Volume 20, Issue 1

March 2004



Asit K. Biswas, Third World Centre for Water Management, Estado de Mexico, Mexico

E-mail: akbiswas@cablevision.net.mx

Abstract: The current debate on dams has become dogmatic, emotional, and somewhat counter- productive. There is no one single solution that would be valid for a heterogeneous world, with differing climatic, physical, social, economic and environmental conditions; varying institutional, technical and management capacities; dissimilar institutional and legal frameworks for managing water; and divergent levels of development and available technology. No single paradigm can be equally valid for all these differing conditions, and this includes dams. What is needed is a systematic approach, where the main objectives of water developments are first identified, i.e., poverty alleviation, regional income redistribution, economic efficiency and environmental conservation. The best alternative available to achieve these objectives for the area in question should then be sought. The best solution may or may not include dams. In the field of water development, small is not always beautiful and big is not always magnificent. Solutions must be case-specific, and they could vary from one location to another, and even at the same location over time. Solutions may include construction of dams, large, medium or small, and/or other alternatives such as rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge. There cannot be one, single, dogmatic, a priori answer of dams or no dams, in terms of optimal water resources development, which will suit all the different conditions of all the countries of this world, either at present, or for decades to come.


Dogan Altinbilek, International Hydropower Association and Department of Civil Engineering, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey

E-mail: hda@metu.edu.tr

Abstract: Issues related to the development and management of the Euphrates-Tigris basin are discussed. Historical perspectives on water conflict, geography, hydrology, water and land resources development in riparian countries, namely Turkey, Syria and Iraq, are examined. Problems and misconceptions related to water utilization are analysed with regard to water availability, water loss, water rights, the role of dams and reservoirs, and environmental problems of the Mesopotamian marshlands. Advantages and areas of co-operation between riparians are reviewed. Water conflict in the Euphrates-Tigris basin requires a hydro-political approach that covers legal, political, technical and economic aspects of its multi-dimensional characteristics.


Yutaka Takahasi, University of Tokyo/United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan

E-mail: takahasi@re-c.co.jp

Abstract: Dams were urgently needed in Japan during the 1950s to increase food production and hydropower generation, and to control floods. One of the first important protest movements against dams was organized during the 1960s for the Shimouke Dam on the Chikugo River. Though the construction of this Dam could not be stopped, the movement had major implications for dam construction later. An Act on Special Measures for Reservoir Development (ASMRAD) currently stipulates requirements for construction of dams which will submerge 20 or more households, or 20 hectares of agricultural land. Application of ASMRAD and the 1997 amendment to the River Law is discussed. Conflicts that arose due to the construction of the Nagara River Estuary Barrage are reviewed. The impacts of the Miyagase Dam on the environment and regional development are described.


Abdel Fattah Metawie, Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Giza, Egypt

E-mail: nwater@idsc.net.eg

Abstract: A significant feature of the River Nile is its trans-boundary nature. The basin is shared among 10 riparian states. This trans-boundary character of the Nile presents a great challenge. At the heart of such a challenge is the imperative of poverty eradication. The sustainable development of the River Nile can help alleviate poverty by providing enhanced food, power and water security and associated employment creation. Co-operation in the Nile basin started in the form of bilateral agreements at the beginning of the last century. As an example of bilateral co-operation, in November 1959 Sudan and Egypt signed an agreement for the utilization of the shared waters of the River Nile. This agreement considers the rights of other riparian countries to the Nile waters. Countries of the Nile basin have been engaged in regional co-operative activities over the past 30 years: ‘HYDROMET’, 1967-1993; ‘TECCONILE’, 1993-1999; and ‘NBI’, 1998-present. The transitional mechanism was officially launched in February 1999 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, by the Council of Ministers of Water Affairs of the Nile Basin States under the title of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). The NBI provides a unique forum for the countries of the Nile to move forward a co-operative process to realize tangible benefits in the basin and build a solid foundation of trust and confidence. The Nile basin countries have invested significant time, effort and resources into launching and sustaining the NBL The NBI provides a transitional institutional mechanism for co-operation, an agreed vision and basin-wide framework, and a process to facilitate substantial investment in the Nile basin. It is based on the recognition that the basin has a shared past and a shared future, and that there is an urgent need for development and for the alleviation of poverty. It represents deep commitment by the Nile riparian countries to foster co-operation and pursue jointly the sustainable development and management of Nile water resources for the benefit of all.


Takeshi Kadomatsu, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, Tokyo, Japan

E-mail: kadomatsu-2tu@mlit.go.jp

Abstract: It is important that headwaters development measures are selected taking into consideration the characteristics of each region, so that they are suited to its social and economic conditions. Many measures are studied and implemented, aiming at comprehensive regional growth taking account of the future of the region. Descriptions of measures intended to contribute to activating and establishing links with residents in water resources areas that benefited from dam projects are given, and specific examples of such measures that have been implemented in order to promote dam projects in Japan are introduced.


Joji Haradaa and Nario Yasudab

aYahagi Construction Company, Tokyo, Japan; bWater Resources Environment Technology Center, Tokyo, Japan

Contact: Nario Yasud, e-mail: n_yasuda@wec.or.jp

Abstract: Dams in Japan have contributed a great deal to the protection of life and properties, effectively prevented damage caused by floods, supported the maintenance of the normal functions of the river flow, and improved and conserved river environments. However, in recent years, many people in Japan have raised questions about the existing dams and dam projects without correct evaluation of the past impacts of dams. It has therefore become difficult to plan new dam projects and to operate existing dams properly as intended. People opposed to dams have commonly argued that dams inflict more damage on the environment than any other structure. For the reason that a dam will submerge its natural surroundings, counter measures to minimize its effects on the environment as much as possible should be taken, through every stage of the project. Particular attention should be given at the planning stage of dam projects. The latest developments in the conservation o the environment following dam construction and the concrete measures taken by dam constructors to follow the regulations concerned in Japan are described. The mitigation of the environmental impacts of dams and the restoration of the environments of downstream rivers are now the major issues.


Yutaka Takahasi, University of Tokyo/United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan

E-mail: takahasi@re-c.co.jp

Abstract: Prior to the old River Act of 1896, flood control measures in Japan were executed on the principle of a coexistence of the river and human activity. Until the 19th century, through the feudalistic period, the public sector did not have plans for completely controlling a large-scale flood, as it is almost impossible by only technological methods, in particular, to control a major flood in monsoon Asia. In practice, people in monsoon Asia live away from river courses and lowlands in order to alleviate flood damage. Farmers in those areas planted crops that could withstand inundation. The flood control strategy of the public sector laid emphasis on protecting the castle or city centre area, but not defending the whole area where people were living. In areas not protected by the public sector, people formed their own groups to fight against flood damage. They were skilful at flood fighting, and were familiar with the characteristics of floods and the behaviour of inundation in their river basins. Thus a kind of public-private partnership existed at that time. Based on the River Act of 1896, the Japanese government began historical flood control measures, with the aim of completely controlling even a huge flood. They constructed a high, continuous levee system, with broadening river width, and dredging of the river beds in key rivers in Japan. Almost all river improvement works had been finished by about 1930. The flood damage in alluvial plains decreased remarkably as a result of these major works. However, after the Second World War Japan suffered from severe flood damage almost every year. During the period of so-called high economic growth, from 1950 to 1970, Japanese engineers overcame water shortage and flood damage by constructing many dams with various river improvement works. Because of the high level of engineering required, it became unnecessary to co-operate with the private sector. Due to the continuously active river works, the riparian environment and its ecosystems were destroyed everywhere. The private sector also played an important part in environmental protection. Environmental topics are different for each region and river, and therefore the public sector could not standardize plans for the whole of Japan. Here, the necessity of new partnerships between public and private sectors in the present flood control and environmental policy in Japan should be recognized. In reviewing these facts, the River Act was revised in 1997, by adding the terms “conservation of river environment” and ‘referring to the inhabitants’ intentions”.


Raul Rodríguez, North American Development Bank, San Antonio, TX, USA

E-mail: rrodriguez@nadb.org

Abstract: The international community is becoming aware that the world is facing a major water crisis epitomized by the mismanagement of water. This paper explores the way water is thought about, debated and dealt with in regard to institutional frameworks, privatization, challenges related to financing water improvements, access and conservation, and the role of development banks in emerging markets and public-private partnerships. A greater focus on the financing challenges and the funding gap and a lesser obsession with asset ownership will pave the way for refined models of public-private partnerships, where governments develop and maintain their major roles in regulation and oversight, ensuring affordability and equity of access for poor, peri-urban populations, and fostering community and local stakeholders’ involvement.


Belgin Cakmak, Mevlüt Beyribey and Süleyman Kodal, Ankara University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Irrigation and Farm Structures, Ankara, Turkey

Contact: Belgin Cakmak, e-mail: cakmak@agri.ankara.edu.tr

Abstract: Countries’ social and economic policies as well as their priorities and preferences determine irrigation water pricing; it is a very complex, multi-dimensional and unknown problem in all countries. There is no guiding principle; therefore many different factors affect water pricing in agriculture. The water fee is the main revenue of Water User Associations (WUAS) in Turkey. Irrigation water fees have been determined by WUAS, taking into consideration crop area for gravity irrigation and volume for pump irrigation. Legal changes should be made in order to achieve sustainable WUAs immediately. Irrigation water pricing should be required to balance multiple objectives, such as economic efficiency, equity, water saving, management effectiveness and financial sustainability.

Workshop on Linking Drainage Basin Management to Local Action Plans and Policy, Stockholm Water Symposium, 11-14 August 2003