Volume 38, Issue 5

September 2022

Editorial »

Net positive and its application to water management

Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada

Research Article

Desalinated drinking-water provision in water-stressed regions: challenges of consumer-perception and environmental impact lessons from Antofagasta, Chile

M. Šteflováa, S. H. A. Koopb,c, M. C. Fragkoua and H. Meesb

aDepartamento de Geografía, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile; bCopernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands; cKWR Water Research Institute, Nieuwegein, the Netherlands

Contact: M. Šteflová | Email: steflova.marketa@gmail.com


Desalination is increasingly popular for ensuring potable water. Using the City Blueprint Approach methodology in Antofagasta, Chile, we identify the barriers, opportunities and transferable lessons that can enhance governance capacity towards the successful implementation of desalination. Antofagasta’s desalinization programme is associated with negative water-quality perceptions, environmental impacts and high energy demands. Additionally, the supply has a moderate impeding influence on water-use efficiency efforts. Consequently, we draft a priority ladder for water provision in waterscarce regions to: ensure access; reduce consumption; apply reuse; and explore renewable water resources – and if a combination of previous steps is insufficient, desalination may be applied to meet water supply shortages.

Pages: 742-765


Research Article

Service differentiation as an improvement strategy for access to water in urban low-income areas: evidence from three Kenyan cities

Akosua Sarpong Boakye-Ansaha, Klaas Schwartza,b and Margreet Zwarteveena,b

aDepartment of Water Governance, IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands; bAmsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Contact: Akosua Sarpong Boakye-Ansah | Email: a.boakye-ansah@un-ihe.org


In dealing with the challenges associated with water supply in urban low-income areas, water utilities are increasingly adopting service differentiation, which revolves around servicing different customer groups with different supply modalities. This article examines how such differentiation through the use of water kiosks and yard taps satisfies the water needs of consumers in low-income areas in three Kenyan cities. Based on an analysis of the reliability, affordability and accessibility of the water supplied, we conclude that while service differentiation has led to some improvements in access to piped connections in low-income areas, it also risks reinforcing the inequalities in access to water.

Pages: 766-782


Research Article

Small Basin Governance scheme: linking water sector reforms and governance in the Aral Sea Basin

Murat Yakubov

Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC), Almaty, Kazakhstan

Contact: Murat Yakubov | Email: myakubov@outlook.com


As river basin reforms in the countries of the Aral Sea basin gain momentum, the focus is commonly on large basins. Thus, multiple interests at the sub-basin level are largely ignored, increasing the risk for potential conflicts. This research considers inland and transboundary small river watersheds to illustrate a basin governance scheme that emerged during larger basin reforms and successfully satisfies both contexts by linking governance at multiple scales. In particular, splitting river basins into smaller hydrologic constituencies to establish sub-basin councils is found to be instrumental in enhancing overall representation, stakeholder engagement, basin planning and transboundary water cooperation.

Pages: 783-814


Research Article

License to drill: typology of groundwater use regulations in agriculture of Uzbekistan

Hannes Knorra,b, Insa Theesfelda and Ilkhom Solieva

aDepartment of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Policy, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany; bDepartment of Economics and Organization of the Water Economy, Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers (TIIAME), Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Contact: Hannes Knorr | Email: hannes.knorr@student.uni-halle.de


Global warming, deteriorating water infrastructure and transboundary factors are threatening Uzbekistan’s long-term surface water supply. Groundwater is a potential alternative for irrigation purposes. Little research is available about how farmers in Uzbekistan use groundwater for irrigation and how formal regulations are implemented on the ground. Based on semi-structured, qualitative interviews with farmers and experts in Uzbekistan we provide a typology of groundwater regulation, exploring the use of licences, quotas and prices that offers a structured overview of agricultural groundwater use. We further highlight how electricity is used as a proxy resource to implement groundwater regulation on the ground.

Pages: 815-835


Research Article

Institutional dynamics and water resource management: the case of traditional water bodies in West Bengal, India

Koushik Chowdhury and Bhagirath Behera

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Kharagpur, India

Contact: Koushik Chowdhury | Email: totongeo@gmail.com


In recent years, the adverse effects of growing water scarcity on the lives and livelihoods of poor people have become a major policy concern in India. This paper reviews the effectiveness of macro-level policies for rainwater conservation and critically examines micro-level local community institutions for the sustainable management of traditional water bodies. Using Ostrom’s design principles and qualitative data from three different multipurpose tanks, the study finds that management decisions at the local level have benefited few influential members of local communities and deprived a large number of poor households from resource uses, making the local institutions ineffective.

Pages: 836-860


Research Article

Role of knowledge in the management of groundwater-use for irrigation in micro-watersheds of semi-arid India

Rekha Bhangaonkar and Shailaja Fennell

Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Contact: Rekha Bhangaonkar | Email: rab229@cam.ac.uk


The micro-watershed development programme in India promotes the recharging of groundwater tables to facilitate irrigation in otherwise rainfall-dependent agricultural communities. This study investigates the potential of agricultural extension agencies in encouraging the sustainable use of the common-pool resource of groundwater through local governance. Findings suggest that extension agencies strongly influence farmers’ crop choices (a representation of irrigation use), in accordance with the proposition that knowledge dissemination on groundwater use and its impact encourages collective action (U7-SES framework). Finally, farmers with higher irrigation demand are the conduit between the extension agency and community, highlighting their potential for programme management.

Pages: 861-879

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2021.1921710 (Open Access)

Research Article

The dying oasis: a macro analysis of tank irrigation in Andhra Pradesh, India

A. Narayanamoorthy, R. Suresh and K. S. Sujitha

Department of Economics and Rural Development, Alagappa University, Karaikudi, India

Contact: A. Narayanamoorthy | Email: narayana64@gmail.com


Tanks are the important traditional source of irrigation in India. They are a low-cost source with fewer management problems, but their performance has been deteriorating over the years. Using time-series data from the periods 1960–61 to 2013–14, this paper analyses the performance of tank irrigation across the districts, regions and categories of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India. The study shows that districts that traditionally had a large tank irrigated area have registered a sharp reduction in that area. A substantial reduction in tank irrigated area is found in the Rayalaseema region where tanks are critical for farming. Correlation analysis suggests a significantly negative impact of groundwater area on tank irrigated area in most districts.

Pages: 880-896


Research Article

Practicality of integrated water resources management (IWRM) in different contexts

Kenji Nagata, Izumi Shoji, Tomohiro Arima, Takahiro Otsuka, Kumiko Kato, Miha Matsubayashi and Mayu Omura

Global Environment Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo, Japan

Contact: Kenji Nagata | Email: Nagata.Kenji@jica.go.jp


The significance of integrated water resources management (IWRM) is broadly recognized, but practical implementation methods are little known. This paper proposes a Practical IWRM approach that has the potential to accelerate consensus-building and problem-solving relating to water resources based on the formation of an aligned perception of natural and human-made water resource systems among stakeholders, and the establishment of a properly functioning multistakeholder partnership (MSP). This approach was applied in four countries – Sudan, Bolivia, Indonesia and Iran – where it has worked well in different contexts, and can be an effective methodology usable elsewhere in the field.

Pages: 897-919

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2021.1921709 (Open Access)