Volume 37, Issue 2

March 2021

Editorial »

COVID-19 and clean water, sanitation and wastewater management

Cecilia Tortajada

Research Article

Exploring management approaches for water and energy in the data-scarce Tekeze-Atbara Basin under hydrologic uncertainty

Mohammed Basheer, Rayyan Sulieman and Lars Ribbe

Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Sub-tropics (ITT), Technische Hochschule Köln, Cologne, Germany

Contact: Mohammed Basheer | Email: mohammedadamabbaker@gmail.com


This study examines management approaches for hydropower generation and irrigation and domestic water supply for the Tekeze-Atbara, a transboundary river between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan, in above- and below-normal hydrologic conditions, considering current and future water demand scenarios. Satellite data are used to substitute for unavailable or inaccessible ground meteorological and dam data. Based on three examined coordination scenarios, the analysis finds that coordinating the management of the Sudanese dams would bring significant benefits to water supply and energy generation. An optimization analysis is necessary to reveal the full value of coordination of dams in the Tekeze-Atbara Basin.

Pages: 182–207


Research Article

Forecast-informed reservoir operations to guide hydropower and agriculture allocations in the Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia

Sarah Alexandera, Guang Yanga, Girmachew Addisub and Paul Blocka

aDepartment of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA; bAbay Basin Authority, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Contact: Sarah Alexander | Email: salexander6@wisc.edu


Predictive hydroclimate information, coupled with reservoir system models, offers the potential to mitigate climate variability risks. Prior methodologies rely on sub-seasonal, dynamic/synthetic forecasts at short timescales, which challenge application in practice. Here, coupling a local-scale seasonal, statistical streamflow forecast with a reservoir model addresses this gap, to explore hydropower and agricultural production benefits under various operational strategies. Forecast-informed optimization of reservoir releases increases energy production (6–14%), agriculture allocations (54–68%), and net profit. Application to Ethiopia showcases a novel seasonal-scale statistical forecast coupled reservoir model that translates hydroclimatic predictions into actionable information for better management at the local scale.

Pages: 208–233


Research Article

Transaqua: power, political change and the transnational politics of a water megaproject

Adegboyega B. Adeniran and Katherine A. Daniell

Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra

Contact: Adegboyega B. Adeniran | Email: adegboyega.adeniran@anu.edu.au


Least developed countries, with their unique governance and political-economic conditions, face uncommon and under-researched transboundary hydropolitical issues. We analyze the impact of power and political change on the adoption of the Transaqua water transfer megaproject in Central Africa using process tracing and analysis of documents, interviews and fieldwork. We present the key actors and their interests and argue for the central role of the Nigerian leadership in driving Nigeria’s state power and the Lake Chad Basin Commission. Discourses of ‘legitimation’ and ‘urgency’ are two framings used to justify the Transaqua project and expedite its construction, shaping our understanding of the political strategies underlying the speedy adoption of the project.

Pages: 234–255


Research Article

An understanding of water governance systems in responding to extreme droughts in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta

Minh N. Nguyena, Phuong T. B. Nguyenb, Tri P. D. Vanc, Vu H. Phanc, Binh T. Nguyend, Vu T. Phamc and Trung H. Nguyenb

aLand and Water, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, Melbourne, Australia; bResearch Institute for Climate Change, Can Tho University, Vietnam; cCollege of the Environment and Natural Resources, Can Tho University, Vietnam; dMekong Delta Development Research Institute, Can Tho University, Vietnam

Contact: Phuong T. B. Nguyen | Email: phuong3831@gmail.com


In 2016, extreme drought and saline intrusion led to widespread damage and livelihood disruption for many people in the coastal region of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta. Through an integrated multi-step approach of literature and stakeholder analysis, focus group discussions and interviews with local governments and farmers, an understanding of the local water governance systems and their functioning is gained, providing insight into the power, interest and responsibility of multiple agencies. Development of more responsive and inclusive water governance systems, with improved early warnings and information flows during extreme events, is needed to improve the resilience and adaptation of the region.

Pages: 256–277


Research Article

Differentiated vulnerabilities and capacities for adaptation to water shortage in Gaborone, Botswana

Josefine Lund Schlamovitza and Per Beckera,b

aDivision of Risk Management and Societal Safety, Lund University, Sweden; bUnit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Contact: Per Becker | Email: per.becker@risk.lth.se


Employing the heuristic of intersectionality, this study analyzes household effects and responses to water shortage in Gaborone, Botswana, focusing on residents’ adaptive capacity and vulnerability. Using data collected through qualitative interviews, we find that households from all socio-economic backgrounds face various effects from water shortage and use numerous strategies to reduce exposure and impact. A key insight is that vulnerability and adaptive capacity are not equally distributed between, or within conventional social categories. Instead, the effects of water shortage are influenced by the intersection and interplay of several underlying factors.

Pages: 278–299

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2020.1756752 (Open Access)

Research Article

Water allocation strategies for meeting dry-season water requirements for Ganges Kobadak Irrigation Project in Bangladesh

B. J. M. Goesa, A. K. Clarkb and K. Basharc

aInternational Development Services Unit, Mott MacDonald Ltd, Cambridge, UK; bInternational Water Resources Management Department, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, Edmonton, Canada; cDepartment of Geological Sciences, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Contact: B. J. M. Goes | Email: bart.goes@mottmac.com


This article focuses on a major water use in the Ganges Basin, the Ganges Kobadak Irrigation Project in Bangladesh. The objectives of this article are to assess the present and projected irrigation water requirements, the status of the Ganges River and groundwater resources in the project area, and water allocation strategies to fulfil dry-season irrigation requirements in the short, medium and long term while taking into account competing water uses and the Ganges Treaty, an international water-sharing agreement. These objectives are achieved through an assessment of data on the irrigation project, cropping patterns, groundwater levels (1975–2013) and Ganges River flow (1910–2019).

Pages: 300–320


Research Article

Promoting multiple-use water services by leveraging existing rural water supply and smallholder farmer groups, Malawi

Rochelle H. Holma, Ralph P. Hallb, Suresh Muthukrishnanc, Tiwonge Munthalia and Margret Sindaa

aCentre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation, Mzuzu University, Mzuzu, Malawi; bSchool of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA; cDepartment of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC, USA

Contact: Rochelle H. Holm | Email: rochelle@rochelleholm.com


Multiple-use water services (MUS) can enhance the benefits communities receive from the productive use of water. This article uses household surveys, water samples, focus groups and key informant interviews to examine the potential of MUS in northern Malawi. Specific attention is given to the role of existing rural water supply options and knowledge held by an established smallholder rice farmer group. The study finds that expanding MUS requires: (1) forming MUS coalitions between communities, NGOs and business associations; (2) identifying appropriate MUS practices and markets; (3) undertaking community and water availability assessments; and (4) designing services aligned with these assessments.

Pages: 321–338


Research Article

A statistical and spatial analysis of water poverty using a modified Water Poverty Index

Breeanna C. Princea, Luke Juranb, Venkataramana Sridharc, Anamaria Bukvicd and Morgan C. MacDonalde

aDepartment of Geography, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA; bDepartment of Geography, Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Center for Coastal Studies, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA; cDepartment of Biological Systems Engineering, Blacksburg, VA, USA; dDepartment of Geography, Center for Coastal Studies, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA; eAustralian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia

Contact: Luke Juran | Email: ljuran@vt.edu


This study advances methods of measuring access to water by providing a framework that can be operationalized by practitioners to inform decision and policy making. A modified WPI was developed and deployed in India, with results indicating significant differences between WPI and many indicator scores both between and within administrative territories. Spatial analyses identified significant clustering of WPI and indicator scores, indicating that scores are not randomly distributed. Three weight schemes were applied, two of which were informed by local stakeholders. The weight schemes highlighted the subjectivity of weighting and importance of including local populations in water development and management.

Pages: 339–356