Forum: Water Management - The Key Role of the International Agencies, A
Water Forum Contribution
(Very Important Note: This article and additional researched information should be read very, very carefully, taking into consideration the considerable information being disseminated within. It should raise countless Red Flags to all that value American sovereignty and freedom. Every time the reader sees words like "management", "restoration", "protection", etc., he or she should substitute the word "control", because control is what the entire agenda is all about.)
Water International, Volume 29, Number 2, Pages 243–247
The International Water Resources Association slogan: Surf Globally, Act Locally
Bruce Hooper, Executive Editor, WI Editorial Office
International Water Resources Association (IWRA)
By Phillip Z. Kirpich, Retired, World Bank, USA
Note from Mr. Kirpich titled "Managing water has become urgent":
Much of my long life has been devoted to water management. If you think that term refers to conservation -- like not turning off the faucet when doing the dishes or not flushing the toilet too often -- you are right, but that is a great oversimplification. since poor water management can result in disease-causing pollution, loss of topsoil from erosion and damage to animal habitats and to forests. Worst of all is the damage to irrigated agriculture that now provides a third of the world’s food supply and must be relied upon to provide more since rainfed agriculture has reached a ceiling and can produce little more than it already is producing.
management is thus a crucial subject in many parts of the world,
especially in the poorest and most densely-populated developing
Water management has received much attention in recent decades from governments and from international agencies. Well attended forums accompanied by deluges of scholarly articles have debated the issues involved but, sadly, progress has been agonizingly slow. Thus three fourths of the world’s population still do not have safe or adequate drinking water while irrigated zones are suffering growing shortages of water that is threatening the world’s food supply.
In the irrigated zones in the countries mentioned, farmers have tiny land holdings, often as little as an acre or two. Illiteracy is high, health is poor and access to water is inequitable.
With this introduction, I now ask you to read the article I am sending you. Of the fifty-odd published articles and books I have written, this will most likely be my last. In the article I am calling on leadership from the primary international agencies to carry out significant action rather than merely research and the production of papers.
primary international agencies include, of course, the World Bank, my
former employer. While I am critical regarding its past accomplishments,
I believe it has a key role in leading the way to significant action.
Such action would I think be enhanced if presidency of the Bank passed
to Bill Clinton who has indicated he would relish such an appointment.
Besides the World Bank, commitment by world leaders, especially of the
End of note. [Emphasis in original, not added]
Numerous international agencies have been providing important assistance through technical advice, and some of them have been providing financing as well. Owing to ongoing and impending water crises and conflicts both within and among the developing countries, the need for such assistance is growing, but needs better coordination and the setting of priorities. Additionally, international agencies must increase their roles in setting policies that affect water use such as trade restrictions that impede export by the developing countries of high-value, labor-intensive agricultural products that consume less water. High-level international agreements are needed in order to establish an adequately staffed and funded World Water Institute that would be charged to carry out these tasks. The planning of steps needed for the establishment of the WWI should be carried out by a team drawn from staff of UN agencies, from agencies affiliated with the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, and from the World Bank.
Water management in developing countries, world food, institution building, international agencies
Global warming is a phenomenon now receiving worldwide attention. Water management may be of equal or greater importance since serious deleterious effects caused by water scarcity and mismanagement may occur much sooner than those caused by global warming.
Over the past two decades, the recognition has grown that water management must be “holistic”; that is, it must deal with matters well beyond the distribution of water to users by physical infrastructure. These include economic, social and institutional factors and international conflicts over water rights.
International Efforts to Improve Water Management
A multiplicity of agencies exist that provide advice and in some cases – financing as well. Much of this comes from bilateral (nation to nation) sources and from multilateral sources like the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, and the regional development banks.
Extreme poverty in the developing countries continues to be widespread and is a primary cause of human suffering, social instability, and environmental damage.
That water management has a primary role in fighting poverty is now well understood. Three noteworthy papers that set forth this view are by the World Bank (World Bank, 2000; 2002a; 2002b), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, 2002), and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI, 2001). Recent well-attended international forums that have expressed the same view have included the Second World Water Forum at The Hague in March 2000 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002.
At the Second World Water Forum at The Hague, a Ministerial Declaration and a so-called “World Water Vision” were presented. Concurrently, a group representing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and trade unions expressed serious concerns in a noteworthy article entitled “Reflections on the World Water Vision” by “the Next Generation of Water Leaders” (Faruqui and Al-Jayyousi et al., 2000). Here are some excerpts:
“The principles on which solutions should be based have been established and affirmed at conference after conference for the last ten years or more. But action and implementation drags along at a painfully slow pace, condemning millions to continue with non-existent or unsatisfactory water services and all the death, ill health and struggles for water which result from this failure.”
“We need targets and timetables for improvement [...] We need a substantial increase in the levels of multilateral and bilateral assistance from the developed countries.”
“The conclusions of this conference fall woefully short of this goal. It is a document which is full of reservations and escape clauses.”
“The majority of the NGO and trade union major groups who are represented here do not accept the report of the World Water Commission and the Vision Document produced by the World Water Council as the basis for further action.”
“You should not use reservations about aspects of the work of those bodies [World Water Commission and Global Water Partnership] as an excuse for inaction, or for merely proceeding with business as usual.”
“Will you pledge yourselves now to work intensively over the next two years to establish precise targets for improvement and the organization and funding programs to deliver them? Can we resolve together that by the time of the next Earth Summit in 2002 we must have got the measure of the water problems of the world?”
The article by Faruqui and Al-Jayyousi et al. (2000) made the following additional points, which I want to address:
Skepticism is expressed as regards the strong advocacy of privatization in the Vision Document, pointing out that integrated water management is far more complex than managing a typical private sector enterprise.
Response: A recent article (Svendsen et al., 2003) makes a plea for privatization, citing successes in Mexico and Turkey. However, widespread privatization in countries where landholdings are very small and where illiteracy is high – such as India and China – is of dubious value. Some types of privatization might, however, be advantageous such as encouragement of enterprises that sell inputs like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides.
The Vision Document, in advocating greatly increased privatization, fails to make a distinction between the situations that apply to rural water users as opposed to urban water users.
Response: (1) Rural water users in South Asia and many other regions have tiny landholdings, often two hectares or less, and are generally illiterate; (2) Often overlooked is the fact that use of water for irrigation consumes 70 percent of global water withdrawal, compared with 20 percent for industrial and 10 percent for urban; (3) Rapid urbanization in many countries is forcing a reduction in the water available for irrigation; see Box 1 with regard to China and India.
To get small rural landholders to pay for water on a volume basis – needed for cost pricing to work – is generally not practicable. Where pricing has been adopted – very rarely thus far – water has to be measured and sold to a block of small farmers, with a number of adjoining blocks constituting a water user association (WUA).
Response: (1) The setting up of WUAs is a major undertaking involving entities of the government at national, regional, and local levels. Results thus far have been mixed (generally poor) where tried in various countries, such as India and Pakistan and South Africa; (2) To gain acceptance of poor farmers, provision of water, while essential, is not enough. Such farmers have chronic problems related to poor health, inadequate schooling for children and women, and lack of credit and marketing facilities. The scope of the WUAs should thus be broadened to include actions to deal with these lacks, as other observers have pointed out (IWMI, 2001). Instead of being called WUAs, such units might better be called Rural Development Units (RDUs). Such a broadened effort would require participation by sociologists and specialists on management of people and institutions. Above all, leaders at all levels must have the political will to carry out needed reforms and actions; (3) Although some success with the establishment of viable WUAs has been achieved in more advanced developing countries like Mexico and Turkey (Svendsen et al., 2003), one must be cautious in extrapolating that experience to other countries where socioeconomic conditions are markedly different.
Appropriate technology need not come from the North (meaning the developed countries). Quite often, technology imported from the North may not be suitable in the South.
Response: “High Tech” is generally extolled in the Vision Document and presented as a panacea that will solve future water-scarcity and food-demand requirements. The document presents expectations that scientists, through biochemical research, will come up with new plant varieties as part of a new Green Revolution. These expectations lead to a dangerous complacency and avoid making politically painful but necessary decisions regarding policy reforms such as water-use charges, land-tenure adjustments, elimination of subsidies, the carrying out of institutional reforms, and the fight against corruption. This complacent attitude moreover glosses over the reality that the quantity of water available in many regions is reaching a limit. High tech for water distribution such as automatic gates may be applicable in some developing countries; advanced technologies such as drip or trickle systems are, however, not generally applicable under most developing country conditions.
1: The rapid
urbanization that China is experiencing is reducing the quantity of
water for irrigated agriculture most of which is devoted to rice, the
main food staple. Through import of “virtual water” in the form of
rice or other grains, China could restrict rice cultivation while paying
for the imports through export of high-value, labor-intensive crops that
consume much less water. India may have to consider similar measures
since groundwater tables in the Punjab, India’s breadbasket, are
dropping rapidly owing to overpumping.
For import of virtual water to work, developed country tariff
barriers to import of high-value crops from the developing countries
would have to be rescinded; an objective in which the World Bank is
already involved but needs strengthening.]
Improvement is greatly needed in the training of water resource professionals to cover enough of the related disciplines — e.g., economics and sociology –to enable planners to conduct planning in a holistic manner (Kirpich, 1995). The need for such improvement applies not only to all levels of government but also to staff of the donor agencies.
The article decries the lack of interest on the part of the international donors with respect to social and environmental concerns and on failure of donors to harmonize their efforts. The article refers to the donors as a “talking club” where papers are discussed but no concrete action taken.
In April and May 2002 the World Bank held a series of consultations with leading water-resource professionals in five countries: Nigeria, Yemen, Brazil, the Philippines, and India. Also participating were representatives of major donors and of NGOs. The consultations were preceded by issuance of a 72-page draft report “Water Resources Sector Strategy: Strategic Directions for World Bank Engagement” (World Bank, 2002a). The stated objective was to prepare a revised Strategy Document and to submit it for consideration to the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
Obstacles identified as needing to be overcome to attain sound and sustained water management have included:
Fragmented public investment programming and sector management that have failed to take account of the interdependence among agencies, jurisdictions and sectors.
Excessive reliance on overextended government agencies has caused neglect of economic pricing, financial accountability, and user participation, resulting in lack of effective services to the poor.
Public investments and regulations have neglected water quality, health, and environmental concerns.
Inadequate participation by water users in operation and maintenance that, in the case of irrigation, could be overcome by establishing effective Water User Organizations (WUAs).
The draft report brings out that among the “comparative advantages” of the Bank are that it has a long history of involvement with water-resource developments and that in each of its client countries it has an economy-wide engagement. The latter is important in connection with carrying our planning not only in a holistic manner as mentioned above but also in considering national policies on tariffs, subsidies and export and import markets.
Another document issued in 2002 (World Bank, 2002b) indicated that, despite the laudable efforts of the Bank to date, much remains to be done. For example, even if the Bank’s Board were to approve the revised strategy, it might be hesitant to allocate the funds required unless special contributions can be obtained from leading developed countries, especially the United States. As another example, the major changes in the Bank’s staff that deals with water management, as called for in the revised strategy, will take years to accomplish and would not be likely to proceed in the absence of the required funds.
for a World Water Institute
The donor community is highly fragmented with no one taking leadership to effect meaningful cooperation and determination of priorities. Leadership of the donor community should be assigned to a new World Water Institute (WWI), possibly as an agency of the United Nations.
Establishment of WWI would raise many issues of a political nature requiring further study and negotiation among the parties concerned. I believe the best way to proceed would be to set up a team to undertake the study and negotiations. Members of the team would be chosen from staffs of concerned UN agencies, from the World Bank, and from the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) which is affiliated with the World Bank (see Box 2).
Box 2: Suggested sources of a team to prepare a detailed proposal for a WorldWater Institute.
UN agencies / Agency Headquarters
UN Development Program, New York
Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome
UN Educational and Scientific Organization, Paris
World Health Organization, Geneva
WB and CGIAR agencies / Agency Headquarters
World Bank Staff, Washington
International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka
International. Food Policy Research Institute, Washington
Ultimately the WWI would be expected to make recommendations affecting not only national policies – for example with respect to subsidies and trade restrictions – but also relations among nations that share the same rivers, like the Nile, the Tigris/Euphrates, and the Mekong. The team’s findings would therefore need consideration and approval at high-level echelons of the agencies mentioned.
It is self-evident that to succeed, the WWI would need the support of leading developed countries, especially the United States. The U.S. support for integrated water management is somewhat suspect in view of past history.
As two seasoned observers have pointed out (Schad, 1998; Whipple, 1998), the Congress has failed to reinstate the Water Resources Council, which was abolished during the administration of President Reagan.
Reinstatement of the council should be feasible now that concern of the U.S. public with environmental problems – including water – has grown.
Furthermore, the current major involvement of the U.S. in the reconstruction of Iraq will entail close cooperation with the UN and the World Bank, with respect to rehabilitation and expansion of Iraq’s vast irrigation system.
That in turn will involve extensive negotiations among the three countries – Iraq, Turkey, and Syria – that are riparian to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
An early task for WWI would be to strengthen working relationships with the NGOs and to seek their cooperation in assisting governments in establishing Water User Associations that could evolve as quickly as possible into Rural Development Units (RDUs) as described above. The RDUs would enable concurrent much-needed actions in related fields: credit, marketing, health, education – especially for women – land reform, and family planning.
To assist WWI, the supporting agencies would need to contemplate some changes in management procedures, first, as regards adherence to covenants whereby borrowers pledge agreement to make institutional changes and, second, with respect to staff management.
Staff changes, based on my long experience with the World Bank and other international agencies, should include:
Change in the current practice calling for frequent rotation among departments and regions despite the complexity of water-resource developments that require attention on a continuing basis; and
Change in the promotion policy that has tended to favor administrators and generalists rather than seasoned specialists in essential fields including: irrigation and sanitary engineers, agricultural scientists and economists, and development managers. The promotion policy in the World Bank has moreover tended to favor staff identified with a high volume of loans rather than on optimum benefits.
The WWI would set priorities based on realistic time schedules. There are several key regions of the world that should receive priority attention are the Middle East, India, Pakistan, China, parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico, and Brazil, where water shortages have become critical to the well being of the population of the regions and, therefore, to their social and political stability.
Another important task for WWI would be carry out continuing studies of the scope for import by water-short countries of so-called “virtual water” in the form of grain. The imported grain would enable replacement of high water-consumptive crops – like rice and sugar cane – by high-value crops that consume less water – like fruits and vegetables.
Alternatively, the grain imports would provide a breathing space during which irrigation practices to conserve water could be introduced.
The continuing studies would include periodic analyses of food-grain production worldwide that can serve to guide planning in countries, like China, India, Pakistan, and South Africa that are threatened with food shortages owing to dwindling water resources.
Concurrently, the institute could carry out a program to assist these countries to find markets for the high-value crops so that they could pay for the grain imports.
The high level of subsidies now being paid to farmers in the developed countries is costly to its own taxpayers and consumers and is a serious impediment to farmers in the developing countries.
An essential part of the program would be to induce developed countries to lower and eventually eliminate the subsidies.
The institute would need to do more to inform the public regarding the crucially serious water situations around the world and why, as a matter of self-interest, improved water management is essential for sustained food production – while curtailing cultivation of drug-related crops – and to reduce environmental deterioration and cross-border migration.
With one-third of the world’s population still without drinking water, a clear priority is for the international agencies dealing with water is to induce donors in the developed countries to provide the required funding.
Rapid ongoing urbanization is reducing water for irrigation. Deterioration of irrigation infrastructure is another factor that is causing reduced agricultural production in the developing countries.
Serious conflicts among nations sharing the same rivers are growing and need dealing with expeditiously, including the Nile, the Tigris/Euphrates, and the Mekong. A precedent in this regard is the successful effort carried out in the 1960s by the World Bank to resolve the conflict between India and Pakistan over the water of the Indus River.
The setting up of a permanent World Water Institute would assist in rationalizing and expediting water management globally, regionally, and nationally.
The WWI could lead and guide an effort to ease water shortages through use of “virtual water,” that is, water saved through replacement of high-water-requirement crops by low-water-requirement crops.
Concurrently, the WWI could press the developed countries to eliminate agricultural subsidies and open its markets to agricultural exports from the developing countries.
About the Author
Phillip Kirpich is a retiree of the World Bank. During his long career, he worked for the U.S. Government, consulting firms dealing with water management and the World Bank, and was a consultant to several international agencies. In 1995 he received the Royce J. Tipton Award of the American Society of Civil Engineers in recognition of his pioneering work in the setting up of a National Water Plan for Mexico.
Discussions open until December 1, 2004.
Faruqui, N. and O. Al-Jayyousi, eds. 2000. “Reflections on the World Water Vision by the Next Generation of Water Leaders.” Water International 25, No. 2: 303-311. (Also see related discussion by Kirpich, Phillip Z., Water International 26, No. 1: 140-142.
IFPRI. 2002. “About a 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture and the Environment.” Washington, DC, USA: IFPRI.
IWMI, 2001 “Can poor farmers in South Africa shoulder the burden of irrigation management.” Colombo, Sri Lanka:
Kirpich, Phillip Z. 1999. Water Planning for Food Production in Developing Countries. Lanham, MD, USA: University Press of America.
Schad, T. M. 1998. “Water Policy: Who Should Do What?” Water Resources Update No. 111: 51-61.
Svendsen, M., F. Gonzalez, and S. Johnson. 2003. “Privatizing Canal Irrigation.” Irrigation and Drainage 52, No. 2: 95-108.
Whipple, W., Jr. 1998. Water Resources: A New Era for Coordination. Reston, VA, USA: ASCE Press.
World Bank. 2000. “Entering the 21st Century—World Development Report 1999/2000.” Washington DC: The World Bank. (Box 9 “The growing threat of water scarcity.”)
World Bank. 2002a.
“Water Resources Sector Strategy: Strategic Directions for World Bank
Engagement.” Draft for Discussion of March 25, 2002. Washington DC:
The World Bank World Bank. 2002b. “External Views on the World Bank
Group’s Draft Water Resources Sector Strategy.” Washington DC: The
World Bank. http://www.worldbank.org
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