Folder Issue 2



Wastewater governance and the local, regional and global environments

Marianne Kjellén
Scientific Programme Committee of the World Water Week, United Nations Development Programme, Stockholm, Sweden;

ABSTRACT: This paper introduces the themed section featuring selected papers from the 2017 World Water Week. The Week focused on 'Water and waste: reduce and reuse', in line with a circular economy, and embraced a broad set of perspectives relating to the challenges of water, sanitation and waste management. This paper reflects on the World Water Week theme and selected papers in the context of broader socio-environmental transitions, and how the governance of wastewater plays out at the local, regional and global levels. The papers explore the construction of engineering knowledge and its implication in pollution management, the monitoring of accountability in the provision of sanitation and water services and the way the equitable distribution of these services can improve girls’ educational attainment. This introductory paper reviews trends in water use, wastewater and reuse, and situates these within an environmental transition framework, showing how pollution burdens and risks are displaced onto the poorest or more distant populations. While these socio-environmental transitions are fuelled by economic growth, it is the policy actions or the overarching framework of governance that set the direction. Broader political alliances can put the necessary regulation in place and channel investments towards the cleaning or protection of the local, regional and potentially also the global environment. Lessening the burdens on disadvantaged people, by extending services, and fragile ecosystems, by curbing pollution, would be the purpose of a socially inclusive, circular, green economy.

KEYWORDS: Wastewater, reuse, sanitation, governance, environmental transitions



Disaster capitalism? Examining the politicisation of land subsidence crisis in pushing Jakarta’s Seawall Megaproject

Thanti Octavianti
School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford, United Kingdom;

Katrina Charles
School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford, United Kingdom;

ABSTRACT: This paper offers an analysis of 'disaster capitalism', in which fear of disaster is exploited to facilitate the entry of a capitalist project, with regard to Jakarta’s flood policy. After a major flood hit the city in 2013, the Indonesian government launched a flagship megaproject, the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD), as the solution for the city’s sinking problem. The plan involves closing Jakarta Bay by means of a 32-kilometre (km) offshore sea wall and reclaiming 5100 hectares (ha) of land. Following a corruption scandal in a related reclamation project (for 17 artificial islands), the NCICD plan was evaluated for six months in 2016. Although many criticisms of the plan surfaced during the evaluation period, they were not able to bring about radical change, i.e. cancellation of the project. Informed by the concept of 'critical juncture' (an analytical approach focusing on a short period of time in which actors’ decisions have a higher probability of affecting the particular outcome), we analyse the extent to which the framing of the sinking crisis by political actors can explain such a 'near-miss' critical juncture, where change is both possible and plausible but not achieved. Drawing data from newspaper discourse, interviews, and policy documents, we find that the project’s proponents have eloquently framed the sinking crisis in order to ensure preference for the seawall policy, including the project concerning the 17 islands that was claimed by the critics as the capitalist part of the project. It can be concluded that the 'disaster capitalism' notion played a significant role in this 'near-miss' outcome.

KEYWORDS: Seawall, land subsidence crisis, critical juncture, disaster capitalism, Jakarta, Indonesia


Pursuing the state’s hydraulic mission in a context of private groundwater use in the Izmir Province, Turkey

Selin Le Visage
Paris Nanterre University, UMR LAVUE; and UMR G-EAU, Cirad, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France;

Marcel Kuper
G-EAU, Cirad, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France; and IAV Hassan II, Rabat, Morocco;

Jean-Philippe Venot
G-EAU, IRD, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France; WRM Group, Wageningen University; and RUA, Cambodia;

Murat Yercan
Department of Agricultural Economics, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey;

Ela Atış
Department of Agricultural Economics, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey;

ABSTRACT: Since the 2008 global food crisis there has been renewed interest in irrigation infrastructural development, which has sometimes been taken up by the same agencies that developed large-scale surface irrigation in the 20th century. This article presents a case study of the recent '1000 small dams in 1000 days' programme in Turkey to analyse the continuities and ruptures in the way the development of surface irrigation infrastructure is conducted by the state. The comparison of two small dam projects in the dynamic agricultural province of Izmir shows how the irrigation administration is pursuing its hydraulic mission, sustaining its expertise and strengthening its authority. The development of infrastructure goes beyond irrigation objectives, as it materialises the iconic power of the state in rural areas by rapidly providing visible results. However, the development of public irrigation is taking place in a very different context from that of the 20th century. The state faces farmers who are already using groundwater for irrigation and hence challenge the hierarchical organisation of public surface irrigation schemes. Although the irrigation administration continues to dictate the terms of irrigation development, it acknowledges these changes by engaging in pragmatic discussions with farmers, who are no longer mere 'beneficiaries' but actively engage in negotiations to play a significant role in the management of newly built irrigation infrastructure.

KEYWORDS: Small dams, conjunctive use, irrigation associations, irrigation cooperatives, bureaucracy, control, Turkey


Global assessment of accountability in water and sanitation services using GLAAS data

Alejandro Jiménez
Stockholm International Water Institute, Stockholm, Sweden;

John Livsey
Stockholm International Water Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; and Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Sweden;

Imenne Åhlén
Stockholm International Water Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; and Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Sweden;

Cecilia Scharp
UNICEF, New York, USA;

Marina Takane
Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health (PHE), World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland;

ABSTRACT: The Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) is one of UN-Water’s regular reports. Its focuses include aspects of investment and the enabling environment for the delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene services. Accountability refers to the mechanisms through which duty bearers, elected officials and service providers report to rights holders and other stakeholders within the service delivery framework. Accountability contributes to good sector performance and the overall sustainability of services. The aim of this study was to evaluate the level of accountability in the drinking-water and sanitation sector globally, based on the available data from the GLAAS survey of 2014. To achieve this, accountability was defined from a human rights perspective, and particularised for water and sanitation. Next the quantitative and open-ended questions from the GLAAS survey that related to this definition were analysed for all 94 responding countries. Comparisons were drawn between water and sanitation services in urban and rural settings, and regional trends were identified. The results show higher levels of accountability for water than sanitation services, and limited information on wastewater. Potential means to strengthen accountability in water and sanitation globally are seen to include improving access to information on the services provided, enacting participation policies and increasing the capacity of regulatory institutions. Particular attention should be paid to rural services. The GLAAS survey could be modified for a better understanding of the accountability mechanisms for WASH service provision.

KEYWORDS: Accountability, water, sanitation, urban, rural, global, GLAAS, regulation, information, participation, human rights, WASH



Viewpoint – Pouring money down the drain: Can we break the habit by reconceiving wastes as resources?

Michael Bruce Beck
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria; and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, London, UK;

Michael Thompson
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria; and Institute for Science Innovation and Society (InSIS), University of Oxford, UK;

Dipak Gyawali
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria; and Academician (Pragya), Nepal Academy of Science and Technology;

Simon Langan
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria;

JoAnne Linnerooth-Bayer
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria;

ABSTRACT: As water-sector professionals re-discover the value in the 'waste' conveyed in 'waste'water, this Viewpoint argues that the theory of plural rationality (also known as Cultural Theory) may accelerate the switch from waste management to resource recovery. Accordingly, it extends the framing of plural rationality, from its traditional applications in matters of governance and social and economic analysis, to the beginnings of a set of plural schools of engineering thought. This sounds controversial. Indeed, we hope it is. For all too often ways to resolve water issues end up in the impasse of two deeply entrenched positions: the 'technocratic reductionism' of the 'quick engineering fix' to problem solving; and the 'participatory holism' of the 'local, socially sensitive, integrationist' approach. Plural rationality sees this is an impoverished duopoly. Our very strong preference is to find ways of promoting the creative interplay among plural (more than two), mutually opposed, contending ways of framing a problem and resolving it. This, we argue, should not only expand the portfolio of possible alternatives for technology-policy interventions, but also lead to the chosen alternative being preferable — in social, economic, and environmental terms — to what might otherwise have happened. Such solutions are called 'clumsy' in plural rationality theory. We use a synopsis of a case history of restoring water quality in the River Rhine in Europe, within a wider account of the sweep of resource recovery spanning two centuries (late 18th Century through early 21st Century), to illustrate how clumsiness works. This, however, does not extend to our elaborating our proposed set of plural schools of engineering thought beyond just its very beginnings. Our Viewpoint allows us merely to start framing the challenge of developing, and eventually applying, such a notion.

KEYWORDS: Circular economy; clumsiness, Cultural Theory, lock-in, nutrient recovery, plural rationality, plural schools of engineering thought, Rhine restoration, technological invention and innovation, urban metabolism


Gender differences related to WASH in schools and educational efficiency

Dorice Agol
Independent Consultant, Nairobi, Kenya;

Peter Harvey
UNICEF, Copenhagen, Denmark;

ABSTRACT: Understanding Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in schools from gender perspectives is fundamental in development. This paper tests the hypothesis that improved WASH in schools can lead to educational efficiency and progression especially for teenage girls. The hypothesis was tested using quantitative data collected through an Education Management Information System (EMIS) for just over 10,000 schools in Zambia, Southern Africa. Relationships between WASH provision in schools and repetition and drop-out ratios were investigated, disaggregated by gender and grade. The analysis revealed that lack of WASH leads to high rates of repetition and dropout in school for girls, compared to boys especially from the age of 13 and in grades 6, 7 and 8. This affirms the importance of providing adequate supply of WASH facilities in schools to facilitate educational efficiency and progression of girls.

KEYWORDS: WASH in schools, education, gender, Zambia


The evolution and importance of 'rules-in-use' and low-level penalties in village-level collective action

Brian Joubert
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada;

Robert Summers
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada;

ABSTRACT: In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa community water points are provided through external support in the form of enhanced boreholes fitted with hand pumps. The external agency supplying the improved water source commonly provides maintenance training and assists in organising a governance plan for the water point. Despite its apparent virtues the Village-Level Operation and Maintenance model still experiences high levels of water point failures, even where the technical training and material conditions are adequate. There has been relatively little investigation of the institutional factors that may influence the cases where villages successfully maintain their shared water source infrastructure. This research investigated five villages in central Malawi where communities had maintained their water point hand pumps for periods exceeding 10 years. The results point to the importance of informal institutions giving primacy to ad-hoc 'rules-in-use' that suit the local context, and adapting forms of free-rider sanctions that are typically minor, low level and triangulated with local norms and behaviours. The findings highlight collective action that is successful through day-to-day adaption and that serves to institutionalise cooperative behaviour through appeals to norms.

KEYWORDS: Shared resources, water, institutions, collective action, rules, hand pump, Malawi


The power of pipes: Mapping urban water inequities through the material properties of networked water infrastructures - The case of Lilongwe, Malawi

Sachin Tiwale
Centre for Water Policy, Regulation and Governance, School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India;;

Maria Rusca
Department of Geography, Kingʼs College London, London, UK;

Margreet Zwarteveen
Integrated Water Systems and Water Governance Department, IHE Delft, Delft, The Netherlands; and Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: Urban scholars have long proposed moving away from a conceptualisation of infrastructure as given and fixed material artefacts to replace it with one that makes it the very object of theorisation and explanation. Yet, very few studies have seriously investigated the role of infrastructure in co-shaping and mediating inequities. We use this paper to propose a way to engage with the technical intricacies of designing, operating and maintaining a water supply network, using these as an entry-point for describing, mapping and explaining differences and inequities in accessing water. The paper first proposes a methodological approach to systematically characterise and investigate material water flows in the water supply network. We then apply this approach to the case of water supply in Lilongwe, Malawi. Here, strategies for dealing with challenges of water shortage in the city have often entailed the construction of large water infrastructures to produce extra water. We show that the network’s material properties direct and divert most of the extra water to elite neighbourhoods rather than to those low-income areas where shortages are most acute. Our analysis shows how social and technical processes mutually constitute each other in the production and rationalisation of this highly uneven waterscape. We conclude that further theorisations of infrastructure as providing part of the explanation for how urban inequities are produced need to be anchored in the systematic and detailed empirical study of the network-in-use. Mapping the (changing) carrying capacities of pipes, storage capacities of service reservoirs and the strategic locations of new pipe extensions – to name a few important network descriptors – provides tangible entry-points for revealing and tracing how materials not only embody but also change social relations of power, thereby helping explain how inequities in access to water come about and endure.

KEYWORDS: Urban development, water supply, material power, pipes, Lilongwe, Malawi


Abstracting water to extract minerals in Mongolia’s South Gobi Province

Sara L. Jackson
Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA;

ABSTRACT: The Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine has become a symbol of the promise of mining to revive Mongolia’s struggling economy and to propel the nation into a new era of prosperity. Water resources are vital to the operation of Oyu Tolgoi, which is expected to be in operation for at least thirty years. However, local residents, particularly nomadic herders, have raised concerns about the redirection of water resources for mining. While the company claims that mining infrastructure has little to no impact on herders’ water resources, herders regularly report decreasing well water levels. With increased mining development throughout Mongolia’s Gobi Desert region, mining infrastructure and regulations are transforming local relationships to water and livelihoods. I argue that water infrastructure for mining symbolises the movement of water away from culturally embedded contexts towards water management practices that prioritise the needs of national development and corporate profits. This analysis contributes to the under-examined intersection of water and mining in the hydrosocial cycle literature and demonstrates the currency of 'modern water' in the context of global mining development. The research includes interviews and focus groups conducted with stakeholders, participant observation and document collection that took place in Mongolia from 2011 to 2012 with follow-up research conducted in 2015.

KEYWORDS: Water, nation, infrastructure, Oyu Tolgoi, Mongolia


Community management or coproduction? The role of state and citizens in rural water service delivery in India

Paul Hutchings
Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK;

ABSTRACT: This paper makes the case for a realignment in the discourse and conceptualisation of community management of rural water supply. It draws on data from 20 case studies of reportedly successful community management programmes from India to argue that current discourse is remiss not to describe the substantial role of the state and other supporting agencies in financing and supporting service provision. In the context of such substantial levels of support, conceptually, it is argued that the tendency to treat the challenge of rural water supply as one of either a community participation or collective action problem that only the community can address further limits current thinking in this area. Recasting the primary challenge of rural water service delivery as improved cooperation and coordination between state and citizen, the paper proposes a more substantial focus on coproduction as a route to overcome sustainability problems in rural water supply. The paper ends by reflecting on the generalisability of this thinking noting the specific context of the Indian empirical data. It concludes by arguing that, although certain aspects of the study are specific to that empirical domain, the normative and conceptual reasons for shifting the discourse remain applicable in broader contexts.

KEYWORDS: Community management, coproduction, rural water supply, India


Grounding the nexus: Examining the integration of small-scale irrigators into a national food security programme in Burkina Faso

Brian Dowd-Uribe
International Studies Department, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA;

Moussa Sanon
Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles, Gestion des Ressources Naturelles, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso;

Carla Roncoli
Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA;

Ben Orlove
School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA;

ABSTRACT: The water-food nexus literature examines the synergies and trade-offs of resource use but is dominated by large-scale analyses that do not sufficiently engage the local dimensions of resource management. The research presented here addresses this gap with a local-scale analysis of integrated water and food management in Burkina Faso. Specifically, we analyse the implementation of a national food security campaign (Opération Bondofa) to boost maize production in a subbasin that exhibits two important trends in Africa: a large increase in small-scale irrigators and the decentralisation of water management. As surface water levels dropped in the region, entities at different scales asserted increased control over water allocation, exposing the contested nature of new decentralised institutions, and powerful actors’ preference for local control. These scalar power struggles intersected with a lack of knowledge of small-scale irrigators’ cultural practices to produce an implementation and water allocation schedule that did match small-scale irrigator needs, resulting in low initial enthusiasm for the project. Increased attention from national governments to strengthen decentralised water management committees and spur greater knowledge of, and engagement with, small-scale irrigators can result in improved programme design to better incorporate small-scale irrigators into national food security campaigns.

KEYWORDS: Water-food nexus, small-scale irrigators, food security, decentralisation, irrigation, Burkina Faso