EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER MANAGEMENT 27 - 30 January 1998 Harare, Zimbabwe Integrated Water Resources Management: A Community-based Approach by Gourisankar Ghosh and Sadig Rasheed Paper No. 7 Prepared for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs United Nations ----- Integrated Water Resources Management: A Right Based Community Approach Towards Sustainable Development by Gourisankar Ghosh and Sadig Rasheed 1/ The global crisis of Freshwater has attracted much recent attention. It is increasingly acknowledged that the real problem behind rural poverty is the shortage of natural resources like biomass and water, rather than income poverty. The crucial strategic role of water in fighting poverty and in economic and rural development and the need for an integrated approach to water management are also well-recognized. But the multiple usage of water in survival and development makes its management more difficult, both institutionally and spatially, and much remains to be learned and understood about the implementation of such an approach. This paper will highlight some relevant issues regarding integrated management of water that require open dialogue between stakeholders at all levels. Crucial role of Water in The Village ecosystem: The "exploitation" of water has long been a source of political and economic conflict as well as of human survival. Today, it is widely understood that sustainable economic development and sustainable "exploitation," or use, of water must include the right of individuals and communities to this precious resource. Beyond the purely economic value of water resources to a nationžs development, the long-term "interest" of the nation and all its people must also be considered. Recently the Committee on Natural Resources of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations "noted with alarm that some eighty countries, comprising 40% of the world's population, are already suffering from serious water shortages and that, in many cases, the scarcity of water resources has become the a significant limiting factor to economic and social development." Freshwater as a crucial physical national resource is neither fully understood nor well-managed. As most developing countries are agriculturally based, there is inherent conflict between the need for water to supply irrigation and supply drinking water for the poor. Water plays a significant role in the daily survival and improvement of the primary health or nutritional status of children and women. Moreover, water, land, forest, biomass and livestock are interdependent and the benefits of water development spread across the social and economic sectors. Thus, the issue of water cannot be studied in isolation or in a narrow sectoral fashion. Figure 1 - Complex Village Ecosystem. (Agarwal and Narain, 1989) [ not available ] a village is a complex land-livestock-vegetation ecosystem in which the land, the water, the livestock, and the energy sub-systems all interrelate. Sustainable development must be based on the holistic enrichment of the entire village ecosystem without destroying the synergy between the various subsystems Projects to promote economic growth and rural development for poverty alleviation must focus on the integrated management of the complex village ecosystem. Agarwal and Narain elaborated that a village Ecosystem Management and Improvement Plan must be developed based on the villagežs natural resources, basic needs and social structure. Because the vulnerable and marginalised groups in the village may depend more on its common resources, any village ecosystem improvement plan should safeguard their access to these resources. Society cannot progress within a framework that supports government actions while discouraging those of the people. Communities must have ownership in the development of their own water systems and other resource bases, and Government's proper role is to provide the right legal, institutional and financial support and encouragement for local initiative. Poverty Alleviation, Economic Growth and Freshwater: The Human Development Report of 1997 (UNDP) has made a clear distinction between mere income poverty and deprivation of basic human needs which are directly related to basic human rights. The World Bank in its "Rural Well Being" approach has identified the need to build "social capital". In the human poverty index used in the Human Development Report of UNDP, access to health services and to safe water were considered the most reliable basic indicators. Combining these two access variables with the prevalence of malnutrition provides a fairly broad picture of economic provisioning---private and public--- to supplement the information on survival and literacy. (Human Development Report, UNDP, 1997 page 19). For centuries, village economies were based on a respect for nature, protection of natural resources and the development of an economic activity model that maintained harmony between social and economic issues and political and religious concerns. The current global economic system and its associated development paradigm are oblivious to traditional knowledge and to the spiritual and ethical concerns that are central to many societies and cultures. ( Kamala Chowdhury, Rural Well Being, The World Bank, 1996). Figure 2 - Components of a village ecosystem and improvement plan (Agarwal and Narain) [ not available ] "To understand the local economy of people not just with different lifestyles but also that of the rural poor across the developing world, economists will have to make a big effort to understand another major dimension of poverty -- the dimension that emerges out of the relationship that the poor have with their environment or their natural resources base which provides them with the daily wherewithal for their survival. This dimension remains so ill-understood largely because most development workers and economists -- except possibly for that fraction which studies natural resource economics or environmental economics-- do not understand environmental issues. And most environmentalists --except possibly for that fraction in the Southern countries which works with local communities to help them regenerate their environment-- do not understand poverty." (Agarwal et al, 1997). Water has always been at the centre of village planning. Yet, the interlinkage between water, land, livestock and forest was clearly noted by Agarwal, who said that unless poverty alleviation is approached in an integrated manner, interventions will not be fruitful. It is also clear that effective integrated water management is possible only at the community level and with community ownership. a topdown approach in the development of national policies is ineffective because it ignores the important element of ownership in implementation. International agencies helping countries to develop a national water policy and institutional mechanism to handle the consequences need to take a fresh look at their approaches as standard institutional structure is not equipped to deal with poverty alleviation, equity and rights to the resources. Decentralization of the institutions and the policy development process may be an answer. UNICEF's Primary Environmental Care approach as well as numerous grassroots NGO projects have also conceptualized this idea by emphasizing community empowerment for managing local natural resources to meet people's basic needs on a sustainable basis. Water Crisis - Drought, Flood and Epidemic: a study by the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) presented to the parliamentarians of India in 1987, observed that the total flood- prone areas in India had almost tripled during 1978-1984.The study also observed that in the same period, in almost the same areas, drought proneness increased. These two seemingly contradictory conditions are consistent, linked through their direct correlation with the regionžs deforestation. Removal of forest, washing of top soil, over-exploitation of grazing land, inequitable distribution of irrigated water, and neglect of the traditional tanks or water reservoirs have led to both increased flood and drought conditions. Moreover, contrary to the popular belief that these conditions are due to overuse by the indigenous population, it has instead resulted primarily from the consumption demand associated with indiscriminate commercial exploitation (some of it to supply raw materials to a foreign market) and urban growth. The traditional balance between the forest and its native dwellers, and that of the agricultural activities and livestock grazing land was disturbed by the open market economy and higher demand for forest products in urban markets. Figure 3 - The PPE Spiral from The State of the World Children 1995, UNICEF [ not available ] The water management cycle cannot be complete without a balanced approach towards the management of the entire ecosystem, as displayed in Anil Agarwal's earlier diagram. The issue and problem are as local as they are global, and solutions must lie in full participation of all stakeholders at all levels, including ownership by communities and civil society. This was proven to be the case in the Jhabua case study presented in the interagency workshop, 'Integrated Rural Water Management' organized by FAO in 1993. Gopalakrishnan in his study for the UNICEF paper "Policies, strategies and planning for integrated rural water management--a case study of Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh state in India" presented in the same workshop, identified three specific factors that helped the district administration to make water harvesting a central issue in the drought relief agenda: - generation of public opinion to demand water-harvesting structures; - creation of political will to make any intervention a long-term affair; - coordination of agriculture, irrigation, local government, health (eradication of guinea worm and diarrhoea), and school bodies (awareness campaign) activities with complete public participation. By 1986, 1323 villages in Jhabua had gained access to nearly six thousand hand pumps, covering more than 98% of its hamlets. Most of these pumps were supported by large scale augmentation of groundwater resources that took place through recharge from surface storage of the tanks and stop dams. The two-fold increase of the area under irrigation from 1985-1992 resulted in the harvesting of two crops per year and a significant increase in income level. Guinea worm was fully eradicated and the social communication plan for guinea worm eradication provided an intervention model for drastic reduction of other water-related diseases. Despite this success, however, the Jhabua case study reveals that direct action of the community in environmental management is far from realized. The structures or systems created for water-harvesting reservoirs are still considered government properties, and a real sense of ownership will not be developed until power is decentralized and local governments are given the responsibilities. a steady erosion of the "rights" to common property resources has contributed to an environment that limits the collective action of the community. It is also true that areas undergoing environmental crises have a potential for radical change, social mobilization and collective action. a turnaround is possible only through an agenda of combating poverty and eco-reconstruction with full community participation and respect for the inherent right of the people. The recent drought in Southern Africa illustrated a similar situation. Community-constructed wells became the source of both drinking water and small-scale irrigation. But the potential of the conjunctive use of surface and ground water, while fully realized by the communities, is not completely institutionalized in Sub Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa already faces serious land degradation, having lost 22% of its vegetated soils. Climatic changes associated with increasing aridity and decertification, a rapidly growing population in the midst of declining productivity, and faulty public policies have exacerbated the problem (Ysefaye Teklu, 1996). When this is coupled with rainfall reduction, the promotion of economic growth causes a diversion of water and further degradation is the result. Thus, the issues regarding household food and water security are so interrelated that one cannot be successful without the other. No policy or reform can be pushed without taking note of both. Environmental degradation causes both floods and droughts in the same location, sometimes in immediate sequence. In this vicious cycle, epidemics of water related diseases do not lag far behind. General malnutrition, due to inadequate water quality and supply causes a series of water related diseases resulting in a chronic malnutrition cycle and a high morbidity and mortality rates of children. In urban areas as well, the environmentally fragile situations may cause serious epidemics like plague, hepatitis or serious malnutrition resulting from earthquake, flood or drought. Conjunctive use of Surface and Ground Water: Although in the hydrological cycle the linkages of surface and ground water are clearly established, groundwater is often neglected as a potential national resource base. Aquifers can store large volumes of water with almost no evaporation loss. They are generally pollution free and a source of safe drinking water unless contaminated by fluoride, arsenic or salinity due to over drawl. In extreme dry spells the only source of water is the groundwater. The conjunctive use of ground and surface water is ideal for balancing the recharge of the aquifer. Groundwater supplies more than half of the US drinking water and nearly 96% of the water consumed in rural areas of the country. In countries of Asia, ground water is often the main source of supply for both drinking water and irrigation. In the absence of proper management, competing demands may result in the heavier agricultural requirements causing a disabling of drinking water supply devices and a lowering of the water table. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Social Equity and Groundwater In Western Indian state of Gujarat water is a precious commodity. Over-abstraction has caused the water table to fall, in some places by as much as 40 metres. This has deprived the poor farmers of water since they can afford only the surface or sub-surface water. Only the rich farmers can afford the $15000-20000 worth boreholes down to the depth of 400 metres. The water indirectly is controlled by such farmers who in turn at their will sell the water to poorer farmers. A groundwater law was enacted but not ratified by the government as the poorer farmers do not have representation in the power structure of the government. New schemes continued to be developed by the rich farmers utilizing water even from deeper aquifers without any control. The area has prospered but migration to urban areas started as the marginal farmers were forced to sell their lands and move in search of urban jobs. --------------------------------------------------------------------- The majority of the world's urban population relies on ground water and on spot sources rather than on a piped water supply based on surface reservoirs. The percentage of as high as 50% or more dependance on the ground water source is increasing as the surface water supply is becoming less dependable due to a lack of adequate investment in its development and greater loss in the piped distribution system. The decentralized system of urban development demands more emphasis on urban geology and the urban aquifer development as a safe and cheaper source of water. Yet, urbanization and its heavy demand for water have resulted in falling water tables under many of the world's cities, reducing yields by the threat of saline ingress and land subsidence. Salinity ingress is a common phenomenon in Manila, Jakarta, Madras and many other cities. Some of the heavy withdraw of groundwater in Urban areas are by the rich and the poor pays high percentage of their income to pay for that water. Privatization, National Water Policies and the Rights Issues: a huge and widening investment gap exists between the actual requirement of capital and its mobilization in the water sector in both irrigation and domestic use. Moreover, the resources required for operation and maintenance are also often inadequate, resulting in inefficient systems, unmet demand and poor services. Privatization or commercialization is seen as a way to increase both efficiency and capital mobilization. But the solution is not so simple, for privatization often means žcherry picking' of the profitable segments of the sector leaving poorer areas to fend for themselves. To attract foreign capital, governments are often eager to surrender their rights on bulk water pricing and control, agreeing to conditions and clauses which sacrifice the national interest and the right of people to safe and sufficient water use. Water is a national social and economic resource. If the decision is made to use it for national development or attracting capital then the added value or income should also be reinvested in the social sector. Exploiting this precious resource, few developed and developing nations alike are either investing the extra income in the social sector or supporting the 20/20 principle of resource mobilization for the social sector to meet the Basic Human Needs. ( Please refer to a separate paper available for the participants specially prepared by Brikke, Visscher and Ankersmit, The Hague, 1998). Equitable control of ground water at the local level is also often lacking. A rich farmer or enterprise can indulge in heavy drawl of groundwater through deep well pumping, lowering the water level and removing potential groundwater resources from the reach of the poor who have an equal right to national resources. In India where minor irrigation comprises nearly 50% of the total irrigation coverage, the issue of control on use of groundwater is so significant that poor marginal farmers are slowly losing their productivity due to an absence of social and legislative control of the exploitation of ground water (See box in page 7 ). In contrast, empowerment of such farmers can produce a different result as given in the box below. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- The Ralegan Siddhi Experience Ralegan Siddhi is a model of development in a drought-prone area of Maharashtra where average rainfall is 400 mm per year and where the villagers were not even assured one regular crop. In summer, they would regularly accept the state-sponsored drought relief measures. Today, Ralegan Siddhi has solved its scarce water conditions through an elaborate system of small dams and watershed development, drip irrigation and biogas. Not a single inhabitant of the village depends on drought relief and per capita income has increased substantially. Anna Hazare --a retired driver from the Indian army-- began work in the village by constructing storage ponds, reservoirs and gully plugs. Due to the steady percolation of water, the groundwater table began to rise. Simultaneously, government social forestry schemes were utilised to plant 400,000 trees in and around the village. The total area under production increased from 630 to 950 hectare. The average yields of millets, sorghum and onion increased substantially. Water is distributed equitably. Cultivation of sugarcane, which requires a large quantity of water and was forbidden in the early years, was no possible.. An impressive system of decision making is taking place the village as some 14 committees operate to ensure people's participation. The elected village council is composed entirely of women. All families get water in turn and no farmer will get a second turn of irrigation until all families have been served. Since the commons belong to all, even the landless families --four to five in the village-- have a right to the water. Even where individuals hand dug wells, they have been persuaded to share water with others. Ralegan Siddhi has now a bank of its own. The savings of Ralegan Siddhi alone is Rs. 2.3 million (about US$ 60,000). For a village that, less than two decades ago, was a drunkardžs den with a badly degraded environment, this is indeed a miracle. Source: Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain, Creating Sustainable Livelihoods, Centre for Science and Environment, 1997. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- The water crisis is more local than global but most interventions are now global. The global approach to the problem may help to articulate the issues but the solutions have to be suited to local requirements. For that reason the coordinating, moderating and facilitating role of government should not be underestimated. The role of the international community should be to help those governments with less capacity to build the capacity to protect and conserve the precious resource for development and not settle for short term gains detrimental to the long term interests of their people and environment. The question of equitable control and distribution of water resources is a complex problem. Water is a complex issue, difficult/impossible institutionally to manage in one ministry or department. The impact is also difficult to measure as there is no linear correlation between water resource development and improvements in health, nutrition, education or income generation a proper National Water Policy should focus on national interest above profit and recognize water as a precious national resource. It should balance national and local needs and interests, industrial, agricultural and domestic use. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Consensus on the issues of water Management: - Water is key to development - Water is a key social and economic resources for any nation - Right to water must be protected for equity as well as sustainable development - Water is key to Improved Health, Improved Nutrition and Quality of life - Private - Public partnership is essential for development of the water resources - Community based management is essential to conserve, properly utilize and develop the water resources. - Sustainable Water resource development is possible only through an integrated approach to soil, water, forest and livestock. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Development of the National Water Policy: a national policy is needed to provide a statement to the people the priorities in that society for effective water management talking into consideration all aspects and demands of domestic, agriculture and industrial sectors. If there is consensus for the management of water resources through community participation then how can policies be developed in a top down approach through discussions solely at the national/global level? The recent South African experience shows the need for discussion and consensus development at all levels of the civil society. The country had to reverse the earlier policy of controlled bulk water for only the big cities and large white farmers to a equitable distribution for all the entire society and earlier homelands through a process of open consultation and debate at all levels and then enacting the law in the parliament. The commitment of the entire nation to the development of any policy can best be achieved through the fullest people's participation. Capacity Building at the community level: While the importance of the participatory role of the community is recognized, often the policy makers put forward arguments on the lack of capacity and capabilities at that level. These myths are reinforced by the fact that capacity building exercises are often confined to the national level and neglecting the needs of local institutions and communities only perpetuate this myth. The example of Ralegan Siddhi shows how the community can take the control of management of water then gain out of it and control their own development process. There needs to be much greater attention to capacity building at the local level. Balancing Urban-Rural Need: Water reservoirs and catchment areas are all contained in rural areas. Development of water resources without involvement of the communities living in those areas will create inevitable conflict and impede proper management. This includes conflicts of demand management between the agricultural, domestic and industrial sectors within and between rural and urban areas. It is critical that these demands are met in a balanced fashion. The problems of Urban water supply for domestic and economical purposes has to be met with. The problem and demand can not be looked upon in isolation. Often politically the urban-rural divide is formed which must be resolved in the approach to be developed in a national water policy. Private Management: The concept of private management and public control of water resources needs to be clearly elaborated. Private management of water resources is welcome and often desirable. Private distribution systems have been more successful, but bulk water and river basin management must be carried out through participation and safeguarding the rights of the people. The poor are those who most often pay more and have less access to water, while and the rich pay less and consume more. The poor are still marginalised when it comes to benefits from the sector investment and relying on privatisation does not change that situation. In some cases, when profits and lack of regulations or control become the operating principles, it even worsens it. The role of the government to oversee the process and protect the right of these poorer populations through legislation and decentralised governance with people's participation. Private resources should be brought in for capital resource mobilization and improved management of the water resources. The private sector cannot and should not be expected to subsidize and provide water for the poor. The responibility of control on bulk water, its distribution, control and ownership should remain with the government. The private sector should concentrate on effectively meeting demand National Planning: a national demand management system is critical. This includes a wide range of activities, such as: planning for efficient water irrigation systems; conjunctive use of ground and surface water; waste water recycling; recharging of the ground water; allocation of water for urban areas, industries, agriculture; use of pesticides, fertilizers etc.; monitoring control and protection of water quality; monitoring of the water flow. Building of institutions and capacity building around these activities is also critical. However, experience has shown that the cost of such an approach is beyond the means of many developing nations. Therefore, capacity building and monitoring through decentralised institutions will be helpful and desirable.A centralised and yet democratic planning process is not necessarily in contradiction with a decentralised governance mechanism. Land Reform and Water Policy: The water or hydrological cycle involves interplay with the land and soil. Water reform must go hand and hand with land reform and land policy. This is a burning issue facing many nations and typically handled in isolation from water issues. As shown earlier the entire ecosystem depends on land and water equally and the reform in one can not be without the reform in the other. Role Of Government as coordinator and facilitator: The role of government is not only as a provider but also as a facilitator and coordinator of the freshwater sector cannot be underestimated. Clear setting of policies and programmes not only attracts investors but raises confidence in the private-public partnership. The decentralization process should encourage the community to take initiatives and improve self control and monitoring. However, the responsibilities of the government will be best judged in protecting the rights of citizens to water resources. It is clear that partnerships with civil societies and private sector is key for success. Equal partnership with NGOs will help to develop new and experimental approaches. Without decentralization and partnership no government will be true to the spirit of water for all or to sustainable development goals. How this can this most effectively be done is a question which must be resolved. Conclusion: Access to water is the fundamental right of the people. Freshwater which is the source of the drinking water supply and basic input for agriculture, the livelihood of the worldžs poor population is a basic human need and right. This precious resource should be protected and utilized for the development and empowerment of the population. Integrated water management is not merely the development of policies on paper but actually implementation of the same through a participatory process and decentralised institutions. Governments have to work closely with civil society and NGOs for capacity building and empowerment of the people and to protect their rights to the precious national resource. The New Delhi slogan: " Some for All and Not All for Some" adopted in 1990 after the International decade of Drinking Water and Sanitation has been modified by the motto adopted by the South African Government which spells out the spirit of integrated water management for the future: "Some for all forever." References: The Water sellers: A Cooperative Venture by the Rural Poor by Geoffrey D. Wood and Richard Palmer-Jones , I T Publications, London, 1991 Groundwater; A Threatened Resource, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, 1996 Human Development Report 1997, United Nations Development Programme, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997 The Wrath of Nature: The Impact of Environmental Destructions on Floods and Droughts, A Presentation by The Centre for Science and Environment to The Parliament Of India, 1987 Towards Green Villages: A strategy for Environmentally Sound and Participatory Rural Development by Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain , Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, September, 1990 Policies, Strategies and Planning for Integrated Rural Development by R. Gopalakrishnan, Integrated Rural Water Management by Food And Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1994 Evaluating Health Impact, Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Education By John Briscoe, Richard Feachem and M Mujibur Rahaman, UNICEF, ICDDR,Bangladesh, IDRC, Canada, 1986 Rural Well Being: From Vision to Action, Proceeding of the Fourth Annual World Bank Conference on Environmentally Sustainable Development, by Ismail Serageldin and David Steeds, The World Bank, 1997 Towards Sustainable Basic Social Services by Francois Brikke, Jean Teun Visscher and WillemAnkersmit, The Hague, The Netherlands, 1998. World Development Report 1994: Infrastructure for Development by The World Bank, Oxford University Press, 1994 First Call For Children , UNICEF 1990 State of the World Children, UNICEF, Oxford University Press, 1995. ADD: Primary Environmental Care reference Note 1/ Gourisankar Ghosh is Chief, Water, Environment and Sanitation, Programme Division, UNICEF New York. Sadig Rasheed is Director, Programme Division, UNICEF New York. The opinions expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not the official view of UNICEF. The authors are grateful for the comments of Alfredo Missair and especially to Dr. Anil Agarwal of CEC, New Delhi for extensive use of his materials.
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