Comparing Water Governance in China and India

Aim Of Project:

At a two-day workshop, held in October 2014, IWP brought together 12 researchers from across the world to discuss issues of water governance in China and India.

The workshop compared both countries on a host of topics including urban water pricing and water pricing reform; transboundary waters; hydropower; Integrated Water Resources Management narratives; groundwater management; and public-private partnerships in water and sanitation.

China and India share the same set of water challenges – water scarcity and water pollution – brought about by rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, and uneven resource endowments. China’s per capita availability of water is merely 25% of the world’s average, and more than 400 Chinese cities are short of water. In India, half of the country’s population lacks access to safe drinking water, and water stress is intensifying as population increases. Both China and India are also key riparian countries in some of the Asia’s most important rivers, such as the Brahmaputra, Mekong, Ganges, and Indus, and their approach to water conflicts in these rivers has significant impacts not only on water security but also on regional stability.

However, despite many similarities in the water challenges faced by the two countries, there are considerable differences in water governance in the two countries; in terms of water laws, policies and administration. In China, the central government plays a major role in water resources development while in India such policy lies under the purview of the states. Water issues have often been placed at the top of the political and policy agenda in China, but this is rarer in India. In China, cost recovery has been applied more extensively in water pricing while water users are still heavily subsidised in India.

 A selection of the presented papers is currently being prepared for publication in an international peer-reviewed journal.

Lead Researchers:
Wu Xun and Eduardo Araral
Research Cluster:
Water Sector Governance and Reform