Home Forums Sustainable Water Management (SWM01) SWM01 – Module 4 Discussion Point

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This topic contains 25 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Menahil Hannouna 3 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #8134
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    Damian Indij
    Keymaster

    Water uses are interlinked and interrelated. Since 2002, international and national laws, policies, strategies and coordination mechanisms of the water sector have become increasingly anchored to human rights standards and mechanisms. Legally speaking, in most cases, human rights have a higher status than water laws. All legal systems establish a hierarchy among different kinds of laws, claims and rights, and usually constitutional and human rights guarantees take precedence over other types of laws, claims and rights. In order to manage water in the public interest, water managers need to allocate water to different kinds of uses, such as human consumption and hygiene, sanitation, food production, energy, agriculture, mining, industry and tourism. Water allocation requires judgement in making trade-offs between different stakeholders’ priorities, between different economic sectors and between the needs of mankind and the need to conserve the natural environment, protect biodiversity and ensure the long-term sustainability of the hydrological cycle (sustainable access to water). This is a highly challenging task because globally, many freshwater ecosystems are suffering from over-abstraction and some of the world’s major rivers are running dry for stretches of time. It has been estimated that the proportion of the world’s population living in countries facing significant freshwater stress will increase from 34 percent (in 1995) to 63 percent (by 2025).

    Discussion question:

    On what basis should these difficult choices between competing water uses be made? How the ecosystem and sustainability issues should be concerned in allocation to meet the growing demand?

    Please widely discuss.

  • #8216
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    Ramadhan Mohammed
    Participant

    Mesopotamian Marsh ecosystem and water allocation:
    It is clearly manifested that there are problems in the natural resource base such as is increasing in water scarcity, salinity, pollution of rivers, dam reservoirs, soil erosion and decline in soil quality, and deterioration of water-related ecosystems, and due to the less discharge in Tigris and Euphrates rivers the restoration of Iraqi marshes face real problems in water management strategies and accordingly the sustainable ecology cannot be based on sound base environmental and institutional components. All this cause the competition between water allocation and ecosystem, which push towards loss of biodiversity, and the damage to the values of cultural heritage in the Iraqi marshes as an example.

  • #8217
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    Ramadhan Mohammed
    Participant

    Healthy ecosystem for Mesopotamian Marsh ecosystem can be reached by maintaining the ecological integrity and find a balance between amount allocation of water available for marsh restoration it is to be scientifically based for the development in sustainable and culturally and socially appropriate manner.

    • #8328

      Thank you so much Ramadhan for your example of the Marsh eco-system in Iraq. Yes, This is a good example that shows the importance of allocating more financial resources to restore eco-system and control the pollution and other threats. Water allocation decisions are difficult to make if the resources are continuously depleting. Capacity development and awareness creation among the public, and restoration work will play a great role to conserve the resources. I think inter-agency coordination is required to make sure all the responsible authorities take a stake on conservation the marshes and reducing the threats to the eco-system. Eco-system depletion leads to violating the rights of indigenous people, farmers who depend on it for their livelihood. And also it leads to the reducing the available water for everyone. These consequences connected like a chain and finally it will affect the people who caused the pollution and destroy the eco-system. But poor are the most vulnerable because the rich could afford water at a high price.
      In terms of water allocation decisions in this case, I think it is important to allocate the minimum amount of potable water at a affordable rate for everyone, (e.g. increasing block rate water tariff) at the same time provides incentives to treat and recharge wastewater back to the system, reuse, and make the catchment restoration plans. In order to allocate more water for human consumption, the financial allocation should be increased for restoration and conservation of the limited water resources you have in the country. Capacity development and awareness would make an impact.

  • #8221
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    Alex Lane
    Participant

    In my opinion, I think that, where infrastructure permits and where they are well designed, incremental block tariffs provide the most logical mechanisms of balancing the need to provide for the human right to water whilst also communicating the scarcity value of this vital resource. I often hear of challenges implementing such schemes however. Case study 3 in the module materials highlights the use of IBTs in south Africa. Does anyone know how successful the scheme was/is?

    • #8331

      Hi Alex, a good question. As far as I know this was in practice till we leave South Africa in 2013, so I believe it is in practice yet. This was debatable as it subsidized the people who afford the basic water with tariff but it was a good policy for providing the right to water for people who cant afford to pay.
      South Africa’s national water pricing strategy intend to cover the costs.
      A report to the treasury has recommended: “Whilst prices for modest water users in major urban areas have been contained as a result of the introduction of free basic water policies and inclining block tariffs, the costs of water for larger users have increased sharply. There should be better regulatory oversight of retail water pricing to ensure cost-reflectivity, transparency and consistency in the application of pricing to consumers.”

      Also I found this study which showed that the more effective pricing is possible than the free basic water for South Africa. It conclude: “without government subsidy, the mean monthly consumption would change very little. However, it is possible to reallocate the current subsidy to form an optimal tariff without a free allowance, which would increase welfare while leaving the water provider’s revenue unchanged. This optimal tariff would also reduce the number of households consuming below the WHO-recommended level”. http://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/szabo-130422.pdf
      I agree that tariff method should be carefully chosen, (may be two different tariff schemes to choose) in order to recover costs not only the production costs but also the wastewater treatment etc., but appreciate if anyone have different opinion than the findings from above two papers.

      • #8368
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        Alex Lane
        Participant

        Thanks Indika! A very interesting article.

  • #8244
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    Bhawan Singh
    Participant

    It is evident, especially in water-stressed countries, the decisions relating to allocation of water to competing sectors (agriculture, industry including tourism, domestic) are difficult to make.

    Although, the Human Rights Based Approaches (HRBA) gives the moral right of stakeholders to water, the problem becomes complicated by water availability and distribution systems, economic considerations (for instance favouring tourism to earn forign capital).
    However, ecosystem and sustainability issues should be taken into consideration in allocation to meet the growing demand, driven by population and growth. Ecosystems are vital for the capture and purification of rainfall. In terms of sustainability issues, climate change should be given more attention, especially for those countries where water deficits may become greater.

    Bhawan Singh

    • #8333

      Thank you Bhawan Singh, I totally agree. This is one of the fact I have explained in the basic readings as “HRBA sets the bar for IWRM”. The Right to be free from contamination of water supplies is indicated in the General comment 15. There are conventions and agreements that promotes the integrated water resources management (UN Economic Commission Convention on the Protection and Use of Trans-boundary Watercourses and International Lakes).
      Hence, in order to fulfill the right to water for everyone, it is important to allocate water for eco-system and response to the sustainability issues in the context of climate change. Right to water is not only a key to demand affordable water to be allocated for everyone but also can be a moral to protect the water resources because there is no way of fulfilling the right to water if the resources are depleted. This is the concept we are presenting as “HRBA to IWRM”. Also, the indigenous people’s lives are very much interlinked with the eco-systems, so that their rights will be ensured if the allocations to the eco-system is high enough.
      In other side, its unforgettable that some cities/ countries face the drinking water issues time to time, and how these demand can be met remains a challenge. I encourage the discussion on this with your country experiences..

  • #8304
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    Khema Pelapolwatte
    Participant

    World water issues are mainly a governance issue. Without good governance the present status of exploitation and miss-management of resources; unequal allocation; and injustice to the vulnerable population has resulted. sustainable development can be achieved by addressing the integrity issues through a HRBA approach and will result in good governance.
    Water Integrity and Human rights are key components in achieving good water governance. Effective water governance is crucial for the implementation of IWRM. Problems in management andgovernance go beyond technical challenges. Often, institutional reform is needed to create the correctpolicies, viable political institutions, workable financing arrangements, and self-governing and self-supporting local systems.
    Access to safe drinking water and safe sanitation has been recognized as humanrights, thus offers opportunities to streamline water governance and to provide coherence both in the sphere of environmental sustainability and in terms of human development. Integrated water resources management (IWRM) becomes important when thinking about the sustainability of accomplishing these rights.

    • #8334

      Thank you Khema, you are correctly speaking about the water integrity and governance which are very important for accomplishments of the right to water and sanitation. The lack of integrity in water and sanitation projects itself negatively affect for fulfillments of the rights of poor.
      I would like to remind about our (Sri Lankan) ancient cascade system that protected the ecosystem, effectively managing rainwater for Agriculture and feeding the downstream for all the uses Agriculture and domestic purposes. This is a wonderful example for allocation of water in a integrated system that people benefit for Agriculture and domestic purposes. However recent decades, Agricultural pollution has impacted negatively on health of the people.
      At present in many water allocation schemes in Sri Lanka, the decision are made in a meeting which all the stakeholders are represented.
      However majority of Sri Lanka’s water resources is in a threat due to the heavy pollution caused by feacal contamination and other toxics from Agro-chemicals and industries. Therefore sound legislations and implementations, and concerning about the environmental sustainability in all water and sanitation projects will be very important.
      In Sri Lankan context I know it is very hard to price water for the people living in some of the rural areas as everyone used to freely access natural water resources (both surface and ground). Lots of awareness for protecting the water sources should be made in this case. Isn’t it?

  • #8344
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    Brajesh Tomar
    Participant

    In India, per ca-pita water availability is decreased from 3000 cubic meter to about 1123 cubic meter in last 50 years. This is due to increased population, use of water for food production, industries as well as for changing living habits. In future water demand will increase for fresh drinking water, industries and energy sectors. Therefore, management and distribution of water is very important to meet future requirement and avoid water related conflicts. Presently as per policy water distribution priorities are drinking water, agriculture, industries, recreation and ecosystem. But there are conflicts among rural versus urban, industries versus agriculture because there are region wise huge variation of water availability.

    The future demands of water can be meet out if water used efficiently in agriculture sector which is largest user of water in India and reducing losses in urban water distribution. This approach will make water available for ecosystem and other sectors. Secondly, recycling of water is dire need of country. Our rivers are polluting due to city sewage and industrial effluent, even country have laws. Pricing of water is very sensitive in country as well as it will be suicide for government who implement because country largest population still not in position to pay. But same time , we have pilots which showed pricing bringing efficiency. This is only possible to create awareness among all the stakeholders then can only possible.

    • #8435

      Thank you so much Brajesh for bringing the India situation into the discussion. I agree that Pricing is a very sensitive issue for countries like India and Sri Lanka. As you said piloting it and awareness raising would be very important.
      Efficiency in Agriculture and wastewater recycling, reuse will contribute a lot for reducing pollution and seek for sustainable integrated solutions.
      As all above comments mentioned, I think we can agree that drinking water is a priority, but in order to provide the drinking water, all other uses should be properly controlled and managed. Reducing losses, increasing water use efficiency in agriculture and controlling pollution required to conserve the eco-system.
      This reminds us the rights to a healthy environment. Therefore it is a must, it is a right. Aren’t we all responsible to accomplish this right? Who are the duty bearers? State need to enforce and implement the regulations, and as a general public and right holders we all have the responsibility to contribute.

      • #8436

        Thanks also that you highlighted the reuse and recycling for Agriculture which will reduce water pollution as well. A very valid point..

  • #8355
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    Nwoko Chidinma
    Participant

    The HRBA seeks to promote and protect human rights by strengthening and building capacities, in rights-holders, to empower them to claim their rights and valid entitlements, and in duty-bearers, to enable them to meet their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil all human rights.the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. and this human right, will give sufficient attention to water issues so as to stop the issue of discrimination in allocation of water supply. There by giving every one whether the poor or the rich the equal right to water.

    • #8437

      Thanks Nwoko,
      True,holders voice will enable the duty bearers to act. I agree. but I think the challenging question is demarcating the lines among the equity and water pricing. Poverty becomes a cause for poor water and sanitation in many cases. I think it is important to subsidize poor but at the same time knowledge and awareness on water saving and eco-system conservation should be done simultaneously to ensure that everyone consider water as a precious and valuable commodity. Discriminations can also linked to the lack of integrity. Isn’t it?

  • #8439

    Thank you everyone for the discussion points and comments that you raised. As now you are in Module 5, You will be reviewing about Gender concept. This is also very much related to human rights and integrity issues that we have discussed in the module 4. So you are most welcome to keep the conversation going at the same time following the module 5. Those who were not able to follow this discussion earlier, please keep on posting your comments and suggestions.

  • #8545
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    Nwoko Chidinma
    Participant

    I fully agree with you indika, Discriminations can also linked to the lack of integrity

  • #8599
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    Eunice Kivuva
    Participant

    The experience of Kenya’s water sector shows that the embezzlement of resources, discretionary decision making, capture by vested interests and disregard for the public interest are still daily realities for water utilities, sector institutions resulting to increased vulnerability to the poor.
    However, the ongoing process to align the sector legislation with the requirements of the new Constitution of Kenya (2010) provides an opportunity for human rights based approach in the allocation of Water to the various competing sectors. The allocation of water is done in volumetric basis and permits or license payments are paid in relation to the amount of water used. If an individual drills a borehole for domestic water and does not involve any technology then they are not charged. However, if there is use of any technology such as an electronic machine to pump water to the household or farm, then the person is required to get permit and make regular payment basing on the amount used. Guidelines have been given for the upstream water users to allow water to reach the downstream users.

    • #8613

      Thank you Eunice for sharing the Kenyan legislations. A good example for protecting water resources and equal allocation.

  • #8706
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    Khema Pelapolwatte
    Participant

    Thank you Indika.Lots and lots of awareness should be done on protecting water resources in Sri Lanka.And it should be top to down.Thorough brainwashing is needed.

  • #8753
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    Rosario Barranquero
    Participant

    For decisions regarding various competing uses sustainability must be taken as a basic principle, ie consider the ecological balance, social equity and economic efficiency. Added to this decision must consider other essential elements regarding this concept proposed in the Brundtland Report (1987): social justice, wealth distribution, environment preservation, gender equality, health protection, participatory democracy, respect for diversity and justice between peoples and between generations. Sustainable Development Agenda presented in 2015 is a much more ambitious proposal. One of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), number 6, referred to water and sanitation (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all stands).
    The concern should be focused on the access to water and sanitation as a basic human right, not from the point of view of charity. Consideration of water and sanitation as a matter of charity don’t contribute to social. Added to this the importance of water and the sump function as environmental resources and services have an economic cost on the one hand is lost, but otherwise a value that although can be evaluated with the economy tools (as we have seen in Module II) is not only economic value.
    I agree with Indika regard to the inter-agency coordination and raising awareness so that each person consumed the smallest amount of water is critical to improving resource allocation, including for ecosystems protection.

  • #8772
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    SEVERE FOSSI TUEKAM
    Participant

    Thanks Indika for sharing this article.

  • #8773
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    SEVERE FOSSI TUEKAM
    Participant

    Water allocation should be based on laws, rights and local perceptions and considerations on water management. In agricultural societies, after water supply for drinking and hygiene, providing agricultural water should be the 2nd priority, while for pastoral societies, providing water for livestocks should be the second one.

    • #8792
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      Brajesh Tomar
      Participant

      Water allocation should be based on national or province water laws/policies and priority should be drinking water for all, agriculture, ecology, industries and recreational. Industries must use recycled or sewage treated water instead of fresh water source.

  • #9245
    Profile picture of
    Menahil Hannouna
    Participant

    There should be mature water policies prepared by specialists who consider the ecosystem protection as a priority and to not allow for any neglect in maintaining this demand regardless if it conflicts with any developement project .At the end the destruction of any ecosystem is irreversible and nothing can compensate the huge loses in biodiversity and the natural resources and landscape . Unless the developement project is indispensible and no other location than the one planned can be considered ,the ecosystem jioperdize shall be compensated by series of innovative projects that can adapt new approches of sustainable and smart options such as green roofs,solar electrification ,water-air fittings at housholds levles, and composting of orgasnic waste,usage of gray water which all in return contributes to the sustainable consumption of the natural resources and improve the environmental conditions. However ,allocation of water should be planned in complience with the priorities of the country ,if agricultural or industrial ,and should consider an improved percapita amount of water associated with awareness campaigns to reduce the losses in the water besides improveing the water infrastructe. Just distribution of water for irrigation and domestic supply has to be well recognized to ensure neutrality and impartiality among the various segments in the society and to maintain the right to water for all the population wthout causing damage to the ecosystems whereas ,the later can be considred for eco touris purposes that can bring good revenues .

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