Folder Issue 1



A compact to revitalise large-scale irrigation systems using a leadership-partnership-ownership 'theory of change'

Bruce Lankford
University of East Anglia, UEA, Norwich, UK;

Ian Makin
International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka;

Nathanial Matthews
Water Land and Ecosystems (WLE) Programme, Colombo, Sri Lanka;

Peter G. McCornick
International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka;

Andrew Noble
International Centre for Agriculture in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Amman, Jordan;

Tushaar Shah
International Water Management Institute, Anand, India;

ABSTRACT: In countries with transitional economies such as those found in South Asia, large-scale irrigation systems (LSIS) with a history of public ownership account for about 115 million ha (Mha) or approximately 45% of their total area under irrigation. In terms of the global area of irrigation (320 Mha) for all countries, LSIS are estimated at 130 Mha or 40% of irrigated land. These systems can potentially deliver significant local, regional and global benefits in terms of food, water and energy security, employment, economic growth and ecosystem services. For example, primary crop production is conservatively valued at about US$355 billion. However, efforts to enhance these benefits and reform the sector have been costly and outcomes have been underwhelming and short-lived. We propose the application of a 'theory of change' (ToC) as a foundation for promoting transformational change in large-scale irrigation centred upon a 'global irrigation compact' that promotes new forms of leadership, partnership and ownership (LPO). The compact argues that LSIS can change by switching away from the current channelling of aid finances controlled by government irrigation agencies. Instead it is for irrigators, closely partnered by private, public and NGO advisory and regulatory services, to develop strong leadership models and to find new compensatory partnerships with cities and other river basin neighbours. The paper summarises key assumptions for change in the LSIS sector including the need to initially test this change via a handful of volunteer systems. Our other key purpose is to demonstrate a ToC template by which large-scale irrigation policy can be better elaborated and discussed.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation, food security, water security, ecosystem services, theory of change



A political economy of environmental impact assessment in the Mekong Region

Andrew Wells-Dang
Independent researcher, 57 Tran Phu, Hoi An, Vietnam;

Kyaw Nyi Soe
Pact/Mekong Partnership for the Environment, Yangon, Myanmar;

Lamphay Inthakoun
Independent researcher, Nonghai village, Hatxaifong district, Vientiane, Lao PDR;

Prom Tola
Independent researcher, House No. 85E1, Street 107, Sangkat O Reussey 4, Khan Chamcarmon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia;

Penh Socheat
Pact/Mekong Partnership for the Environment, Phnom Penh, Cambodia;

Thi Thanh Van Nguyen
Pact/Mekong Partnership for the Environment, Hanoi, Vietnam;

Areerat Chabada
Pact/Mekong Partnership for the Environment; Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand;

Worachanok Youttananukorn
Pact/Mekong Partnership for the Environment; Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand;

ABSTRACT: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an issue of concern to governments, organized civil society groups, as well as business actors in the Mekong region. EIA and related forms of environmental assessments are being carried out throughout the region with varying levels of quality, legal frameworks, monitoring and compliance. Through a political economy approach, we seek to understand the interests and incentives among key stakeholders in each of the five Mekong region countries and propose ways that EIA processes can potentially be improved, with reference to hydropower and other infrastructure and development projects. The analysis is based on a collaborative research process carried out under the auspices of the Mekong Partnership for the Environment, a USAID-funded program implemented by Pact that aims to advance regional cooperation on environmental governance. We find that at present, EIA implementation is limited by numerous political economy constraints, some general across the Mekong region, others specific to one or more country contexts. Certain of these constraints can be addressed through a regional cooperative approach, while others will require longer-term changes in social and political dynamics to encourage uptake and impact and avoid possible blockage from entrenched interest groups.

KEYWORDS: Environmental Impact Assessment, political economy, infrastructure, hydropower, governance, economic development, Mekong region



Bulk Water Suppliers in the City of Harare – An endogenous form of privatisation of urban domestic water services in Zimbabwe?

Emmanuel Manzungu
University of Zimbabwe, Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, Harare, Zimbabwe;

Margret Mudenda-Damba
University of Zimbabwe, Centre for Applied Social Sciences, Harare, Zimbabwe;

Simon Madyiwa
University of Zimbabwe, Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, Harare, Zimbabwe;

Vupenyu Dzingirai
University of Zimbabwe, Centre for Applied Social Sciences, Harare, Zimbabwe;

Special Musoni
University of Zimbabwe, Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, Harare, Zimbabwe;

ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the phenomenon of bulk water suppliers in the city of Harare, Zimbabwe’s largest urban metropolis and capital. Bulk water suppliers began in 2005 to sell domestic water to middle- and high-income suburbs because of shortcomings in the city’s water delivery system without state regulation, and have since become a permanent feature of the Zimbabwean urban waterscape. The study was conducted between 2012 and 2013 in three up-market suburbs of Harare, which were known to depend on bulk water suppliers. State regulation of bulk water suppliers was introduced in 2013, close to a decade after the start of operations, indicating a reactive and reluctant acknowledgement that bulk water suppliers were now significant players in water service provision. The regulation was, however, poorly conceptualised, based on potable water standards, which proved to be cumbersome and placed onerous demands on the suppliers. The paper concludes that bulk water suppliers are playing a critical role in water service provision in Zimbabwe’s largest metropolis and represent a spontaneous injection of local private capital in the urban domestic water supply sector. They can therefore be seen as a viable endogenous form of privatisation of urban domestic water service (as contrasted to multinational companies) but should be viewed as complementing rather than replacing functional urban water supply systems. The operations of bulk water suppliers can be enhanced if a regulatory regime, informed by realities on the ground is crafted.

KEYWORDS: Urban domestic water supply, privatisation, waterscape, bulk water suppliers, Zimbabwe



Critical reflections on building a community of conversation about water governance in Australia

Naomi Rubenstein
Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University, Australia;

Philip J. Wallis
Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University, Australia;

Raymond L. Ison
Engineering & Innovation Department, Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK,

Lee Godden
Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia;

ABSTRACT: Water governance has emerged as a field of research endeavour in response to failures of current and historical management approaches to adequately address persistent decline in ecological health of many river catchments and pressures on associated communities. Attention to situational framing is a key aspect of emerging approaches to water governance research, including innovations that build capacity and confidence to experiment with approaches capable of transforming situations usefully framed as 'wicked'. Despite international investment in water governance research, a national research agenda on water governance was lacking in Australia in the late 2000s as were mechanisms to build the capacity of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and collaborative policy practice. Through a two-year Water Governance Research Initiative (WGRI), we designed and facilitated the development of a community of conversation between researchers concerned with the dynamics of human-ecological systems from the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, policy, economics, law and philosophy. The WGRI was designed as a learning system, with the intention that it would provide opportunities for conversations, learning and reflection to emerge. In this paper we outline the starting conditions and design of the WGRI, critically reflect on new narratives that arose from this initiative, and evaluate its effectiveness as a boundary organisation that contributed to knowledge co-production in water governance. Our findings point to the importance of investment in institutions that can act as integrative and facilitative governance mechanisms, to build capacity to work with and between research, policy, local stakeholders and practitioners.

KEYWORDS: Water governance, learning systems, knowledge systems, networks, Australia



The Italian water movement and the politics of the commons

Chiara Carrozza
Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal;

Emanuele Fantini
Department of Integrated Water Systems and Governance, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: The article contributes to the debate on the commons as a political strategy to counter the privatisation of water services by focusing on the experience of the Italian water movement. It addresses the question: how has the notion of the commons – popularly associated with the Global South – been understood, adopted and translated into practice by social movements in a European country like Italy? We identify three different understandings of the commons coexisting within the Italian water movement – emphasising universality, locality and participation. We describe the political claims and the initiatives informed by these understandings, and the actors which promoted them. Our analysis underlines that the polysemy of the notion of the commons, its complementarity with the 'human right to water' and its overlapping with the idea of 'public' not only proved to be effective in the Italian case, but also posed challenges when it came to translate the notion of the commons into specific governance and management frameworks. The politics of the commons defines the space where these dynamics unfold: it is more articulated than a mere rhetorical reference to the commons, but less homogeneous and coherent than the idea of a 'commons movement'.

KEYWORDS: Commons, water, social movements, privatisation, Italy



The struggle for residential water metering in England and Wales

David Zetland
Leiden University College, The Hague, The Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: The transformation of water services that began with the privatisation of water companies in 1989 extended to households with the implementation of water metering. Meters 'privatised' water and the cost of provision by allocating to individual households costs that had previously been shared within the community. This (ongoing) conversion of common pool to private good has mostly improved economic, environmental and social impacts, but the potential burden of metering on poorer households has slowed the transition. Stronger anti-poverty programmes would be better at addressing this poverty barrier than existing coping mechanisms reliant on subsidies from other water consumers.

KEYWORDS: Water meters, collective goods, privatisation, regulation, England, Wales



Cultivating the desert: Irrigation expansion and groundwater abstraction in Northern State, Sudan

Stephen Fragaszy
Independent Consultant; Research undertaken whilst at SoGE, University of Oxford, UK;

Alvar Closas
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Cairo, Egypt;

ABSTRACT: This study examines the socioeconomic features that underpin the expansion of groundwater-dependent irrigation in Northern State, Sudan. Groundwater development in the region serves as an economic lifeline given the poor Nile-based irrigation infrastructure and future changes in Nile hydrology. Groundwater-dependent irrigation is found to be expanding in previously uncultivated regions increasingly distant from the Nile. The study finds these historically marginal lands are targeted for capital-intensive agricultural projects because landholding patterns in traditionally cultivated areas preclude new large developments and improved infrastructure has lowered farming costs in distant terraces. Private companies and large landholders have a history of successful agricultural ventures in Northern State and are reliant on easily accessible and reliable groundwater resources for these new farms.

KEYWORDS: Groundwater abstraction, irrigation, agriculture, land tenure, Saharan Nile, Sudan