IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Coping with Water Scarcity: The Governance Challenge


  • Richards, Alan


Improving demand management or enhancing water conservation is a complex and difficult governance problem, involving a complicated mixture of decentralization in some areas and instances (e.g., to promote greater on-farm efficiency via water-users associations) and re-centralization in others (e.g., to cope with pervasive third-party effects). Both the infrastructural and institutional changes are likely to be significant. Further, significant interest groups in society and within the state apparatus stand to lose important rents and/or privileges. In some cases, these interests may be able to stall or to block reforms. Given the lags involved and the possibilities of significant unexpected negative shocks, the consequences of "business as usual" could be severe. That is, failure to reform systems, and, therefore, failure to deliver adequate water supplies to increasing numbers of people, has destabilizing potential for some governments. Yet the process of decentralizing decision making can itself be destabilizing, depending upon the specific context. The dynamics of political reform of water allocation policies have important potential to add to social and political conflict within increasingly water-scarce societies. By the same token, however, there are significant opportunities to smooth the transition to more water efficient allocation systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Richards, Alan, 2001. "Coping with Water Scarcity: The Governance Challenge," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt7pv2m477, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:glinre:qt7pv2m477

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kijne, J. W., 1996. "Water and salinity balances for irrigated agriculture in Pakistan," IWMI Research Reports H019242, International Water Management Institute.
    2. Rosegrant, Mark W. & Binswanger, Hans P., 1994. "Markets in tradable water rights: Potential for efficiency gains in developing country water resource allocation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(11), pages 1613-1625, November.
    3. Amarasinghe, U. A. & Mutuwatta, L. & Sakthivadivel, R., 1999. "Water scarcity variations within a country: a case study of Sri Lanka," IWMI Research Reports H024897, International Water Management Institute.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Crow, Ben, 2001. "Water: Gender and Material Inequalities in the Global South," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt0rq308jc, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.

    More about this item


    Environment and Development;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:glinre:qt7pv2m477. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.