Volume 33, Issue 2

March 2017

Research Article

Water and human livelihood resilience: a regional-to-global outlook

Malin Falkenmarka,b
aStockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden; bStockholm International Water Institute, Sweden

Contact: Malin Falkenmark | Email: malin.falkenmark@su.se


This article addresses the need to profoundly expand the way we think about freshwater. Stressing water’s role as the bloodstream of the biosphere, the article highlights water’s functions in sustaining life on the planet (control, state and moisture feedback functions), the role of water partitioning changes in inducing non-linear change at multiple scales, and humanity’s influence on a social-ecological system’s capacity to adapt and continue to function. It reviews water’s roles during its journey through the upper layers of the land mass, different types of water–ecosystem interactions, and water’s roles in landscape-scale resilience building.

Pages: 181-197

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2016.1190320 (Free Access)

State of the Art Review

Water pricing reform in China

Dajun Shena and Juan Wub
aSchool of Environment and Natural Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China; bDepartment of Water Resources, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing, China

Contact: Dajun Shen | Email:  dajunshen@ruc.edu.cn


This paper reviews water pricing reform in China after 1980, including framework, process, forces and considerations. China collects a water resources fee, a water supply tariff for hydraulic engineering, an urban water supply tariff, a wastewater collection and treatment tariff, and a pollutant discharge fee. The reform has been an exploration process. In theory, a comprehensive, systematic and advanced policy and framework have been developed. However, in practice, the reforms fluctuate among economic, social and environmental targets; do not comply with the reform objectives; and are heavily affected by external social and economic factors rather than by internal factors.

Pages: 198-232


Research Article

Towards a shared understanding of water security risks in the public and private sectors

Hannah Baletaa‡ and Kevin Winterb‡
aPegasys, Resilience Department, Cape Town, South Africa; bEnvironmental and Geographical Science Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Contact: Hannah Baleta | Email:  hannah@pegasys.co.za


This article investigates the knowledge and understanding of water risks, and how these are perceived in the private and public sectors. The article is based on a case-study catchment dominated by agricultural activity near Grabouw, in the Western Cape, South Africa. Starting with an overview of the hydrological context, the article follows with a discussion of the current water challenges and water-related risk perceptions of private- and public-sector actors. A conceptual framework is proposed, mapping the different water security risks. The article suggests that water management is improved when different actors acknowledge their shared water risks.

Pages: 233-245


Research Article

A methodology to assess drought management as applied to six European case studies

Julia Urquijoa,b, David Pereirab, Susana Diasc and Lucia De Stefanoa
aDepartamento de Geodinámica, Facultad de Ciencias Geológicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain; bDepartamento de Proyectos y Planificación Rural, E.T.S. Ingenieros Agrónomos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain; cCentro Ecologia Aplicada Baeta Neves, Instituto Superior de Agronomia (CEABN/InBIO), Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Contact: Julia Urquijo | Email:  jurquijo@ucm.es


The improvement of future responses to drought requires evaluating past management practices. This article presents a methodology to assess drought management through the analysis of six key policy dimensions. It uses a qualitative approach that combines different sources of information, including both factual data and stakeholders’ perceptions. The assessment is based on a six-case study in Europe having different spatial scales and characteristics, to capture the context-specific nature of response to drought. The results of the assessment help analyze drought management from a risk-management perspective as well as to identify key policy gaps and recommendations.

Pages: 246-269


Research Article

Improving the effectiveness of aid: an evaluation of prospective Mekong irrigation investments

J.M. Kandulu and J.D. Connor
CSIRO Economics, Productivity and Sustainability Group, Urrbrae, Australia

Contact: J. M. Kandulu | Email:  john.kandulu@csiro.au


Large irrigation systems seem to be the logical add-on investment to the hydropower projects which are being planned in the Mekong Basin. Economic evaluations of irrigation schemes to date have not considered environmental costs and uncertainties about utilization. Comparisons between economic returns and poverty alleviation benefits from irrigation and from investments in other sectors are also sparse. A benefit–cost analysis of prospective irrigation investments in Lao PDR considering all these factors found that farm-scale irrigation investments performed better than large-scale investments. The benefit–cost ratio and head-count poverty reduction from large-scale irrigation investment were also substantially lower than for education, road construction and agricultural research and development.

Pages: 270-291


Research Article

Water-saving strategies for irrigation agriculture in Saudi Arabia

S. Multscha, A.S. Alquwaizanyb, O.A. Alharbib, M. Pahlowc, H.-G. Fredea and L. Breuera,d
aInstitute for Landscape Ecology and Resources Management (ILR), Research Centre for BioSystems, Land Use and Nutrition (IFZ), Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany; bResearch Institute for Water and Energy, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; cWater Management Group, Twente Water Centre, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands; dCentre for International Development and Environmental Research, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany

Contact: S. Multsch | Email: sebastian.multsch@umwelt.uni-giessen.de


Agriculture policy changes in Saudi Arabia are investigated by water footprint (WF) assessment. WF is calculated with the model SPARE:WATER for 3758 irrigated sites. The WF of agriculture areas (WFarea, km3  yr−1) has decreased (–17%) since the year 2000 to 13.84  km3  yr−1 (2011), which is mainly caused by the reduction of cropland by –33%. Nevertheless, water consumption per field has increased about 16%, which can be attributed to the cultivation of fodder crops (+12%). A scenario analysis revealed that a shifting cropping pattern towards less fodder crops reduces WFarea by –15%, and implementing improved irrigation technology leads to a combined reduction of up to 32%.

Pages: 292-309


Research Article

Unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria’s public spaces: the political economy angle

Emmanuel M. Akpabioa,b and Eti-ido S. Udofiaa
aDepartment of Geography and Natural Resources Management, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Uyo, Nigeria; bDisaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan

Contact: Emmanuel M. Akpabio | Email:  emakpabio@yahoo.com


Water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services in public spaces are examined from the political economy perspective in Nigeria. Through field observations and interviews, the study observed that WaSH practices at public spaces are less than optimal on account of poor or outright absence of necessary WaSH infrastructure and weak or non-existent regulation and enforcement of necessary standards, among other challenges. Socio-economic factors related to the category of users and the proprietary interests of specific spaces largely accounted for WaSH services inequality. It is argued that the failure of the state to guarantee functional WaSH infrastructure and enforce standard practices opens space for differentiated practices and standards consistent with specific interests.

Pages: 310-325



Water crisis in Africa: myth or reality?

Pradeep K. Naik
Central Ground Water Board, North Western Region, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Govt. of India, Chandigarh

Contact: Pradeep K. Naik | Email:  pradeep.naik@water.net.in


Water is an issue that relates to all aspects of human development in Africa, including health, agriculture, education, economics, and even peace and stability. But the perception that Africa has perpetual water scarcity and is heading towards water crisis is challenged by a significant number of water professionals. Although most agree that Africa suffers from economic water scarcity, physical water scarcity could possibly be controlled with better water management. The large amount of international aid granted annually to Africa is a subject of criticism. This article examines the water crisis in Africa, whether it is a myth or reality, and reasons thereof, and suggests remedial measures.

Pages: 326-339



The fallacious strategy of virtual water trade 

Shaofeng Jiaa,b, Qiubo Longa,b,c and Wenhua Liua,b
aInstitute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing; bKey Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing; cCollege of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing

Contact: Shaofeng Jia | Email:  jiasf@igsnrr.ac.cn


Since the concept of virtual water was put forward, there has been an increasing number of papers on the topic, as a result of which virtual water is now being mainstreamed in the water policy world. Unfortunately, virtual water trade strategy as a solution to water shortages is wrong and fallacious. Although the virtual water trade theory is considered a descendant of the comparative advantage theory of economics, it is in fact an over-simplification, going from the truth to fallacy. To make decisions of virtual water trade based on only one production factor, water, though there are many other production factors that influence the allocation of resources at the same time, is misleading theoretically and practically.

Pages: 340-347