WATER GOVERNANCE

IWP’s research examines the political, social, economic and administrative systems that influence water resource use and management. Projects include:

  • Effectiveness of foreign aid on water supply
  • Megatrends in water
  • Governance of river basins and water diplomacy
water-basin--water-governance

Summary

This study aims to explore the ideas on the management of water utilities that are held by local public officers. The aim of this research project is to show whether local public officers share a common ‘hegemonic’ view of water service provision or instead, they hold conflicting perspectives among themselves. We propose to carry out research among public officials of China and India. The proposed research builds on previous research by Araral and Asquer (2016) which compared and contrasted views of public utility officials in China and Italy. The research will employ Q methodology for accessing and analysing ideas on the regulation and management of water services. Q methodology is a statistical technique that helps identify the patterns of subjective perspectives held by a group of individuals (Stephenson 1953; Brown 1980).


Objectives

The purpose of the proposed research is to determine how closely aligned are the ideas of public officials to existing water policy in their geographical domain, the extent of divergence in ideas among public officials and the dominant ideas among public officials. The comparison between ideas among officials in China and India is expected to show the relationship between ideas of public officials and water policy in their respective countries. The research is expected to add to existing and growing literature on the comparison of the water sectors of China and India.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Eduardo Araral

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Photo by CIFOR / CC BY

Summary

Transboundary environmental pollution presents a critical policy problem in the ASEAN region due to the tripartite nature of its inherent environmental, health and political risks. Transboundary pollution can take many forms. It mainly results from human-driven activities such as the upstream construction of a dam leading to sedimentation of rivers and other water sources in downstream nations; the leaching of hazardous industrial wastes into water sources that are pertinent to multiple bordering jurisdictions; smoke pollution from fires caused due to unsustainable land-clearing practices in one nation severely deteriorating the air quality of adjoining countries, and often creating erratic spikes in water and energy use.

In Singapore, the task of devising robust policy solutions has become even more pertinent as domestic water use and energy demand can spike as a way to deal with episodes of haze - that although may occur at predictable times of the year- are happening with increasingly unpredictable and often unprecedented intensities. Therefore, not only does the haze result in health implication due to air quality deterioration, it also has had a distinct impact on water demand and electricity use.

As a response to the haze crisis, the design of the Singapore Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) represents a first-of-its-kind individual country policy response in Asia for governing pollution emanating from sources outside of its jurisdiction (GoS 2014). Customised to address the management of haze impacts on local environmental contexts, it is a policy package that at present is centered on using indicators such as the air-quality index to govern the magnitude of the state’s response to haze events. However, as a novel policy platform it also presents a distinct opportunity to address and strengthen the state’s water and energy resilience policy targets, a distinction that makes the formulation and implementation design of the THPA a promising case for the academic research on policy design studies.


Objectives

  • To bring sustainable water use issues to the forefront of the body of academic research surrounding haze pollution mitigation policy design in Singapore.
  • To further the field of contemporary policy design studies by empirically examining the formulation processes of rare, unprecedented policy packages.
  • To build the foundation for a long-term research program surrounding modes of policy design that involve the bespoke creation of policy portfolios or the customisation of new policy mixes to unique policy contexts.

Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Michael Howlett

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Photo by Asian Development Bank / CC BY

Summary

Building on recent papers reviewing PPPs in the water sector in Asia (Jensen 2016), an analysis of hybrid regulation (Jensen & Wu 2016) and a comparative analysis of water PPP concession performance under different ownership (Wu, Jensen & House 2016), this project aims to take forward our understanding of the role and impact of private sector management and finance of water utilities under PPP models.


Objectives

Five distinct research areas will be explored, each of which would lead to a separate journal paper, and together would help to build further PPP expertise at IWP.

  1. “From private to public: the impact on Malaysia’s water reforms on performance and governance”
  2. “The Limits and Future Potential of PPP in the Water Sector”
  3. “Policy entrepreneurship in action: evidence from Cambodia’s water reforms”
  4. “Public entrepreneurs, private managers”
  5. “When risk management mechanisms increase risk”

Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Olivia Jensen, Wu Xun

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Photo by Asian Development Bank / CC BY

Summary

In China, the massive demand for water infrastructure and lack of capital has precipitated the rapid growth of PPP in the water sector. An increased focus on value for money in the public sector has led to a need to improve the efficiency of the management, delivery and effectiveness of public services. The research examines the causes of these differences and possible problems that exist in the current system, thereby providing solutions and improvements to overcome, if not mitigate, the problems at a time when China is seeking to widen the use of PPP in public sectors.

This research also serves as the first step to use quantitative method to explore the PPP issue in China. Given the current trend of promoting PPP by central government, but yet both policy design and implementation are in an ambiguous stage, further investigation on this regard is meaningful for both academics and practitioners. We would expect that the findings from this research could shed some light on the issue; and provide a support for future application of external grants using the similar method on China PPP topic.


Objectives

The study aims to compare and contrast how parties of China’s water sector understand the concept of PPP, and how they behave differently from each other during the PPP implementation process.
The research is expected to add to existing and growing literature on PPP of China’s water sector.


Research Cluster

Researchers

Qian Neng

yellow-river-china


Summary

The Yellow River is the second-longest river in China after the Yangtze and the sixth-longest in the world. The Yellow River is also known as the cradle of Chinese civilisation and the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilisations and the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. Currently, the river drains a basin of 795,000 km2, which is home to 110 million people, approximately 9% of China’s population. As the main water source of Northwest and North China, the Yellow River, accounts for 2.2% of the total runoff of all rivers in China, but supports 12% of the nation’s population and shoulders the water-supplying duty of 15% of the irrigation area.

For a while now, the Yellow River Basin has been affected by increased sedimentation, shrinkage of the main channel, the situation of ‘hanging river’, prolonged droughts and floods (WWAP, 2009, Li, 2006). With the rapid development of settlements and economic activities in the basin and surrounding areas, severe pollution combined with high demand for water from booming agriculture, industrial and urban sectors, China has been struggling to implement an integrated approach to managing the Yellow River in a sustainable manner.


Objectives

  • To provide a comprehensive review of different management regimes of the Yellow River Basin over a period of 2000 years.
  • To review the implementation of IWRM policies of the Yellow River Basin though intensive stakeholder interviews.
  • And to apply the lived experience approach to the Yellow River Basin to identify emerging challenges, and the impacts of IWRM on local communities.

Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Wu Huijuan

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Photo by World Bank Photo Collection / CC BY

Summary

Metropolitan governance of water systems (MEGOWAS) is a SG$50,000 grant awarded to a consortium of the Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore) and Sciences Po Paris under the University Sorbonne Paris City - National University of Singapore grant fund.

The project involves comparative and trans-disciplinary research on the configuration of urban water governance in the mega city-regions of Lima, Sao Paolo, Jakarta and Manila and high-growth secondary cities in Asia and Latin America.

The research focuses on the identification of ungoverned spaces in the development of urban water infrastructure and ungoverned links between horizontal and vertical divisions of government and identifies trends that are challenging the paradigm of universal and equal access to public services with potentially critical consequences for justice, sustainability and efficiency.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Olivia Jensen

Summary

A Space for Dialogue: People, Perceptions, and Principled Outcomes in the Governance of the Mekong, seeks to promote inclusive, accountable and effective governance in the Mekong through improved dialogue, information sharing, and negotiation.

Among the rivers in the Greater Mekong region, the Mekong has the most intense development of hydropower and economic activity. This complicated competition over water resources and the hydro-political interplay of global, regional, and local powers makes a negotiated approach to governance critical. The dominant narrative today is that the Upper Reaches hold little accountability to downstream countries, leading to transboundary conflict. But the unequal distribution of development gains exists within countries as well, and marginalised communities often suffer from development efforts, facing threats of restricted livelihood, environmental damage, cultural loss, and eviction. Undoubtedly, development goals may conflict (e.g., industrialisation and electrification versus secure rights and livelihoods), as do interests of communities, the private sector, and governments. There is a potential collision course if water governance shortfalls go unresolved.

The Mekong Water Governance (MWG) project seeks to promote inclusive, accountable, and effective governance subsystems in the Mekong River governance regime and propose policy and behavioural changes necessary to achieve development, equity and sustainability.


Objectives

The project will systematically study and provide a governance map of the Mekong River Basin at local, state, and international levels; construct a locally responsive, community-informed definition of good governance; assess the current state of governance according to emergent standards; and explore ways to expand and improve upon the space for dialogue and inclusiveness and accountability of governance processes.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Leong Ching

Summary

In August 2008 the embankments of the Koshi river in Bihar State, India, broke causing massive flooding of a large part of northern Bihar. Embankments provide flood protection in many river catchments. However, river embankments have been controversial as rivers may have high sediment loads that shallow the channels between embankments. Constraining the river by embankments could actually increase flood risks.

In addition, some benefits of periodical floods, such as fertilisation of agricultural lands, are lost when embankments are in place. Furthermore, the presence of embankments could make people more complacent towards flood risks, which in itself can increase flood risks. Once a flood occurs, political processes, such as public pressure for action and compensation, could lead to ever increasing investments in embankment projects, thereby increasing risks and flood losses.


Objectives

Are embankments the best possible solution for flood risk management? Key research questions include the following aspects:

  1. What impacts have embankments had on river dynamics?
  2. Do embankments reduce perceived flood risk? What is the narrative content of the “public pressure for action” that has already been noted above?
  3. What are the costs and benefits of river embankments from the perspectives of different stakeholders?
  4. How can non-traditional sources of flood data help flood risk estimation?
  5. What are the reforms and institutional changes required to strengthen embankment governance?

Research Cluster

Water Economics, Water Governance, Water Science and Public Policy


Researchers

Robert Wasson

Summary

Aquaculture is becoming an increasingly important source of fish and protein worldwide. Looking to the future, there is an expectation that aquaculture will contribute significant to world food supplies and security. Successful aquaculture depends greatly on having access to sufficient good quality water. At the same time, one of the main public concerns with aquaculture activities is that they degrade water quality and adversely impact the environment.


Objectives

The aim of this study is to improve the understanding of how water use by aquaculture is governed in practice; and from this knowledge, suggest ways in which governance can be improved to promote sustainable expansion for food security.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Louis Lebel, Joon Chuah, Leong Ching

Summary

Narrative is a mode of description that can be applied to public policy. To be successful, after all, a policy measure needs to be a story told from one to another. Policy diffusion can be understood to be a process of narration. The research consists of developing new modes of narrative analysis and applying the same to natural resource management issues, especially water policy. For example, social movements around water and other resources are described through the concept of narrative-networks (analogous to social network analysis). Another, related study is that of analyzing literary expressions in Chinese leaders' speeches and tracing their effect on policy.


Objectives

  • To further develop methods for narrative policy analysis.
  • To apply these novel methods to natural resource policy (especially water).

Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Raul Lejano

Summary

Many cities in developing countries are seeking to roll out piped water networks as a way to provide safe and reliable water supply to urban residents. Such programmes are often subsidised by governments on the ground that they will improve public health. However, the welfare impact of piped water supply has shown mixed outcomes. For example, health benefits are sometimes non-existent or inconsequential. Yet, households appear willing to pay for piped connections. This may be because of important non-health positive welfare impacts for households or households may make inaccurate predictions of welfare changes because of inadequate or false information. These additional benefits may include time saved on fetching water or the psychological benefits of assured supply.

Baseline data will be collected in early 2015 through a household survey. The second round of the survey is expected to take place one year later.


Objectives

This study attempts to take forward our understanding of household welfare and preferences for piped water connections by taking advantage of an intervention to extend piped water to urban areas currently underway in the city of Nagpur in India. The nature and timing of the intervention will allow us to examine welfare changes associated with access to a piped connection. The study will also examine households’ perceptions of the welfare impact of piped water connections and attempt to shed some light on usefulness of stated preference methodologies by comparing willingness to pay before and after the intervention.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Olivia Jensen

Summary

Many cities face strong population growth and need to cope with the emergent effects of climate change. This often leads to increasing water stress. In response, municipal policymakers often focus on adding new sources to increase the water supply. However, managing water demand has shown to be a cheaper and more sustainable approach to deal with water scarcity.

This research project has identified cities in Denmark, Estonia, Germany, and Spain that have significantly lowered their water consumption over the last 20 years. Assessments from local water utilities, policymakers and experts are compared to identify what policy tools have proven effective in reducing water demand: water pricing and tariff reform; individual water meters; reducing water losses; regulations at different levels; awareness campaigns; or other factors. The study explores the challenges in measuring urban water demand, and offers lessons learned for good urban water governance in different city contexts.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Joost Buurman

Summary

The objective of this study is to analyse how Singapore has managed to change its urban water management from that of a third world country when it became independent in 1965, to being one of the best in the world some three decades later. The “story” will analyse how this extraordinary transformation was achieved, what were the main conditions that enabled the city-state to make such remarkable improvements possible, what lessons can the world learn from this experience, and what is their potential replicability.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Asit K. Biswas, Cecilia Tortajada

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Photo by Hendrik Terbeck / CC BY

Summary

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.


Objectives

Access the special issue here


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Eduardo Araral, Wu Xun

Summary

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.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Eduardo Araral

Summary

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.


Objectives

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.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Asanga Gunawansaand Priyanka Anand

Summary

Institute researchers traveled to Vietnam 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.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Dennis Wichelns

Summary

The project focused on water as an emerging non-traditional security issue in Asia in general, and South-east Asia and Singapore in particular both at present and in the future. Water was considered as a matter of security due to growing needs and increasing global competition for resources that are scarce, polluted, mismanaged, and misgoverned, including non-conventional sources of water. The project also placed water and its interlinkages on food and energy resources, and social and environmental trade-offs, in a wider context of development. It provided a broader comprehension of the crucial role of these resources in 21st century development.


Objectives

The main objective was to study policies on non-traditional security issues.

Research focuses on water infrastructure in China and India; hydropower trade; role of NGOs and the impacts on the water sector; role of private sector for development.


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Cecilia Tortajada

Summary

The workshops in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy were divided into two: A workshop organised at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on “Urban resilience: The impacts of droughts and floods” on 8-9 July, and a half-day session within the framework of the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW): “Inaugural International Conference on Water Policy and Governance: Policies and Governance to enhance urban water resilience” on 10 July. The 2-day workshop had 19 presentations. Both presentations and discussions were very rich. Either 1 or 2 special issues will be published with the resulting papers. It will depend on the quality of the submissions. One special issue will be published in the International Journal of Water Resources Development. The journal where a second special can be published will be decided when the manuscripts are submitted.

The Inaugural Conference was organised within the framework of SIWW 2016 and the participants were academics but also practitioners. It gave IWP much visibility. There was no publication from the conference at SIWW. A second workshop was organised during Stockholm World Water Week. There were 8 presentations on the topic. Attendance was of more than 100 persons.

Out of the two workshops, several papers have been published in the International Journal of Water Resources Development. The list is attached. The special issue will be published this year.


Objectives

The overall objective of the two workshops was to analyse and discuss the impacts of droughts and floods in the resilience of several cities in developed and developing countries from the human, water, land, energy, food, and environment perspectives, and on how cities prepare, cope, manage and recover from these increasingly frequent extreme events.

The workshops included aspects such as preparedness, policy responses, legal and regulatory frameworks, roles of institutions (formal and informal), governance perspectives, economic, social and environmental considerations, infrastructure development, overall investments, and science and technology. Discussions focused on the cities and also on the basins and regions from which they get their resources and on which their resilience depends to a significant extent. Topics for discussion included: type of capacities that have been developed and how effective they have been; have there been events that have led to positive transformations? Do strategies vary according to political will? Can there be policy and planning to proactively create, assume and shape change? Are there long-term strategies to mitigate and adapt to socio-economic as well as environmental challenges? What lessons, positive and negative, can be learnt regionally or globally?


Research Cluster

Water Governance


Researchers

Cecilia Tortajada

Summary

The Ganges is the most populous river basin in the world and presents both great opportunities and great challenges for its 400 million inhabitants. It is fed by a complex interplay of glacial waters, surface flows and groundwater resources, and has massive potential for hydropower, agriculture, and navigation, among other areas. But the river is also immensely destructive and climate change is only likely to intensify the existing variability of hydrology in the region. Most critically, the massive potential for cooperation among key riparian countries sharing the Ganges has been largely untapped due to various historical, economic, political factors.

In recent years, efforts have been made by various government agencies and research organizations in the region and international organizations to examine the obstacles for cooperation and cooperative solutions for joint development in the Ganges based on systems approaches and evidence-based policy analysis.


Objectives

This project will bring together top researchers from India, Nepal and Bangladesh as well as experts from other countries to share their research findings in a workshop to be held in Singapore, with the aim to produce a special issue in water policy. A Call for Papers will be announced and disseminated, and a scientific committee will be formed to select participants of the workshop based on the quality of proposals and significance of contribution intended.


Researchers

Wu Xun, Dale Whittington