Volume 39, Issue 2

March 2023

Editorial »

United Nations water conferences: reflections and expectations

Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada

Research Article

Politicization of science in the Lancang–Mekong Basin: the Eyes on Earth Study

Richard Grünwalda, Yan Fenga,b and Wenling Wanga,b

aInstitute of International Rivers and Eco-security/Asian International Rivers Center, Yunnan University, Kunming, China; bYunnan Key Lab of International Rivers and Transboundary Eco-security, Yunnan University, Kunming, China

Contact: Richard Grünwald | Email: grunwaldrichard@ynu.edu.cn


In April 2020, the Eyes on Earth published a comprehensive research study presenting new evidence about the changing dynamics of the Lancang–Mekong River water flow. The Eyes on Earth Study (EoE Study) received significant media attention and raised concerns about hydrological changes that negatively affect the downstream countries. By drawing on the politicization of science theories and using the Lancang–Mekong Cooperation and Conflict Database, we (1) provide an overview the EoE Study’s findings; (2) outline the scientific and non-scientific responses to the EoE Study’s conclusions; and (3) study various implications of the politicization of the EoE Study.

Pages: 184-210


Research Article

Flood risk policies in Italy: a longitudinal institutional analysis of continuity and change

Corinne Vitale and Sander Meijerink

Institute for Management Research (IMR), Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Contact: Corinne Vitale | Email: corinne.vitale@ru.nl


This paper analyses continuity and change in flood risk management policies in Italy between 1952 and 2020. By using the politicized institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, we systematically analyse the interplay between discursive, institutional and contextual factors to explain policy continuity and change. Italian flood risk management has traditionally been state-centred and focused on flood protection infrastructure for hazard reduction. Although shock events and European Union directives have been triggers for change, the policy shift towards a risk-based approach has been hampered by strong centralism and a hostile attitude towards the differentiation of rules and practices.

Pages: 211-235

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2021.1985972 (Open Access)

Research Article

Water access and household economic insecurity: conceptual framework and econometric analysis applied to rural Nepal

David A. Fleming-Muñoza, Tira Foranb, Nilhari Neupanec, Golam Rasuld, Shahriar M. Wahidb and David J. Pentonb

aCSIRO Land and Water, Ecosciences Precinct, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; bCSIRO Land and Water, Black Mountain Laboratories, Canberra, ACT, Australia; cFaculty of Science, Health and Technology, Nepal Open University, Lalitpur, Nepal; dFormer Civil Servant, Ministry of Public Administration, Government of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Contact: Tira Foran | Email: tira.foran@csiro.au


We develop a conceptual framework to understand linkages between water access and livelihood outcomes. We apply the framework to assess factors altering the likelihood of household indebtedness in rural Nepal, using survey data and probit statistical models. Controlling for different household characteristics, results show that in Nepal’s Kamala basin, an additional month of water adequate to sustain crops decreases by 5% the likelihood that an average household in our sample reports high indebtedness. We complement our findings by discussing interacting drivers of agricultural livelihood outcomes; options to improve water availability and access; and geographical targeting of investment in water access.

Pages: 236-254


Research Article

The effect of information on preferences for improved household water supply in Indonesia and Nepal

Rulli Pratiwi Setiawana, Gita Ghimireb and Shinji Kanekoc,d

aDepartment of Urban and Regional Planning, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember, ITS Campus Sukolilo, Surabaya, Indonesia; bSingha Durbar, Ministry of Home Affairs, Kathmandu, Nepal; cThe IDEC Institute, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Japan; dNetwork for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability (NERPS), Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan

Contact: Rulli Pratiwi Setiawan | Email: rulli.setiawan@urplan.its.ac.id


Information-based interventions are increasingly used to influence preferences or behaviour. Although information does not directly influence behaviour, it is still commonly used because it is inexpensive and provides immediate impacts. The objective of this study is to compare the impacts of information provision on households’ stated preferences for improved water supply systems in Surabaya, Indonesia, and Kathmandu, Nepal. Surabaya and Kathmandu face different challenges in household water supply services. Stated preferences were elicited by using randomized conjoint analysis. In addition to the preference elicitation, the impacts of information on the willingness to pay were also estimated.

Pages: 255-272


Research Article

Success and failure factors for increasing Sub-Saharan African smallholders’ resilience to drought through water management

Lazare Nzeyimanaa,b,c, Åsa Danielssonb, Lotta Anderssond and Veronica Brodén Gyberga,b

aCentre for Climate Science and Policy Research, Department of Thematic Studies – Environmental Change, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden; bDepartment of Thematic Studies – Environmental Change, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden; cSWECO Sweden AB, Stockholm, Sweden; dSwedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, Sweden

Contact: Lazare Nzeyimana | Email: lazare.nzeyimana@liu.se


This article analyses the success and failure factors underlying smallholder farmers’ resilience to drought in Sub-Saharan Africa based on a literature review of the period 2007–19. The analysis is guided by transformation theory, which states that transformation requires adequate preconditions in three spheres: practical, political and personal. While significant progress has occurred in the practical sphere, only moderate change characterizes the political sphere, and the most limited progress is within the personal sphere. We argue that increasing drought resilience requires innovative solutions, including components from all transformation spheres. Interactions with local stakeholders and the empowerment of smallholder farmers are essential.

Pages: 273-293

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2021.1991285 (Open Access)

Research Article

Willingness to pay for fluoride-free water in Tanzania: disentangling the importance of behavioural factors

Luciano Gutierreza, Giuseppe Nocellab, Giorgio Ghiglieric,d and Alfredo Idinic

aDepartment of Agricultural Sciences and Desertification Research Centre, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy; bSchool of Agriculture, Policy and Development, Department of Applied Economics and Marketing, University of Reading, Reading, UK; cDepartment of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Cagliari, Cittadella Universitaria, Cagliari, Italy; dDesertification Research Centre, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy

Contact: Luciano Gutierrez | Email: lgutierr@uniss.it


Approximately 200 million people, mainly concentrated in rural areas of the Great East African Rift Valley, suffer from fluorosis caused by excess of fluoride naturally contained in water. This study employs the RANAS (Risk, Attitude, Norm, Ability, Selfregulation) model to understand how behavioural factors influence Tanzanian rural communities’ willingness to pay for fluoride-free water obtained from a new defluoridator device. Results show that perceived risk, knowledge, attitudes and descriptive norms significantly influence the adoption of the proposed healthy behaviour. Policy implications are discussed taking into account how rural communities could achieve equitable and affordable access to safe water.

Pages: 294–313

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2021.1996341 (Open Access)

Research Article

Exploring the role and decision-making behaviour of irrigation water supply authorities in Australia

Lubna Meempattaa, J. Angus Webba, Louise A. Keoghb, Avril C. Hornea and Michael J. Stewardsona

aWater, Environment and Agriculture Program, Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and IT, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; bCentre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Contact: Lubna Meempatta | Email: lmeempatta@student.unimelb.edu.au


Water supply authorities (WSAs) can influence the behaviour of water users and are influential actors in water governance. Despite this, their decision-making processes and the details of their interactions with other water users are seldom explored empirically in water management research. We undertook an exploratory qualitative study using semi-structured interviews and purposive sampling with WSA officials across different institutions in south-eastern Australia. Thematic analysis revealed different water allocation decision-making phases and key factors influencing each phase. The findings highlight that the decisions made by WSAs are not only based on predefined rules, but are affected by many factors.

Pages: 314-336


Research Article

Water safety management during the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic: challenges, responses and guidance

F. Bichaia, P. Smeetsb, S. Barrettea, D. Deerec, N. J. Ashboltd and G. Ferreroe,f

aPolytechnique Montréal, Department of Civil, Geological and Mining Engineering, Montreal, QC, Canada; bDepartment of Microbial Water Quality and Health, KWR Watercycle Research Institute, Nieuwegein, the Netherlands; cWater Futures, Sydney, NSW, Australia; dFaculty of Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, Australia; eIHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands; fWASH Consulting, Delft, the Netherlands

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


Water safety plans address both routine operations and incident responses to support risk management in drinking water utilities. Their use and relevance in facing the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis were investigated via a survey distributed to water utilities and health or environmental agencies across the globe. Responses from 86 respondents from 38 countries were analysed to identify the water safety challenges faced and responses. Water safety plans appear to provide some preparedness and organizational advantages to utilities in facing the Covid-19 crisis, including stronger communication links between utilities and governing agencies. Guidance for future water safety planning is provided.

Pages: 337–359