EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER MANAGEMENT 27 - 30 January 1998 Harare, Zimbabwe DEVELOPMENT OF STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER: EXPERIENCES IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC AND RELATED ESCAP ACTIVITIES by Cengiz Ertuna and Le Huu Ti Paper No. 12 Prepared for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs United Nations ----- DEVELOPMENT OF STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER: EXPERIENCES IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC AND RELATED ESCAP ACTIVITIES 1/ by Cengiz Ertuna Chief and Le Huu Ti Economic Affairs Officer Water Resources Section Environment and Natural Resources Management Division ESCAP ABSTRACT Since the adoption of Agenda 21, the development of strategic approaches to freshwater continues to be a major challenge to the developing countries in Asia and the Pacific, particularly with respect to the rapidly increasing population and an increasing complexity of economic liberalization. Within such complex context of strategic approach development, emerging policy issues identified by the recent ESCAP meetings of experts are reviewed and some experiences of selected countries in the region, including developed, newly developed and developing members of ESCAP, are analyzed to illustrate the achievements, the overall framework of freshwater resources management and the continuing efforts being made in the region. The emerging strategic issues include urgent strategic issues for the regional economic and social development and strategic issues that need to be tackled for sustainable management of the water resources. In that context, a brief summary of ESCAP activities in the recent years is presented together with possible future directions of regional activities that need to be carried out at the national and regional levels in support of the development of strategic approaches to the implementation of the freshwater recommendations of Agenda 21. I. INTRODUCTION The Asian and Pacific region extends over a total area of about 36 million km2 or 27 per cent of the world's land area (1997). With nearly 60 per cent of the world's population and over 60 per cent of the world's irrigated land, the region is more densely populated and more intensively cultivated than any other region. The region also displays various types of physical features, from arid deserts to the most humid areas of the world. There is an extremely uneven distribution of precipitation over different parts of the region. For example, precipitation is exceptionally abundant on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, on the western slopes of the mountains of India and Indo-China, and on the islands of Indonesia, which receive annually from 1,500 mm to excess of 3,000 mm of rain and in some locations considerably more. On the other hand, almost all the north-western part of the region is extremely dry, with an annual precipitation of less than 200 mm. Moreover, not only is there a sharp difference in the amount of total annual precipitation, but precipitation also varies considerably from one season to another during the year. The rainfall in a large part of the region is characterized by a monsoon climate pattern with very distinctive dry and rainy seasons. During the long dry season, temporary water shortage is experienced in many river basins, while during the rainy season severe floods may cause tremendous damage in the same river basins. The Asian and Pacific region has several of the world's most important river systems. Seven of Asia's largest river systems, namely the Chang Jiang, Huang He, Mekong, Ayeyarwaddy, Brahmaputra, Ganges and Indus, have a total drainage area of more than 6 million km2, much of which is heavily populated, particularly along their lower reaches. Therefore, the economic development and the welfare of people in this region are very dependent on the progress made in the development and management of its water resources. Although the current per capita per year use of 400 m3 appears to be only 12 per cent of the per capita renewable resources of 3,360 m3 of the region, only a small portion of the renewable water resources can be tapped. This amount is less than the relevant estimates for the other regions with the exception of West Asia. Naturally, the per capita availability has been decreasing with the high growth of population. By the year 2000, annual per capita water availability would be considerably less compared with that in 1950, about one fourth in South Asia, one third in North China and Mongolia, and forty per cent in south-east China. The most critical ten-fold reduction from 7,500 m3 per capita in 1950 is expected to occur in Central Asia, which is now experiencing a severe water crisis in the Aral Sea Basin. The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific-1997 2/ pointed out that the ESCAP region has made major strides in economic and social progress during the past half-century and per capita income growth has been much faster than elsewhere in the world. It also pointed out that nevertheless, some 70 per cent of the world■s poor people live in the ESCAP region. Although most countries in the region have been able to reduce the incidence of poverty in terms of the head-count ratio, the rate of reduction appears to have slowed down since the mid-1980s in many countries. However, the overall impressive economic achievements together with the rapid growth in the population put more and more pressure on the limited availability of freshwater resources in the region. Furthermore, the developing countries in the region have generally made voluntary moves towards policy liberalization with the expectation that such liberalization would have a favourable long-term impact on their economies. Such a policy liberalization and the rapidly mounting pressure on the freshwater resources have resulted in an increasing complexity in the management and development of freshwater resources in the region. This thus requires the development of strategic approaches suitable to freshwater management in the region. Important strategic issues that need to be considered for such a development are discussed below. II. STRATEGIC ISSUES IN THE REGIONAL CONTEXT At the regional level, strategic issues in freshwater resources management are conceived in the context of regional economic and social development and can be described in two groups: (i) urgent strategic issues, and (ii) other strategic issues required for sustainable development. A. Urgent strategic issues in freshwater resources management Urgent strategic issues are those most faced by the developing countries of the region and closely related to poverty alleviation and equitable economic development. A major problem in most countries of Asia and the Pacific, as in developing countries in other regions, is inefficiency in the use of water resources. In major irrigation countries, the widespread use of flood irrigation leads to low efficiency, poor crop yields and degradation of the soil. Water utilities in the large Asian cities have been notoriously inefficient in the past, with enormous quantities of water unaccounted for. Hundreds of millions of people live at the margins of cities, and uncontrolled solid and liquid waste disposal into water courses and open areas has put an enormous burden on the ability of urban water utilities to keep up with the demand for good quality water. Industries mainly use "once- through" processes, with little thought of recycling or in-house water treatment. Toxic effluents are often discharged directly into the water courses, causing existing water supplies to become contaminated. Many of the countries in the region have experienced problems in major project structures and related systems covering dams, canals, pipelines and equipment which are approaching the end of their useful life, requiring huge public investments for their renovation. Most of the countries and areas in the region expect such problems in the future. Preventive maintenance is insufficient, resulting in general degradation of the hydraulic structures and equipment and frequent failures. Interruptions in water supplies not only inconvenience the public but may result in economic losses as well. 1. Municipal and domestic water use Although domestic water use accounts for only about 7 per cent of total withdrawals in the region, the rapid growth of urban centres in many developing countries has put a severe strain on the availability of safe water in large cities. The lack of or inadequate availability of water has in turn become one of the limiting factors in socio-economic development as an important indicator of the quality of life in urban areas. Inadequate operation and maintenance procedures have traditionally been a major stumbling-block to the improvement of water supply and sanitation services not only in the urban but also in rural areas of Asia and the Pacific. A number of water supply systems in the region which are lying in disrepair and require heavy expenditure for rehabilitation reflects this situation. The first priority is to improve efficiency in municipal water utilities, which often have volumes of unaccounted-for water amounting to up to 50 per cent of total water supplied in some of the largest cities of Asia. Some deferment or reduction in the urban water supply investment requirements could be achieved if the countries were able to improve the operating efficiency of the existing infrastructure, particularly in large cities. Considerable water savings may be achieved by reducing leakages and wasteful consumption practices. Leak detection programmes in Bangkok and Manila, for example, have led to a greatly decreased quantity of unaccounted-for water usage, allowing for the postponement of construction of new facilities. Water pricing, including effluent charges, is also an important instrument for stimulating efficient use of water in the household and at commercial establishments. 2. Agricultural water use Irrigation in Asia has been one of the most important activities involved in the increase of agricultural production since the early 1960s. Following the rapid growth of the 1960s and 1970s, the pace of expansion in irrigation slowed considerably, owing to a lack of suitable sites for reservoirs and opposition to new construction by environmentalists and local farmers who could be displaced. Further increases in yields and production in the region will therefore have to come from increased efficiency and more rational use of water on existing irrigated land, and on rainfed agricultural land, rather than from expansion of irrigated areas. In the region, traditional agricultural water policies have concentrated on supplying water for irrigation to meet national development goals. In many countries the methods of irrigation employed lead to low efficiency, poor crop yields and loss of fertility of the soil. There has not been much effort to promote the efficient use or reduction of wastage of irrigation water. The irrigation efficiency level for most schemes in Asia is between 30 and 40 per cent. As a result, the ratio of actual irrigated area to planned irrigable areas is also low, especially on large-scale projects. If the water wasted were made available for use, many water supply expansion projects could be postponed and much larger areas of agricultural land could be irrigated. Common problems are: inadequate planning and design; deficiencies in on- farm irrigation and drainage facilities; and poor operation and maintenance. Urgent action is required to improve on-farm management in countries with a poor record of efficient usage. This would include: education and training of extension staff; a clearly defined division of responsibilities between farmers and irrigation authorities; strengthening of water and soil management research under irrigation and rainfed conditions; monitoring and evaluation of irrigation performance; and establishment of realistic water pricing policies to reduce wastage of water in agriculture. Implementation of such measures will vastly increase the yields, reduce the water use, keep the systems functioning well, reduce problems, such as salinity and water logging, increase incomes and reduce investment requirements. 3. Industrial water use In developed countries with an established industrial base and water pollution laws strictly enforced, industrial water demands are relatively stable or even decreasing, owing to the introduction of water-saving technologies. In the developing countries of Asia, however, water demands in industry are rising rapidly, with increased concentrations of effluents being released. Direct investment from industrialized countries sometimes involves the establishment of polluting industries in developing Asian countries which have less strict controls on pollution than the home country. Many industrial products require the use of large quantities of water for each unit of output, and the rate of water withdrawals per unit output is very high in the region, indicating considerable inefficiency in the production processes. Furthermore, there are great variations in water withdrawals among industries producing the same product. Therefore, there is scope for increasing the efficiency of water use by attaching regulations related to the amounts of water to be used per unit of production and disposal of effluents, and also by offering incentives. B. Other strategic freshwater issues on sustainable development 1. Water resources assessment and quality monitoring In order to improve the management of water resources, there is a need for greater knowledge about their quantity and quality. In many countries/areas of the Asia and Pacific region, there are considerable inadequacies in the availability of data on their water resources, specially on groundwater and water quality. There is a need for regular and systematic collection of hydrological, hydrometeorological and hydrogeological data to be accompanied by an adequate system for processing quantitative and qualitative data on various types of water bodies. In order to be able to collect, analyze and disseminate reliable information on water resources, it is necessary to strengthen the existing mechanisms. In some countries, different agencies collect water resources data with no coordination between them at all. There is a serious need for strengthening and coordinating arrangements in collection and processing of data and for improvement of data gathering networks as well as for improvements of monitoring systems. An inventory of the country's water resources, including quality of water at each source, needs to be prepared as soon as adequate data become available. 2. Other water management issues In many countries of the region national water policies have been developed some of which have been translated into national master water plans. In several countries, including China and India master plans have been prepared at both the national and provincial levels. However, there is a serious need to improve management of the water resources in order to satisfy the freshwater requirements for sustainable development of the countries of the region. Traditionally, water resources management has been supply oriented, without paying sufficient attention to options for influencing water demand and increasing water use efficiency. The emerging trend is to take concerted or integrated action towards conservation of water resources. The holistic management of water as a finite and vulnerable resource and the integration of sectoral water plans and programmes within the framework of national economic and social objectives are therefore of utmost importance to the countries of the region. Consequently, there is a need for the national governments of the region to adopt policies and methodologies for integrated management of their water resources based on comprehensive ecosystem assessment, taking into consideration that the main task is the allocation of available resources among competing uses in an environmentally-sound, economically efficient and equitable manner in order to satisfy the present and future demands of society for water and water-related goods and services. Watershed management is an area which needs immediate attention. Denuded watersheds have given rise to higher flood peaks and lower discharges during the dry season. Perennial flow patterns of rivers have changed over time. Erosion processes have increased, and higher sediment flows threaten the survival of costly big reservoirs, particularly in China and India. Vegetative cover in the catchments needs to be restored by reforestation and conservation. It is feared that unless the threats of deforestation, waterlogging and salinization are checked, large schemes may end up with only marginal benefits. There is a need for strengthening of the international cooperation in the region in the field of water resources management. The experience accumulated by some countries in the efficient management of water resources has to be made available to other countries. Cooperative arrangements are particularly important for the joint management of transboundary water resources by all riparian states concerned. 3. Institutional and legal frameworks One of the major obstacles to efficient water resources management in the region is the sheer number of public, semi-public and private agencies involved in the exploitation of the resource. Government agencies dealing with water supply include ministries of agriculture, health, rural development and industry, while semi-autonomous water utilities in some cities provide municipal water supply. Groundwater resources may be exploited by mineral resources agencies or semi-public agricultural cooperatives. In some countries, each river basin authority manages the water resources of one hydrological basin. Various agencies dealing with different water uses often carry out their activities in isolation. In addition, in many countries of the region, private businesses, industries and farmers are pumping both surface water and groundwater with very little overall regulation. This uncontrolled use of water has led to imbalances in the hydrological cycle, shortages for some essential uses, a lowering of the water table in many areas, salt- water intrusion and increasing costs for exploitation. The lack of a clear division of responsibilities between organizations for urban and rural water supply, between central and provincial or local activities and between public and private sector agencies results in duplication of efforts without achieving national development goals. Legislation, regulating ownership, use and protection of water resources support the national water policy statements in many countries of the region. Such legislation cover at least the ownership of and the right to use surface water, as well as the protection of surface-water quality. Several countries, including Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Palau and Sri Lanka, have indicated that their water legislation had not yet been formulated to regulate ownership or the right to use groundwater. This may contribute to uncontrolled exploitation of groundwater in many areas, causing a decline in the water table and land subsidence. In many countries, such as China, India and the Philippines, water is defined as public property. In these countries and others, national water policies emphasize the multi-purpose use of water and provide for the coordination of the development of water resources. 4. Demand management and other economic issues As mentioned earlier, demand management has not been practiced widely in the region. There is a strong need for realistic alternative measures to increase the efficiency of water utilization through demand management rather than providing more water. Unless water prices are raised significantly and effluent fees are introduced, there are no economic incentives for industries to save water. Through enforcing effluent standards and providing subsidies to reduce waste loads, pollution levels could also be significantly reduced. The industrial sector could also be motivated to use appropriately treated municipal waste water in processes which do not require good quality water. In India, for instance, industrial enterprises in the water-short city of Madras have been willing to buy treated waste water from the city authorities for reuse in their factories. In most of the irrigated lands of the region, there has not been much effort to reduce wastage of irrigation water through pricing mechanisms. The countries have only recently attempted to collect water fees for irrigation, mainly under conditions of water shortage. If properly implemented, however, pricing policies could reduce the wastage of resources by ensuring the development of optimum-sized water systems. The difficulty of implementing irrigation pricing policies in Asia is that, except for tubewell or pumping projects, it is very difficult to assess the quantity of water actually consumed in most irrigation areas. Moreover, the majority of farmers may be unwilling to pay for an unreliable and inadequate supply for water in some of the large irrigation projects because of the low level of revenue collected, operation and maintenance have been inadequate and systems have deteriorated, resulting in unreliable water supply. This is a vicious cycle found in many developing countries of the Asian and Pacific region. III. EXPERIENCES IN STRATEGIC APPROACH DEVELOPMENT A. An overall view of experiences in the region Towards integrated water resources management, as articulated in Agenda 21, integration of sectoral water plans and programmes within the framework of national economic and social policy, as a dynamic, interactive, iterative and multisectoral approach to water resources management is gaining recognition within the region. For example, the goal of sustainable development is implicit in the current Eighth Five Year Plan of India (1992-1997), which underlines the significance of ensuring a coordinated and integrated governmental action for conserving nature and ensuring sustainable use of natural resources through a participatory process. In China's Agenda 21, it is recognized that the realization of objectives of other fields of governmental planning becomes increasingly dependent on successful water resources management. In line with parts of Agenda 21 related to freshwater resources, most of the countries of the region have adopted or revised their national water policies, reflecting the priority attached to water resources development within the national socio-economic development plans. For example, Indonesia undertook a major policy review of its water resources policy during the period of 1991-1994 to meet the needs of development and to accommodate the changing environmental and resource requirements and society's aspirations. The policy review took into consideration the Agenda 21 approach to deal holistically with water resources management issues and the four main principles of the Dublin Statement. In Pakistan, a comprehensive national water policy is expected to be formulated to provide an appropriate framework for water resources management by 1998. In a number of the countries of the region, national water resources policies have been translated into action programmes or master water plans. The scope of these activities ranges from more sector-oriented plans, such as improvement of water quality, to more comprehensive development plans. Following are some examples from countries in the Asian-Pacific region: - In Bhutan, a Power System Master Plan (1994) has been formulated to identify a number of possible sites for hydropower plants. These sites have been selected employing technical, economic and environmental criteria. - In Bangladesh, a National Water Plan II for the period 1990-2010 has been prepared as an updated continuation of the National Water Plan which covered the period between 1985 and 2005. - In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Second Five-Year Socio- Economic and Cultural Development Plan (1995-1999) includes a number of objectives related to the environment and water resources. Also specific targets have been set for various water resources development projects. - Maldives has developed an action plan in the field of environmental management which gives priority to the development of national policy guidelines concerning wise use of groundwater resources. In several other countries of the region, the preparatory work for the formulation or revision of national action plans has been initiated, often with the assistance from international organizations. In Mongolia, there is the intention to revise the Master Water Plan elaborated in the first half of the 1970s, in order to reflect adequately the new social and economic realities of the country's transition period to a market economy. In Sri Lanka, it is envisaged to formulate an action plan for comprehensive water resources management that will synthesize the results of the subsectoral plans at the national planning level. The action plan is expected to have a positive effect on the quality of investments in irrigation, water supply, power generation and environment protection subsectors, and to strengthen their linkage with national development goals. The concept of management of water resources within a river basin or sub-basin context, facilitating integration of land- and water-related aspects, has been widely applied in the region. In Australia, China and Japan, water management has been already been exercised at the river basin level to a certain extent for a number of rivers of national significance. In India, the national water policy asserts that water resources planning be undertaken for a hydrological unit, such as a drainage basin or sub-basin. In Indonesia, basin institutions for water resources management, including for both planning and operation, have been introduced recently in some river basins, but have yet to become fully functional. Basin-wide approach might be quite beneficial to the management of a large number of transboundary water systems in the region if the riparians could agree to cooperate for formulation and implementation of development plans. For example, Indicative Plan for the development of land, water and related resources of the Lower Mekong basin was prepared in 1970 by the then Committee for Coordination of Investigations of the Lower Mekong Basin, comprising Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The Plan was revised in 1987, and at present a number of specific projects identified in the Plan are being implemented under the auspices of the Mekong River Commission, which was set up in April 1995 as a replacement to the above mentioned Committee. In Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan reached in 1992 an agreement on joint management of transboundary waters in the Aral Sea Basin, and established the river basin authorities for the Amu-Darya and the Syr-Darya. Rivers, which are the main tributaries of the Aral Sea. These authorities have been entrusted with the main function of allocation of the scarce water resources available to the riparian countries, also taking into account the need to release a specified amount of water into the Aral Sea. Bangladesh and India have recently reached an agreement on the sharing the Ganga/Ganges waters at Farakka. There are several other transboundary rivers in the region, where the respective riparian countries undertake jointly development and management activities in the field of water and water-related resources. The old problem of fragmentation of institutional responsibilities for water resources development, management and conservation among sectoral agencies, central and provincial authorities, which had been a major obstacle to the introduction of integrated water resources management, has been alleviated to a certain extent in several countries of the region by creating some institutional mechanisms for coordination. In China, India, Thailand and some other countries, there are interagency coordination committees and groups composed of high ranking representatives of various agencies and ministries dealing with water resources issues. However, the coordination of activities on water resources development, conservation and protection needs further improvement, particularly at lower administrative levels. This is particularly important in the light of the on-going exercise on decentralization of responsibilities in the water sector, which is taking place in several countries of the region. Although most countries of the region have adopted water legislation regulating to a certain extent the ownership, use and protection of water resources, there is a need in some countries, especially in the countries with economies in transition, to review the existing water legislation in order to incorporate relevant provisions associated with the economic value of water, rational use of finite water resources, protection of the aquatic environment, etc. For example, in Lao PDR, a Water Law has been drafted recently and submitted for approval to the National Assembly. The proposed law aims to streamline policies on water resources assessment, planning, use, quality and protection, and designates a central administrator for water resources management. In Mongolia, the new Water Law that became effective from 5 June 1995, incorporates water management concepts such as water resources development in the context of sustainability, recognition of EIA procedures and some others. In Central Asian states, water legislation is also being revised substantially. B. An analysis of the experiences in the development of strategic approaches The experiences in the development of strategic approaches to freshwater resources development and management in the region are rich. Such richness in experiences reflects the diversity of the economic, social, cultural, political and environmental conditions in the countries. The experiences also reflect the priority issues identified and urgent needs in water resources management conceived by the respective Governments. In general, these experiences can be viewed from two distinct viewpoints: (i) the principal driving force for such a strategic approach, and (ii) the process leading to a firm development of strategic approaches. 1. Towards an effective principal driving force In most countries, it is recognized that the Government plays the principal driving force in a strategic approach to freshwater resources development and management. Several experiences in the region are available in this respect. Within the scope of this paper, two examples are provided for reference. The first example relates to the functions of the Governments as extracted from the Australian experience: -Governments will work to ensure that development decisions which impact on water resources are based on acceptable water quality and quantity criteria, and that management requirements to meet those criteria on a sustainable basis are recognized. Efforts will be focused on using water more efficiently; allocating water for stream-flow and other environmental uses; and minimizing pollution. Careful resource management policies, pricing policies aligned to the real value of the resource, and a national approach to environment protection measures for water quality.■ (extracted from Australia■s National Strategy for Environment and Sustainable Development - Water, 31 July 1996). The second example reflects efforts in enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the principal driving force as reflected in the following three important elements in the functioning of the Malaysian Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID): (a) Integrated water resources planning needs to be based on the -Total Planning Doctrine■ to achieve a sustainable community as the fundamental objective of the Malaysian Vision 2020 3/, (b) the DID work is guided by the vision: - Towards excellence in the planning, development and management of water resources for sustainable agricultural and socio-economic growth in line with the national vision■, and (c) the DID aims to achieve its mission:■ To provide quality, efficient and effective services in the fields of irrigation, drainage, river engineering, coastal engineering and hydrology through sustainable development and integrated management of the nation■s water resources.■ 2. Process towards strategic approaches The development of strategic approaches to freshwater resources management needs to be specific to each country. The stages of development and success in such a process can be illustrated by the following seven strategies recommended by the participants of the Regional Consultation Workshop towards a Policy for Water Resources Development and Management in the Asian and Pacific Region, organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in May 1996 (Towards Effective Water Policy in the Asian and Pacific Region, Volume I: Overview of Issues and Recommendations, Ed. Wouter Lincklaen Arriens, et. al., ADB, 1996) (1) Prepare and adopt a national water policy and action program. Conduct a national water sector assessment, and formulate and implement a coherent national action program for water sector development, including a national water policy, a water sector apex body, water law, and strengthening of institutions, information, monitoring and learning. And mobilize government resources to direct the implementation of the national action program in a committed and sustained manner to the achievement of its objectives. (2) Invest to manage the country■s priority river basins. Formulate and implement action programs for the country's priority river basins with investments in physical infrastructure, institutions, and capacity building for water resources development, management, and conservation. And mobilize public sector financing and sustain commitment to carry out these priority river basin programs. (3) Increase the autonomy, and accountability of service providers. Formulate and implement phased action programs in the water supply and irrigation subsectors to increase the autonomy and accountability of water service providers including, as appropriate, commercialization, corporatization, private participation, and strengthening of community organizations. And vigorously promote local and viable revolving cycles of investment, customer service, and user charges to satisfy water demands in each use. (4) Develop incentive, regulation, and awareness for sustainable water use. Formulate and implement incentives, regulatory controls, and public information and education programs to promote sustainable water use, economic efficiency, conservation environment protection, and water quality standards; and estimate the economic costs associated with government policies, strategies, programs, and projects that deviate from the economic optimum. (5) Manage the use of shared water resources and develop cooperation. Develop programs to manage shared waters in the country, cooperate with other riparian countries in the planning, development and management of shared international water resources; and promote transboundary understanding, joint projects, and free exchange of information and experience. (6) Enhance water information, consultation, and partnerships. Formulate and implement water sector policy, strategies, programs, and projects using systematically developed approaches to information, consultation, participation, public-private-NGO partnerships, and learning, to promote commitment to, and understanding of, actions agreed to be in the public interest. (7) Invest in capacity building, monitoring, and learning. Develop, implement, and sustain programs that will ensure the success of water sector development activities through capacity building, monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning at all levels, particularly in public sector institutions. C. Remarks From our review, it was revealed that significant achievements in the development towards an effective principal driving force reflected the advanced stages of economic development of the respective countries. This is the case for the countries which have sufficient financial and technical resources. On the other hand, achievements in most of the developing countries in the process of development of effective strategic approaches are quite diverse. The diversity of these experiences can be described by not only the important progress in such a complex process (amid the complexity of economic liberalization and democratization of natural resources management) but also the difficulties in maintaining continuity and consistency in policy and decision making due to the lack of necessary financial resources and technical capacity. These constraints make it difficult to achieve the goal proposed in Agenda 21 for all the Governments to establish national strategies for integrated water resources management by year 2000. In such a context, the challenge for the region is to develop an overall strategic approach to help the developing countries in the region to firmly move towards national strategic approaches to freshwater resources development and management. The rate of progress for such a process will depend on available resources in the respective countries and assistance from the international community. IV. ESCAP AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF STRATEGIC APPROACHES A. Recent ESCAP activities In the implementation of Agenda 21 in the Asian and Pacific region, ESCAP has been focussing its efforts on assisting the countries of the region in the formulation and implementation of plans and programmes in the following major areas of integrated water resources development and management in their national economic and social development activities: preparation of guidelines on integrated and sustainable development of water resources; water resources assessment; establishment of pricing policies and structures for water supply; promotion of private sector■s participation and investment in water resources projects; and promotion of women■s role and participation in water supply and sanitation. ESCAP formulates regional projects, conducts studies, organizes expert group meetings, workshop and seminars, disseminates information and provides technical advisory services. 1. Integrated water resources development and management On the implications of Agenda 21 for integrated water resources management in Asia and the Pacific ESCAP organized several expert group meetings and regional workshops on the annual basis on various aspects of integrated water resources development and management since 1992 to review the progress, to exchange experiences among the countries and to recommend possible strategies to overcome any problems and obstacles. In addition, in order to order to support the member countries in their efforts on integrated development and management of their water resources, ESCAP secretariat organized, among others, the following activities since the UNCED: - Seminar and publication "Towards an Environmentally Sound and Sustainable development of Water Resources in Asia and the Pacific", December 1992 - Seminars on flood loss prevention and management in Myanmar, Pakistan, Iran, Solomon Islands (1993), and in Fiji, Samoa and India (1994) - Seminar and publication on Integrated Water Development and Management in Asia and the Pacific (1995) - Advisory missions to member states on various aspects of integrated water development and management, especially on integrated river basin development planning (1992-1997). With respect to the most recent activities on sustainable development of water resources, an ad-hoc expert group meeting was held (Bangkok, 1996) followed by a seminar which finalized the guidelines on water and sustainable development in the region (Bangkok, 1996) which was published in 1997. Another expert group meeting was held (Bangkok, 1996) to review and analyze water pricing policies and structures in the ESCAP region, followed by two separate workshops, on the establishment of pricing policies and structures for urban and rural water supply (Manila, 1996) and the other for irrigation water supply (Jakarta, 1996) which produced two relevant publications in 1997. 2. Water resources assessment For assessment of water resources in the region, computer applications were introduced through the organization of a regional workshop (1993) and subsequent advisory missions. Subsequently, another regional workshop was held in 1995 to discuss and finalize a -Guidebook to Water Resources, Use and Management in Asia and the Pacific■. As a result of these efforts, the following publications were produced: - A publication on Computer Applications for Groundwater Assessment and Management, June 1993 - Publications on the water resources in Japan (1994) and Myanmar (1995) - Guidebook to Water Resources and Water Use in Asia and the Pacific (1995), presenting information on urban use and water demand in 45 countries/areas in the region. - A country study on China is under production. 3. Water supply and sanitation ESCAP activities in this area focus on mobilization of community participation and resources to contribute towards universal access to water supply and sanitation. These activities were carried out mostly in collaboration with other United Nations agencies, particularly UNICEF, DDSMS, WHO, UNDP-World Bank Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation. Among the major activities were the establishment of a guidebook on the promotion of investments for water supply and sanitation projects and promotion of the role and participation of women in water supply and sanitation. For the establishment of the guidebook on promotion of investments, an expert group meeting was, at first, held to formulate the contents of the guidebook (Bangkok, 1996) and subsequently, a seminar reviewed and finalized the guidebook (Pattaya, 1996). A subregional workshop on promotion of private sector participation in the water sector was held (Macau, 1997), utilizing the guidebook as the basic material. With respect to the promotion of women■s role and participation in water supply and sanitation, ESCAP organized, in close collaboration with other international agencies, four national workshops on the use of the training modules of the United Nations Training Package on Women, Water Supply and Sanitation (WWSS) in the Philippines, the Lao PDR, Viet Nam, (1996) and Thailand (1997). The experiences learnt from the national workshops were compiled and published in 1997 for wide dissemination. Other ESCAP activities on drinking water supply and sanitation were: - Workshop on testing of training modules on women, water supply and sanitation, September 1992 - Regional seminar on water management in urban areas, March 1993 - Seminar and publication on Urban Water Resources Management (1993) - National seminars on urban water resources management, Viet Nam (1993), Myanmar, Kazakhstan (1994) - National seminars in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on drinking water supply and sanitation, 1994 - Regional seminar on efficient water use in urban areas, Singapore (1997) - Advisory missions on improvement of drinking water supply and sanitation and urban water management (1994-1997). 4. Protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic resources ESCAP has undertaken the following activities recently, with regard to the protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems: - Expert Group Meeting on Protection of Water Resources, Water Quality and Aquatic Ecosystems, October 1994 - Workshop on Water-related Problems in Low-lying Coastal Areas, November 1995 - Publication on Protection of Water Resources, Water Quality and Aquatic Ecosystems in Asia and the Pacific, 1995 - Regional seminar to review the status of water quality problems in Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, 1997. - Advisory missions on protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems. 5. Other supporting activities ESCAP has also continued its work on natural disaster reduction, particularly on flood control and management in the region. A detailed study on the natural hazards of the region was undertaken and a publication on -Natural Hazards and Natural Disaster Reduction in Asia and the Pacific■ was prepared (1995). Appropriate land-use planning and practices was an area where efforts were recently directed to reduce damage due to water-related disasters and to enhance productivity of land through watershed management. A workshop was organized and the Guidelines and Manual on Land-use Planning and Practices in Watershed Management and Disaster Reduction was published in 1997. ESCAP continues to provide substantive support to the work of the Typhoon Committee and the Panel on Tropical Cyclones. ESCAP continues the promotion of technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC) in the region and to provide its traditional substantive support to the work of the Mekong River Commission. ESCAP also organizes the IDNDR Day every October with the participation of the U.N. agencies and concerned government departments in Bangkok. ESCAP has also recently provided advisory services on various aspects of water resources development and management and also on water-related natural disaster reduction to Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Mongolia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Uzbekistan In addition, ESCAP continued to disseminate advanced technology and know-how on water resources development and management through its various publications. These included the quarterly issues of the Water Resources Journal and the semi-annual issues of Confluence. B. Coordination of activities in the region The Interagency Sub-committee on Water for Asia and the Pacific was established in 1978 as the Interagency Task Force on Water for Asia and the Pacific in pursuance of the recommendation of the United Nations Water Conference (Mar del Plata, March 1977). At that time, the Task Force was entrusted with the main function to assist cooperation and, as appropriate, joint action among participating agencies in their programmes to assist countries in the investigation, development, use and management of water resources for all purposes, with particular reference in the first instance to follow up to the Mar del Plata Action Plan, approved by the United Nations Water Conference. In 1994, the terms of reference of the Task Force were revised in order to strengthen its role in the coordination of regional activities and to achieve a fully coordinated approach to fulfilling the needs of countries of the Asian and Pacific region to implement Agenda 21, approved by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, June 1992), in the key area of water resources. Now, the Sub-committee is assigned with responsibility for the formulation of common strategies for concerted action by its member agencies at the regional level for both the implementation of the recommendations of the Mar del Plata Action Plan and the achievement of the goals set in chapter 18, dealing with freshwater resources, of Agenda 21. Since the inception of the Sub-committee, ESCAP has been serving as its secretariat and maintaining liaison on behalf of the Sub-committee with the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) Sub-committee on Water Resources at United Nations Headquarters. The Sub-committee is currently composed of representatives of the 16 participating international organizations, with the Director of the Environment and Natural Resources Management Division of the ESCAP Secretariat as Chairperson, the Director of the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific as Co-Chairperson, and the Chief of the Water Resources Section of the above Division as Secretary. Recently, the ESCAP/WMO Panel on Tropical Cyclones and the Asian Institute of Technology joined the Subcommittee as observers. V. FUTURE DIRECTIONS IN STRATEGIC APPROACH DEVELOPMENT A. A Plan towards strategic approaches Despite the experiences of having assisted the developing countries in the region in water resources development and management for nearly 50 years, ESCAP needs to sharpen the focus of its programme in water resources and prioritize its activities, due to the limited resources available and the rapidly increasing requirements for technical assistance and the increasing complexity of natural resources management. An effective plan for ESCAP activities aiming at assisting the developing countries in the development of strategic approaches is expected to be built on the past achievements and experiences. Such a plan needs to address the different levels of need of the countries and to take into account their respective experiences and status of economic and human resources development. One of the most important challenges for such a plan is to effectively assist the countries in mobilizing maximum participation of all the corresponding stakeholders in the respective countries. Such assistance must ensure continuity and consistency of the related activities so as to firmly establish a firm process of development of strategic approaches. From our experiences, such a programme of assistance needs to aim at assisting the countries■ experts to help themselves and to mobilize participation of stakeholders by themselves. In that context, development and transfer of appropriate tools and methodologies is indispensable. On the other hand, ESCAP plan needs also to address the urgent needs of water resources development and management of the countries. On the above basis, the programme of work of ESCAP in the water resources sector has been structured along the following three main directions: (1) Promotion of tools and methodologies in strategic planning in water resources sector and compilation of related experiences in the region; (2) Provision of technical assistance to the developing countries to address urgent needs in water resources development and management in the region; and (3) Promotion of more active cooperation among the member countries and close collaboration among the international organizations and United Nations agencies dealing with the water sector. In this connection, it is expected that the programmes of cooperation between ESCAP and the other international organizations will lead to a long-term partnership to effectively meet the increasing needs of the region. Throughout the past many meetings of experts in Asia and the Pacific, the importance of integrated water resources management has always been emphasized. Depending on the stages of development of the countries, strategic approaches may differ from one to another in respect of priority areas, activities, scope, direction and expected goals for the short and long terms. Within such strategic approaches, priority areas could play a deciding factor in the practicability and feasibility of the respective implementation programmes. Promotion of such approaches together with cooperation in tackling issues in the priority areas need stronger regional cooperation in priority regional issues. From the most recent expert group meeting of experts (Integrated Water Resources Management in Asia and the Pacific, Water Resources Series No. 75, ST/ESCAP/SER.F/75, 1996), typical priority areas were identified for the national and regional levels as reproduced below. B. Possible directions at the national level 1. Policy and strategy formulation (1) Countries that have not yet formulated national policies and strategies for integrated management of their water resources should do so and adopt as quickly as possible such policies and strategies. They should take into consideration that the main task is the allocation of available resources with priorities among competing water uses in an environmentally sound, economically efficient and equitable manner, also taking into account the social considerations, in order to satisfy the present and future demands of the society for water-related goods and services. (2) The policies should be translated into action by means of the implementation of basin-wide, regional and national plans and programmes for optimal water resources development and protection. A river basin/sub-basin could be an appropriate unit for master water planning and coordinated management, especially in countries with federal structures, in which provincial or state governments have primary jurisdiction over the development and management of water resources. (3) Review and revision of policies and action programmes in the water sector should be carried out on a regular basis in order to reflect adequately the recent socio-economic changes and trends in the respective countries and to adjust accordingly the existing master plans in order to fulfill their objectives. (4) In the national water policies the highest priorities should be given in accordance with the priorities established in the relevant parts of the water development and management activities of Agenda 21. Special attention should be given by donors, national Governments, local and regional bodies to the drinking water supply and sanitation needs of mountain regions, small island nations, arid and drought prone areas, and urban poor areas to achieve the goal of universal access to safe water and sanitation. (5) Urgent action towards conservation of water resources should be taken in order to achieve sustainable water resources development. Within the framework of integrated water resources management, strong emphasis should be given to measures to increase the efficiency of water use, which is low in various sectors of the economy in many countries of the region, particularly in irrigated agriculture. (6) The efficient utilization of water resources should be mainly achieved through water demand management in the agricultural, domestic, municipal and industrial and hydro-electric power sectors. Water demand management measures should be vigorously promoted by using economic incentives and legal instruments wherever needed. 2. Institutional issues (7) Diagnostic assessment of the organizational framework in the water sector should be undertaken to identify overlapping institutional responsibilities among sectoral agencies and organizations dealing with water resources and to improve administrative and managerial structures for the integrated management of water resources. Institutional barriers to integrated land and water resources management should also be identified and removed. (8) Institutional fragmentation of responsibilities for water resources management, impeding the promotion of integrated water management, should be alleviated through effective coordination mechanisms. To this end, countries that have not set up mechanisms for coordinating all water- related activities at the national, provincial or river basin/sub-basin levels, should take action in establishing one to ensure an integrative multisectoral approach to water resources management. (9) Responsibilities for water management should be delegated, to the extent possible, to the lowest appropriate levels, to ensure the involvement of water users including women in the planning, implementation and management of water projects. This would require adequate public awareness and education for the efficient utilization of water resources. Where appropriate, more functions for the provision of water services should be transferred to the private sector, financially autonomous entities, and community organizations under the overall regulation of the Government. At the same time, the safety of the structures and socio-economic responsibilities should also be ensured. The legal and administrative system should be further strengthened, in particular with respect to the enforcement of regulatory measures. (10) As lack of information for planning and decision-making is still a significant problem, countries should enhance their capacities for water resources assessment. This may include a further strengthening of coordinating arrangements in the collection and processing of data as well as the improvement of monitoring systems. 3. Economic aspects of water management (11) More attention should be given to the economic efficiency of water development projects, greater reliance on water pricing and mobilization of resources of the private sector and communities. The economic efficiency of projects could be improved by rehabilitating deficient systems (for example, those with waterlogging and salinity problems), reducing wastage and unaccounted-for water, recycling and reusing waste water and improving operation and maintenance. Efforts should be strengthened to recover a larger proportion of investment and recurrent costs for water resources projects and services. 4. Human resources development (12) High priority should be given to the development of human resources, since the decentralization of water resources management necessitates training of water management staff at all levels. Training capacities should be adequately strengthened and updated from time to time taking into account the advances made in the sector through research and development efforts. (13) To further promote water use efficiency and water conservation, activities to raise public awareness and education for increased user participation should be continued and where possible accelerated. C. Priority issues at the regional level 1. International cooperation (14) International cooperation in the field of water resources management should be strengthened in Asia and the Pacific. Further regional cooperation should be aimed at the exchange of information and experiences in such areas as the formulation of master water plans and investment programmes; water resources assessment and demand estimation; integration of water and land management; promotion of water conservation through improved water-use efficiency; water demand management; institutional reforms including decentralization of management to local authorities, private enterprises, communities, non-governmental organizations, etc. (15) Regional cooperation should also be promoted to support the efforts of the countries concerned in education, training and research in the water sector with a view to strengthening their ability for integrated management of water resources in a sustainable way. Countries which have training potential should be encouraged to accept trainees from other member States through regional cooperation. (16) ESCAP, UNEP and other international organizations and agencies should widely disseminate knowledge and information among national Governments and institutions on integrated water resources policy development and management techniques and policies by organizing activities such as seminars, workshops, regional expert group meetings and study tours, and preparing pertinent guidelines reflecting prevailing socio-economic and environmental conditions of the countries in the region. (17) There should be a quantum increase in external assistance from donor countries and agencies for the water resources development of developing countries of the region in line with the priorities indicated in chapter 18 of Agenda 21. Economic viability should not be the sole criterion for such funding, but social benefits in the long run should also govern the activity so that implementation of the provisions in chapter 18 and other relevant chapters of Agenda 21 could be speeded up. 2. Transboundary water resources (18) In the case of transboundary water resources, riparian countries should be encouraged to harmonize, where appropriate and in conformity with existing arrangements, their water resources strategies and action programmes. (19) Cooperation between countries for the integrated management of transboundary water resources could include the exchange of relevant hydrological and meteorological data and information on the environment, joint studies on the assessment of transboundary water resources, notification and consultation on planned development activities in the water sector, collaborative planning of transboundary water resources development wherever feasible, and implementation of mutually agreed water resources development projects. (20) The experiences gained in the joint development and management of water resources in the Lower Mekong Basin and in the Aral Sea Basin by respective riparian States should be disseminated widely. D. Preparation for the future Within the context of the development of strategic approaches in the region, ESCAP is making efforts to collect existing strategic planning methodologies in water resources and related experiences in the region for review and subsequent dissemination. It is hoped that ESCAP will be able to benefit also from the experiences of the other international organizations and United Nations agencies. In this connection, efforts will be made to strengthen the existing close cooperation with the other United Nations agencies, international organizations and other regional organizations, such as the Asian Development Bank, the Mekong River Commission, the Typhoon Committee, the Panel on Tropical Cyclones, and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) towards long-term partnership in water resources management. It may be noted that a programme of close collaboration with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) has recently been initiated during a meeting between the ESCAP Executive Secretary and AIT President. Within such a programme, it is expected that a detailed plan will be worked out at a later stage in order to help build up long- term partnership in human resources development in support for the development and implementation of strategic approaches to freshwater in the region. Notes 1/ The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. 2/ Asia and the Pacific into the Twenty-first Century: Development Challenges and Opportunities, Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific-1997, ST/ESCAP/1727, New York, 1997. 3/ To achieve Vision 2020, which is based upon the underlying premise of attaining balanced communities, a comprehensive and universal planning doctrine has been formulated. This "Total Planning Doctrine" is a guiding principle for development planning processes. The doctrine postulates that man is the focal point for development. As part of the planning processes, accurate and timely indicators for key policy variables, particularly performance indicators which measure conditions and changes in human settlements, are required. Identification of indicators for measuring sustainability of development plan is carried out at two levels. The first involves the identification of land-use planning criteria for sustainable development. In this respect, the goals of sustainable development are used, i.e. resource conservation, built-environment in harmony with natural environment, environmental quality and social equity. The second involves the identification of land-use planning criteria for sustainable community. To ensure wide acceptance and full support from the public, Malaysia has been exercising a consultative process at all levels in order to get opinion from the public, based on the moderation approach, on all aspects before any decision is made. The success of realizing sustainable community is largely dependent on the extent of commitment from the public and the local government. Thus, people empowerment and decentralization of power to the local government are the major agendas being addressed in Malaysia. (Extracted from "Planning Practices in Malaysia" prepared by Puan Hajjah Norasiah Bte Hj. Yahya, representative of the Federal Department of Town and Country Planning, Peninsular Malaysia for discussion at the Workshop on Guidelines and Manual on Land-use Planning and Practices in Watershed Management and Disaster Reduction, Bangkok, Thailand, 18-21 March 1997.)
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Date last posted: 8 December 1999 15:15:30