Water Governance and Reform

Comparing Water Governance in China and India

Lead Researchers: Wu Xun and Eduardo Araral

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.

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.


Government – Corporate – Society Model

Lead Researcher: Rita Padawangi

Proposed research on Government-Corporate-Society Model aims at drawing lessons on efficacy, sustainability and service improvement resulting from the partnership and active involvement of the three sectors: public, private, and community. It aims to shed light on the scope for replication of the model with whatever modifications that may be needed. The project will be based on desk reviews of water and wastewater project reports, case studies and field research.


Asia Water Governance Index

Lead Researcher:Eduardo Araral

The Asia Water Governance Index (AWGI) aims to help water policy makers in Asia learn from one another in terms of water laws, policies and administration. Based on a survey of 102 water experts from 20 countries in Asia, the index enables various stakeholders to gain a comparative assessment of water governance practices across countries. It was launched by the Institute of Water Policy with Professor Elinor Ostrom, the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Economics, as a guest of honor. The AWGI was selected as one of three finalists in the 2010 Suez Water for All Competition.

Click here to take a look at the index.


Water Governance: An Evaluation of Alternative Architectures (for and in collaboration with PUB)

Lead Researchers:Asanga Gunawansa and Priyanka Anand

Typically provision of water and the development and management of related infrastructure function under three difference types of governance mechanisms: concessions, statutory boards and direct government control, although governments, either partly or fully, are certainly involved in all three. With water increasingly becoming a scarce resource, the effectiveness of governance architecture becomes an important issue. Due to a variety of reasons, including, lack of finance, technology and management skills, and the need for mitigating risks, governments in developed as well as developing countries increasingly rely on the use of private finance initiatives (PFI) and Public Private Partnerships (PPP) for developing water infrastructure facilities. However, not all partnerships between the public and private sectors have been successful in this area. While it is easy to hypothesize that governance architectures depend on the peculiarities of the country/region/city, the aim of this research project is to collect large enough data and information to figure out which type of architecture is seen to be efficient under different circumstances. Thus, the proposed study will be both data intensive and analytical of existing information.

In the first phase the project will focus on 4 – 5 cases of successful and failed PPPs in the water infrastructure sector in different cities across Asia-Pacific and will focus on evaluating the legal, policy and financing aspects of developing successful partnerships between the public and private sectors in the area of water.

In the second phase the project will focus on selected cities and regions in US and Europe and will focus on evaluating the legal, policy and financing aspects of developing successful partnerships between the public and private sectors in the area of water.

The final intended outcome of the project is to find different water governance and infrastructure development models that could work in different countries/regions/cities and create win-win options for all stakeholders.


Impact Assessment of ADB Water Policy

Lead Researchers: Martin Stavenhagen, Azamat Ababakirov and Wu Xun (advisor)

It has been almost ten years since the Asian Development Bank launched its water policy, which took into consideration the issues of poverty, the environment, future resource stress, and regional impacts. This project assesses the extent to which the implementation of ADB water policy has led to the performance of water sector projects. The project is structured as a Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) for two senior MPP students who currently work as part-time research assistants in IWP.


Improving Access to Safe Drinking Water in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Lead Researcher: Dennis Wichelns

Institute researchers traveled to Vietnam in mid-June to gain insight regarding household access to safe drinking water in Tra Vinh Province. The researchers attended focus group discussions and participated in household surveys conducted by a national team of researchers organised by Lien Aid, a philanthropic foundation based in Singapore. This work is part of a larger collaboration with Lien Aid to improve household access to drinking water in selected areas in the Mekong Delta. The Institute participated in this trip to learn about the socio-economic landscape of the rural communities in Tra Vinh Province, as a precursor to conducting baseline studies and impact assessment research in the region. Our collaboration with Lien Aid provides a good example of efforts in which Institute researchers will apply rigorous social science in support of targeted interventions and empirical policy analysis.

Tra Vinh is one of the poorest provinces in the Mekong Delta. Located along the coast, about 200 km from Ho Chi Minh City, the province is home to about 1.1 million residents, 31% are of whom are Khmer. More than 80% of the population is rural and the primary sources of livelihood include agriculture and fish production. Most of the villages we visited have notable rates of poverty and many households lack a certain and sustainable source of income.