Folder Issue 2

June 2007



Groundwater governance: A tale of three participatory models in Andhra Pradesh, India

V. Ratna Reddy
Livelihoods and Natural Resources Management Institute (LNRMI), Hyderabad, India;

M. Srinivasa Reddy
Research Unit for Livelihoods and Natural Resources (RULNR), Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad, India;

Sanjit Kumar Rout
Livelihoods and Natural Resources Management Institute (LNRMI), Hyderabad, India;

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the possible options for community based groundwater management in India. The main focus of the study is to understand the functioning and efficiency of groundwater management institutions by comparing and contrasting three participatory groundwater models in Andhra Pradesh. The paper assesses the operational modalities and the impact of these institutions on access, equity and sustainability of groundwater use using the qualitative and quantitative information from three sample villages representing the institutional models.Social regulation approach is observed to work better for sustainable groundwater management when compared to the knowledge-intensive approach, as the latter is not designed to address equity. Water use and sharing through regulation has benefits like increased area under protective irrigation. In the absence of any regulations, formal or informal, and in the given policy environment, the farmers do not have any incentive to follow good practices. Thus, encouraging water sharing between well owners and others would contribute to achieving the twin objectives of conservation and improved access with equity. However, community-based groundwater management is neither simple nor easily forthcoming. It requires a lot of effort, working through complex rural dynamics at various levels, since appropriate policies to support or encourage such initiatives are not in place. It is argued that there is need for developing an integrated model drawing from these three models in order to make it more generic and applicable globally. Such a model should integrate scientific, socioeconomic and policy aspects that suit the local conditions.

KEYWORDS: Groundwater, governance, participatory management, social regulation, India


Equity, efficiency and sustainability in water allocation in the Andes: Trade-offs in a full world

María Cecilia Roa-García
Fundación Evaristo García, Cali, Colombia;

ABSTRACT: Conflicts between water users are increasing, making evident the lack of a judicious, balanced and transparent procedure for water allocation. This is particularly apparent in regions where demand comes from users with a wide range of needs and different levels of power, and where human appropriation of water is reaching unsustainable levels. Allocation mechanisms with varying degrees of governmental intervention exist in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and they reflect the priorities that these societies give to relevant normative principles governing water: equity, efficiency and sustainability. Water laws in these three countries indicate that 1) while efficiency has become the bastion of neo-liberalisation, equity and sustainability principles are either neglected or become subsidiary, 2) implicit definitions of equity fall short in promoting the interests of the disadvantaged, and 3) the complex definition, measurement and monitoring of what constitutes a sustainable scale of human water use, make it an impractical goal. Achieving a balance between equity, efficiency and sustainability appears unrealistic, suggesting the need to remove efficiency as a principle in water allocation and make it an important but subsidiary tool to equity and sustainability.

KEYWORDS: Water allocation, equity, efficiency, scale, sustainability, comparative law, Andes


Designing programme implementation strategies to increase the adoption and use of biosand water filters in rural India

Tommy K.K. Ngai
Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), Calgary, Alberta, Canada;

Richard A. Fenner
Centre for Sustainable Development, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England;

ABSTRACT: Low-cost household water treatment systems are innovations designed to improve the quality of drinking water at the point of use. This study investigates how an NGO can design appropriate programme strategies in order to increase the adoption and sustained use of household sand filters in rural India. A system dynamics computer model was developed and used to assess 18 potential programme strategies for their effectiveness in increasing filter use at two and ten years into the future, under seven scenarios of how the external context may plausibly evolve. The results showed that the optimal choice of strategy is influenced by the macroeconomic situation, donor funding, presence of alternative options, and the evaluation time frame. The analysis also revealed some key programme management challenges, including the trade-off between optimising short- or long-term gains, and counter-intuitive results, such as higher subsidy fund allocation leading to fewer filter distribution, and technology advances leading to fewer sales. This study outlines how an NGO can choose effective strategies in consideration of complex system interactions. This study demonstrated that small NGOs can dramatically increase their programme outcomes without necessarily increasing operational budget.

KEYWORDS: Biosand water filter, household water treatment, innovation diffusion, project management, India


The imposition of participation? The case of participatory water management in coastal Bangladesh

Camelia Dewan
Department of Social Anthropology, SOAS, University of London, London;

Marie-Charlotte Buisson
International Water Management Institute, New Delhi, India;

Aditi Mukherji
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal;

ABSTRACT: Community-based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) has been promoted as part of the development discourse on sustainable natural resources management since the mid-1980s. It has influenced recent water policy in Bangladesh through the Guidelines for Participatory Water Management (GPWM) where community-based organisations are to participate in the management of water resources. This paper reviews the extent of success of such participatory water management. It does so by first discussing the changing discourses of participation in Bangladesh’s water policy from social mobilisation to decentralised CBNRM. Second, Bangladesh is used as a case study to draw attention to how the creation of separate water management organisations has been unable to promote inclusive participation. It argues that the current form of decentralisation through a CBNRM framework has not resulted in its stated aims of equitable, efficient, and sustainable management of natural resources; rather it has duplicated existing local government institutions. Finally, it questions the current investments into community-based organisations and recommends that the role of local government in water management be formally recognised.

KEYWORDS: Community-based natural resources management, participatory water management, local government institutions, Bangladesh


Watershed governance: Transcending boundaries

Seanna L. Davidson
Water Policy and Governance Group, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada;

Rob C. de Loë
Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada;

ABSTRACT: Watershed boundaries are widely accepted by many water practitioners and researchers as the de facto ideal boundary for both water management and governance activities. In governance, watershed boundaries are typically considered an effective way to integrate the social, political, and environmental systems they encompass. However, the utility and authenticity of the watershed boundary for water governance should not be assumed. Instead, both scholars and practitioners ought to carefully consider the circumstances under which watershed boundaries provide an appropriate frame for governance. The purpose of this paper is to identify how water governance can transcend the watershed boundary. An empirical case study of governance for water in Ontario, Canada, reveals boundary-related challenges. In this case, issues relating to boundary selection, accountability, participation and empowerment, policysheds and problemsheds reveal the strengths and weaknesses of relying on watershed boundaries as a frame of reference for governance. The case also highlights promising alternatives that are being used to transcend the watershed boundary.

KEYWORDS: Water governance, watershed boundaries, Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada


Water scarcity in England and Wales as a failure of (meta)governance

Gareth Walker
School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom;

ABSTRACT: The water crisis is often said to be a crisis of governance failure rather than of availability per se; yet the sources of this failure are poorly understood. This paper examines contemporary water scarcity in England and Wales as a failure of ecological modernity, in which technical and institutional innovation is promoted as a means of increasing economic efficiency in the allocation and use of water resources. The role of the state in fostering this innovation is explored through exploring a shift from ‘government’ to ‘governance’. The paper employs Jessop’s theory of meta-governance to examine governance failure. Meta-governance represents the capacity of the state to flank or support the emergence of specific forms of governance through mobilising material or symbolic resources. Three sources of governance failure are explored: (1) the nature of capitalist exchange and its resulting production of nature, (2) the political dimensions implicit in meta-governance, and (3) the nature of governance as a task of self-organisation. The model is then applied to the rise of water scarcity in England and Wales from the 1970s to the present day. The utility of the model in analysing governance failure is discussed.

KEYWORDS: Water scarcity, water governance, meta-governance, water privatisation, England and Wales


Organisational modalities of farmer-led irrigation development in Tsangano District, Mozambique

Francis Nkoka
World Bank, Lilongwe, Malawi;

Gert Jan Veldwisch
Water Resources Management Group of Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands;

Alex Bolding
Water Resources Management Group of Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the organisational modalities of farmer-led irrigation systems in Tsangano, Mozambique, which has expanded over large areas with minimal external support. By looking at their historic development trajectories and the integrated nature of land and water resources, technological objects, and people three organisational modalities of irrigation system O&M are distinguished for furrow systems in Tsangano: communal systems, former Portuguese systems, and family systems. Each organisational modality is based on a particular development/investment history through which hydraulic property relations have been established and sustained.The findings cast serious doubts on the central tenets of neo-institutional policy prescriptions. This is particularly relevant as there is a renewed interest in large-scale irrigation development in Africa through public investment, after very limited investments between 1985 and 2005. Public irrigation investment in Africa has been widely perceived to have performed poorly. Farmer-led irrigation development, as studied in this paper, could be the basis for a cost-effective alternative to scale investments that can result in sustainable and pro-poor smallholder irrigation.The findings in this paper show how investments in infrastructure can create, recreate or extinguish hydraulic property and ownership relations, which can lead to collapse. Interveners should carefully investigate prior investment patterns and context-specific cultural logics that inform the sustainability of farmer-led irrigation development.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation, FMIS, farmer-led development, hydraulic property, institutional design principles, Mozambique