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Decentralization of river basin management : a global analysis


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  • Dinar, Ariel
  • Kemper, Karin
  • Blomquist, William
  • Diez, Michele
  • Sine, Gisele
  • Fru, William


Decentralization and increased stakeholder involvement have been major elements of water sector reform as ways to promote sustainable and integrated resource management particularly of river basins. Based on an analytical framework for relating decentralization and stakeholder involvement to improved river basin management, this paper infers several hypotheses about factors associated with greater or lesser likelihood of success of the decentralization process using data from 83 river basins worldwide. The results suggest that physical, political, economic, financial, and institutional characteristics of the basin do affect the process and the level of performance of the decentralization. In particular, the presence of water scarcity may be a stimulus to reform, uniting the stakeholders in the basin and leading to better performance; organized user groups push for the initiation of decentralization reforms but may be associated with costs to the process and difficulty of achieving decentralization; the existence of dispute resolution mechanisms supports stakeholder involvement and improves decentralization performance; where stakeholders accepted greater financial responsibility, complying with tariffs and contributing to the budget for basin management, the decentralization process and performance measures increased; basins with higher percentages of their budgets from external governmental sources benefited from better stability and support and it shows in the performance of the decentralization process.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3637.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3637

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Keywords: Water Supply and Sanitation Governance and Institutions; National Governance; Town Water Supply and Sanitation; Drought Management; Agricultural Knowledge&Information Systems;

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  1. Cerniglia, Floriana, 2003. "Decentralization in the public sector: quantitative aspects in federal and unitary countries," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 25(8), pages 749-776, November.
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  3. Lars-Erik Borge, 1996. "The Behavior of Bureaucrats and the Choice Between Single-Purpose and Multi-Purpose Authorities," Public Finance Review, , vol. 24(2), pages 173-191, April.
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  5. Vermillion, D. L. & Garc├ęs-Restrepo, C., 1998. "Impacts of Colombia's current irrigation management transfer program," IWMI Research Reports H023448, International Water Management Institute.
  6. Bennett, Lynne Lewis, 2000. "The integration of water quality into transboundary allocation agreements Lessons from the southwestern United States," Agricultural Economics: The Journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 24(1), December.
  7. Bennett, Lynne Lewis, 2000. "The integration of water quality into transboundary allocation agreements: Lessons from the southwestern United States," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 24(1), pages 113-125, December.
  8. Vermillion, D. L. & Garces-Restrepo, C., 1998. "Impacts of Colombia's current irrigation management transfer program," IWMI Books, Reports H023448, International Water Management Institute.
  9. Henk Folmer & Pierre Mouche & Shannon Ragland, 1993. "Interconnected games and international environmental problems," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(4), pages 313-335, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Dinar, Ariel & Kemper, Karin & Blomquist, William & Kurukulasuriya, Pradeep, 2007. "Whitewater: Decentralization of river basin water resource management," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 851-867.
  2. Abers, Rebecca Neaera, 2007. "Organizing for Governance: Building Collaboration in Brazilian River Basins," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1450-1463, August.
  3. Alessandra Sgobbi & Gregorio Fraviga, 2006. "Governance and Water Management: Progress and Tools in Mediterranean Countries," Working Papers 2006.151, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Dinar, Ariel & Kemper, Karin & Blomquist, William & Kurukulasuriya, Pradeep, 2006. "The Process and Performance of Decentralization of River Basin Resource Management: A Global Analysis," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21093, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).


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