Volume 36, Issue 1

January 2020



Water operators’ partnerships and their supporting role in the improvement of urban water supply in Da Nang

Lucía Wright-Contrerasa, Julie Perkinsb, Maria Pascualb and Gerard Soppec

aURBANgrad, Technical University of Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany; bGlobal Water Operators’ Partnership Alliance / UN-Habitat, Barcelona, Spain; cFormer Resident Project Manager of Vitens Evides International for the VEI–Dawaco Water Operator Partnership, Utrecht, Netherlands

Contact: Lucía Wright-Contreras | Email: wright@stadt.tu-darmstadt.de


This work analyzes the main outcomes and success factors of the water operators’ partnership (WOP) between the Dutch water operators’ organization, VEI (formerly Vitens Evides International), and the Vietnamese water utility, Da Nang Water Supply Joint Stock Company (Dawaco), which took place from 2007 to 2010. The partnership is considered within broader international and regional funding programmes, including parallel national and regional WOPs. The article presents WOPs as key processes in larger operations of water infrastructure development and considers WOPs as relevant strategies that contribute to the improvement of urban water services at a global scale.

Pages: 1–26


Local government and public–private partnerships: experiencing multilevel governance issues in Indonesian water supply provision

Radies Kusprihanto Purbo, Christine Smith and Robert J. Bianchi

Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

Contact: Radies Kusprihanto Purbo | Email: radies.purbo@griffithuni.edu.au


This article examines experiences with the adoption and implementation of two Indonesian water supply public–private partnerships (PPPs). It focuses on how various tiers of governments can share competencies to develop a more successful national PPP programme. The analysis is based on semi-structured interviews and reference to primary documents. We find that effective sharing of roles between governmental tiers contributes to the success of both projects in terms of bankability and marketability. However, coordination problems between government tiers contributes to significant delays in project implementation. This delay is costly given the public health issues associated with lack of access to clean drinking water.

Pages: 27–49


Institutional inertia: challenges in urban water management on the path towards a water-sensitive Surabaya, Indonesia

M. Köstersa,b, F. Bichaic,d and K. Schwartza,c

aGraduate School of Social Science, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; bInstitute for Biomedicine, European Research Academy, Bolzano, Italy; cDepartment of Integrated Water Systems and Governance, IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands; dDepartment of Civil, Geological and Mining Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal, Canada

Contact: F. Bichai | Email: fbichai@polymtl.ca


Traditional approaches to urban water management are increasingly questioned. To understand whether the alternative water-sensitive city (WSC) paradigm is applicable in Surabaya, Indonesia, its water governance system was analyzed using semi-structured interviews with relevant stakeholders, questionnaires, and a literature review. Three main institutional obstacles to a transition towards a WSC were identified: national and local political interference; lack of institutional coordination; and the commercialization of Surabaya’s water utility. A discord between water practitioners’ individual beliefs and water management practices also makes changes towards a WSC difficult. Yet, opportunities are found where existing political goals align with elements of the WSC.

Pages: 50–68


Attitude, behaviour and choice: the role of psychosocial drivers in water demand management in Singapore

Y.T. Rachel Koh

Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore; WWF-Singapore

Contact: Y.T. Rachel Koh | Email: kytrachel@gmail.com


The integration of environmental psychology into the broader  domain of water demand research is a growing aspect of water policy. This article contends that effective water demand management  policies can only be developed through an identification  of  the key psychosocial drivers of water use and conservation. By  situating goal-framing theory in the context of residential water  consumption in Singapore, the article analyzes the determinants  of water conservation behaviour. Appealing for a shift away from policies designed to gratify people’s hedonic and gain goals, it  asserts that greater priority should be placed on strengthening people’s normative goals towards water conservation.

Pages: 69–87


Drought risk assessment in Vietnamese communities using household survey information

Joost Buurmana, Du Duong Buib and Le Thuy Tien Duc

aInstitute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; bNational Center for Water Resources Planning and Investigation, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ha Noi, Vietnam; cDa Nang Administration Center, Da Nang Institute for Social and Economic Development, Vietnam

Contact: Joost Buurman | Email: joost.iwp@gmail.com


Droughts can become disasters if the lack of water impacts vulnerable households. Yet, in many cases drought management relies on maps with relatively simple indicators based on hydro-meteorological data or measurements of other physical variables that are assumed to correlate with households’ drought exposure and vulnerability. This study contributes to more comprehensive drought risk assessments by combining a hydrological hazard indicator with socio-economic indicators for exposure and vulnerability derived from a household survey in a drought risk map for 13 communes in central Vietnam. We find that local and individual circumstances matter in drought risk assessment and that incorporating household survey information is key to understanding drought risks.

Pages: 88–105


Policy transfer into flood management in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta: a North Vam Nao study

Thong Anh Tran a,b and Le Anh Tuanc

aAsia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore; bFenner School of Environment and Society, College of Science, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia; cResearch Institute for Climate Change (DRAGON Institute – Mekong), Can Tho University, Can Tho City, Vietnam

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


Water-management practices in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta have predominantly focused on structural development (e.g., dykes) to support rice-based agricultural production. Given the existing conventional approach, however, many of these efforts have been rendered ineffective . This study adopts the policy transfer concept to investigate how the participatory approach is introduced into the local institutional system, and how it shapes the construction, operation and management of the North Vam Nao scheme. Results suggest that this allowed stakeholders to engage collaboratively in these processes. The study contributes an empirical understanding of how policy transfer enhances institutional capacity for water resources management in the delta.

Pages: 106–126


The rationality of groundwater governance in the  Vietnamese Mekong Delta’s coastal zone

Thomas Hamera, Carel Dieperinka, Van Pham Dang Trib, Henriëtte S. Otterc and Piet Hoekstrad

aFaculty of Geosciences, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, the Netherlands; bDepartment of Water Resources, Can Tho University, Vietnam; cAdaptive Delta Planning, Deltares, Utrecht, the Netherlands; dFaculty of Geosciences, Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Contact: Carel Dieperink | Email: C.Dieperink@uu.nl


This article assesses the rationality of the governance of the Vietnamese coastal zone’s water system. We first specify five assessment criteria, which we apply to a case study. Based on document analysis, stakeholder surveys and in-depth interviews, we found an average score on the criterion that relevant water system knowledge must be available. The scores on the criteria that water usage is systematically monitored, that the legal framework is complied with, that long-term human and wider ecological interests are addressed, and that governance is decentralized appeared to be low. The article concludes with some recommendations to change the governance system.

Pages: 127–148


Putting farmers’ strategies in the centre of agricultural groundwater use in the Vientiane Plain, Laos

Diana Suhardimana, Paul Pavelica, Oulavanh Keovilignavonga and Mark Giordanob

aInternational Water Management Institute, Southeast Asia Regional Office, Vientiane, Lao PDR; bEdmund A. Walsh School of  Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

Contact: Diana Suhardiman | Email: d.suhardiman@cgiar.org


Groundwater use for agriculture has the potential to improve rural households’ income and reduce poverty, but the linkages are not always straightforward. Taking Laos as a case study, this article illustrates how differential access to water, land, and capital shape farmers’ livelihood strategies in two nearby, yet contrasting villages on the Vientiane Plain. It examines the factors driving farm households’ decisions to invest in groundwater for agriculture. The findings highlight the need to better understand how farmers view groundwater in relation to their farm household characteristics if groundwater is to be successfully used as a means to improve rural livelihoods.

Pages: 149–169


What about the tributaries of the tributaries? Fish migrations, fisheries, dams and fishers’ knowledge in North-Eastern Thailand

Ian G. Bairda, Kanokwan Manoromb, Aurore Phenowc and Sirasak Gaja-Svastib

aDepartment of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA; bFaculty of Liberal Arts, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand; cCenter for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Contact: Ian G. Baird | Email: ibaird@wisc.edu


The Pak Mun dam is among the most controversial hydropower projects in Thailand. However, the dam’s impacts on upriver tributaries have been neglected. We engaged fishers living in three villages along the Sebok River – a major tributary of the Mun River, upstream of the Pak Mun dam – to collect fish catch data for 24 months between 2014 and 2016. Using these data and fishers’ knowledge, the negative fishery impacts of the Pak Mun damand the Ban Ot irrigation dam on the Sebok River were assessed. Both dams have negatively impacted Sebok River fisheries for migratory species.

Pages: 170–199


Water governance in the Mekong after the Watercourses Convention 35th ratification: Multilateral or bilateral approach?

Imad Antoine Ibrahim

Institute of Law, Politics, and Development (Dirpolis), Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy; gLAWcal – Global Law Initiative for Sustainable Development, Essex, UK

Contact: Imad Antoine Ibrahim | Email: imad.antoine.ibrahim@gmail.com


The possible negative consequences of changes that are occurring in the Mekong River because of development activities are raising concerns. Scholars have been wondering whether multilateral or bilateral water treaties can be used by the states sharing the river to protect their interests. Moreover, the UN Watercourses Convention’s entry into force has made researchers question its potential impact on the management of shared freshwaters. This article will highlight the scenarios in which multilateral or bilateral treaties can be used to manage the Mekong River, taking into account the entry into force of the Watercourses Convention.

Pages: 200–220