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The new Nicaraguan water law in context

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  • Novo, Paula
  • Garrido, Alberto
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    Abstract

    The Nicaraguan Water Law, enacted in September 2007, is the first attempt to implement a new water law in the country. This is not an isolated legislative process in Central America, as other countries initiated similar reforms based on the Dublin principles. Although all new water laws need time to be implemented, the progress in Nicaragua has so far been meager. This paper provides a diagnosis about the Nicaraguan Water Law by identifying the major factors that may impede or delay its future implementation and enforcement. Its empirical underpinning is provided by 41 in-depth interviews among a sample of representative policy actors and stakeholders. The results show that the law’s potential for solving water conflicts has yet to be seen in practice. Major barriers are found in the transaction costs of inter-institutional coordination, information gathering, property rights protection and enforcement, and strategic costs. For example, the institutional remapping grants new roles to old actors as well as old roles to new entities. In addition, sugarcane mills, rice, and coffee lobbies have presence in the legislative and block the appointment of managers in the newly created institutions. This paper argues that at the root of the problems is the inconsistency of setting advanced water objectives that land on weak institutions. Based on this, a number of prioritization, sequencing, and timing policy recommendations are drawn.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series IFPRI discussion papers with number 1005.

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    Date of creation: 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1005

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    Keywords: institutional analysis; social-ecological systems; water law implementation; Water reform;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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    1. Deininger, Klaus & Zegarra, Eduardo & Lavadenz, Isabel, 2003. "Determinants and Impacts of Rural Land Market Activity: Evidence from Nicaragua," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 1385-1404, August.
    2. Donahue, John M. & McGuire, Meredith B., 1995. "The political economy of responsibility in health and illness," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 47-53, January.
    3. Grossman, Sanford J. & Hart, Oliver D., 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Scholarly Articles 3450060, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    4. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    5. Larson, Anne M., 2002. "Natural Resources and Decentralization in Nicaragua: Are Local Governments Up to the Job?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 17-31, January.
    6. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 2006. "Persistence of Power, Elites and Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 5603, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Gibson, Bill, 1996. "The environmental consequences of stagnation in Nicaragua," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 325-339, February.
    8. R. Maria Saleth & Ariel Dinar, 2004. "The Institutional Economics of Water : A Cross-Country Analysis of Institutions and Performance," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14884, October.
    9. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    10. Mark Granovetter, 2005. "The Impact of Social Structure on Economic Outcomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 33-50, Winter.
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