Summary and conclusions
Updated - Monday 04 October 2004
- In the growing number of situations where water resource constraints, due to problems of accessing sufficient quantity and adequate quality of water, are impacting severely upon the WATSAN sector, IWRM offers a set of principles and tools to address problems in coordination with other water users. The benefits include minimising costs, maximising benefits, avoiding (or minimising) conflicts and promoting sustainability.
- Building better links between WATSAN and IWRM dialogues is vital, both to ensure that the policy primacy given to water resources development and management for basic human needs is realised, and in order to strengthen grassroots participation in IWRM. Since all people are domestic water consumers, building upon WATSAN service delivery is an obvious way to strengthen participation. Responding to wider ‘domestic’ needs such as small-scale productive uses of water, is one concrete way to achieve this.
- Importantly, IWRM should be seen as a process based upon a set of commonly agreed principles, and not as a single (and blunt) tool or a prescribed set of activities. These principles are applicable at all scales and to all activities to do with water: ranging from trans-boundary management issues to rooftop rainwater harvesting. All WATSAN professionals are able to take some steps to implement these principles in their work.
- It is recommended that the WATSAN community become more actively involved in IWRM in the cases where IWRM is being driven by other agencies, for example Irrigation Departments and Ministries of Water Resources and especially in countries where WATSAN is located in other line departments. To address these issues the WATSAN sector requires capacity building in IWRM so that it can engage fully in IWRM processes.
- The discussion paper identifies different situations where ‘full’ and ‘light’ approaches to IWRM are currently most applicable. ‘Full’ IWRM involves the complete updating of policy, legislation, institutions and capacities to manage water holistically at all levels from national down. But achieving ‘full’ IWRM requires major investments and for other pre-conditions to be fulfilled. It needs a high level of technical capacity, well-functioning institutions and strong government generally. Many countries in the south will struggle to implement ‘full’ IWRM quickly but this does not mean that IWRM is irrelevant to the issues faced in those countries. ‘Light’ IWRM offers a pragmatic alternative. It involves the application of IWRM principles and best practice in sub-sector projects and programmes, and where possible, the promotion of bottom-up multiple stakeholder management and conflict resolution,.
- A number of tools and approaches are available for applying IWRM in relation to WATSAN. These include checklists of modified principles for the sub-sector, conceptual tools like RIDe which is a useful way of bringing together other tools and approaches to focus on water resource issues affecting WATSAN, and water audits.