Folder Issue2

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;

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.


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;

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.


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;
Stacey Noel
Stockholm Environment Institute, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania;

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.


Paradox of the moving boundary: Legal heredity of river accretion and avulsion

John W. Donaldson
Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, UK;

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.


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;

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.


Understanding the emergence and functioning of river committees in a catchment of the Pangani basin, Tanzania

Hans C. Komakech
UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands; and Department of Water Resources, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands;
Pieter van der Zaag
UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands; and Department of Water Resources, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: In this paper we explore the emergence and functioning of river committees (RCs) in Tanzania, which are local water management structures that allocate and solve water conflict between different water users (smallholder irrigators, large commercial farmers, municipalities, etc) along one river. The paper is based on empirical research of three committees in the Themi sub-catchment. The committees mostly emerged in response to drought-induced competition and conflict over water, rapid urbanisation around Arusha town, and the presence of markets for agricultural produce. The RCs are mainly active during dry seasons when water is scarce. We find that the emergence of the RCs can be understood by using the concept of institutional bricolage. We then assess their effective functioning with the help of the eight design principles proposed by Ostrom and find that the best performing RC largely complied with five of them, which indicates that not all principles are necessary for a water institution to be effective and to endure over time. The other two studied RCs complied with only three of these principles. All RCs leave the resource boundary open to negotiation, which lowers the transaction cost of controlling the boundaries and also allows future demands to be met in the face of increasing resource variability. All RCs do not fully comply with the principle that all affected must take part in rule creation and modification. In all three cases, finally, the 'nesting' of lower-level institutional arrangements within higher-level ones is inconsistent. To explain the difference in the performance of the three RCs we need to consider factors related to heterogeneity. We find that the functioning of RCs is strongly influenced by group size, spatial distance, heterogeneity of users and uses, and market forces.


Is individual metering socially sustainable? The case of multifamily housing in France

Bernard Barraqué
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Agroparistech -€“ CIRED, Paris, France ;

ABSTRACT: Before generalising water metering and billing at the apartment level for consumer equity reasons, and alleviating the burden of water bills for poor families through increasing block tariffs (IBTs), Paris Council asked for some expert advice. The pros and cons of two separate issues -€“ IBTs efficiency and justice; and individual household metering -€“ were mixed. Our research first summarises various studies of the redistributive effects of tariff changes, first from flat rates to metering, and then from uniform prices to IBTs. We address the particular case of multifamily housing, where it is possible to retain collective billing, while relying on sub-metering to allocate the bill. The limitations of classical econometric surveys on large samples (in terms of understanding households' strategies with tap water) support the need for supplementary detailed sociological surveys at neighbourhood or building levels, if only to check the unexpected redistributive effects of tariff changes in practice. We review the specific French situation, peculiarly in Paris, to show that individual apartment billing is more costly and tends to have regressive effects. Like other cities in France, Paris abandoned the implementation of Art. 93 of the 2000 law, which encouraged individual billing; and we explain why.


Water policy in Texas: Responding to the rise of scarcity (Griffin, R.C.; Ed. 2011).
Zachary Sugg


Water politics and development cooperation (Scheumann, W.; Neubert, S. and Kipping, M.; Eds. 2008).
Maria Koenig


Time to reform South African water reforms: A review of '€œTransforming water management in South Africa'€ (Schreiner, B. and Hassan, R.; Eds. 2011).
Douglas J. Merrey


Water, place and equity (Whiteley, J.M.; Ingram, H. and Perry, R.W.; Eds. 2008).
Timothy Moss