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River Basin Development and Management

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in the review of the draft basin chapter between 15 December 2005 - 20 January 2006

As societies develop, water resources within a given river basins get increasingly controlled, diverted, and used. Water users and stakeholders find themselves increasingly inter-dependent through the water cycle and third-party impacts are pervasive. Alterations of the water regime in terms of quantity, quality, sediment load, timing, or predictability have important implications for users. Allocation of water among competing uses becomes a crucial issue.

River basin development and management will be tackled in a synthesis chapter in the CA. The chapter is intended to explore the water-society nexus in a river basin context.


We are first concerned with historical evolutions and with understanding:

(a) how or to what extent water crises are human-made; and
(b) what types of responses are observed, possible, and suitable in particular contexts.

We are also interested in addressing current issues of management and the articulation between physical constraints and management issues. We see the governance of water as an overarching theme that deals with the pattern of control and access to water, and with how this pattern is defined, contested, and constantly reshaped.

IWRM and/or stakeholder participation in a river basin context is a widely accepted principle to address the complexity of basin management but their implementation are slow, cosmetic, or not happening. Reasons for the existing gap between rhetoric and practice need to be explored.

While the chapter focuses on river basins, it is recognized that basins are composed of several sub-catchments which sometimes have their own dynamics. Issues of upland/rainfed agriculture and land degradation are covered in other chapters but we are interested in cross-scale linkages, both in hydrologic and governance terms. Issues related to international basins are mentioned but do not constitute the focus (nor a large part) of the chapter.

A participatory process for the synthesis

The chapter is prepared through a process of brainstroming, debate and consensus building. To do so, the Lead Authors (François Molle, Philippus Wester and Phillip Hirsch) have used online discussions and face-to-face meetings.

  • Workshop on basin management at the Stockholm Water Week, Sweden, in August 2004.
  • Session on basin management in africa at the International conference on basins, Tanzania, March 2005.
  • Moderated online discussion (31/3 to 24/4) with a large group of experts.
  • Writing team workshop to prepare the first draft of the chapter (4-5 July 2005) in Thailand.

To know more about the synthesis on basins- join the CA forum - basin chapter.

References and links

Related CA-Projects

River basin comparative studies (across 9 basins: Yellow River/China, Chao Praya/Thailand, Walawe/Sri lanka, Zayandeh Rud, Jordan Rift Valley/Jordan, Merguellil/Tunisia, Volta/Burkhina Faso & Ghana, Olifant/South Africa, Lerma Chapala/Mexico).

To know about other related CA research projects