Volume 33, Issue 4

July 2017

Editorial »
Water as a human right

Cecilia Tortajada and Asit K. Biswas

Address of his holiness Pope Francis »
Pope Francis Address, Workshop on ‘The Human Right to Water: An interdisciplinary focus and contributions on the central role of public policies in water and sanitation management’, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 24 February 2017

Research Article

Does 91% of the world’s population really have “sustainable access to safe drinking water”?

Pedro Martínez-Santos
Department of Geodynamics, Faculty of Geological Sciences, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Contact: Pedro Martínez-Santos | Email: pemartin@ucm.es


Halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water was a core target of the Millennium Development Goals. This led to an unprecedented effort in the water sector, improving the livelihoods of millions of people. While the goal has officially been accomplished, unsuitable benchmarks have led to overstatement of the results. Indicators overemphasize improved water sources, disregarding the fact that many continue to be contaminated, unreliable or unaffordable. The alleged success needs to be reframed to avoid confusion, prevent investments from being reallocated away from the water sector and obtain more accurate estimates of water access.

Pages: 514–533


Research Article

Has water-saving irrigation recovered groundwater in the Hebei Province plains of China?

Hongbo Zhanga,b, Vijay P. Singhc, Dongyong Sunb, Qijun Yub and Wei Caob
aKey Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecological Effect in Arid Region of Ministry of Education, Xi’an, China; bSchool of Environmental Science and Engineering, Chang’an University, Xi’an, China; cDepartment of Biological and Agricultural Engineering & Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA

Contact: Hongbo Zhang | Email: hbzhang@chd.edu.cn


This study performed a quantitative evaluation of the impact of water-saving irrigation on the groundwater regime in the Hebei Province plains area. In this work, the change in groundwater regime and the contributions of precipitation and water-saving irrigation development were investigated. The results indicate that the groundwater overdraft has been mitigated to some extent, mainly due to changes in precipitation and the implementation of watersaving irrigation, with contributions of 64.3% and 35.7%, respectively, when considering only these two factors. Water-saving irrigation is accepted as an important means for reducing groundwater depletion, but should be used in conjunction with other measures.

Pages: 534–552


Research Article

Unpacking water conflicts: a reinterpretation of coordination problems in China’s water-governance system

Raymond Yu Wanga , Cho Nam Ngb, James Hans Lenzer Jr.b, Heping Dangc, Tao Liuand Shenjun Yaoe
aFaculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong; bDepartment of Geography, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong; cSchool of Humanities & Social Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, China; dCenter for Population and Development Studies, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China; eKey Laboratory of Geographic Information Science, Ministry of Education, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China

Contact: Tao Liu | Email: liutaopku@gmail.com


In China, water conflicts have been traditionally framed as the external costs of economic development and tackled with technocratic measures. This study examines water conflicts through the lens of water diversion, water allocation and water functional zoning. It reframes water conflicts as a result of coordination problems nested in complex inter-jurisdictional interactions. With a game-theoretic illustration, it identifies that individual and group heterogeneities are two challenges to effective coordination. It argues that China’s state-centric water institutions are tailored to optimize overall social utilities, yet they constrain coordination due to insufficient costs and benefits redistribution mechanisms at the local level.

Pages: 553–569

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2016.1197824 (Free Access)

Research Article

From implementation towards maintenance: sustaining collaborative initiatives for integrated floodplain management in the Netherlands

Jan M. Fliervoet and Riyan J. G. van den Born
Faculty of Science, Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Contact: Jan M. Fliervoet | Email: j.fliervoet@fnwi.ru.nl


Collaborative governance has been introduced in the planning and implementation phases of river management, but has not yet reached the maintenance phase. In anticipation of this, this article explores how stakeholders shape collaborative initiatives aimed at maintaining multifunctional floodplains by analyzing their framing of collaboration objectives and membership structures. The case study shows that participants envisioned a shared governance structure, while no consensus was attained on the underlying collaborative objectives. Moreover, the envisioned structure revealed a tendency towards separation instead of integration, because participants abandoned the idea of public–private collaboration, which had previously been adopted in the planning and implementation phases.

Pages: 570–590

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2016.1200962 (Open Access)

Research Article

Interactions between citizen responsibilization, flood experience and household resilience: insights from the 2013 flood in Germany

Chloe Begga,b, Maximilian Ueberhama, Torsten Massona,c and Christian Kuhlickea
aHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany; bLancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, United Kingdom; cDepartment of Social Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld, Germany

Contact: Chloe Begg | Email: chloe.begg@ufz.de


As increasing emphasis is placed on the importance of citizens’ taking responsibility for their own preparedness and protection against flooding, it is important to understand the relationship between responsibility and action and how current practices of responsibilization influence household resilience. Based on a survey of 889 households affected by flooding in 2013 in the states of Saxony and Bavaria, Germany, this study investigates the relationship between action and flood experience and how this experience influences whether citizens feel responsible, and therefore the likelihood that they will take action in the future. These findings have implications for household resilience as well as future research.

Pages: 591–608


Research Article

Resettlement for the Danjiangkou Dam heightening project in China: planning, implementation and effects

Dengcai Yana, Guoqing Shia, Zijiang Hub and Haibao Wanga
aNational Research Center for Resettlement, Hohai University, Nanjing, China; bFinance College, Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, China

Contact: Dengcai Yan | Email: dengcaiofyan@163.com


This article examines the planning, implementation and effects of resettlement for the Danjiangkou Dam Heightening Project. In the process of planning, the local government took full account of the long-term development of resettlers. In the process of implementation, resettlers could obtain compensation, subsidy, follow-up support and counterpart support. Their living and production conditions greatly improved after resettlement. The following factors contributed to successful resettlement: a development model of industry supporting agriculture; commitment of the central government; adequate funding; sound organizational systems; efficient government management mechanisms at various levels; and the favourable geographical location of the resettlement site.

Pages: 609–627


Research Article

Groundwater use and policy options for sustainable management in Southern Iraq

Ali A. Obeed Al-Azawia,b and Frank A. Wardc
aDepartment of Geosciences, University of Baghdad, Iraq; bDepartment of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, USA; cWater Science and Management Graduate Program, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, USA

Contact: Frank A. Ward | Email: fward@nmsu.edu


An important challenge facing the design of sustainable aquifer management plans is weak primary data on aquifer recharge and use patterns. Weak data limit the ability of policy makers to design efficient aquifer protection plans. The objectives of this article are (1) to estimate groundwater use patterns for an important food-producing region of southern Iraq, the Bahr Al-Najaf Basin; (2) to compare groundwater use patterns with the renewable groundwater supply; and (3) to describe a sustainable groundwater policy alternative to current use patterns. For this study, original data on groundwater pumping were secured for 2006–2011. The data show a pattern of unsustainable groundwater withdrawals. A policy intervention is described in which pumping permits could be assigned to groundwater users to promote sustainable use. Allowing or encouraging the permits to be transferable through trading to higher-valued uses could reduce the economic costs of protecting the aquifer while promoting its sustainable use.

Pages: 628–648


Research Article

Mapping water poverty in Africa using the improved Multidimensional Index of Water Poverty

Hatem Jemmali
Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management of Sousse, University of Sousse, Tunisia

Contact: Hatem Jemmali | Email: jemmalihatem@yahoo.fr


This article details the application of the improved Multidimensional Index of Water Poverty, which associates human economic welfare with physical water availability to point out the degree to which water scarcity impacts African populations. The index and its components vary widely across the African continent, suggesting the need for location-specific policy interventions. These findings highlight more specifically a significant disparity in water poverty between more developed but water-scarce countries, located mainly in northern and southern Africa, and water-rich but lower-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Pages: 649–666


Conference Reports

Impacts of droughts and floods in cities: policies and governance, World Water Week, Stockholm, 31 August 2016»

Observations on the Workshop on Water Policy Innovations, Institute of Water Policy, National University of Singapore, 6 February 2017»

Book Review

Land and hydropolitics in the Nile River Basin: challenges and new investments»