cauvery, India
Published on 06 October 2009
Hydraulic bureaucracies and the hydraulic mission: Flows of water, flows of power
François Molle Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UR199, Montpellier, France; firstname.lastname@example.org Peter P. Mollinga Department of Political and Cultural Change, ZEF (Center for Development Research), Bonn University, Germany; email@example.com Philippus Wester Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Anchored in 19th century scientism and an ideology of the domination of nature, inspired by colonial hydraulic feats, and fuelled by technological improvements in high dam constructions and power generation and transmission, large-scale water resources development has been a defining feature of the 20th century. Whether out of a need to increase food production, raise rural incomes, or strengthen state building and the legitimacy of the state, governments - North and South, East and West - embraced the 'hydraulic mission' and entrusted it to powerful state water bureaucracies (hydrocracies). Engaged in the pursuit of iconic and symbolic projects, the massive damming of river systems, and the expansion of large-scale public irrigation these hydrocracies have long remained out of reach. While they have enormously contributed to actual welfare, including energy and food generation, flood protection and water supply to urban areas, infrastructural development has often become an end in itself, rather than a means to an end, fuelling rent-seeking and symbolising state power. In many places projects have been challenged on the basis of their economic, social or environmental impacts. Water bureaucracies have been challenged internally (within the state bureaucracies or through political changes) and externally (by critiques from civil society and academia, or by reduced funding). They have endeavoured to respond to these challenges by reinventing themselves or deflecting reforms. This paper analyses these transformations, from the emergence of the hydraulic mission and associated water bureaucracies to their adjustment and responses to changing conditions.
KEYWORDS: Irrigation, hydraulic mission, water resource development, iron triangle, interest groups, reform
Published on 28 September 2009
The end of abundance: How water bureaucrats created and destroyed the southern California oasis
David Zetland Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley, US email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This paper describes how water bureaucrats shaped Southern California's urban development and put the region on a path of unsustainable growth. This path was popular and successful until the supply shocks of the 60s, 70s and 80s made shortage increasingly likely. The drought of 1987-1991 revealed that the norms and institutions of abundance were ineffective in scarcity. Ever since then, Southern California has teetered on the edge of shortage and economic and social disruption. Despite the risks of business as usual, water bureaucrats, politicians and developers continue to defend a status quo management strategy that serves their interests but not those of citizens. Professional norms, control of the discourse, and insulation from outside pressure slow or inhibit the adoption of management techniques suitable to scarcity. Pressure from increasing population and politically and environmentally destabilised supplies promise to make rupture more likely and more costly.
KEYWORDS: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, abundance, scarcity, institutions, California
Published on 06 October 2009
Agua para todos: A new regionalist hydraulic paradigm in Spain
Elena Lopez-Gunn Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain and London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: This paper reviews the hydraulic paradigm in Spain and its evolution over the last 100 years to the current decentralisation process of "agua para todos", i.e. where different regional governments vie for control over 'scarce' water resources and defining the concept of hydro-solidarity between regions. Recent events seem to point to a new hydraulic bureaucracy at the sub-national level due to the political devolution currently taking place in Spain, where water has an increased political value in electoral terms. Water has strategic importance in single-issue politics and territorial identity, as compared to traditional left/right ideologic cleavage politics for both national and regional parties in the Spanish multilevel electoral system. This refers to an aspect - openly discussed in Spain but rarely analysed - the 'political returns' on water (or 'political rent-seeking'). This also points to spatial dimensions of the definition of state, identity, and access to resources in a semiarid country. This historical process of decentralisation of water is highlighted with particular reference to key events in recent Spanish history, including the Hydraulic Plan of the 1930s, its reappearance in the 1993 National Hydrological Plan, a revised version in the year 2001, and a final change in paradigm in 2005 at the national level. This suggests that the hydraulic paradigm is re-enacted at the regional government level. Thus it is argued that a multi-scalar analysis of Spanish water decentralisation is essential in order to understand change and stasis in public policy paradigms related to water.
KEYWORDS: Hydraulic paradigm, territory and identity, water politics, interbasin transfers, Spain
Published on 30 September 2009
The hydraulic mission and the Mexican hydrocracy: Regulating and reforming the flows of water and power
Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands email@example.com
Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands firstname.lastname@example.org
Mexican Institute of Water Technology, Morelos, Mexico email@example.com
ABSTRACT: In Mexico, the hydraulic mission, the centralisation of water control, and the growth of the federal hydraulic bureaucracy (hydrocracy) recursively shaped and reinforced each other during the 20th century. The hydraulic mission entails that the state, embodied in an autonomous hydrocracy, takes the lead in water resources development to capture as much water as possible for human uses. The hydraulic mission was central to the formation of Mexico's hydrocracy, which highly prized its autonomy. Bureaucratic rivals, political transitions, and economic developments recurrently challenged the hydrocracy's degree of autonomy. However, driven by the argument that a single water authority should regulate and control the nation's waters, the hydrocracy consistently managed to renew its, always precarious, autonomy at different political moments in the country's history. The legacy of the hydraulic mission continues to inform water reforms in Mexico, and largely explains the strong resilience of the Mexican hydrocracy to "deep" institutional change and political transitions. While the emphasis on infrastructure construction has lessened, the hydrocracy has actively renewed its control over water decisions and budgets and has played a remarkably constant, hegemonic role in defining and shaping Mexico's water laws, policies and institutions.
Published on 27 September 2009
Hydraulic bureaucracy in a modern hydraulic society - Strategic group formation in the Mekong delta, Vietnam
Hans-Dieter Evers Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany firstname.lastname@example.org Simon Benedikter Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The Mekong Delta in Vietnam is among the largest river deltas in Asia and one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world, in particular paddy cultivation. People in this area have traditionally been exposed to an environment shaped by the ebb and flows of water and have lived and adapted for generations to their natural surrounding without much human interference into the complex natural hydraulic system of the delta. However, the last three decades have seen dramatic changes as increased hydraulic management has become the key to the development of the lower Mekong Delta especially for its agriculture.
Nowadays, a dense and complex network of hydraulic works comprising human-made canals, dykes and sluices provides flood protection, prevents salinity intrusion, and controls irrigation for agriculture and aquaculture in the delta. This transformation from a society adapted to its natural surrounding into what Wittfogel describes as a "hydraulic society" started to take place just after the end of the Second Indochinese War in 1975, after South Vietnam came under centralised socialist rule. The new regime's economic policy for the development of the Mekong Delta have centred on rapid agricultural extension based on technological progress in agricultural production and intensive hydraulic management. This whole process has not only had significant impact on the delta's environment and ecology, but also has triggered social transformation in a way that new social groups have appeared, negotiating and struggling for increased access to resources and power.
Among these strategic groups, the hydraulic bureaucracy and hydraulic construction business are the most crucial in terms of the specific role they play in the hydraulic landscape of the Mekong Delta. Both groups exert considerable influence on water resources management and strive for the same resources, namely public funds (including Overseas Development Aid) that is directed to hydraulic infrastructure development. This paper illustrates how both groups have emerged due to the growing need for water resources management in the delta and how they have set up alliances for mutually sharing resources in the long run. Furthermore, it is shown how both groups have adapted their resource-oriented strategies and actions to respond to the changes in the economic and political environment in Vietnam's recent history.
Published on 24 September 2009
Lin R. Crase
La Trobe University, Wodonga, Australia firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzanne M. O'Keefe
Regional School of Business, La Trobe University, Wodonga, Australia email@example.com
Brian E. Dollery
School of Business Economics and Public Policy, University of New England, New South Wales, Australia firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Like many nations, Australia has a mixed history with water engineering. For over a century the engineer was 'king' and water was harnessed as a vehicle for settling the harsh inland, creating wealth and building prosperity. By the 1960s it was becoming increasingly clear that this approach was not without its flaws. Mounting evidence of environmental degradation emerged in the 1970s and the trend towards fiscal responsibility in the 1980s subjected the engineering approach to even greater scrutiny. These events set the context for a series of water policy reforms that commenced in earnest in the early 1990s. Initially, the reforms favoured greater use of economic incentives and focussed attention on the ecological impacts of water management. In this environment, the status of the engineer was transformed from 'king' to 'servant'. However, the engineering profession was not to hold this status for long and the political difficulties of simultaneously dealing with the economics and ecology of water quickly became the rationale for reverting to engineering solutions. This paper traces these historical events and focusses specifically on the politically vexing issues that arise when water reallocation is attempted in a fully allocated basin.
Published on 25 September 2009
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK email@example.com
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK firstname.lastname@example.org
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Alternative governance approaches in which non-state actors play a substantial role in policy making and implementation are currently attracting attention. Government-centred water bureaucracies have to adapt to increased complexity. Relationships among state and non-state actors in the English water sector have markedly changed in the last few decades in connection with the privatisation of water services, reform of arrangements for flood management, and implementation of the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD). The paper assesses whether such changes represent a shift 'beyond bureaucracy' and the beginning of a new era of multi-party 'water governance'. From an examination of institutional reform in river basin management and flood risk management, the paper concludes that the water bureaucracy has actually strengthened its control, despite using language emphasising partnerships and collaborative governance. Responsibility for policy implementation has been reallocated among a range of public, private and civic groups. This 'neo-bureaucratic' arrangement is problematic because the government-centred water bureaucracy has lost some of its accountability and legitimacy, while the newer collaborative arrangements have little real influence over the direction of water policy. Governance capacity needs to be enhanced by adopting a collaborative approach to development of water policy in addition to its implementation.
Published on 18 November 2009
A critical review of public-public partnerships in water services
Gemma Boag School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK firstname.lastname@example.org David A. McDonald Global Development Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada email@example.com
ABSTRACT: There is a profusion of literature on the commercialisation of water services around the world, but relatively little of this research speaks of alternatives to privatisation. The literature that does exist tends to be scattered in its regional and thematic orientation and inconsistent in its analytical frameworks. The writing on public-public partnerships (PUPs) is arguably the best known and most rigorous of this literature, but even this is relatively thin, with a tendency to uncritically celebrate PUP initiatives and to gloss over ambiguous conceptual frameworks. This paper provides a critical review of the PUPs literature, in part to reveal some of these problematic trends, but ultimately in an effort to advance our understanding and practice of public alternatives in the water sector (and beyond). Specifically, it analyses the different partnership arrangements available, discusses the advantages and critiques of the PUP model in both theoretical and practical terms, and considers the recent emergence of Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs).
Published on 30 January 2010
Saskia E. Werners
Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org
Wageningen University and Research Centre; Twente University, the Netherlands; email@example.com
Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: This paper looks at the role of individuals and the strategies that they use to bring about or oppose major policy change. Current analysis of the role that individuals or small collectives play in periods of major policy change has focussed on strategies that reinforce change and on the supporters of change. This paper adds the perspective of opponents, and asks whether they use similar strategies as those identified for supporters. Five strategies are explored: developing new ideas, building coalitions to sell ideas, using windows of opportunity, playing multiple venues and orchestrating networks. Using empirical evidence from Dutch and Hungarian water policy change, we discuss whether individuals pursued these strategies to support or oppose major policy change. Our analysis showed the significance of recognition of a new policy concept at an abstract level by responsible government actors, as well as their engagement with a credible regional coalition that can contextualise and advocate the concept regionally. The strategies of supporters were also used by opponents of water policy change. Opposition was inherent to policy change, and whether or not government actors sought to engage with opponents influenced the realisation of water policy change.
Published on 30 January 2010
CIRAD, G-EAU Research Unit, France; Ecole Nationale d'Agriculture de Meknes, Meknes, Morocco; email@example.com
Ecole Nationale d'Agriculture de Meknes, Meknes, Morocco; firstname.lastname@example.org
CIRAD, G-EAU Research Unit, France; Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II, Rabat, Morocco; email@example.com
Ecole Nationale d'Agriculture de Meknes, Meknes, Morocco; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: In Morocco, large-scale irrigation schemes have evolved over the past twenty years from the centralised management of irrigation and agricultural production into more complex multi-actor systems. This study analysed whether, and how, in the context of state withdrawal, increased farmer autonomy and political liberalisation, family farmers currently participate in the coordination and negotiation of issues that affect them and involve scheme-level organisations. Issues related to water management, the sugar industry and the dairy sector were analysed in five large-scale irrigation schemes. Farmer organisations that were set up to intervene in water management and sugar production were seen to be either inactive or to have weak links with their constituency; hence, the irrigation administration and the sugar industry continue to interact directly with farmers in a centralised way. Given their inability to voice their interests, when farmers have the opportunity, many choose exit strategies, for instance by resorting to the use of groundwater. In contrast, many community-based milk collection cooperatives were seen to function as accountable intermediaries between smallholders and dairy firms. While, as in the past, family farmers are still generally not involved in decision making at scheme level, in the milk collection cooperatives studied, farmers learn to coordinate and negotiate for the development of their communities.
Published on 03 February 2010
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; email@example.com
CSTM Centre for Clean Technology and Environmental Policy, Twente University; and Disaster Studies Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; email@example.com
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has often been interpreted and implemented in a way that is only really suited to countries with the most developed water infrastructures and management capacities. While sympathetic to many of the criticisms levelled at the IWRM concept and recognising the often disappointing levels of adoption, this paper and the series of papers it introduces identify some alternative ways forward in a developmental context that place more emphasis on the practical in-finding solutions to water scarcity. A range of lighter, more pragmatic and context-adapted approaches, strategies and entry points are illustrated with examples from projects and initiatives in mainly 'developing' countries. The authors argue that a more service-orientated (WASH, irrigation and ecosystem services), locally rooted and balanced approach to IWRM that better matches contexts and capacities should build on such strategies, in addition to the necessary but long-term policy reforms and river basin institution-building at higher levels. Examples in this set of papers not only show that the 'lighter', more opportunistic and incremental approach has potential as well as limitations but also await wider piloting and adoption.
Published on 30 January 2010
School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
LTS International, Penicuik, UK; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Two contemporary theories of river basin management are compared. One is centralised 'regulatory river basin management' with an apex authority that seeks hydrometric data and nationally agreed standards and procedures in decisions over water quality and allocation. This model is commonplace and can be identified in many water training curricula and derivatives of basin management policy. The other, 'polycentric river basin management', is institutionally, organisationally and geographically more decentralised, emphasising local, collective ownership and reference to locally agreed standards. The polycentric model is constructed from the creation of appropriate managerial subunits within river basins. This model emphasises the deployment of hydrologists, scientists and other service providers as mediating agents of environmental and institutional transformation, tackling issues arising within and between the basin subunits such as water allocation and distribution, productivity improvement and conflict resolution. Significantly, it considers water allocation between subunits rather than between sectors and to do this promulgates an experimental, step-wise pragmatic approach, building on local ideas to make tangible progress in basins where data monitoring is limited, basin office resources are constrained and regulatory planning has stalled. To explore these issues, the paper employs the 'Cathedral and Bazaar' metaphor of Eric Raymond. The discussion is informed by observations from Tanzania, Nigeria and the UK.
KEYWORDS: Adaptive management, IWRM, regulatory water management, river basin management, sub-Saharan Africa
Published on 30 January 2010
Multiple-use services as an alternative to rural water supply services: A characterisation of the approach
Stef Smits IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org Barbara van Koppen International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Pretoria, South Africa; email@example.com Patrick Moriarty IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org John Butterworth IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Multiple-use services (MUS) have recently gained increased attention as an alternative form of providing rural water services in an integrated manner. This stems from the growing recognition that users anyway tend to use water systems for multiple purposes. This paper aims to characterise this practice on the basis of case evidence collected in eight countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The cases show that people almost universally use water for both domestic and productive activities at and around the homestead. Although seldom the main source of people's income or food production, these activities are of considerable importance for people's livelihoods. The extent to which people use water for multiple purposes is closely related to the level of access to water expressed in the form of a water ladder in this paper. The case studies presented demonstrate how access is created by different types and combinations of well-known technologies. Additional financial and management measures are required to ensure sustainability of services. Despite the practical feasibility of the MUS approach, it is not yet widely applied by service providers and sector agencies due to observed barriers in institutional uptake. A better characterisation of MUS, alongside a learning-driven stakeholder process was able to overcome some of these barriers and improve the consideration of multiple uses of water in policy and practice.
Published on 30 January 2010
Developing a practical approach to 'light IWRM' in the Middle East
Patrick Moriarty IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org Charles Batchelor IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the Hague, the Netherlands; email@example.com Peter Laban International Union for Conservation of Nature - ROWA; firstname.lastname@example.org Hazem Fahmy CARE Egypt; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This paper outlines the development of an approach (and a set of tools) for 'light' integrated water resources management (IWRM): that is, IWRM that is opportunistic, adaptive and incremental in nature and clearly focused on sustainable service delivery. The approach was developed as part of the EC funded EMPOWERS project in three middle-eastern countries: Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. Developed specifically for use at the intermediate and local levels (that is, sub-national and sub-basin) it is based on a facilitated process of stakeholder dialogue for concerted action supported by a strategic planning framework. The paper describes and discusses the justification for the approach, and sets out its main elements as well as experiences gained during its application. The main lesson of the EMPOWERS project is the seemingly simple - in fact, rather complex and time-consuming - work on facilitating dialogue, taking a structured approach to examining problems, collecting and sharing context-specific information, and helping to formulate a shared vision and strategies to achieve it all of which contribute to improved decision making. However, a major limitation to effective action is lack of appropriately decentralised finance, with local authorities reliant on financing from the national level that is often earmarked and over which they had very little control.
Published on 30 January 2010
The fine art of boundary spanning: Making space for water in the east Netherlands
Jeroen Warner CSTM Centre for Clean Technology and Environmental Policy, Twente University; and Disaster Studies Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org Kris Lulofs CSTM Centre for Clean Technology and Environmental Policy, Twente University, the Netherlands; email@example.com Hans Bressers CSTM Centre for Clean Technology and Environmental Policy, Twente University, the Netherlands; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The desire to comply with the European Water Framework Directive, which seeks to promote Integrated Water Management, has led to a large number of proposed projects that in turn make huge demands on the financial and administrative capacity of water managers, who need to combine multiple fields of interest and participation such as agricultural interests, regional economic development, natural values, water safety and water quality issues to complete each project. To achieve these goals, water managers will often need to negotiate and strike alliances with actors in other policy areas such as spatial planning and local and regional economic development. The article first introduces 'boundary spanning' in a water management context. The concept builds on the concept of 'boundary work' as a strategy to arrive at organisational goals - to reduce uncertainty and deal with complexity in the organisational environment. The contribution then discusses briefly two recent innovative regional water projects, both located in the East Netherlands: a retention basin project on the river Vecht and the planning of a new channel, the Breakthrough. It further analyses strategies pursued by 'boundary spanners' and integrates the analysis with that of a focus group workshop and interviews held with Dutch boundary spanners working for Dutch regional Water Management Boards. The cases show that it is preferable to apply boundary spanning strategies earlier rather than later, and that opponents are also aware of this option.
Published on 02 February 2010
Viewpoint - Water variability, soil nutrient heterogeneity and market volatility - Why sub-Saharan Africa's Green Revolution will be location-specific and knowledge-intensive
Pieter van der Zaag UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft; and Water Resources Section, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: In his interesting Viewpoint article in Water Alternatives, Bruce Lankford suggests that an African Green Revolution cannot come about without irrigation. But he does not convincingly explain why irrigated areas expand only very slowly. This viewpoint article argues that grain yields have remained stagnant in Africa because of high temporal rainfall variability, significant spatial soil nutrient heterogeneity, and weak and volatile markets. This combination calls for location-specific interventions that are aimed at enhancing farmers' capacity to buffer water variations and address nutrient deficits. This finding is consistent with what Lankford dismisses as an "atomised" approach, but which would preferably be called a farmer-centred approach. Thus a massive investment in African agriculture is indeed required, primarily focused on the creation of knowledge that does justice to the local variation in water and nutrient availability. It should aim to empower farmers to experiment and be innovative, and remake agricultural extension and agricultural engineering exciting with cutting-edge disciplines. Irrigation may then emerge as the right thing to do.
Published on 02 June 2010
Achim Steiner Secretary General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi, Kenya; Former Secretary General of the World Commission on Dams
Published on 02 June 2010
Dams and displacement: Raising the standards and broadening the research agenda
Brooke McDonald-Wilmsen Research Fellow, La Trobe Refugee Research Centre, School of Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia; firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Webber Professorial Fellow, Department of Resource Management and Geography, The University of Melbourne, Australia; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The World Commission on Dams provided an analytical overview of the cumulative effects of years of dam development. A lack of commitment or capacity to cope with displacement or to consider the civil rights of, or risks to, displaced people led to the impoverishment and suffering of tens of millions and growing opposition to dams by affected communities worldwide. However, after the WCD, little has changed for the better in terms of resettlement policies. In fact, the standards of key agencies, like the Asian Development Bank, have been lowered and diluted compared to prior policies. Dam-induced development and displacement are stifled by a 'managerialist' approach to planning, in which solutions are sought internally and subordinated to the economics that underpins the existence of the project. The aim of successful resettlement is to prevent impoverishment and to enable displaced people to share in the project's benefits. Within the field of dam-induced resettlement, this is a lofty goal rarely achieved. However, in other fields of resettlement, such as refugee studies and adaptation to environmental change, such a goal is regarded as a minimum standard. In this paper we seek to broaden the research agenda on dam-induced resettlement and to raise the standards of development projects that entail resettlement. We do this by importing some of the considerations and concerns from practice and research from the fields of refugee studies and adaptation to environmental change.
Published on 02 June 2010
Participation with a punch: Community referenda on dam projects and the right to free, prior, and informed consent to development
Brant McGee Consultant to the Environmental Defender Law Centre and other non-government organisations; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The 2000 Report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) found that dams can threaten the resources that provide the basis for indigenous and other peoples' culture, religion, subsistence, social and family structure - and their very existence, through forced relocation - and lead to ecosystem impacts harmful to agriculture, animals and fish. The WCD recommended the effective participation of potentially impacted local people in decisions regarding dam construction. The international right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) accorded to indigenous peoples promises not only the opportunity to participate in decisions affecting their lands and livelihoods but to stop unwanted development by refusing consent as well. The newly developed concept of community referenda, held in areas potentially impacted by development projects, provides an accurate measure of the position of local voters on the proposed project through a democratic process that discourages violence, promotes fair and informed debate, and provides an avenue for communities to express their consent or refusal of a specific project. The legal basis, practical and political implications, and Latin American examples of community referenda are explored as a means of implementing the critical goal of the principle of FPIC, the expression of community will and its conclusive impact on development decision-making.
Published on 02 June 2010
Social discounting of large dams with climate change uncertainty
Marc Jeuland Sanford School of Public Policy and Duke Global Health Initiative, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: It has long been known that the economic assessment of large projects is sensitive to assumptions about discounting future costs and benefits. Projects that require high upfront investments and take years to begin producing economic benefits can be difficult to justify with the discount rates typically used for project appraisal. While most economists argue that social discount rates should be below 4%, many international development banks and government planning agencies responsible for project appraisal can be found using rates of 7-12% or more. These agencies justify choosing higher discount rates to account for the opportunity cost of capital. Meanwhile, a new and robust debate has begun in economics over whether social discount rates of even 3-4% are too high in the context of climate change.
This paper reviews the recent discounting controversy and examines its implications for the appraisal of an illustrative hydropower project in Ethiopia. The analysis uses an integrated hydro-economic model that accounts for how the dam's transboundary impacts vary with climate change. The real value of the dam is found to be highly sensitive to assumptions about future economic growth. The argument for investment is weakest under conditions of robust global economic growth, particularly if these coincide with unfavourable hydrological or development factors related to the project. If however long-term growth is reduced, the value of the dam tends to increase. There may also be distributional or local arguments favouring investment, if growth in the investment region lags behind that of the rest of the globe. In such circumstances, a large dam can be seen as a form of insurance that protects future vulnerable generations against the possibility of macroeconomic instability or climate shocks.
Published on 02 June 2010
Non-dam alternatives for delivering water services at least cost and risk
Michael P. Totten Chief Advisor, Climate Freshwater and Ecosystem Services, Conservation International, Arlington, VA, US; firstname.lastname@example.org Timothy J. Killeen Senior Research Scientist, Centre for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International, Arlington, VA, US; email@example.com Tracy A. Farrell Senior Director of Conservation Initiatives, Conservation International, Arlington, VA, US; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The World Commission for Water in the 21st Century estimated the annual cost of meeting future infrastructural needs for water at US$180 billion by 2025, including supply, sanitation, waste-water treatment, agriculture, and environmental protection. These estimates assume that future global demand for water-related services will mimic those of industrialised nations that rely on centralised water supply and treatment infrastructural systems. This large annual expenditure excludes an estimated US$40 billion that will be invested annually on new hydropower dams and other large-scale water transfer systems. These estimates exclude the environmental and social cost from improperly designed dams, and the true long-term cost to society will be many times greater. Many hydropower schemes are at risk from irregular flow regimes resulting from drought and climate change, while increased land-use intensity leads to sedimentation rates that diminish reservoir storage capacity. Methane emissions from rotting vegetation can be higher than displaced fossil-fuel power plants, while fragmented aquatic habitats and altered flow regimes threaten biodiversity and inland fisheries - a primary protein source for millions of poor people.
We present evidence that a value-adding and risk-minimising water planning process can be achieved by shifting from the conventional focus on supply expansion to one that concentrates on efficiently delivering services at and near the point of use. The State of California has two decades of experience with this approach, demonstrating that market-based policy and regulatory innovations can unleash efficiency gains resulting in more utility water services and energy services delivered with less supply expansion at lower costs, while minimising climate-change risk, pollution and the social cost that accompany large infrastructural projects. Efficiency in delivered water services could be accomplished with investments in the range of US$10-25 billion annually, while obviating the need for spending hundreds of billions of dollars on more expensive hydropower and related infrastructural expansion projects. The shift to a regulatory system that encompasses cost-effective end-use efficiency improvements in delivering water and energy services could eliminate the need for an estimated half of all proposed dams globally, thus allowing for the maintenance of other ecosystem service benefits and offer the best hopes of meeting basic human needs for water at a more achievable level of investment.
Published on 02 June 2010
Graduate Programme of Transcultural Studies, Cluster of Excellence: Asia & Europe, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; email@example.com
Chair, Department of Geography, Director South Asia Institute, South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The guidelines proposed in the World Commission on Dams (WCD) final report were vehemently rejected by several Asian governments, and dam building has continued apace in most Asian countries. This reaction is in line with the simplistic dam debate, where dam critics offer laundry lists of socioeconomic and environmental costs, and dam proponents highlight the benefits while underestimating associated costs. Whereas the WCD sought to evaluate dams in terms of 'costs and benefits', this approach is self-defeating due to the very subjectivity of such measurements. This paper argues that the way ahead must be to move beyond a consensus evaluation of dams, and instead examine the shifting asymmetries and discursive flows that sustain and promote dam building over time. However, such an analysis of the dam discourse must incorporate an understanding of the multiple actors and driving forces, as well as the underlying power relations within this politicised environment. We therefore suggest that a post-structural political ecology approach provides a suitable framework for the future examination of large dams in Asia.
Published on 02 June 2010
Uncertainties in Amazon hydropower development: Risk scenarios and environmental issues around the Belo Monte dam
Wilson Cabral de Sousa Junior Professor, Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica, São José dos Campos, SP, Brazil; email@example.com John Reid Executive Director, Conservation Strategy Fund, Sebastopol, CA, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The Amazon region is the final frontier and central focus of Brazilian hydro development, which raises a range of environmental concerns. The largest project in the Amazon is the planned Belo Monte Complex on the Xingu river. If constructed it will be the second biggest hydroelectric plant in Brazil, third largest on earth. In this study, we analyse the private and social costs, and benefits of the Belo Monte project. Furthermore, we present risk scenarios, considering fluctuations in the project's feasibility that would result from variations in total costs and power. For our analysis, we create three scenarios. In the first scenario Belo Monte appears feasible, with a net present value (NPV) in the range of US$670 million and a rate of return in excess of the 12% discount rate used in this analysis. The second scenario, where we varied some of the project costs and assumptions based on other economic estimates, shows the project to be infeasible, with a negative NPV of about US$3 billion and external costs around US$330 million. We also conducted a risk analysis, allowing variation in several of the parameters most important to the project's feasibility. The simulations brought together the risks of cost overruns, construction delays, lower-than-expected generation and rising social costs. The probability of a positive NPV in these circumstances was calculated to be just 28%, or there is a 72% chance that the costs of the Belo Monte dam will be greater than the benefits. Several WCD recommendations are not considered in the project, especially those related to transparency, social participation in the discussion, economic analysis and risk assessment, and licensing of the project. This study underscores the importance of forming a participatory consensus, based on clear, objective information, on whether or not to build the Belo Monte dam.
Published on 02 June 2010
Treatment of displaced indigenous populations in two large hydro projects in Panama
Mary Finley-Brook Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, US; email@example.com Curtis Thomas International and Environmental Studies Programs, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, US; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Consultation practices with affected populations prior to hydro concessions often remained poor in the decade since the World Commission on Dams (WCD) although, in some cases the involvement of local people in the details of resettlement has improved. Numerous international and national actors, such as state agencies, multilateral banks, corporate shareholders, and pro-business media, support the development of dams, but intergovernmental agencies struggle to assure the protection of fundamental civil, human, and indigenous rights at the permitting and construction stages. We analyse two large-scale Panamanian dams with persistent disrespect for indigenous land tenure. Free, prior, and informed consent was sidestepped even though each dam required or will require Ngöbe, Emberá, or Kuna villages to relocate. When populations protested, additional human rights violations occurred, including state-sponsored violence. International bodies are slowly identifying and denouncing this abuse of power. Simultaneously, many nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) seek change in Panama consistent with WCD's good-practice guidelines. A number of NGOs have tied hydro projects to unethical greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trade. As private and state institutions market formerly collective water and carbon resources for profit, these Panamanian cases have become central to a public debate over equitable and green hydro development. Media communication feeds disputes through frontline coverage of cooperation and confrontation.
Published on 02 June 2010
The Ilisu dam in Turkey and the role of export credit agencies and NGO networks
Christine Eberlein Programme Manager, Berne Declaration, Zurich, Switzerland; email@example.com Heike Drillisch Coordinator, CounterCurrent - GegenStrömung, Potsdam, Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org Ercan Ayboga International Spokesperson, Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, Yenisehir-Diyarbakir, Turkey; email@example.com Thomas Wenidoppler Project Coordinator, ECA-Watch Austria, Vienna, Austria; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The World Commission on Dams (WCD) report focused attention on the question of how those displaced by large dams can be adequately compensated and properly resettled. An important debate from the Dams and Development Forum concerned the appropriate roles of different stakeholders, and the question as to how governments and 'external stakeholders' such as international institutions, financial investors and non-government organisations (NGOs) can be encouraged to implement the WCD recommendations and international standards on resettlement and environmental protection. This article analyses the actions of three European export credit agencies (ECAs) aimed at improving the outcomes of the Ilisu Dam and hydroelectric power project in Kurdish-populated southeast of Turkey. It also explores the role of NGOs within the process of achieving best practice and preventing poor outcomes. Even though the ECAs' efforts to meet World Bank project standards were unsuccessful and ended in July 2009 with their withdrawal, this was the first case in history where ECAs tried to implement specified social and environmental project conditions. This article aims ultimately to analyse the reasons for the failure to meet the ECAs' conditions, and the lessons to be learned from this process.
Published on 27 February 2013
Published on 02 June 2010
Professor of Human Geography, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This paper explores political dynamics surrounding dam building in the Mekong river basin, prior to, and following, the World Commission on Dams (WCD). Since the 1950s, dam building in the Mekong river basin has been enmeshed in a complex and shifting geopolitical and eco-political landscape. The broad geopolitical sweep of US hegemony, Cold War, regional rapprochement and the rise of China has been superimposed on eco-political shifts between modernist belief in progress as mastery over nature, concerns of global and national environmental movements over dams and their impacts, and a galvanised Mekong environmentalism. During the first decade of the 21st century, mainstream dams on the Lower Mekong have returned to the agenda after having almost disappeared in favour of tributary projects. The growing strength and assertiveness of regional economic players has fundamentally altered the context of energy demand, planning and investment. New sources of finance have relocated the points of political leverage. Environment has been mustered in favour of, as well as in opposition to, dam construction in the contexts of climate-change discourses, protected-area linkage with dam projects, and an industry push for sustainability protocols and certification. Despite the Mekong being one of its focal basins, WCD has not played a prominent role in this transformed arena, yet many of the social and environmental concerns, stakeholder-based processes and safeguard-oriented approaches to hydropower planning that WCD brought to the fore have persisted in the wider ethos of politics around dams in the region.
Published on 02 June 2010
PhD Candidate in Geography, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Prior to 1990, Vietnam did not have a resettlement programme for situations where the state appropriated land for its own interests. Vietnam is now revising its resettlement policies to meet international standards. Drawing on interviews, ethnographic research and government documents, this paper compares the Hoa Binh (constructed between 1979 and 1994) and Son La dams (formally under construction since 2005) to seek answers to the following questions: How have resettlement policies evolved over time? How have resettlement programmes been implemented in Vietnam? The comparison between a dam built in 1970s-80s and one now under construction shows that the improvements in policy may bring limited improvements in dam development planning and practices to Vietnam.
Published on 02 June 2010
The World Commission on Dams + 10: Revisiting the large dam controversy
Deborah Moore Former Commissioner, World Commission on Dams; Executive Director, Green Schools Initiative; Berkeley, California, USA; email@example.com John Dore Water Resources Advisor, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Mekong Region; firstname.lastname@example.org Dipak Gyawali Research Director, Nepal Water Conservation Foundation, Kathmandu, Nepal; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The World Commission on Dams (WCD) was an experiment in multi-stakeholder dialogue and global governance concerned with a subject area - large dams - that was fraught with conflict and controversy. The WCD Report, Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making, was published in 2000 and accompanied by hopes that broad-based agreements would be forged on how to better manage water and energy development. Ten years later, this special issue of Water Alternatives revisits the WCD and its impacts, exploring the question: Is the WCD still relevant? The editorial team and the Guest Editors of this special issue of Water Alternatives have selected a range of 20 papers, 6 viewpoints, and 4 book reviews that help to illustrate the evolution in the dams debate. The goal of this special issue is to examine the influence and the impacts of the WCD on the dam enterprise, in general, and on the policies and practices of key stakeholders and institutions, and on the development outcomes for affected communities and environments, in particular. In this introduction, the Guest Editors provide an overview of the special issue, exploring the new drivers of dam development that have emerged during the last decade, including climate change and new financiers of dams, and describing the themes emerging from this diverse set of papers and viewpoints. This special issue demonstrates the need for a renewed multi-stakeholder dialogue at multiple levels. This would not be a redo of the WCD, but rather a rekindling and redesigning of processes and forums where mutual understanding, information-sharing, and norm-setting can occur. One of the most promising developments of the last decade is the further demonstration, in case studies described here, that true partnership amongst key stakeholders can produce transformative resource-sharing agreements, showing that many of the WCD recommendations around negotiated decision making are working in practice. We hope that this special issue sparks a dialogue to recommit ourselves to finding effective, just, and lasting solutions for water, energy and ecosystem management. It is a testament to the continued relevance of the WCD Report that ten years later it is still a topic of intense interest and debate, as illustrated by the papers presented in this special issue.
Published on 02 June 2010
Chixoy dam legacies: The struggle to secure reparation and the right to remedy in Guatemala
Barbara Rose Johnston Senior Research Fellow, Center for Political Ecology, Santa Cruz, CA, US; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The World Commission on Dams brought global attention to the adverse costs of large dam development, including the disproportionate displacement of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities and the extreme impoverishment of development refugees. The WCD recommended that governments, industry and financial institutions accept responsibility for flawed development and make proper reparation, including remedial activities such as the restoration of livelihood and land compensation for relocated communities. One exemplary case cited is Guatemala's Chixoy dam. Completed in 1982, this internationally financed dam was built during a time when military dictatorships deployed policies of state-sponsored violence against a Mayan citizenry. Construction occurred without a resettlement plan, and forced displacement occurred through violence and massacre. This paper describes an attempt to implement WCD reparation recommendations in a context where no political will existed. To clarify events, abuses and meaningful remedy, an independent assessment process was established in 2003, auditing the development record, assessing consequential damages and facilitating the community articulation of histories and needs. The resulting 2005 study played a key role in reparation negotiations. The Chixoy case illustrates some of the more profound impacts of the WCD review. The WCD served as a catalyst in social movement formation and a force that expanded rights-protective space for dam-affected communities to negotiate an equitable involvement in development.
Published on 02 June 2010
Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, USA; email@example.com
Erin Clover Kelly
Postdoctoral Research Associate, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: This paper aims to explain the multiple factors that contributed to a 2010 agreement to remove four large dams along the Klamath river in California and Oregon and initiate a comprehensive social-ecological restoration effort that will benefit Indian tribes, the endangered fish on which they depend, irrigated agriculture, and local economies in the river basin. We suggest that the legal framework, including the tribal trust responsibility, the Endangered Species Act, and the Federal Power Act, combined with an innovative approach to negotiation that allowed for collaboration and compromise, created a space for divergent interests to come together and forge a legally and politically viable solution to a suite of social and environmental problems. Improved social relations between formerly antagonistic Indian tribes and non-tribal farmers and ranchers, which came about due to a number of local collaborative processes during the early 2000s, were critical to the success of this effort. Overall, we suggest that recent events in the Klamath basin are indicative of a significant power shift taking place between tribal and non-tribal interests as tribes gain access to decision-making processes regarding tribal trust resources and develop capacity to participate in the development of complex restoration strategies.
Published on 02 June 2010
Viewpoint - The World Bank versus the World Commission on Dams
Robert Goodland 613 Rivercrest, McLean VA 22101, USA; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The World Bank Group (WBG) has long resisted guidelines from reformers and the World Commission on Dams (WCD) requiring large dam projects to internalise the social and environmental costs of dam construction. Despite some progress, the Bank continues to resist calls for it to eschew countries' use of violence in removing residents from areas to be flooded by reservoirs, compensate residents adequately for their losses, or involve affected people in planning for big dams. Suggestions are made for more humane and economically responsible Bank policies.
Published on 02 June 2010
Viewpoint - Overreach and response: The politics of the WCD and its aftermath
John Briscoe Gordon McKay, Professor of the Practice of Environmental Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: This essay recounts the story of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) from the perspective of a former World Bank official who is often credited with first creating and then destroying the WCD. The story is consistent with the (in my view) only accurate previously published description of the politics of the WCD, that of the anti-dam leader Patrick McCully. In essence, this assessment is that the WCD was an extraordinarily audacious process, which aimed to substitute the legitimacy of the states in developing countries (elected in most cases, accountable in all) with the will of anti-dam NGOs that are not accountable to anyone except their fellow advocates. This essay outlines the reasons why no dam-building country has accepted the central recommendation of the WCD - the 26 Guidelines. While the rejection of the Guidelines (by countries and by the World Bank) is bemoaned by anti-dam NGOs, this essay argues that this well thought-out rejection represents a positive and long overdue turning point in the governance of development assistance. Accountable representatives from the developing world eventually did their duty - they developed a coherent and united position rejecting the WCD Guidelines and articulated a vision of why water infrastructure was central to growth and poverty reduction. This essay shows how this coherence evolved and how important it is in counterbalancing the moral hazard ('I decide, you live with the consequences') that pervades most discussions of development. Finally, the essay outlines the hope which this evolution and broader changes in global economic geography hold for bringing accountability and some common sense to the often Alice-in-Wonderland world of development cooperation.
Published on 02 June 2010
Viewpoint - Reflections on the WCD as a mechanism of global governance
Navroz K. Dubash Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The World Commission on Dams (WCD) has aroused debate as an innovation in global governance. I suggest that the WCD did, indeed, have many innovative features, but argue that processes such as the WCD are better suited to propagating norms than making rules at the global level. The norm setting and propagating role is critical because there are no other plausible mechanisms of debating the larger ideas that inform decision-making, in a way that credibly brings in voices of the poor and powerless. I develop this argument by looking at three aspects of the WCD: its characteristics as a global governance mechanism; how it sought to achieve legitimacy; and its role as an agent of regulative versus normative change.
Published on 02 June 2010
Viewpoint - From dams to development justice: Progress with 'free, prior and informed consent' Since the World Commission on Dams
Joji Cariño Former Commissioner, World Commission on Dams; Policy Advisor, Tebtebba, Baguio City, Philippines; firstname.lastname@example.org Marcus Colchester Director, Forest Peoples Programme, Moreton-in-Marsh, UK; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The World Commission on Dams (WCD) helped establish as development best practice the requirement to respect the right of indigenous peoples to give or withhold their 'free, prior and informed consent' (FPIC) to development projects that will affect them. Recognition of this right helps redress the unequal power relations between indigenous peoples and others seeking access to their lands and resources. In this Viewpoint, we examine the evolution of policy in the ten years since the publication of the WCD Report, and how FPIC has been affirmed as a right of indigenous peoples under international human rights law and as industry best practice for extractive industries, logging, forestry plantations, palm oil, protected areas and, most recently, for projects to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. To date, relatively few national legal frameworks explicitly require respect for this right and World Bank standards have yet to be revised in line with these advances in international law. We analyse how international law also needs to clarify how the right to FPIC relates to the State's power to impose resource exploitation in the 'national interest' and whether 'local communities' more broadly also enjoy the right to FPIC. In practice, as documented in this Viewpoint and in the cases we review, the right to FPIC is widely abused by corporations and State agencies. A growing tendency to reduce implementation of FPIC to a simplified check list of actions for outsiders to follow, risks again removing control over decisions from indigenous peoples. For FPIC to be effective it must respect indigenous peoples' rights to control their customary lands, represent themselves through their own institutions and make decisions according to procedures and rhythms of their choosing.
Published on 02 June 2010
Viewpoint - Principles in practice: Updating the global multi-stakeholder dialogue on dams in 2010
D. Mark Smith Head, Water Programme, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Gland, Switzerland; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The WCD laid out a way forward for dams to serve development better, and to deliver better outcomes for people as well as ecosystems. The conclusions reached were evidence-based and made in an open, multi-stakeholder dialogue. Given this process and taken as a whole, the WCD could not be ignored in 2000, and ten years later in 2010, the WCD still cannot be dismissed. To be meaningful in the long-run, however, the WCD required follow-up. Among many needs was the challenge of translating principles and guidelines developed at a global level to practice that could be implemented at a national and project level. IUCN's response, for example, has been very practical and oriented principally towards dissemination, dialogue, demonstration and learning.
The WCD recommendations were not embraced by all stakeholders, and it is increasingly clear that the drivers for dam development and the actors involved are changing, because of for example climate change and the emergence of China as a major international financier of dams. It may be time therefore to renew efforts to expand consensus on dams and re-galvanise the global multi-stakeholder dialogue that was started by the WCD. Otherwise, the 21st century dams industry will run into the same risks - fuelled by issues of equity, environment and dissatisfaction with development outcomes achieved - that brought their counterparts into the WCD in 1998.
KEYWORDS: Multi-stakeholder dialogue, learning, demonstration, sustainability
Published on 02 June 2010
Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Ten years ago the World Commission on Dams (WCD) report established new standards for the sustainable development of water infrastructure, but the hopes many of us had then for a new era of more thoughtful development have been attenuated by the resilience of the hydraulic bureaucracy and the emergence of new influences on the hydropower debate. Particularly important is the impact of climate change as a driver of government policies in favour of hydropower, water storage and inter-basin water transfers. As a former Director of Freshwater for WWF International and now as a researcher on the water-energy nexus, I spent much of the past decade seeking to influence the direction of water infrastructure development, and in this viewpoint I have been asked to reflect on the changes that have occurred, and the opportunities in an era of climate change to reduce the environmental and social impacts of hydropower development while maximising the benefits. Better outcomes are more likely with a renewed focus on limiting the perverse impacts of climate change policies, implementing standards for certification of more sustainable hydropower, building capacities within developing countries, and enhancing management of existing dams.
Published on 02 June 2010
Viewpoint - The role of the German development cooperation in promoting sustainable hydropower
Cathleen Seeger Policy Advisor, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Eschborn, Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org Kirsten Nyman Project Coordinator, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Eschborn, Germany; email@example.com Richard Twum Executive Director, Volta Basin Development Foundation (VBDF), Accra, Ghana; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: After long and intense discussions on the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), large dams are back on the agenda of international finance institutions. Asia, Latin America and Africa are planning to expand their hydropower utilisation. Hydropower is a key component of renewable energy, and therefore supports protection against climate change. Water storage over the long term and flood control are the main issues discussed with regard to climate adaptation measures.
Such trends are reflected by the increasing engagement of the German Development Cooperation (GDC) in the field of integrated water resources management (IWRM) programmes on the national and regional levels. A number of projects on transboundary water management in Africa, Central Asia and in the Mekong region have been initiated. In the context of these and other bilateral water and energy projects, partner countries are increasingly requesting the GDC to advise on the planning and management of sustainable hydropower.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has for the last decade been known as a promoter of multi-stakeholder dialogues and as a supporter during the WCD process and the Dams and Development Project (DDP) of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). In addition, it has a reputation as an important bilateral and neutral partner. The BMZ recognises hydropower as a source of renewable energy, and acknowledges the potential and need for multipurpose usages of dams, as well as its role in global energy change. However, large dams also have to meet social and ecological requirements for their sustainable use. In this respect, the BMZ endorsed the WCD recommendations.
Germany's engagement in the promotion of participatory processes on dam-related issues is building on the WCD and follow-up processes, as outlined in this article. On the global level, BMZ, represented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), is currently part of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum (HSAF). On the national level, one example of support is the contribution to and interaction with the Ghana Dam Dialogue, which is facilitated through two local partners: the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Volta Basin Development Foundation (VBDF).
Published on 02 June 2010
Lost in development's shadow: The downstream human consequences of dams
Brian D. Richter Director, Global Freshwater Program, The Nature Conservancy, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; email@example.com Sandra Postel Director, Global Water Policy Project, Los Lunas, NM, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org Carmen Revenga Senior Freshwater Scientist, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA, USA; email@example.com Thayer Scudder Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org Bernhard Lehner Assistant Professor of Global Hydrology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; email@example.com Allegra Churchill Master's Candidate, University of Virginia, Dept of Landscape Architecture, Charlottesville, VA; firstname.lastname@example.org Morgan Chow Research analyst, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA, USA; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The World Commission on Dams (WCD) report documented a number of social and environmental problems observed in dam development projects. The WCD gave particular emphasis to the challenges of properly resettling populations physically displaced by dams, and estimated the total number of people directly displaced at 40-80 million. Less attention has been given, however, to populations living downstream of dams whose livelihoods have been affected by dam-induced alterations of river flows. By substantially changing natural flow patterns and blocking movements of fish and other animals, large dams can severely disrupt natural riverine production systems - especially fisheries, flood-recession agriculture and dry-season grazing. We offer here the first global estimate of the number of river-dependent people potentially affected by dam-induced changes in river flows and other ecosystem conditions. Our conservative estimate of 472 million river-dependent people living downstream of large dams along impacted river reaches lends urgency to the need for more comprehensive assessments of dam costs and benefits, as well as to the social inequities between dam beneficiaries and those potentially disadvantaged by dam projects. We conclude with three key steps in dam development processes that could substantially alleviate the damaging downstream impacts of dams.
Published on 02 June 2010
Initiatives in the hydro sector post-World Commission on Dams - The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum
Helen Locher Sustainability Forum Coordinator, International Hydropower Association; firstname.lastname@example.org Geir Yngve Hermansen Senior Advisor, Department for Energy, Norad, Norway; email@example.com Gudni A. Johannesson Director General, National Energy Authority, Iceland; firstname.lastname@example.org Yu Xuezhong Associate Professor, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, China; email@example.com Israel Phiri Manager, Ministry of Energy and Water Development, Zambia; firstname.lastname@example.org David Harrison Senior Advisor, Global Freshwater Team, The Nature Conservancy; email@example.com Joerg Hartmann WWF Dams Initiative Leader, WWF Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Simon Lead - People, Infrastructure and Environment Program, Oxfam Australia; email@example.com Donal O'Leary Senior Advisor, Transparency International; firstname.lastname@example.org Courtney Lowrance Vice President, Environmental & Social Risk Management, Markets and Banking, Citigroup Global Markets Inc; email@example.com Daryl Fields Senior Water Resources Specialist, Energy, Transport and Water, The World Bank; firstname.lastname@example.org André Abadie Forum Chair, Sustainable Finance Ltd; email@example.com Refaat Abdel-Malek MWH Global, Inc; firstname.lastname@example.org Andrew Scanlon Manager Business Sustainability, Hydro Tasmania, Australia; email@example.com Zhou Shichun Senior Engineer, China Hydropower Engineering Consulting Group Co., Beijing, China; firstname.lastname@example.org Kirsten Nyman Policy Advisor for Sustainable Hydropower, GTZ, Germany; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The World Commission on Dams (WCD) has called for developers, governments, civil society, etc. to use its Strategic Priorities as a starting point for dialogue and initiatives to address issues regarding the development of dams. One very notable follow-up initiative has been led by the hydropower industry. The International Hydropower Association developed Sustainability Guidelines (IHA, 2004) and a Sustainability Assessment Protocol (IHA, 2006), and most recently has been involved in a two-year process with governments, NGOs and the finance sector to develop a broadly endorsed sustainability assessment tool based on review and update of the IHA Sustainability Assessment Protocol. This cross-sectoral process, known as the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum (HSAF), has drawn on the knowledge base and many of the findings and recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, as well as a number of other developments in the last ten years. A fundamental premise of the work of the Forum is that an industry-driven and -owned initiative has far-reaching potential to influence performance in the hydropower sector. At the same time, the potential for the use of a broadly endorsed sustainability assessment tool for hydropower by those in other sectors is well recognised and aspired to by the Forum. This paper describes the work of the Forum up to August 2009 and the contents of the Draft Protocol released publicly in August 2009, and considers some of the commonalities and points of departure between this process and the WCD. The Forum's work on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is a work in progress, so this paper can describe but not give a full analysis of the work while it is in train.
Published on 02 June 2010
International Rivers, Berkeley, CA, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Most actors of the global dam industry primarily operate within their national borders, and are either controlled by or do most of their business with the state. Because of this, the dam industry was slow to respond to the creation of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), and did not provide coordinated inputs into the WCD process. The hydropower industry is the part of the dam industry which is most directly affected by international policy developments. Not surprisingly, the hydropower sector provided the most systematic response to the WCD report among all industry actors, initially through a defensive reaction and subsequently through the creation of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum.
While the hydropower industry was largely united in its rejection of the policy principles put forward by the WCD, its proactive approach has been beset by divisions and contradictions.
While some industry actors are trying to strengthen the environmental norms which are being applied in the sector, others do not see a need for this. Trying to balance such diverging views, the hydropower industry would like to establish norms that can create predictability through the certification of projects. Yet it is not prepared to accept binding minimum standards which would confer new obligations to the hydropower industry.
Published on 02 June 2010
Assistant Professor, Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, US; email@example.com
Philip H. Brown
Associate Professor of Economics, Colby College, Waterville, ME, US; firstname.lastname@example.org
PhD student, Water Resources Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, US; email@example.com
Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, US; firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, US; email@example.com
Aaron T. Wolf
Professor of Geography and Chair, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, US; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Following the principles and priorities outlined by the World Commission on Dams, managers are increasingly considering a greater variety of impacts in their decision making regarding dams. However, many challenges remain in evaluating the biophysical, socioeconomic and geopolitical impacts of dams, including the potential diversity of stakeholder perspectives on dam impacts.
In this analysis, we surveyed representatives of non-governmental organisations, academics and hydropower and government officials in Yunnan Province, China, to better understand how stakeholder group views on the size (magnitude) and importance (salience) of dam impacts vary. We applied the technique defined by the Interdisciplinary Dam Assessment Model (IDAM) to simulate three dam development scenarios: dams in general, a single large dam and multiple small dams. We then surveyed the experts to measure their views on the magnitude and salience of 21 biophysical, geopolitical and socioeconomic impacts for the three scenarios.
Survey results indicate differences in the perceived salience and magnitude of impacts across both expert groups and dam scenarios. Furthermore, surveys indicate that stakeholder perceptions changed as the information provided regarding dam impacts became more specific, suggesting that stakeholder evaluation may be influenced by quality of information. Finally, qualitative comments from the survey reflect some of the challenges of interdisciplinary dam assessment, including cross-disciplinary cooperation, data standardisation and weighting, and the distribution and potential mitigation of impacts. Given the complexity of data and perceptions around dam impacts, decision-support tools that integrate the objective magnitude and perceived salience of impacts are required urgently.
Published on 02 June 2010
Researcher, Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland; email@example.com
Chief, Water and Sustainable Development Section, UNESCO, Paris, France; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Emerging concern over greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from wetlands has prompted calls to address the climate impact of dams in climate policy frameworks. Existing studies indicate that reservoirs can be significant sources of emissions, particularly in tropical areas. However, knowledge on the role of dams in overall national emission levels and abatement targets is limited, which is often cited as a key reason for political inaction and delays in formulating appropriate policies. Against this backdrop, this paper discusses the current role of reservoir emissions in existing climate policy frameworks. The distance between a global impact on climate and a need for local mitigation measures creates a challenge for designing appropriate mechanisms to combat reservoir emissions. This paper presents a range of possible policy interventions at different scales that could help address the climate impact of reservoirs. Reservoir emissions need to be treated like other anthropogenic greenhouse gases. A rational treatment of the issue requires applying commonly accepted climate change policy principles as well as promoting participatory water management plans through integrated water resource management frameworks. An independent global body such as the UN system may be called upon to assess scientific information and develop GHG emissions policy at appropriate levels.
Published on 02 June 2010
Nepal's constructive Dialogue on Dams and Development
Ajaya Dixit Chairman, Nepal Water Conservation Foundation, Kathmandu, Nepal; email@example.com Dipak Gyawali Research Director, Nepal Water Conservation Foundation, Kathmandu, Nepal; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: This paper describes a consultation process that took place in Nepal from January 2003 to July 2004 involving dam builders, dam managers and dam critics. It discusses the key findings of the review and reflects on the differences between dams built with domestic designs and funding that suffer no controversy and ongoing dam projects involving international agencies that are mired in dispute. The paper concludes that Nepal must continue with the deliberative process which characterised the period immediately after the WCD Report was released if it is to end the policy impasse that plagues the development of hydropower in the country.
The government of Nepal, like the governments of its neighbours India and China, unequivocally rejected the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) Report soon after its release in November 2000. Later, more considered reactions revealed more complex sentiments among Nepalis inasmuch that social activists welcomed the recommendations as valid and necessary, while the dam building community, including the official hydrocracy, held that they were impracticable. The then government, assessing that the business-as-usual dam building approach would face an impasse and not help meet Nepal's growing need for water and electricity, concluded that the country could ill-afford to reject the WCD's findings. It took a policy initiative in December 2002 to engage with the report more aggressively, comparing the WCD recommendations with Nepal's own national laws, acts and policies in order to explore the contours of an alternative approach. Lessons from the consultative and inclusive global review effort that the WCD represented needed to be thoroughly internalised by Nepal so that no bad dams would be proposed for funding and only good dams built.
The consultations of 2003-2004 revealed that many Nepali laws were already robust and did, in fact, incorporate the WCD recommendations adequately. A second cycle of consultations identified many second-generation problems, including those related to ensuring compliance, gaining public acceptance, recognising entitlements, sharing benefits and conducting comprehensive options assessments. The major limitation to Nepal's ability to take up the WCD recommendations turned out to be less in the laws themselves and more in the implementation of, and compliance with, these laws.
The findings of the two consultative reviews meant little to either subsequent governments of Nepal or to the international aid industry, despite the opportunity for change that the dramatic democratic movement of 2005/2006 offered - government hydrocracy and the political parties guiding it, as well as international donors, continued to favour the conventional model of dam building. Their silence about the review is inexplicable, especially in light of the flaws in, and controversy surrounding, the ADB-funded Kali Gandaki A and German-funded Middle Marsyangdi dams, both of which followed conventional practice. A new electricity act currently tabled in the parliament also fails to take into account many of the lessons that should have been learnt so easily from past mistakes.
Published on 02 June 2010
Water Resources Advisor, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Mekong Region; email@example.com
Director, Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Thailand; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Gaining Public Acceptance (GPA) was a strategic priority recommended in the final report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD). GPA remains a central, thorny challenge for all parties interested in how society makes decisions about the development of water resources, the provision of energy, and the maintenance of ecosystems, whilst striving for social justice. The WCD's GPA is largely about issues of procedural justice (e.g. inclusion and access) and proposes process-related principles. Distributional justice is also important (e.g. equitable sharing of benefits; and, avoiding unfair and involuntary risk-bearing).
Several key lessons are emerging from past initiatives to gain public acceptance through participatory exercises. Differences in development and sustainability orientations are obvious in debates on dams and need to be explicitly considered and not glossed over. Politics and power imbalances pervade participatory processes, and require much more attention than they receive. Ultimately, the accountability and legitimacy of state and non-state actors are crucial but complex as there are many ways to build public trust.
To earn legitimacy and more likely acceptance of important public decisions we suggest a comprehensive set of 'gold standard' state-society attributes for improving governance. Multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) can help deliberation to become routine, enabling complex water issues to be more rigorously examined. The combination of increased public trust, earned by the state, and high-quality MSPs to assist more informed negotiations, we see as being key to the gaining of public acceptance.
Published on 06 October 2010
Indonesia's water supply regulatory framework: Between commercialisation and public service?
Wijanto Hadipuro Post Graduate Programme on Environment and Urban Studies, Soegijapranata Catholic University, Semarang, Indonesia; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Due to financial and operational problems faced by local Indonesian water supply companies (Perusahaan Daerah Air Minum - PDAMs), people depend for their domestic water on many private providers, who use groundwater as their source. Within this context, this article interrogates the current water supply regulatory framework and its implications. Indonesia is at the crossroads of treating water supply as a public service or commercialising it through market or market proxy mechanisms. Through content analysis and a literature study on the impacts of such regulations in the past, this article shows that Indonesia's regulatory framework lends itself to the commercialisation option. Some findings on the current regulations and their impacts indicate that awarding commercial water rights has the potential to marginalise traditional users as well as create administrative problems; adopting the full cost recovery concept has made PDAMs reluctant to expand their services, especially to the poor; inviting the private sector to manage water supply is surely not in the best interests of the provision of public services; assigning an Indonesian National Standard (SNI) has resulted in bottled water becoming the most reliable drinking water; and allowing groundwater extraction to take place without sufficient regulation and law enforcement has resulted in excessive extraction at a detriment to the environment.
Published on 06 October 2010
Assistant Professor, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Public-private partnerships (PPP) are an important governance strategy that has recently emerged as a solution to enhance the access of marginalised residents to urban infrastructures. With the inception of neo-liberal economic reforms in India, in Indian cities too PPP has emerged as an innovative approach to expand coverage of water supply and sanitation infrastructures. However, there has been little study of the dynamics of partnership efforts in different urban contexts: What role do they play in transforming existing infrastructure regimes? Do reform strategies such as partnerships result in increased privatisation or do they make the governance of infrastructures more participative? Reviewing some of the recent literature on urban political analysis, this article develops the concept of water supply regime to describe the context of water provision in three metropolitan cities in India. To further our understanding of the role of PPP within regimes, this article sketches five cases of water supply and sanitation partnerships located within these three metropolitan cities. From these empirical studies, the article arrives at the conclusion that while PPP are always products of the regime-context they are inserted within, quite often strategic actors in the partnership use the PPP to further their interests by initiating a shift in the regime pathway. This leads us to conclude that PPPs do play a role in making water supply regimes more participative but that depends on the nature of the regime as well as the actions of partners.
Published on 06 October 2010
Peter P. Mollinga
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This introductory article of the special section introduces the central question that the section addresses: do water policy dynamics in (semi-)authoritarian states have specific features as compared to other state forms? The article situates the question in the post-Cold War global water governance dynamics, argues that the state is a useful and required entry point for water policy analysis, explores the meaning of (semi-)
authoritarian as a category, and finally introduces the three papers, which are on China, South Africa and Vietnam.
Published on 06 October 2010
The state and water resources development through the lens of history: A South African case study
Larry A. Swatuk University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: This article sets contemporary challenges to good water governance in South Africa within an important historical context. While it is correct to say that 'the world water crisis is a crisis of governance', it is problematic to assume that all states can follow a similar path toward environmentally sustainable, economically efficient and socially equitable water resources governance and management. The nexus of decision-making power varies within and beyond states, and over time. Gramsci (1971) describes this as the "constellation of social forces". Where this constellation of social forces achieves consensus, a 'historic bloc' is said to emerge giving rise to a particular state form. The South African state form has varied greatly over several centuries, giving rise to various historic blocs. The resulting body of laws and policies and the varied forms of infrastructure that were developed to harness water for multiple social practices over time constitute a complex political ecological terrain not easily amenable to oversimplified frameworks for good water governance. This article outlines the role of water in the history of South Africa's multiple state forms. It shows that over time, water policy, law and institutions came to reflect the increasingly complex needs of multiple actors (agriculture, mining, industry, cities, the newly enfranchised) represented by different state forms and their characteristic political regimes: the Dutch East India Company; the British Empire; the Union of South Africa; the apartheid and post-apartheid republics. Authoritarian, semi-authoritarian and democratic state forms have all used central-state power to serve particular interests. Through time, this constellation of social forces has widened until, today, the state has taken upon itself the task of providing "some water for all forever" (slogan of the Department of Water Affairs). As this article suggests, despite the difficult challenges presented by a mostly arid climate, this means 'adding in' the water demand of millions of people, but not 'allocating out' those privileged under other constellations of social forces as they contribute most substantially to economic growth. The implication, therefore, is a modified hydraulic mission involving significant new infrastructure and, in all likelihood, inter-basin transfers from beyond South Africa's borders.
Published on 06 October 2010
Tokyo Jogakkan College, Japan; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This essay explores the nature of China's unique decentralised 'authoritarian' regime and its various origins; the continuous dialectic between state-directed and market-directed approaches to the economy (including water); the economic and budgetary drivers of water policy change; whether the concept of integrated water resources management (IWRM) is overly 'loaded' with liberal ideas or even if not, whether it provides any insights beyond concepts more widely accepted in China; whether the state-society dichotomy makes sense in China's guanxi (personal relations) culture; and the course of the World Bank-sponsored Self-funded/managed Irrigation and Drainage District (SIDD) reforms.
Published on 06 October 2010
Vietnam: Water policy dynamics under a post-Cold War communism
Adam Fforde Chairman, Adam Fforde and Assoc p/l; Asia Institute, University of Melbourne; Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Vietnam is widely seen as a development success, with rather rapid economic growth and a reported reduced role of the state, yet presents many paradoxes to conventional analytical frameworks. Two of relevance are accounts that stress a combination of a strongly hegemonic regime with weak internal sovereignty in terms of both the internal coherence of the apparat and its interactions with the rest of Vietnamese society, and also associated accounts that deny much role to intentionality in explaining apparent development success. This article will contextualise accounts of political intention and policy development towards water issues in Vietnam through an examination of two main empirics: the evolution of formal policy, understood as documents of the state, as well as of political intention, understood as documents of the ruling Party; and the by now extensive series of 'active' case studies that have examined donor as well as other projects in the sector. It will examine the notion, in the contexts suggested by the Vietnamese experience, that attempts to explain Vietnamese water policy, which have shown a tendency to shift away from assumptions that an analytical framework's categories may easily and without too much risk be extended across different contexts. Rather, comparisons of Vietnamese experience across contexts will tend, if they are to be persuasive, to shift to the use of languages that reflect ontological fluidity, in that what things mean is expected to change over time, without reference to an imagined transcendental and universal 'real'. In this sense, Vietnamese water policy may be usefully understood as an example of how 'success gives voice to the local'.
Published on 06 October 2010
Water-Culture Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Water policies are based on ethical assumptions, and efforts to promote more sustainable policies need to address those underlying values. The history of water policies from 'command-and-control' to more ecological approaches reveals an ethical evolution, but adaptation to climate change will require further ethical shifts. The case of the Santa Fe river in New Mexico (USA) illustrates how values that go unrecognised interfere with sustainable management. Exploring the underlying value dynamics is an essential step in the policy reform process and takes on added urgency in the face of climate change and the need to formulate adaptive water strategies. Bringing the topic of values and ethics into the water policy discourse can help clarify management goals and promote more sustainable practices.
Published on 10 December 2010
The watershed approach: Challenges, antecedents, and the transition from technical tool to governance unit
Alice Cohen Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; firstname.lastname@example.org Seanna Davidson Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Watersheds are a widely accepted scale for water governance activities. This paper makes three contributions to current understandings of watersheds as governance units. First, the paper collects recent research identifying some of the challenges associated with the policy framework understood as the watershed approach. These challenges are boundary choice, accountability, public participation, and watersheds' asymmetries with 'problem-sheds' and 'policy-sheds'. Second, the paper draws upon this synthesis and on a review of the development and evolution of the concept of watersheds to suggest that the challenges associated with the watershed approach are symptoms of a broader issue: that the concept of watersheds was developed as a technical tool but has been taken up as a policy framework. The result of this transition from tool to framework, the paper argues, has been the conflation of governance tools, hydrologic boundaries, and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Third, the paper calls for an analysis of watersheds as separate from the governance tools with which they have been conflated, and presents three entry points into such an analysis.
Published on 04 February 2011
Published on 15 January 2011
Sharing water with nature: Insights on environmental water allocation from a case study of the Murrumbidgee catchment, Australia
Becky Swainson Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada; firstname.lastname@example.org Rob de Loë Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada; email@example.com Reid Kreutzwiser Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Human use of freshwater resources has placed enormous stress on aquatic ecosystems in many regions of the world. At one time, this was considered an acceptable price to pay for economic growth and development. Nowadays, however, many societies are seeking a better balance between healthy aquatic ecosystems and viable economies. Unfortunately, historically, water allocation systems have privileged human uses over the environment. Thus, jurisdictions seeking to ensure that adequate water is available for the environment must typically deal with the fact that economies and communities have become dependent on water. Additionally, they must often layer institutions for environmental water allocation (EWA) on top of already complex institutional systems. This paper explores EWA in a jurisdiction - New South Wales (NSW), Australia - where water scarcity has become a priority. Using an in-depth case study of EWA in the Murrumbidgee catchment, NSW, we characterise the NSW approach to EWA with the goal of highlighting the myriad challenges encountered in EWA planning and implementation. Sharing water between people and the environment, we conclude, is much more than just a scientific and technical challenge. EWA in water-scarce regions involves reshaping regional economies and societies. Thus, political and socio-economic considerations must be identified and accounted for from the outset of planning and decision-making processes.
Published on 29 January 2011
Deluges of grandeur: Water, territory, and power on Northwest Mexico's Rio Mayo, 1880-1910
Jeffrey M. Banister Southwest Center and School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Northwest Mexico's irrigation landscape, known today as El Distrito de Riego 038, or El Valle del Mayo, issues from historical struggles to build an official order out of a diverse world of signs, symbols, processes, places, and peoples. It is the ancestral home of the Yoreme (Mayo), an indigenous group for whom colonisation and agricultural development have meant the loss of autonomy and of the seasonal mobility required to subsist in an arid land. It is also the birthplace of President Ãlvaro Obregón, a one-time chickpea farmer who transformed late-19th century irrigation praxis into the laws and institutions of 20th century water management. Reshaping territory for the ends of centralising ('federalising') water resources has always proved exceedingly difficult in the Mayo. But this was particularly so in the beginning of the federalisation process, a time of aggressive modernisation under the direction of President Porfirio Diaz (1876-1910). Research on Mexican hydraulic politics and policy, with some important exceptions, has tended to focus on the scale and scope of centralisation. Scholars have paid less attention to the moments and places where water escapes officials' otherwise ironclad grasp. This paper explores water governance (and state formation more broadly) in the late 19th century, on the eve of Mexico's 1910 Revolution, as an ongoing, ever-inchoate series of territorial claims and projects. Understanding the weaknesses and incompleteness of such projects offers critical insight into post-revolutionary and/or contemporary hydraulic politics.
Published on 29 January 2011
Participation as citizenship or payment? A case study of rural drinking water governance in Mali
Stephen Jones Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Community participation in water governance in developing countries is considered important for increasing sustainable access to drinking water and improving broader local governance. The promotion of participation has therefore become a key aim of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This paper explores community participation in water governance in the rural municipality of Yélékébougou, Mali, and how it is influenced by 'capacity-development' initiatives of the international NGO WaterAid. WaterAid supports communities by helping to set up new institutions intended to manage water supplies and to promote 'participation as citizenship', the idea that community members are empowered to take part in decisions made on water access. However, the paper finds that the institutions created to promote 'participation as citizenship' focus more on promoting paying for water i.e. 'participation as payment', because lack of payment for maintenance of handpumps appears to be the critical obstacle to sustainable water access. However, 'participation as payment' as a means of pursuing cost recovery from communities is not working, and also detracts from the possibility of promoting 'participation as citizenship' and the associated potential longer-term benefits to water access and democratisation. The immediate outcome is that access to drinking water is neither sustainable nor equitable.
Published on 29 January 2011
Indus basin floods of 2010: Souring of a Faustian bargain?
Daanish Mustafa Department of Geography, King's College, London; email@example.com David Wrathall Department of Geography, King's College, London; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The great flood of 2010 in Pakistan was not an accidental, unpredictable and random episode in the hydrologic development of the Indus basin, but rather a by-product of national decisions on water use, integrally linked, as well, to the design of the social landscape. In immediate and mid terms, acute impacts are expected to be concentrated among households with fragile and sensitive livelihoods. To attenuate an evolving low-level humanitarian, social and political crisis, and to prevent backsliding to Pakistan's development progress, attention should focus on water drainage and rapid rehabilitation of farmland. Local government structures can be engaged in the distribution and implementation of recovery programs. In Pakistan, the hydrological priorities have always been irrigation and power generation, but in the interest of preventing a costly recurrence, Pakistani flood management and early alert systems require structural revision.
Published on 01 February 2011
Perceived power resources in situations of collective action
Insa Theesfeld Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO), Halle; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This paper discusses various concepts of power. Its goal is to shed light on a better method for implementing the power concept. The case of Bulgaria's water user associations' failure shows the abuse of power by local actors who fear they will lose their influence and the private benefits that they have enjoyed under the former system. The paper provides an empirical study of power resources verified by actors' perceptions rather than having resource endowments quantified. It also illustrates the contrast between empirically revealed perceived power resources in a local context and their theoretical examination in the Distributional Theory of Institutional Change. Studies that set power resources in relation to one another are scarce. Therefore, in this study an innovative, interactive method is used that leads to a ranking of perceived power resources, which is robust against the impact of belonging to different territorial, social, and agricultural producer groups: 1) unrestricted access to information, 2) personal relationships, 3) trustworthiness, 4) cash resources for bribing, 5) menace, and 6) physical power and violence. The implication of this gradation of power resources on collective action solutions addresses complementary measures to disseminate information and compensation measures for those who fear losing their benefits and may therefore oppose the new institutions.
Published on 04 June 2011
The impact of decentralization on large scale irrigation: Evidence from the Philippines
Eduardo K. Araral, Jr. Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: Decentralization has often been prescribed as an institutional panacea for a wide range of problems facing developing countries. This study investigates the impacts of decentralization on the ability of individuals to solve collective action problems in a large-scale common pool resource. Using econometric analyses of a data set from the largest (83,000 hectares [ha]) irrigation system in the Philippines, the study finds that decentralized subsystems are more likely to solve collective action problems such as free-riding, conflict resolution and rule enforcement. These findings are consistent with the theoretical and empirical literature but they highlight the importance of credible enforcement. These preliminary findings offer insights for the design of institutions for collective action in situations of large-scale collective action.
Published on 04 June 2011
The World Court's ongoing contribution to international water law: The Pulp Mills Case between Argentina and Uruguay
Owen McIntyre Faculty of Law, University College Cork, Ireland; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: The judgment of the International Court of Justice in the Pulp Mills (Argentina v. Uruguay) case makes a very important contribution to international law relating to shared international water resources and to international environmental law more generally. It does much to clarify the relationship between procedural and substantive rules of international environmental law. The Court linked interstate notification of new projects to the satisfaction of the customary due diligence obligation to prevent significant transboundary harm. It found that environmental impact assessment (EIA) is an essential requirement of customary international law in respect of activities having potential transboundary effects. The real significance of the judgment is that it held that the duty to notify, and the related duty to conduct an EIA taking account of transboundary impacts, exist in customary international law and thus apply to all states, not just those that have concluded international agreements containing such obligations. The Court confirmed that for shared international water resources, the principle of equitable and reasonable utilisation, universally accepted as the cardinal rule of international water law, is virtually synonymous with the concept of sustainable development, and suggests that considerations of environmental protection are absolutely integral to the equitable balancing of interests involved. The judgment makes it clear that the principle of equitable utilisation ought to be understood as a process, rather than a normatively determinative rule. This ought to help to address widespread confusion about the nature of the key rules and principles of international water resources law and its role in the resolution of water resources disputes and in environmental diplomacy more generally.
Published on 04 June 2011
Valuing soft components in agricultural water management interventions in meso-scale watersheds: A review and synthesis
Jennie Barron Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, UK; and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden; firstname.lastname@example.org Stacey Noel Stockholm Environment Institute, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: Meso-scale watershed management (1-10,000 km2) is receiving growing attention as the spatial scale where policy in integrated water resource management (IWRM) goes into operational mode. This is also where aggregated field-level agricultural water management (AWM) interventions may result in externalities. But there is little synthesised 'lessons learned' on the costs and benefits of interventions at this scale. Here we synthesise selected cases and meta-analyses on the investment cost in 'soft components' accompanying AWM interventions. The focus is on meso-scale watersheds in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. We found very few cases with benefit-to-cost evaluation at full project level, or separate costing of hard and soft components. The synthesis suggests higher development success rates in communities with an initial level of social capital, where projects were implemented with cost- and knowledge-sharing between involved stakeholders, and where one or more 'agents of change' were present to facilitate leadership and communications. There is a need to monitor and evaluate both the external and the internal gains and losses in a more systematic manner to help development agents and other investors to ensure wiser and more effective investments in AWM interventions and watershed management.
Published on 04 June 2011
Paradox of the moving boundary: Legal heredity of river accretion and avulsion
John W. Donaldson
Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, UK; firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: International boundaries - the divisions between state jurisdictions - are characterised in law by their inherent rigidity. Yet recent research has revealed that well over one-third of the total length of international boundaries follow rivers or streams that are inherently dynamic natural features. The tension between legal staticity and fluid dynamism manifests along international river boundaries both in terms of the problematic definition of the line itself and the disparity in water management regulations. The actions of accretion and avulsion have been used to resolve disputes over river boundary movement since Roman times, but they contain an inherent paradox. Tracing the heredity of these two legal mechanisms, this paper will expose that paradox by focusing on the relationship between boundary and water. State practice will reveal how the continued application of these mechanisms is reinforcing a land bias in international law that becomes problematic when addressing a dynamic fluid resource that is concurrently divided and shared. Rather than emphasising the rigidity of jurisdictional division, this paper will suggest that deterring the risks inherent in the definition of river boundaries requires challenging some of the foundational legal tenets of territorial sovereignty; tenets that continue to influence the development of international water law.
Published on 04 June 2011
Sharing water on the Iberian peninsula: A Europeanisation approach to explaining transboundary cooperation
Jeanie J. Bukowski
Institute of International Studies, Bradley University, Peoria, IL, USA; email@example.com
ABSTRACT: This paper applies the Europeanisation perspective to the policy change evident in the 1998 Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Waters of the Spanish-Portuguese Basins (Albufeira convention). The 'top-down' Europeanisation framework is applied here to a case involving simultaneous, joint adaptation to European Union (EU) policy in terms of two states negotiating a transborder agreement that encompasses institutional changes required by that policy. This study provides an analysis of transnational policy change in an area of vital importance in international relations, namely, shared freshwater resources. It finds that while the Europeanisation framework may be applied effectively to transboundary adaptation (not just cross-country comparison) and goes a long way in explaining cooperation on the Iberian Peninsula, it is incomplete in its consideration of other influences within and beyond 'Europe', from the global to the local levels.