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Water and Poverty


									Options for Pro-Poor Water

            SIMI KAMAL
          Member GWP TEC
    Chairperson, Hisaar Foundation

• The greater part of the world’s poor reside in Asia Pacific
    region (75 percent)
•   The poor in Asia Pacific region are concentrated in
    environmentally fragile ecological zones
•   Millennium development goal of halving world poverty by
    the year 2015
•   Current trend of establishing Integrated Water
    Resources management

    We have to ask the question “can we really
    reduce poverty through water reforms?”
               Scope of Paper

• Experience from the Asia Pacific region

• Case study from Pakistan

• Rationale for pro-poor water reform options
   What Does Water Reforms Mean?
The term water reform is usually understood to

• Governance
• Laws
• Institutions
• Processes
• Regulations
      Access and Control Over Land
In Asia Pacific Region:

• Economic and social disparities distort access to
  land and water

• Existing social and cultural biases further distort
  the intent of inheritance laws

• Inadequacies of legal structure limits ownership
  and control by poor women and other
  disadvantaged groups
• The relationship between water and
  poverty is often determined by some
  external factors

• Political will and political representation

• Local government linkages and
Four distinct sectors in the debate

• Irrigation systems and poverty reduction
• Land and water rights in relation to
• Reduction of poverty through participation
  and user management
• Environment, poverty and conservation
Size of Land Holdings

• In the Asia Pacific region the average farm
  size is now approximately 1.6 hectares.
• In China average farm size has fallen from
  0.56 hectares in 1980 to 0.4 hectares in
• In Pakistan it has fallen from 5.3 hectares
  in 1973 to under 3 hectares in 2004.
• In comparison the average farm size is 67
  hectares in Latin America.
     Irrigation Systems and Poverty
• Irrigation has long been seen as a main tool of
  reducing poverty

• It is seen as a package of technologies,
  institutions and policies that underpins increased
  agricultural output in the Asia Pacific region

• Past experience has shown that this package
  has not yet fully succeeded in doing away with

• Similar irrigation reform packages in different
  contexts have different results
• In China irrigation and agriculture have
  developed in the context of a long-term national
  program to eradicate poverty
• Vietnam has adopted fair land distribution
  approach to land (and irrigation water), and
  rural development as a whole
• In Indonesia, irrigation development has been
  part of a large transmigration scheme funded by
• South Asia has adopted policy in which
  distributional issues have largely been ignored
• Irrigation reforms have benefited the poor in
  China and Vietnam much more than in South
Irrigation Benefits
• Indirect broader benefits of irrigation usually
    much larget than direct local-level benefits
•   This means less impact on local poverty
•   Despite overall poverty-reducing nature of
    irrigation, income poverty exists in most canal
    irrigated areas
•   Around a third of all households in irrigation
    systems live in overty
Water Rights, Land Rights and Poverty

• Water rights are understood and internalized
  largely as customary practices

• Regulations on water rights are often unclear
  and incomplete

• Water users may have little knowledge of the
  laws and regulations that define formal water
           What are Water Rights?
• Water rights may be composed of various
  bundles of rights to access, consume, manage
  and transfer
• Water rights are usually structured differently
  and are more limited than rights to land and
  movable property
• The term “water use rights” seems more
• Water rights are usually a form of property
• Secure property rights can play a vital role in
  expanding opportunities for poor people to
  escape from poverty
   Reduction of Poverty through
Participation and User Management
• Past 25 years have been many attempts to
  improve irrigation management through
  increased participation

• This was driven in part by:
  – frustration with irrigation operation and
  – head-tail inequalities in water distribution
  – Neglected repairs

• Lack of resources for maintaining infrastructure
     Financial                                 Financial          Who pays
   Requirements           Who pays           Requirements

      Interest             Taxpayers            Interest          Taxpayers

      Replace-                                  Replace-
      ment                                      ment               No one

       EfficientO           Users
       &M                                       O&M


                                                  Excess          Taxpayers
     a. Australia                                  man-

                                              b. Pakistan

                    The Financing of Water Services in Pakistan

Source: Pakistan’s Water Economy: Running Dry, Report, The World Bank, November 8,
                                   2005, pg 59
’Token’ particpation

• Meetings held
• Water user associations formed
• Trainings conducted

These are used to measure user
 participation and management instead
 ofsubstantive shanges
Participation in political vacuum

• Water user groups can end up as political
  pressure groups with aspirtions other than
  equitable distribution of water
• Show little result in terms of increased
  incomes or reduced costs
• No set of agreed indicators on what is
  ’pro-poor’ participatory management
Water conservation and enviroment

• Policies on water conservation often
  disregard livelihoods of men and women
• The poor depend heavily on
  environmental ’goods’
• Sometimes one kind of right (for example
  water irrigation right) can take away
  another (access to common enviromental
Struggling to Address Poverty Through
Water Reforms – The Case of Pakistan
       Pakistan’s Water Scenario
• The vulnerability of the vast Indus Basin
  irrigation system and greater need for
  operating flexibility and assurance is now
  accepted in Pakistan
• High population growth
• Persistent poverty
• Lagging growth in the rural sector
• Looming constraints on water resources for
• Poor development and management strategy
            Poverty Conditions
• Realities of water availability, it’s regime, the
  climate, weather, delta conditions and the
  market have changed

• The way of managing farms and using water
  at farm level has not

• About 45 % of cultivable area is under

• Poor management and distribution of
  irrigation water has rendered a large area of
  land uncultivable
• Low crop yield

• Thousands of local farmers whose livelihood
  depended on agriculture are facing economic

• 97 percent of 140 MAF of surface water used
  in irrigation, managed by public sector

• Unchecked exploitation of groundwater in
  private sector (20 MAF)
Comparison of Productivity Per Unit of
          Land and Water

                 Productivity Per Unit of Land

            France                   7.60 Tons/hectare
            Egypt                    5.99 Tons/hectare
         Saudi Arabia                5.36 Tons/hectare
        Punjab (India)               4.80 Tons/hectare
       Punjab (Pakistan)             2.32 Tons/hectare
     Productivity Per Unit of Water

Canada                       8.72 Kg/m3
America                      1.56 Kg/m3
 China                       0.8 Kg/m3
 India                       0.39 Kg/m3
Pakistan                     0.13 Kg/m3
 Low Irrigation Charges as a benefit to
• The very low irrigation service charges in
  Pakistan are justified on account of poverty and
  are assumed to benefit the poor

• In the setting of inequities in land and water
  distribution the low level of irrigation charge
  does not necessarily benefit the poor

• Low charges lead to under-spending on O&M
  works and the system performance is very poor
• The application of a single level of irrigation
  service charges across areas and system has
  led to a situation where the poor landless
  farmers end up subsidizing the rich
   Land Tenancy System & Poverty
• The existing pattern of land distribution
  in Pakistan is not egalitarian

• Organization of production is heavily
  dominated by sharecropping arrangements
  where the tenants are insecure

• Unless the tenant’s position is improved, the
  landowners are likely to receive a lion’s
  share of the total benefits of watercourse
  improvement, a substantial part of which
  is being subsidized by the government.
Water Sector Reforms
• Government of Pakistan has embarked upon water
    sector reforms in the country
•    These have been implemented in parts of the irrigated
    areas of the two larger provinces, Punjab and Sindh
•    These reforms have combined irrigation and drainage
    functions into single Provincial Irrigation and Drainage
    Authorities supported by Water Management Ordinances
•    The idea is to move towards farmer management of
    both irrigation and drainage
Participatory Institutions Set Up
as Part of Water Sector Reforms
• Area Water Boards (AWBs)
• Farmer Organizations (FOs)
• Watercourse Associations (WCAs)

• These participatory organizations are to
 slowly take over the rehabilitation and
 maintenance of 10 canal command areas
The Reality on the Ground
• In theory the system sounds equitable and
•   The problem arises in the way the Ordinance
    defines a farmer who may become a member of
    the Farmer Organization
•   This ‘farmer’ is one who owns land
•   This leaves out the majority of farmers that
    actually deal with water on a daily basis and till
    the land – the poor landless sharecroppers.
What Can be Done
• In order to enhance the probability of the benefits of
    water rehabilitation and infrastructure development
    reaching the poor landless farmers, the inclusion of both
    men and women from this group is necessary in the
    WCAs and FOs
•   Such inclusions many not be forthcoming substantively
    in the short term
•   It can be fostered through offering infrastructure
    development and repair investment incentives on high
    priority to those WCAs and FOs that include landless
    sharecroppers and women
      Official Government Policy
• Integrating irrigation, hydropower and
  agricultural development investment

• Modernizing both the water infrastructure and
  the institutional and governances
  management systems

• Balance of investments in water infrastructure
  and water management

• Balance in supply management and demand

• Secure water entitlements or rights
          Government Strategy
• The new initiatives in the water sector are
  modeled to recover the maintenance and
  restoration cost
• Water Conservation
• Renovation of remaining 90,000 watercourses
  (45,000 out of 135,000 have already been
• Improving watercourse maintenance
• Organizing sustainable water users
  associations (WUAs)
• Introducing water saving irrigation technology
• Expenditure on water supply and sanitation (normally held to be the
    most pro-poor of water programmes) for the year 2006-2007 was
    projected as 0.12% of the GDP
•   Current annual development plans claim to spend approximately 40-
    50 percent each year on water infrastructure resources development
    – the type of development that does not generally benefit the poor
•   Not clear how water entitlements and rights are to be secured
•   Not clear how the demand for more irrigation water will be balanced
    with need for conservation and environmental flows
•   The mighty river Indus has no water downstream from Kotri Barrage
    for 10 months of the year and the Indus delta has been effectively
Rationale for Pro-Poor Water
      Reform Options
Defining ‘Pro-Poor’ More Clearly
• Any arguments for and policy for pro-poor water
    reform must clarify what is meant by the term
•   Too often pro-poor intervention is taken to mean
    any investment or programme that creates
    physical facilities and institutions, the socio-
    economic performance of which is seen in terms
    of aggregate benefits to society as a whole – not
    specific benefits to defined groups of the poor.
Measuring the ‘Pro-Poor’ in
     Water Reforms
• For water reforms to be pro-poor, the criteria
 should be not only be the change in the structures
 of water institutions, the new laws, the number of
 hectares developed or rehabilitated, but also the
 number of households and persons who benefited
 and by how much.
• We need to be able to measure not only the
 aggregate productivity benefits but also the various
 types of benefits (economic, social, development,
 political) and the share of the poor in total benefits
Need for Separate Sets of
To define specific benefits to the poor and
  then to measure their achievement requires
  different sets of appropriate indicators for
  different contexts
• For water entitlements as part of access to
 environmental goods
• For water rights as groups, individuals and
 institutions in irrigation and agriculture
• For access to potable water in rural and urban
 contexts (where the poor may pay many times
 more than the rich).
• A look at Asia Pacific experiences has shown that
 no single set of water reform interventions have
 been sufficient for effective poverty alleviation in all
 water sectors
• A balanced and realistic approach is required
 under each set of circumstances
• An effective package of pro-poor water reforms
 may require interventions in areas other than water
• This points towards more proactive use of IWRM
 approaches that calls for a balance among water
 efficiency, equity and environmental sustainability
Approaching Different Water
      Reform Sectors
 • We have seen how different factors impact upon
  different sectors of water use and management
 • To be pro-poor each of these sectors would have
  to work with different sets of interventions under
  different conditions
 • Sometimes reform processes will have to create
  the necessary conditions first, within which pro-
  poor approaches can be realized
Pro-Poor Irrigation Reforms
 Irrigation and agriculture reforms are likely to
   generate significant outcomes for the poor only if
   some or all of the following conditions exist or can
   be created:
 - Land holdings are more or less of the same size (and not
   skewed between some huge farms and many tiny ones) or
   land is better distributed through land reforms
 - Farmers are socio-economically homogeneous (ie all hold
   land titles rather than some owning land while the others are
   landless and caught in a system of sharecropping land
   tenure) and can compete for benefits equally
 - Irrigated agriculture is profitable as a whole
- Actual benefits of irrigation go to all types of farmers (both
  land owners and the landless) and can be easily calculated
- There are incentives in place for better managing service
  delivery and quality
- Farmers pay for water based on satisfactory service delivery
  (ie service providers are made accountable)
- Irrigation schemes and programmes are specifically designed
  to benefit the poor by putting in specific conditions for
  investments, repairs and rehabilitation of water infrastructure
    Water Rights Reform
• In terms of water rights as a means of alleviating
 poverty, in situations where land ownership
 determine water rights, it is land ownership that
 needs to be tackled effectively as a pro-poor
• In cases where a right to quantum of water is
 determined by type of use, tradition or legal
 entitlement, water reform will need to ensure that
 all those that are entitled are clearly defined as
 such, through legal recourse.
• Given that the Asia Pacific region has millions of farmers, both land
  holding and landless, and millions of people who have direct
  environmental entitlements, it would be extremely challenging, if not
  impossible, to recognize individual water rights
• Water rights can be held by collective organizations such as water
  user associations, local government and water utilities.
• However in a region of many inequalities, this option would be open
  to abuse

The argument for the role that secure rights to land can play in
  reducing poverty are much more compelling in the Asia Pacific
  context than water rights
Poor-Poor Participation Reform
  • As yet no set of agreed indicators to show poverty
   reduction or degree of ‘pro poor-ness’ as a result
   of stakeholder participatory and user management
   of water
  • Water reform options in this area are likely to
   remain perfunctory
  • Indicators need to be developed
  • Ways found to determine the direct and impacts of
   participatory decision-making and user
   management, especially in circumstances where
   the participants are socially or economically
Water Conservation Reform

 • There has been perhaps the greatest thrust in terms of water
   reform initiatives in this area
 • There has to be a stated and proactive pro-poor affirmative
   action (of the type seen in women’s empowerment
   movements and interventions)
 • Conservation attempts often end up displacing the very poor
   whose survival depends on environmental entitlements
 • Water conservation projects can undergo a process to
   explicitly state the number of poor people, the nature of their
   water entitlements, and how they can be helped to come out
   of poverty (or at least be prevented from becoming even
Thank You!

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