Volume 35, Issue 2

March 2019


Editorial »
Why water is not in the international political agenda
Asit K. Biswas

State-of-the-art review: Global water infrastructure

Neil S. Grigg
Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Contact: Neil S. Grigg | Email:  neilg@engr.colostate.edu


Water infrastructure is multifaceted and essential to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Major categories include dams and hydropower, water supply and sanitation, and irrigation, while stormwater, river and coastal works, and natural systems also provide valuable services. Security concerns have risen on the scale of importance globally. Integrated management approaches can balance natural and built systems, but they face institutional barriers. Research and scholarship can contribute to solutions when directed towards important issues.

Pages: 181-205


Role of economic instruments in water allocation reform: lessons from Europe

Dolores Reya, Carlos Dionisio Pérez-Blancob,c,d, Alvar Escriva-Boue, Corentin Girardand Ted I. E. Veldkampg
aCranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, UK; bRAAS Division, Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC), Venice, Italy; cDepartment of Economics, Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Spain; dFondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), Venice, Italy; eWater Policy Center, Public Policy Institute of California, San Francisco, USA; fFundación Observatorio del Cambio Climático, Valencia, Spain; gInstitute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University Amsterdam

Contact: Dolores Rey | Email:  d.reyvicario@cranfield.ac.uk


A growing number of countries are reforming their water allocation regimes through the use of economic instruments. This article analyzes the performance of economic instruments in water allocation reforms compared against their original design objectives in five European countries: England, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. We identify the strengths of, barriers to and unintended consequences of economic instruments in the varying socio-economic, legal, institutional and biophysical context in each case study area, and use this evidence to draw out underlying common guidelines and recommendations. These lessons will help improve the effectiveness of future reforms while supporting more efficient water resources allocation.

Pages: 206-239

Urban water supply in Sub-Saharan Africa: historical and emerging policies and institutional arrangements

Ellis Adjei Adamsa, Daniel Sambub and Sarah L. Smileyc
aGlobal Studies Institute, Department of Geosciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA; bDepartment of Geography and Earth Science, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, USA; cDepartment of Geography, Kent State University, Salem, OH, USA

Contact: Ellis Adjei Adams | Email:  eadams23@gsu.edu


This article synthesizes the literature on historical and emerging institutional arrangements for urban water supply in Sub-Saharan Africa to highlight successes, drawbacks, and opportunities for improving future water access. It traces the influence of decadeslong global water initiatives on urban water-policy reforms in the region and reviews evidence on emerging community self-help and partnership models. Finally, it discusses the merits, targets and potential of Sustainable Development Goal 6 to improve urban water access in the region. The findings suggest that improving urban water supply in Sub-Saharan Africa requires innovative governance and institutional arrangements that blend the strengths of public, private and community-based water supply models.

Pages: 240-263

Groundwater regulation in case of overdraft: national groundwater policy implementation in north-west China

Eefje Aarnoudsea,b, Bettina Bluemlinga,c, Wei Qud and Thomas Herzfelda,e
Department of Agricultural Policy, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies, Halle (Saale), Germany; bCenter for International Development and Environmental Research, Giessen University, Germany; cCopernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Netherlands; dCollege of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, China; eMartin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany

Contact: Eefje Aarnoudse | Email:  eefje.aarnoudse@zeu.uni-giessen.de


This article analyzes why China’s national groundwater policy is implemented in a fragmented way. The question is addressed through a comparative case-study analysis of groundwater management in north-west China. The analysis focuses on the institutional context in which local government agencies responsible for groundwater management operate. It was found that direct pressure from the central government promotes policy implementation. Yet, the distribution of surface and groundwater management responsibilities over different government agencies also influences the importance attached to groundwater regulation. In a conjunctive-use setting the integration of surface water and groundwater management facilitates effective groundwater regulation.

Pages: 264-282

State, market or community failure? Untangling the determinants of groundwater depletion in Copiapó (Chile)

Jean-Daniel Rinaudoa and Guillermo Donosob
BRGM, Montpellier University, France; bDepartment of Agricultural Economics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago

Contact: Jean-Daniel Rinaudo | Email:  jd.rinaudo@brgm.fr


This article analyzes the factors that explain why groundwater can be over-exploited despite the existence of sophisticated water laws, institutions and effective state agencies responsible for water management. The analysis is based on a case study conducted in the Copiapó Valley in northern Chile. Based on an analysis of water use data, policy documents and interviews with a variety of stakeholders, the article highlights the state’s failure to perform some of its key missions and the ineffectiveness of groundwater users’ associations in water management despite a very supportive legal framework. The article concludes with some recommendations on how ensure longterm sustainable groundwater use.

Pages: 283-304

Making space for women: civil society organizations, gender and hydropower development in the Mekong region

Phimphakan Lebela, Louis Lebela,b, Darunee Singphonphraic, Chatta Duangsuwana and Yishu Zhoub
aUnit for Social and Environmental Research, School of Public Policy, Chiang Mai University, Thailand; bInstitute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; cFaculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Contact: Louis Lebe | Email:  llebel@loxinfo.co.th


Large-scale hydropower development disrupts local livelihoods and resource access. Adverse impacts are often greater for women than men, but also large for children, the elderly, poorer households and ethnic minorities. Burdens of resettlement often fall disproportionately on already disadvantaged individuals. The purpose of this study was to evaluate how international, national and local civil society organizations (CSOs) have addressed gender in hydropower development in the Mekong Region. Four CSO orientations are distinguished: communitarian, environmentalist, knowledge-based and feminist. Common activities of CSOs were to share information, to expand participation and to mobilize development. The extent to which these activities were promoted and appear to be making space for women depended on the types of CSOs and women and men targeted or otherwise involved.

Pages: 305-325

Adaptive co-management in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta: examining the interface between flood management and adaptation

Thong Anh Trana,b , James Pittockc and Le Anh Tuand
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore; bResearch Center for Rural Development, An Giang University, Long Xuyen, Vietnam; cFenner School of Environment and Society, College of Science, Australian National University, Canberra; dResearch Institute for Climate Change (DRAGON Institute – Mekong), Can Tho University, Vietnam

Contact: Thong Anh Tran | Email:  thong.tran@nus.edu.sg


The rural landscapes of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta have undergone a dramatic change, where flood management and adaptation are at the forefront. This article investigates how these synergies facilitate policy change. Drawing on qualitative information from the literature, focus group discussions, and interviews, the article argues that there are confrontational but complementary effects between them, which evolve towards adaptive co-management. Collaborative learning between local governments and farmers enables shared understanding of water management drawbacks, leading to policy change. The article recommends that more attention be given to this approach to guide strategic water policy development in the region.

Pages: 326-342


JICA’s policies, experiences and lessons learned on impacts of urban floods in Asia*

Miki Inaokaa, Kimio Takeyab and Shintaro Akiyamac
Global Environment Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo; bDistinguished Technical Advisor to the President, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo; cGlobal Environment Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo

Contact: Miki Inaoka | Email:  Inaoka.Miki@jica.go.jp


This article describes the assistance policies of the Japan International Cooperation Agency in line with the international trend in disaster risk reduction. Through domestic experience, Japan has learnt that disaster risk reduction through structural measures and scientific and evidence-based assessment is indispensable for resilience, poverty reduction and sustainable development. Risk literacy, redundancy and continuous adaptation to situational changes are also important. In case studies of internationally known floods in Manila (2009) and Bangkok (2011), JICA gained confidence that its assistance policies are valid. The knowledge and experience of Japan and JICA have led the evolving global trend in disaster risk reduction.

Pages: 343-363

Book Review:

Classic papers in natural resource economics revisited »