The centrepiece of the Water Project Toolkit is a ‘strategic approach for the equitable, efficient and sustainable management of water resources’. This implies the need to protect the aquatic eco-system and extend the health-giving and productive properties of freshwater resources, equitably and efficiently among humankind - with special emphasis on the poor and under-served people.
The policy principles elaborated here relate directly to the core principles already established by international consensus referred to in the introduction. Their most authoritative expression is encapsulated in the four over-arching core principles agreed upon at the International Conference on Water and the Environment in Dublin in January 1992 and in the subsequent international conferences such as the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and the follow-up at the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD).
While the core principles provide a basis for water-related policy, they are relatively remote from practitioner realities and offer little guidance for resolving the dilemmas and difficulties experienced in their practical implementation. Therefore, as part of the development of a strategic approach, and to aid administrative management and implementation of water-related policy, this Toolkit presents a series of policy principles applicable at the programming and project level. These are as follows:
These headings reflect the wider range of issues essential for effective water resources management. Many of these principles are inter-related and interlinked.
The policy principles broaden the framework within which integrated water-related policy can be addressed in an organised fashion. As emphasised throughout this Toolkit, water is not a commodity like other economic commodities – it is a fragile natural resource and a public good which cannot be replaced. It must be protected and access preserved for future generations in order to maintain sustainable liveable environments on which societies and economies rely.
Sound water resources management affects development activity in economic, productive, infrastructural and social sectors Concerns outside an immediate programming and project environment – such as sustainability of the resource over the long term, protection of water- dependent ecosystems, sustainability of service management, and enhancement of the wider urban or rural environment – need to be taken into account. The positive implications of adopting a broader strategic approach to water cannot be underestimated. More governments are implementing a range of practical changes which are integrated and respond effectively to the core principles of the new consensus. Activities at the macro-level (integrated water resources management, water policies, legislation, and institutional change) and at the micro-level (user participation or community-level operation and maintenance, ) are given more weight proportionately compared to technical activities. Technological issues such as construction, which previously dominated programme strategies, still remain critical components but are now regarded as one set of considerations among many.
The policy principles are cross-cutting and applicable to all types and aspects of water-related activities – from surveys, to human resources development or construction of installations – whatever their physical, social or economic setting. Such principles form a foundation for a strategic approach that will facilitate clear thinking on objectives and actions.
Management and service delivery functions need to be clearly identified and institutional responsibilities demarcated. Governments should provide a sound legal and policy framework for water resources management and facilitate service extension and provision. Governments are responsible for establishing and overseeing regulatory bodies; these bodies must be independent, transparent, accountable, and empowered to enforce regulations. All uses of water (environmental as well as consumption), and the roles of institutions involved in managing resources and providing services, need to be enshrined in law (see Part 3, Glossary). Service and quality criteria need to be similarly established within a regulatory framework.
At national level, governments have a responsibility to develop an integrated water policy, meeting the needs of the various users within the limits of available financial and environmental resources. While financial resources can be quantified with financial tools, the geographical and hydrological nature of water resources needs to be taken into account; catchment areas have been adopted as the most effective scale of management for overall water resources (surface, subsurface and recharge).
Effort should be made to verify that water policy is co-ordinated with other policies that have implications for water use – such as those for agriculture, health, industry, energy, environment and urban development. To this end, a system of co-ordination among those responsible in the different sectors at national level is needed. An effective co-ordinating body will enable competition between water uses to be resolved, in accordance with the national policy and agreed water resources development plan. While such coordinating bodies are not easily created within government structures or administrations, river basin organisations have been used as the platform to facilitate a coordinated approach to management.
One model for achievement of an integrated strategy the Sector Wide Approach (SWAp), which provides a framework for collaboration, harmonisation and analysis that promises to lead to more effective implementation and delivery of water services and better integrated management of water resources. SWAp aims to deliver these benefits by providing a methodology for assessing the sector, which systematically considers all the interrelated factors that influence performance and sustainability. SWAp is wide because it recognizes that success depends on a coordinated response where no single actor is likely to be able to deliver all that is needed. But an efficient SWAp is no wider than it needs to be. SWAPs have been slow to develop in the water sector, since the sector is more complex than other sectors such as education and health where the sector wide approach is more developed. At the same time a successful sector wide approach brings many benefits to the water sector precisely because the complexity of the sector requires multi-stakeholder dialogues, collaboration and coordination, and participation by all stakeholders including the state, the private sector and civil society
Many countries still implement water codes or water legislation that are outdated and are not always relevant to the challenges of today. They often do not take into account integrated water resources management and conservation, nor have they always been established through a participatory process. New laws, ratification and implementation of national and even international agreements coupled with enforcement procedures are required. As far as possible, they should be formulated permissively rather than restrictively to enable application without undue cost and administrative burden. One approach to reduce these burdens is by decentralising the various types of decision-making to the lowest, most appropriate, administrative tier. However, even though faced with challenges, costs and burdens, common references and minimum standards are still required and should always form the basis of new legislation, regulation and codes.
Participation by all stakeholders is essential for successful water management and usage. (See Part 3, Glossary.) Structures and practices of the responsible authorities therefore need to be designed to facilitate participation of the various categories of users including: water companies, industries, SMEs, farmers, domestic consumers, energy utilities, fisheries, transport and nature conservation organisations – and in doing so involve all major groups (equity mainstreaming). The contribution of civil society organisations who represent cross-cutting categories such as gender or education must also be included.
Responsibilities for water-related services and resource management need to be decentralised to the lowest appropriate administrative level according to the concept of subsidiarity; this allows the contributions of the various parties to be optimized. However, the necessary tools, capacity development incl. training and funds must first be allocated so that the resources are available for responsibilities to be fulfilled. Where responsible bodies have centralised and hierarchical command structures, they are often inadequately geared to consultation and interaction with stakeholders, especially users down to the community or household level. In such cases, organisational transformation may be necessary. On the one hand, functional responsibilities are best devolved to officials and bodies close to the realities of the situation, including local authorities, private and public companies and NGOs/ CSOs able to facilitate participation of users in decision-making, planning etc. On the other hand, the role of the public authority as regulator, facilitator and moderator is to develop an organisational culture that is outward-looking, to facilitate timely communication with all stakeholders. Therefore it is important that the division of responsibilities is well thought out and that decentralization does not become an automatic option that results in divesting central authorities of core responsibilities. The need and added value of capacity building to address administrative challenges is often a strong complement to redesigning management strategies for the central level and outwards.
Partnerships with the private sector and or/public / communal sectors need to be encouraged and facilitated; this is especially relevant as government authorities decentralize progressively their responsibilities for the provision of services. In this context, the private sector is deemed to include informal or civil society groups involved in water services or management, such as Water User Associations, Committees or Farmer Associations.
The roles of the private sector actors will vary according to social, economic and environmental circumstances, but they should all be subject to regulation. A suitable relationship between public and private sectors needs to be defined which promotes the efficient operation of the facilities and collection of user fees while at the same time guarantees access and affordability to all users. Delivery of services and construction of installations may be organised through service providers which, whether publicly or privately owned and operated, can be autonomous, but still supervised and regulated by authority. At the same time, vulnerable populations – the under-served and underprivileged – need to be protected from exploitation by service providers operating largely for profit, since this sector of the population have little or no direct (consumer) influence. The principles of transparency, integrity, solidarity and equity are effective where all people and stakeholders are aware of their rights while at the same time acknowledge their responsibilities. Access to information allows users to make informed choices and to more effectively participate in the governance processes of water management and services.
Government-run water authorities and utilities companies can facilitate the transfer of technology to a wide range of private sector actors by promoting the development of local water supply, wastewater disposal and irrigation manufacturing and service industries. These industries can be large or small-scale and able to cater to the needs either of major publicly-financed schemes or micro-projects and private consumers. (See also Part 3)
Public-private partnerships (PPP) aim to combine the respective strengths of public and private partners. PPP projects are planned, financed and implemented jointly. The Private sector involvement is expected to achieve development policy objectives via the introduction of technological innovations, job creation, and improvement of production or delivery processes and thus contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. The Public sector involvement optimally maintains ownership and responsibility to ensure water services are equitably delivered and transparently managed. PPP schemes have faced some setbacks in the recent years mainly due to a lack of governance in the PPP process, including a lack of transparency compounded by unclear definitions of roles and responsibilities.
The Public-public partnerships (PUPs) involve two or more public authorities or organizations collaborating to improve the capacity and effectiveness of one partner in providing public water or sanitation services. PUPs should not be considered as an approach which is opposed to PPPs but rather as an alternative for achieving improvements in water management
Capacity building, especially the development of human resources, the enhancement of skills, the adoption of up-to-date thinking, and improvement of the knowledge base, are needed in many institutions responsible for water resources management and services. Capacity building should extend to all levels of an organisation and to as wide a selection of stakeholders as is necessary. If a more active role in service design and implementation is envisaged for water users, the capacity of intermediary bodies, such as NGOs and local councils, may also need to be enhanced. This can include training in technical and organisational activities which allows actors to be able to make more effective decisions in management or maintenance as required.
An emphasis on ‘software’, as opposed to ‘hardware’, components of water-related projects requires that an orientation towards capacity building in these areas should be built into project design. Interpersonal skills such as communication, negotiation and leadership, as well as knowledge of project management, or environmental and public health activities are equally as important as the functional skills relating to building and managing installations. With the right encouragement and training, engineering staff can adopt more of a partnership approach to service delivery rather than a proprietary attitude towards schemes. However it is also important to understand that for capacity building on skills and knowledge to succeed, there will be required a minimum of resources and materials, or hardware, in order to realize the benefits of these skills. The point of balance between hardware and software is often in a process of movement and requires regular review by the management to ensure the best combination of the two.
Conditions for good water governance require participation, accountability, and transparency in order to achieve successful economic, social and environmental outcomes. This requires transparency and accountability from both formal and informal sectors associated with water management: be they governments, private sector, or non-governmental organisations
The responsible authorities, their partners and water users need to have confidence in their management systems and operating procedures. This can be addressed with training and information to promote the necessary understanding, but this is not always viable at all levels for all procedures to all stakeholders. Some elements of management may always remain internal but they must always be accessible. A balance needs to be struck between flexibility and accountability.
Consequently all financing and auditing procedures must be transparent. Tariff systems, systems of financial and quality control need to be rigorous in order to avoid the mismanagement or misapplication of funds that can be associated with large-scale investments in major construction works but also are relevant at village level water supply committees.
Management information systems are very useful but they need to be suitable for the organisational level at which the relevant data collection and analysis activities are conducted. Data collection needs to be monitored in such a way that it provides information of value to managers when they require it. Regular monitoring reinforces understanding of processes, helps to engender a sense of ownership of the system and ultimately ensures that it is effectively used. However one should not look for the solution in the technology of systems. Consideration needs to be given to the level of information technology required for different functions, given cost and human resources constraints. Not all systems have to be based on computer technology, though such technology does offer obvious advantages.
Water is a fundamental social resource since it is essential for human health and life itself. It is also an economic resource and a fundamental component of economic activities such as agriculture, fisheries or industrial activity, upon which the populations’ livelihoods depend. Water shortages or excesses, drought and flood-prone environments have profound implications on these activities and thus for human well-being. Poverty reduction, quality of life and equity considerations therefore need to be seen as priorities in the conceptualisation and planning of activities relating to water.
The lack of safe water and sanitation in many poorer parts of the developing world is a cause of continuing concern especially for those un-served or under-served and who most at risk from water-related diseases are. It is therefore important to prioritise the extension of basic water and sanitation services to the population in both rural and urban areas. Sanitation is often neglected, although it is as important for health impacts as is access to clean water. Equal priority should therefore also be given to sanitation, whether it is community, domestic, or waste water management, an equal emphasis with water supply in the provision of essential services.
Definitions of access to sanitation and water (i.e. distance to the supply and personal security) and adequate coverage (i.e. per capita served) need to take into account the type of the installations and their use, as well as willingness and ability of users to pay. The ability of households to access water in sufficient quantity for their needs and to have access to improved sanitation are important determinants of their capacity to adopt hygienic behaviour and participate in measures for controlling water-related diseases.
The management of water as a collective/ public good is often an integral part of community life and is deeply embedded in social, cultural and livelihood strategies and behaviours. An understanding of attitudes and practices regarding water use, human waste and solid waste disposal at the household and community level, whether for economic or domestic activity, is critical to formulation of all strategies and activities intended to provide sustainable and appropriate services.
A critical review of domestic water supply schemes should pay attention to the quality of water/water safety at the point of supply, in the method of transport and finally for storage and use at the household or user level in the context of domestic hygiene . WHO water quality standards can be applied at all points of the collection, distribution, storage and use process.
The involvement of users in water management is central .to the development of water and waste management services. This can include the provision of community labour in the construction of schemes, decision-making about siting installations, collection of tariffs, and operation and maintenance. In low-income areas or small population groups such as villages, this involvement is likely to be through community-based organisations such as water user or management committees.
The extent of community involvement in the management of water supply or sanitation services will vary with the context, the technical design of the installed systems, and the resources available at community level. Both the capacity and the limitations of community involvement need to be taken into account. Long-term sustainability of facilities in low-income communities cannot be guaranteed without a strong sense of community responsibility and ownership.
Implementing a community-based approach involves training of field and administrative staff in participatory techniques, gender and equity and adopting a flexible approach to project implementation. Local knowledge – traditional or otherwise - cultural values, indigenous practices, lifestyles and habits relating to water management and their application need to be analysed, respected and, where possible, supported (See also Part 3).
The central role played by women, especially in the developing world, in the provision, service management and husbandry of water, primarily in the domestic, small and medium enterprises (SME) and small holding farms, is widely recognized. Women’s participation and gender issues should be accorded special consideration in relation to water management and use.
In both rural and urban environments, much time and energy is spent by women and girls in water-hauling; time and energy that cannot be devoted to other family or economic activities. Consequently water resources management is an important factor in determining women’s availability to participate in these activities. Gender implications need to be considered at all stages of the planning and implementation of water-related activities, with consideration given to the different social, economic and cultural roles assigned to both men and women. Not only do gender implications of proposed interventions have to be considered, but women users and beneficiaries of services should participate in defining those implications. Given existing power and responsibility structures within families and communities in many parts of the world, a targeted effort is often required to enable women to take a meaningful role in the consultation and decision-making process relating to water and waste disposal. In many traditional cultures, women’s perceived roles in water resources management are often for carrying and storage of domestic supply. Domestic hygiene, whether it is care of children or food preparation, is also usually regarded as the woman’s responsibility. Issues such as the location and the ownership of installations; knowledge of operations and maintenance procedures; and membership of Water Committees or similar bodies are often allocated to men. The absence of women from decision-making in water resources management and service delivery is essentially inequitable, and severely hinders the possibility of realising good domestic and public health, food management and quality of life programme objectives.
Because of their domestic roles, women are also logical key candidates for educational activities concerning water use and hygiene behaviour. However, men should also be included since their attitude towards – for example – hygienic disposal of human waste and their willingness to pay for services or installations may be decisive within the household and community.
For People Living with HIV (PLHIV) their suppressed immune systems make them highly vulnerable to any disease that may be carried by unclean water and sewage. HIV affected people also need more than average amounts of clean water (Ngwenya and Kgathi, 2006). Big amount of water are essential for purposes of hydration, taking medicines, maintaining personnel hygiene and washing personal articles and clothing.
Unfortunatly, PLHIV often have reduced access to clean water and basic sanitation: despite their greater need, they are also often subject to stigma and discrimination that limits their access to otherwise readily available clean water and sanitation facilities (Magrath, 2006).
Women usually carry out almost all water-related activities and HIV-positive mothers need clean water for the preparation of formula milk for their babies (UN Secretariat, 2007, USAID, 2008). The fatal disease is therefore a considerable burden for girls who are responsible of fetching water and taking care of PLHIV. – often while HIV-infected themselves (GCWA, 2006). Inadequate water and sanitation make home-based HIV care extremely burdensome and time consuming.
At project level attention shall be given to internal and external mainstreaming which are often interlinked to each other. The former focuses on the reduction of susceptibility of sector employees to infection and on giving support to those already infected by HIV, including workplace policies and guidelines that regulate day to day activities. Related activities often consist of preventive education, treatment, care and support. External mainstreaming refers to actions such as developing partnerships between government departments/ministries, and between the public sector, the private sector and civil society. It also promotes considering HIV/AIDS as a development issue that has implications in all areas of policy making, insufficient access to water and sanitation, current health and hygiene education. Furthermore external mainstreaming adequately addresses issues of best practices and the search for methods to assist individuals, households and the community at large to cope with the impact of HIV/AID.
Water related diseases are primarily the result of poor access to sufficient quantities of clean water and are also usually related to environmental conditions. Problems due to water scarcity are on the increase, and at the present global pattern consumption; two out of three persons will be living under water stress conditions by year 2025. However, as has already been mentioned, poor access can also be linked to poverty, poor services, security issues and extreme events. Water related diseases are often associated with the aftermath of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. Water diseases can be categorized with Environmental Classifications:
Faecal-oral diseases are the result of pathogens transmitted by human excreta and then ingested. They can be water-borne or water-washed. The result is infection of the intestinal tract which can cause extreme illness and death. The diseases can be diarrheal or dysentery type with cholera, shigela and amoeba; can include enteric fevers such as typhoid; or also include hepatitis A, polio or leptospirosis.
For water-washed diseases the quantity of water is often more important than the quality and there are strong links between personal and domestic hygiene and these illnesses. They include skin and eye infections such as skin sepsis, scabies, fungal skin infections and trachoma/blindness.
Water-based diseases are those where the pathogen spends part of its life-cycle in an aquatic animal such as a water snail (e.g. bilharzia) or infections is by a parasitic worm that requires an aquatic intermediate host in the life-cycle (e.g. guinea worm).
Water-related vectors carry diseases that are spread by insects that breed in water bite near water. Examples of diseases spread by insects breeding near water include malaria (anopheles mosquito), dengue and yellow fever (aedes mosquito), and onchocerciasis or river blindness (simulium black fly). Insect vectors that bite near water include the glossina tsetse fly which transmits trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness. Malaria is by far the most important disease, both in terms of the number of people annually infected, and whose quality of life and working capacity are reduced, and in terms of deaths. Worldwide, some 2000 million people live in areas where they are at risk of contracting malaria. The total number of people infected with malaria is variably estimated to range between100 to as many as 200 million, with between 1 and 2 million deaths per year, with almost 90% of the cases in Africa.
Recognition of freshwater as a finite resource has led to the emergence of the principle that water is a social and public good but one to which a price for provision services connected to it can be attached. The application of this principle becomes increasingly critical as water becomes more scarce. However, this principle should not over-ride the social imperative of providing a basic supply of safe water for every human being.
Applying an economic value to water can require the attachment of different values linked to different uses of water. These values will vary from setting to setting depending upon the user population, although it is invariably the case that survival and public health uses will be of high value; whereas recreational uses are often comparatively lower value. Where water is scarce, it is often good management to discourage low-value uses. The objective of reallocating sufficient water from low-value to high-value purposes should be investigated as an alternative to, or in parallel with, developing new sources of supply. In this context, the use of water markets can be appropriate. Some estimates of high and low-value uses of water may benefit from considering the importance of “virtual water” i.e. the non-evident water embedded in imported food crops, and “water foot printing”. However water foot printing remains largely an accounting process, and elements of environmental and ecological responsibility as well as governance principles need to be included in evaluating the water resource.
Allocation of values to water uses helps in the following areas: balancing scarce resources with increasing demand; focussing attention on reduction of wastage and loss; conservation of the resource; and shifts in consumption towards higher value uses.
Charging for water services (water supply, irrigation and wastewater disposal and re-use) is essential in order to generate funds for operating, maintaining and investing in systems; ensure that scarce supplies are allocated to essential purposes; and serves as a signal to users that a real financial value can be applied to the resource. Theoretically, a service which provides water to customers should not do so for free, even to the poorest customer. However, this principle poses a dilemma: how to provide a basic service to those who are extremely poor and yet ensure cost recovery, especially in areas where the costs of water extraction and delivery are high and/or continually mounting due to pressure on the resource.
Some basic solutions exist. For households’ consumption, a certain minimum volume necessary for basic needs can be provided at an affordable price, with higher-level volumes subject to higher tariffs (solidarity principle / cross subsidising). This will ensure that higher levels of consumption are not subsidised. Public subsidies are legitimate when applied to achieve certain social benefits (for example, provision of supplies to the underprivileged and under-served). However, these subsidies need to be transparent, targeted, and budgetary practical and sustainable (for example, covered by surpluses generated elsewhere).
The weighted average of the tariffs should be high enough to recover, at a minimum, recurrent operations and maintenance costs. Where water charges have been increased for this purpose, the aim should be to raise them progressively, and with due regard for continuing to meet basic needs and to the full marginal cost (equivalent to the average incremental cost of future supply) in order to also generate resources for expanding or modernising the system. Industrial water tariffs need to take into account the volume of water they extract, and the volume and quality of water returned to public water bodies. For example, OECD members have accepted the principle that ‘polluters pay’: those who dispose carelessly of wastewater should be charged for their actions.
If the tariff structure is progressively higher for increased consumption levels, they provide an incentive to conservation. Higher tariffs also generate extra resources for expanding services, although the practicalities of recovering costs for service installation and extension will depend on conditions (physical and socio-economic) operating in a given setting. The same principles apply to wastewater disposal and management.
Demand management seeks to maximise the usage of a given volume of water, by curbing inessential or low-value uses through price or non-price measures. In water-scarce areas, it is necessary to gain political support for demand management over supply-led solutions (the latter referring to solutions which are based on indefinite expansion of services and supplies).
A number of demand management measures can be considered, including market-based incentives such as water tariffs, pollution charges, water markets, water banking; and non-market incentives, such as leakage control, restrictions, quotas, norms, licenses and promoting re-use and recycling practices Alternative technologies, such as promoting dry sanitation methods of water conservation, can also contribute.. All options need to be systematically identified and appraised. These appraisals need to be conveyed to the end-users and local authorities so informed choices can be made, leading to effective demand driven solutions.
In its policies towards key sectors such as industry and agriculture, a government and the population should be made aware of the potential negative impacts from developing water-intensive industries or agriculture in regions where water is scarce and estimates of different water values suggest that it should be applied to other uses.
Water-related activities need to be planned and implemented with due regard for all their environmental implications. Programmes and projects requiring the disruption of water flows can reduce the productivity of aquatic ecosystems, necessitate resettlement of affected populations, and devastate fisheries and grazing lands. Pollution degrades water supplies and increases the costs of water treatment. Integrated river basin management can provide a solution for surface waters since it allows all competing interests to be taken into account for one water-defined environment.
The protection of aquifers from pollution and over-exploitation should be addressed. This is especially important since the effects of mismanagement are not immediately visible and can thus be overlooked. The use of fossil groundwater must be avoided.
Water resource management systems should take into account the implications of all development activities related to the environment. These include industrial, commercial and agricultural development which lead to discharges that endanger water quality; changes in land use, such as road construction, mining or forestry activities; settlement and cultivation of floodplains and other riverine environments; and the impacts of freshwater use and pollution on estuaries and coastal zones. Water resource management objectives therefore must be carefully balanced against parallel long- and short-term development objectives. Water issues must be taken into account in (urban) planning policies (for example avoiding settlement on floodplains). Every effort should be made to capitalise on better knowledge of the water environment derived from historical as well as recent experience. With climate change impacts and environmental extreme events arriving in shorter cycles, historical knowledge becomes more relevant. Integrating the environment into the planning activity is the desirable strategy. Technical methods using local materials, and bio-control of vegetation and disease vectors, have environmental advantages and build on natural capacities for pollution control and regeneration within ecosystems.
Programmes and projects for the development, management and use of water mostly entail modifications to the natural environment in order to improve the quality of human life. Certain water-related activities, such as flood control and drainage schemes, have as part of their central purpose an environmental objective.
Maintenance of the natural water environment is important both for its intrinsic value and for supporting life. Water has an ‘in-stream’ value for fish but also supports co-existing aquatic eco-systems. Eco-systems in wetlands and coastal zones depend on a certain volume and quality of water for their sustainability. Rivers and wetlands function as wildlife reserves, navigation routes, and areas for recreation. They also help to support natural biodiversity. In order to plan water use priorities it must be accepted that areas such as wetlands “consume” large quantities of water through evaporation. All uses, consumptive and non-consumptive, have to be considered for their ecological value and not automatically regarded as secondary to human and economic priorities.
Effective systems to monitor environmental changes throughout a project cycle and beyond will be required. Appropriate expertise is needed from the outset to ensure that environmental aspects are properly assessed. Care should be taken to adopt systems that allow flexibility of action where some environmental costs may have to be accepted in in exchange for greater social and economic benefits (see part 3).
Emphasis on environmental considerations is particularly appropriate in water-stressed areas, where the environmental and other implications of using alternative sources of supply – surface as opposed to groundwater, for example – need to be assessed. The inextricable connections between land and water management need to be recognised; land use and soil quality have a major influence on water flow and water quality, and vice versa.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2008) “Freshwater resources have the potential to be highly impacted by climate change, and human societies and ecosystems will both feel the consequences”. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and magnitude of extreme events such as floods and droughts, and changes in the seasonal distribution and amount of precipitation. It is evident that more attention needs to be given to adaptation measures and building resilience throughout the water sector. As with other aspects of water resources management, the principles of IWRM are important for addressing climate change and water. All sectors who utilize or impact on water resources must also contribute to addressing climate change discussion on mitigation and adaptation.
The greatest impact due to climate change will be on the world's poorest people, who are most vulnerable to their surrounding environment (e.g. subsistence or small scale agriculture, small stock farmers) for their survival, or the poor in urban and peri-urban environments whose population’s capacity and resources to adapt are very limited, making them extremely vulnerable. It is thus critical that climate change and risk management are integrated into water governance and development cooperation. From the perspective of the EC, the mainstreaming of climate change into development cooperation addresses four main objectives (EuropeAid, 2009):
bringing additional benefits to development and economic activities and advancing environmental issues that are a priority for the EC.
Climate change adaptation measures aim to offset negative impacts but also to take advantage of positive ones, where they exist. Adaptation should not be seen just as a constraint and an additional financial and economic burden. In almost every sector, climate change intensifies already existing problems. Climate-related concerns may provide the impetus needed to implement many of the environmental and developmental ‘best practices’ previously neglected and in this way make programmes and projects both more effective and more sustainable.
Many developing countries lack sufficient data on the hydrology of their surface water resources, the groundwater resources and overall water quality. Without a full range of scientific information concerning climate and the ecosystem, it is not possible to evaluate the resource, balance its availability against demand, or reach scientifically-informed management decisions in key areas of water policy. Thus, the development of a water resources knowledge foundation and information data base is a precondition for any effective water policy.
Government authorities and agencies involved in water-related activities need proper information in order to function effectively. This information includes data on technologies, strategies, approaches, organisational models, and management information of all kinds. Data collection systems need to be established, and integrated with one another, so that activities can be continuously monitored, impacts be assessed and adjustments made.
Surveys and research projects are needed to generate and collect socio-cultural and economic as well as usual technical data. Where projects are intended to benefit low-income communities, prior information is needed about attitudes and practices surrounding water supply ownership, access and use, and traditional methods of waste management. Effective hygiene promotion depends upon thorough knowledge of existing water-and sanitation-related behaviours and beliefs. Baseline data on the prevalence of water-related diseases is also an important aid to needs identification, on-going monitoring and useful for post-intervention evaluation of public health impacts.
Demand for water in low-income communities is associated with survival interests, and improving quality of life with a reduction of time and labour spent by men, women and children in water-related tasks. Beneficiary definitions of social well-being relating to water may not coincide with those of donors and programme agencies, whose principal concerns are usually linked to public health (or in economic improvement schemes such as irrigation for agricultural). There is usually a higher demand for water supplies than for sanitation, although sanitation is often more essential to control water-related diseases. Therefore, education and awareness-raising of the linkages between unsafe water, inadequate excreta disposal, and disease should be integral to all schemes. This should not just be limited to low-income communities, since there are some water-related diseases which easily traverse the poverty line. Education and information programmes for sanitation and personal hygiene may sometimes need to be targeted towards women, given their special role in household water management and use. Children and teachers can also be targeted by school-based programmes.
Education is similarly needed in the environmental implications of water-related activities in the agricultural sector. Farmers need to learn the value of water and the importance of water saving in irrigation, as well as implications of irrigation and use of chemicals and fertilizers on water quality. Without an understanding of the essential need and purpose of water resources management, user group participation in management decisions, especially in negotiations over competing user groups, cannot be obtained; and if obtained, cannot effectively contribute.
The accepted best practices in water resources management and the delivery of services include extensive awareness-building among political leaders and decision-makers, professionals and academics, donors and members within civil society such as NGOs. Initially this consensus was largely limited to members of the international water-associated community, but this has now become commonly accepted practice at national levels.
Communication mechanisms, in the form of educational activity and public awareness and information campaigns, are tools regularly used to increase community-level understanding of the linkages between water and health, to manage demand for water-related services, and generate motivation and impart skills for service maintenance. Awareness-raising also reaches down to the level of users to create a climate favourable for community management of water supply and sanitation systems, local participation, good operation and maintenance, collaborative systems of cost-recovery and household management (see part 3).
Providing a reliable supply of water for domestic or agricultural purposes requires careful attention to ‘hardware’, suitably balanced by attention to ‘software’ aspects. Technological innovation and adaptation are integral to many of the water-saving measures, service extensions and system improvements urgently required. Technical issues largely determine the costs of a given water-related project, and thus remain of paramount importance.
The present water-related project cycle can, in many settings, still be characterised as ‘build, breakdown, rebuild’. Where the technology deployed is beyond the level of the users’ capacity to maintain, operate or cover costs, the prospects of sustainability of the service are equally beyond reach. Thus the development and use of water resources including waste management infrastructures or irrigation works needs to take technological considerations, as well as local management capacities and community resources into account.
Technology itself needs to be applied within an integrated framework. A project designed to provide a new supply of water should, for example, take into account requirements for disposal, treatment or recycling of run-off and used water. Irrigation works should take into account the potential for soil degradation, return flow problems, mobilization of pollutants from agriculture or other water-related health hazards such as standing water and vectors for water-related diseases.
Technical solutions need to be selected according to criteria which include efficiency, appropriateness, cost and their potential for adaptation to the local environment. The desired approach can be summarised by the term ‘appropriate modern technology ', which captures elements of capacity for operation and maintenance as well as cost-efficiency (see part 3). There have been numerous examples of poor project outcomes due to the selection of costly and inappropriate technology, whose infrastructure and management systems have fallen into disrepair because maintenance was too difficult, or of projects which have resulted in unanticipated environmental damage.
Infrastructure projects have too often imported technology from industrialised countries unsuited to the physical, economic and social conditions in which the system is being applied. While awareness of this issue has grown considerably in recent years, the application of best practices is not yet consistently applied due to lack of resources or capacity linked to insufficient priority being placed on appropriate levels of technology. Professional technical and social advice is useful to guide the choice of technology – whether it is to be ‘high-tech’ or ‘low-tech’. For example the choice of materials should receive careful consideration regarding health security of users, impact on supplying the resources, as well as their environmental suitability. Technical decisions must take into account the social, institutional and economic context within which infrastructure will be maintained. Long-term affordability and sustainability often hinge upon the choice of technology, type of abstraction and methods of delivery. Thus, critical social and economic considerations about the viability of a technology in a given setting should not be ignored. As a general rule, technologies should not burden operators or tie them into costly and unreliable supply strategies; and finally consideration should also be given to the prospects of technology transfer and capacity building at the local level, be it supply or manufacture.
To facilitate cost-effective operation and maintenance, upgrading technologies that permit well-judged and carefully stepped development are desirable, especially in settings where systems, services or specific technologies are being introduced for the first time. These can be developed by incorporating indigenous technologies and local knowledge, scaled-down versions of larger systems or considering alternative choices for water and sanitation services.
To facilitate effective operation and maintenance, availability of spare parts, and appropriate training of operatives including local community workers – men and women- the standardisation of technology being applied is of high importance in order to reduce fragmentation of a strategy. These issues can be addressed within the regulatory framework of water resources management.