Folder issue2

October 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;

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


The politics of model maintenance: The Murray Darling and Brantas river basins compared

Anjali Bhat
Center for Development Research (ZEF), Bonn, Germany;

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


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;

Bastien Bandi
WorldFish Center Regional Offices for Africa and West Asia, Cairo;

Fanny Durville
Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, Alexandria Egypt;

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


The ambiguity of community: Debating alternatives to private-sector provision of urban water supply

Karen Bakker
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada;

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.


Water institutional reforms in Scotland: Contested objectives and hidden disputes

Antonio A.R. Ioris
School of Geosciences and Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability, University of Aberdeen, UK;

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


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;

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.



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The environmental history of water (P.S. Jutti, T.S. Katko and H.S.Vuorinen (Eds). 2008. IWA Publishing, London, UK).
Gabor Laszlo Szanto


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International water security: Domestic threats and opportunities (Nevelina I. Pachova, Mikiyasu Nakayama and Libor Jansky. 2008. United Nations University Press, Tokyo, Japan)
Mark Giordano