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River Basin Development and Management Comparative Study

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Project purpose:

The study will document in detail the historical development of 9 river basins from different parts of the world, with the aim to derive generic understanding on how societies manage water resources under growing population and basin closure, which problems are faced, and which range of solutions (technical, institutional) are available for a given physical/societal context. The studies first address the past transformations of each basin, periodize changes and draw lessons on how population growth and water resource development related to food production and environmental degradation/ preservation. They investigate in more detail the present situation and define the scope for improvement in management, allocation, environmental services and income generation. A third part deals with projections and scenarios, with the aim to inform current or future stakeholders dialogues and to provide decision-makers with a state-of-the-art analysis and understanding of the basin challenges and opportunities.

Eight main cross-cutting issues will be dealt with in each basin following a same methodology, in order to ensure comparison. [see working document on methodology]. An overall synthesis report will examine if, how and why basins differ in their responses to water scarcity and single out what will appear to be of wider validity. [see Development Trajectories of River Basins: A Conceptual Framework]. Analysis of the eight cross-cutting issues in the nine basins, together with knowledge on other river basins available in the literature, will yield generic lessons on various aspects of river basin development and management. A “Rapid Basin Appraisal” methodology will also be derived from the study.

The study is meant to contribute to the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture by taking stocks on the experience of river basin development and management, and informing the knowledge base of the Dialogue on Water, Food and Environment. The Dialogue, in turn, will provide local stakeholder involvement whenever possible.

Location of projects and basin profile sheets:

Yellow River (China)

Chao Phraya (Thailand)

Walawe (Sri Lanka)

Zayandeh Rud (Iran)

Jordan Rift Valley (Jordan)

Merguellil (Tunisia)

Volta (Burkina Faso/ Ghana)

Olifant (South Africa)

Lerma-Chapala (Mexico)

Collaborators and partners:

Iran: Agricultural Research and Extension Organization (AREO), Ministry of Jihad and Agriculture; University of Esfahan

Jordan: Ministry of Water and Irrigation; French Cooperation; GTZ; more to be defined,

Tunisia : Institut National Agronomique Tunisien (INAT); IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement); Direction Générale des Ressources en Eau (DGRE).

Mexico: Wageningen University, Mexican Institute for Water Technology (Instituto Mexicano de la Tecnología del Agua: IMTA), IRD, local partners.

China: Yellow River Commission, IWMI, universities

Chao Phraya: IWMI, IRD, Chiang Mai University

Walawe: IWMI and local partners

Olifant: IWMI and local partners

Methodology outline:

a) Identification of existing information and definition of complementary studies to be undertaken in each basin, in line with the overall common methodological

b) Carry-out activities and examine cross-cutting issues in each basin

c) Cross-basin workshop between the different teams (October 2003).

d) Stakeholder meetings

f) Writing of the overall synthesis report

g) Final inter-team workshop, with decision-makers involved

Funding source: Comprehensive Assessment (main source)

Project Start: June 2002 Project End: December 2005

Contact François Molle, Project Manager:

Draft document on methodology (for discussion)

Generic paper

Molle, François. 2006. Planning and managing water resources at the river-basin level: Emergence and evolution of a concept. Colombo, Sri Lanka: IWMI. (Comprehensive Assessment Research Report 16.

Molle, François. 2006. Why enough is never enough: the societal determinants of river basin closure. Paper prepared for the World Water Week 2006. Stockholm, 20-26 August, 2006: SIWI.

Molle, F. 2006. River basin development: a few lessons to be learned from history. Paper prepared for "Mekong Region Waters Dialogue: exploring water futures together. 6-7 July 2006, Vientiane, Lao PDR.

Molle, F. and J. Berkoff. 2006. Cities Versus Agriculture: Revisiting Intersectoral Water Transfers, Potential Gains and Conflicts. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Comprehensive Assessment Secretariat, Comprehensive Assessment Research Report 10. 73p.