Part II Policy review and strategy formulation

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Policy review and strategy formulation - the process

Determining the importance of water
Matrix of problems and critical issues
Quantifying pressure on water resources
Identifying options
Objectives of water resources strategy
Formulating water strategy
Defining an action programme and implementation schedule

This chapter offers a structured approach to a policy review and the formulation of a strategy, providing an organizing principle for material presented in earlier chapters. Starting with an assessment of the importance of water in national social and economic life, it proceeds through a matrix of problems and critical issues, a quantification of pressures, identification of options, the formulation of a strategy, and concludes with the action programme and implementation schedule.



Previous chapters contain material on likely problems, the general principles according to which they should be tackled, and some of the methods and techniques available. This chapter offers an organizing principle for carrying out the review, in seven steps. These are listed in Box 3, and elaborated in the remainder of this chapter.

Water policy review and strategy formulation have many overlapping elements and are closely related, and the intent is to offer the different elements that together make up a review or strategy formulation process. It is for the countries to choose those elements that are applicable and most likely to develop a unique process that matches their unique needs. Hence the framework concentrates on elements.

The working definition used in this guide is that strategy is a means of translating policy into action. The practical application of the concept of strategy for water resources management varies widely. In some countries, 'strategy' has been deemed to cover every aspect of water resources management from formulating national policies to defining roles and responsibilities for implementation to selecting and financing water sector projects. In other cases, strategy has been treated as synonymous with 'master plans' or 'water action plans' that often encompass specific projects. This guide defines a water resources management strategy as a set of medium- to long-term action programmes to support the achievement of development goals and to implement water-related policies. This definition of strategy does not necessarily include project identification, ranking or financing; in this sense it is between policies and projects. Strategies might differ in detail at national, regional and sectorial levels, but should be coherent.


Policy Review

1. Determine the importance of water in national social and economic life.
2. Prepare a matrix of problems and critical issues.
3. Quantify and rank pressures on the water resource.
4. Identify options for mitigation.

Strategy Formulation

5. Formulate a water strategy.
6. Define an action programme and implementation schedule.


Problem type Evidence Source Relative importance
Supply-demand imbalance By sector and/or region.
Future trend.
Growth in population, per caput demand, climatic change, overuse of groundwater, etc.  
Level and quality of service provision Proportion of population now and in the future with no, or inadequate, provision of safe water, affordable irrigation supplies, sanitation and wastewater disposal facilities; consumption per head; reliability of supplies; etc. Shortage of investment funds; excessively high standards for connections; rapid growth of informal urban settlements; poor maintenance; shortage of funds for proper water treatment.  
Inadequate water quality Water quality indicators at key sites; incidence of water- related diseases; rising cost of treatment by water users; legal actions; increased salinity; soil salinization; etc. Growth of polluting industries; spreading urbanization; lax legislation, enforcement and penalties; poor irrigation' practices; rising national and international quality standards; inadequate drainage; water- logging; etc. Use inter national or historical evidence.
Costs of future provision Unit costs of projected schemes for supply, rehabili- tation, treatment, sewerage, compared to current and past levels; future costs relative to public investment/aid budget; cost of environmental mitigation. Exhaustion of easy options in the; face of growing demand; insufficient examination of alternatives; insufficient demand management; poor cost recovery; etc. Future date when it is likely to become critical.
Inefficient use In agriculture: performance measures such as system efficiency, agronomic norms, economic value of water; proportion of UFW in municipal systems; limited spread of water-efficient consumer devices; etc. Absence of incentives to conserve water; poor system maintenance low public awareness of water situation; outmoded and inefficient industrial plant, limited access to imported technology; etc. Comparative rankings and time schedules can be inserted in appropriate cells
Growing conflicts among users Co-existence of surpluses and deficits among regions/sectors; growing shortages in particular uses competition for limited supplies, e.g., between farming and urban areas: growing environmental stress litigation over water; civil unrest; development of water markets and transfers; rising price of marginal water supplies; international disputes; etc. Growing imbalance of water supply and demand; absence of means to settle disputes amicably or efficiently (e.g., laws, consultation procedures, markets, prices), failures of planning and forecasting. etc  

Determining the importance of water

In order to demonstrate the importance of water issues to policy-makers, the general public and key interested parties, certain broad indicators should be made of the relative importance of the water sector. These indicators would also serve to establish the case for resources needed for the sector, in competition with the claims of other sectors and other projects.

Useful general indicators include:

These indicators should both present the current situation, and take a forward look to some relevant future date, say 10-15 years ahead. This is especially important for countries:

• with rapid population growth or urbanization, or both;
• where the balance between sectors is likely to change;
• where changes in housing patterns and consumer taste are foreseen;
• where there is a large backlog of service provision to be made up; and
• where large investments in new supply, quality improvements, or rehabilitating systems are envisaged.


Matrix of problems and critical issues

Drawing on the checklist of critical issues introduced in Chapter 2, a matrix can be devised, containing evidence of the problem, its source and relative importance in each context. Relative importance can be signified on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is relatively minor and quite easily managed, and 5 is very serious and can only be tackled with great difficulty or cost, or both. Box 4 illustrates the type of information required and how it could be organized. The problems chosen here are not intended to be a complete or even representative list, since each country will have its own particular set of problems.

This information, especially judgements on the relative severity of the different problems, should be used to compile a short 'hit list' of problems, with their principal causes, ranked in order of importance.


Quantifying pressure on water resources

Evidence assembled in the matrix would be extracted to produce orders of magnitude of the severity of the water problems, now and at crucial dates in a relevant planning period (between 10 and 25 years in the future). These data would indicate to planners and decision-makers the seriousness of the water situation, from various points of view, now, and how it is expected to evolve in future.

This information can be organized under three headings: physical and hydrological, economic and financial, and environmental, and some of the key indicators are given in Table 2.

TABLE 2 Key indicators for the water sector

Physical and hydrological Economic and financial Environmental
Balance between per caput availability and use of water. Size of water-intensive or water-reliant sectors within the economy. Water quality indicators in critical locations.
Level (depth) of groundwater in key aquifers. Reliance of agriculture end food production on irrigation. Environmental costs of water provision and use (e.g., of dams, water pollution).
  Price of water in free-market conditions (e.g., from urban vendors or in auctions). Incidence of water-related diseases, and estimates of their cost to victims and for public health services.
  Proportion of the national budget absorbed by water (e.g., operational deficits, overt subsidies).  
  Proportion of public investment programme, foreign aid, or both, accounted for by water investments.  


Identifying options

Having identified the main problems and formed a judgement on their relative seriousness, the next step is to review options available for addressing the most important of them. The policy analysis matrix given in Box 5 (Chapter 4) may be useful for categorizing actions. This matrix envisages actions at four main levels:

• Planning and analysis - entailing the creation of data systems and analytical frameworks, which may include strategy documents, water resource assessments, data banks, monitoring systems, modelling and research.

• Legal and institutional reforms - including the formation of management structures and regulations. These actions may include the reform of water and land legislation, agreeing water quality standards and passing supporting legislation, the creation of new authorities or systems of coordination, corporatizing or privatizing water utilities, empowering water user groups, setting up a regulatory framework for the private sector, etc.

• Economic policies - with the aim of providing a suitable 'enabling environment' for water use. General economic policies should be examined to adjust their effects on water (e.g., farm support, food self-sufficiency, industrial promotion, and new settlement). Specific incentives should be created to persuade users to treat water as the scarce resource it is, e.g., economic pricing, the creation of opportunities for markets and trading, and introduction of pollution charges.

• Projects and programmes - such as public investments, information and education campaigns, and programmes to encourage water efficiency.

The choice from this 'menu' of actions should be evaluated against a set of criteria similar to that proposed in Chapter 2, namely:

• efficacy,
• efficiency,
• distributional impact,
• environmental impact,
• fiscal effects,
• political and public acceptability,
• sustainability, and
• administrative feasibility.


Objectives of water resources strategy

The aim in formulating a national water resources management strategy is to provide measures to manage the resource in accordance with adopted goals and policies. Developing such a strategy will also test whether these goals and policies are realistic. A strategy should be developed with the idea of the best or most efficient use of existing or emerging resources to achieve goals.

A national strategy need not identify specific investment projects, although it may outline or provide broad directions for an investment programme. A water resources management strategy should emphasize such aspects of water development as the necessary institutional and human resources framework, and should address the medium- to long-term issue of building or enhancing a country's water management capacity. Such a strategy should incorporate the views of water resources stakeholders by including them in the formulation process. Moreover, the strategy should be developed principally by national experts. The final strategy should be a domestic product that encourages the commitment and 'ownership' necessary for sustained economic development as well as for the implementation of the water strategy and the success of individual projects and investments.

A water resources management strategy differs from the master plans that many countries have developed. A master plan is usually investment- or project-oriented; the product of a master plan is often a specific set of investments to be made or projects to be undertaken. Master plans have a role to play in water resources management if they are viewed as an investment plan that follows the accepted strategy, and should be placed firmly within the context of development goals and key water-related policies. Some of the best plans already do this, but many countries' master plans have not adequately considered the institutional and human resources frameworks that are important in water management. Master plans have often neglected the long-term issue of building a country's water management capacity. Also, many such plans have been developed with considerable expatriate involvement, and capacity-building of institutions and individuals has often been inadequate.

In contrast to master plans, which often take a long time to develop, 'quick assessments' or 'rapid assessments' have been used to justify immediate investments. Quick assessments may be necessary in the short term; they have the merit of rapidly bringing the major unaddressed issues to the attention of decision-makers. One of the most valuable contributions of a quick assessment is the identification of the limits of what is known, but they do not address the long-term issue of building a country's ability to manage its resources in a sustainable manner.

A number of elements in the approach suggested in this framework have been drawn from the experience of countries in formulating water resources strategies and from approaches to (and experience with) country water resources strategies developed by external support agencies such as the World Bank and UNDP. Thus the World Bank's Asia and Middle East and North Africa regions have developed approaches to strategy that emphasize comprehensive analysis and include institution-building and training (World Bank, 1993b & 1993c).


Formulating water strategy

Each country has a unique set of legal, institutional, economic, social, physical and environmental conditions that influence its water management policies and strategies. While experience worldwide is useful when generating options for action, the solutions to any country's problems must be tailored to its specific needs. The formulation of national strategies for integrated water management can be complex, depending on many factors such as the size and political organization of the country, its hydrological conditions and the diversity of stakeholders. In some countries in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, water scarcity is the main issue whereas floods may be equally or more important in Asia, North America and South America. Pollution is the chief problem for much of Central and Eastern Europe.

Strategy formulation in context

Strategic planning is essentially a continuous process: development objectives and policies exist or are reviewed and after consideration of the relevant issues, options for implementing policy become evident. Selection of a particular strategy then leads to the implementation of funded programmes and projects, whose performance must be assessed. The feedback from performance assessment may then modify strategy accordingly. Part of formulating a strategy should be to specify the entity that will be responsible for monitoring or following-up the implementation of strategy. Depending on the country, this entity might be a professional think-tank, outside experts or a standing committee. It is important that this entity has both the authority and capability to oversee implementation of strategy and that the commitment to review progress is not just a paper exercise.

The need for capacity-building

There is mounting evidence that, in the near future, the major constraint to water resources development and protection will be the limited capacity of the institutions in many countries to absorb financial resources and convert them into worthwhile and sustainable actions and projects (Alaerts, Blair and Hartvelt, 1991). Capacity-building (cf. Chapter 5) is a major aspect of formulating a water resources management strategy. The Delft Declaration (IHE/UNDP, 1991) identifies the three basic elements of capacity-building as:

• creating an enabling environment with appropriate policy and legal frameworks;
• institutional development, including community participation; and
• human resources development and strengthening of managerial systems.

Many failures in water resources management have resulted from lack of trained staff and weak institutions. Capacity-building has been identified as the missing link in African development (Jaycox, 1993).

Real long-term success in water resources management depends on the ability of nationals to identify problems and formulate and implement policies and strategies. Countries constantly need to adapt their policies and associated strategies to new circumstances and challenges. To build capacity, the process of formulating a water sector strategy is perhaps as important as the resulting strategy. The outcomes of strategy formulation may be improved in the future; the immediate and difficult challenge is for the government to both make the commitment and put in the effort to develop its own strategy.

Stakeholder participation

Too many development strategies, whether in water or in other areas, have not fully involved the people affected by them (see Sandstrom, 1994). Stakeholder participation (cf. Chapter 6) should involve those who are concerned with or have an interest in water resources and who will be affected by outcomes of policy and its implementation. It is similar to the idea of community participation in decisions at a project level. Decisions regarding water resources can affect nearly every sector of the economy and the public as a whole, and stakeholder participation should be established in a form that will elicit responses at appropriate levels from those concerned.

Experience with stakeholder participation in developing countries is largely limited to community-level projects with external aid financing, such as village-level water and sanitation committees, and water user associations (WUAs) in irrigated agriculture. It is very easy to underestimate the time, effort and finance required for successful animation of such initiatives, and requirements of national-level programmes are likely to be even more demanding. The Australian public consultations on salinity and catchment management were underwritten by substantial federal budgets, to an extent which may not be possible in many developing countries.

The strategy formulation exercise could fail to win public support and necessary political and financial backing if it is perceived as merely an exclusive and technocratic task without the involvement of key constituencies - including professional associations, private-sector agencies, and NGOs. The press and media are important channels for raising public awareness of issues and options in water resources management (UNESCO, 1987).

Many governments and development institutions understand that participation will lead to effective development, although one of the risks is over-politicization of issues (technical or non-technical). Some technical issues might be better left to the expert team or its advisers, particularly in the early stages of strategy formulation.

Process of strategy formulation

An outline showing the stages and the main critical elements in the process is given in Figure 2 and discussed in the following sections. While it is important that policies be in place to guide the formulation of strategy, the iterative nature of strategy formulation means that policies both guide the process and can be revised by it. During either Phase 1 or Phase 2, or even after a strategy has been adopted, policies may need to be adapted or clarified. The options presented to decision-makers may include revising impractical or unrealistic policies.

FIGURE 2 Key points in water strategy formulation

Critical elements

Several elements are critical for successful strategy formulation.

Government commitment should also entail the commitment of resources to undertake what could be a long process. While some external technical assistance and other support may be available, a substantial portion of these resources should be furnished by the country itself. The government should also make a commitment that the process will be collaborative, consultative and transparent. Collaborative means generating a sense of partnership among key stakeholders within the country and the invited external support agencies that are willing to assist. Consultative means fostering debate and discussions among stakeholders on the issues and options that arise in formulating strategies. Transparent means both that the process itself should be articulated and that communication through periodic public reports on progress should be encouraged.

The Oversight Body and the Expert Team

An inter-ministerial committee is a desirable oversight body as, too often, the work of developing water resources plans has been left to one ministry without the genuine participation of other areas of government. What matters is not so much the structure, as that strategy formulation has a genuinely inter-sectorial, multidisciplinary approach that can be implemented successfully. Responsibility for final selection among the options presented and for oversight of strategy formulation should be made explicit at the beginning of the process.

The budget for strategy formulation should be designated in general terms prior to choosing a team of experts. Government will no doubt wish to analyse the costs of preparing a water resources management strategy before committing the necessary funds. While estimates can be made, the budget will probably not be finalized and committed until the team has agreed with its oversight body on the work to be done.

The size and composition of the expert team will vary according to the terms of reference, which will depend on the size of the area to be studied, the complexity of the water resources issues to be addressed, and the quality and level of the existing knowledge. Members of the expert team should be chosen primarily for their expertise, professional competence and ability to appreciate cross-sectorial water issues. The members should be drawn from a variety of institutions that may include government, public and private agencies, academic institutions, professional associations and NGOs, including user groups. The team may include members of the public, foreign technical experts and other interested parties.

Depending on the political structure of the country, the inter-ministerial committee may wish to keep the parliament or legislative body abreast of the progress with strategy formulation, particularly if funding or governmental issues are at stake.

Determining the partners and the process: Preparing Terms of Reference

Terms of reference for the national expert team should be prepared before beginning the water resources assessment that constitutes Phase 1. The supervisory body or inter-ministerial committee will probably have a general idea of the work to be done, even before the expert team is selected; the final terms, however, should be prepared in consultation with the team members after they have had the opportunity to suggest the scope and process of the work and to determine the resources they will require.

The expert team should determine the partners and resources it will need and the process it will follow. Partners who will be involved directly in the process include government departments, consulting firms, university faculties and professional associations. In choosing partners, the expert team will no doubt wish to avoid charges of bias; on the other hand, the choice of water resources expertise may be limited. Some guidance on these items will doubtless come from the expert team's oversight body. Tasks in this area include:

• identifying partners,
• identifying and meeting stakeholders,
• defining stakeholder roles,
• determining the work management structure, and
• agreeing on and communicating work and consultation procedures and a work programme.

Determining the work management structure involves defining the tasks, structure and schedules to be followed in the process. There are many guidelines upon which the team can draw to define their tasks (see Tiffen, 1991; WMO, 1992; UNDP/IHE, 1991; ESCAP, 1989; UNESCO, 1987). The expert team may wish to form ad hoc or standing groups to cover various specific issues, and should be able to draw on necessary expertise or resources within the government or elsewhere.

Key areas to be considered in the formulation of strategy - listed here and discussed in detail in Chapters 5 to 10 - are:

• institutional and human resources arrangements;
• stakeholder participation;
• information systems;
• economic aspects;
• environment and health; and
• international arrangements.

Phase 1: Water resources assessment

The water resources assessment (Phase 1) is an examination of the physical aspects and wide variety of factors that influence the development and utilization of water resources. It starts with a full appreciation of the stated policies and the existing and on-going developments, and involves preparation of an inventory of water resources and water use, as well as the administrative, institutional and legal factors outlined above. Although this phase may seem to duplicate the assessment done in policy review, it will involve greater levels of detail and be the point of departure for incorporating the stakeholder viewpoints that should form a major part of the feedback on the effectiveness of policy and of the stated objectives in national water management.

It is important to understand the natural environmental systems yielding water and this understanding should be woven into the resource assessment. Ideally, this understanding improves continuously over time as monitoring and analysis continues, driving policy changes and models of water utilization. The emphasis given to policy development and policy reform is a reflection of the decline in monitoring and analysis in many developing countries, due to budget and capacity constraints. As monitoring declines, water resources issues disappear from the political agenda and policy innovation stagnates, as the planning process breaks down.

In some cases, international considerations will dominate the process of formulating a water resources management strategy. Countries need to establish collaborative arrangements with other states influencing (or influenced by) their decisions on water resources management. It may be impossible to proceed without international discussions or contact under the auspices of the expert team. Since resource assessments should be made on the basis of a whole river basin or drainage area, it may be appropriate for several countries to undertake a joint water resources assessment.

Review of policy goals

This was discussed earlier, and is considered in further detail in Chapter 4.

Preparing an inventory

Most water resources developments are long term, extending over 20 to 40 years or more, and transitions occur slowly. This is particularly important for irrigation, where existing arrangements are often a firmly established part of the local culture and the economy of a region. A detailed appreciation of the existing water resources management system, including the manner in which organizations function and the standards of service provided to the users, will help the expert team to understand the main issues and the paths and time any changes will take. This involves collecting information and experience in five key areas - water-related data; institutions and human resources; the economics of water; the environment; and international water affairs. The process of preparing an inventory generates lists of the major water-related issues.

The preparation of an inventory of such information and experience should highlight major issues to be addressed and any gaps in existing information (see Box 1, in Chapter 1). Data on the actual physical resource (its location, quantity and quality) are fundamental to a water resources assessment: the expert team could begin the inventory by examining the availability and quality of data on water supply and demand. This might start from hydrological, meteorological and water quality data, and should be done for each major river basin. Far from merely generating a physical description of the resources or a checklist of available data, the inventory should examine how data are collected, stored, disseminated, analysed and used. Among institutional arrangements, the expert team will probably wish to review existing laws and regulations and the organizational arrangements for implementing them. For example, studies might involve identifying those institutions (or the lack of them) responsible for resources planning, pollution enforcement or O&M of irrigation systems. In the area of economic analysis, the team should study how water and its delivery is priced, the quality of demand forecasts and the analytical techniques used in pricing and economic analysis. The environmental and health aspects of water resources might include an inventory of the state of major drainage areas and sensitive ecosystems, as well as the incidence of waterborne diseases. Finally, the expert team will probably wish to briefly catalogue and evaluate international treaties and arrangements.

All of the elements of water resources management mentioned in the paragraph above have institutional and human resources aspects, such as whether organizations exist that can implement policies, whether they are public or private, or how they function.

Selecting, analysing and ranking issues

Phase I concludes with selection and analysis of the major issues to be addressed in the water sector. At the inventory stage, major issues will naturally present themselves, but the analysis should refine them at the local (basin) and national or international levels. Selection of key issues is crucial if strategy formulation is to remain a manageable activity. In the case of international waters, it would be useful to identify priorities to be handled at the country level, and those that would require dialogue with other countries.

Major issues may need to be addressed in different time frames. Some issues need to be addressed quickly, before they become catastrophes. These issues may include the construction of dams or flood protection, dike safety, over-pumping of groundwater, resettlement practices or dangerous pollutant levels in drinking water. Other issues, if not addressed in the strategy formulation, will jeopardize sustainable development and may cause substantial damage to the environment. These include groundwater contamination by pollutants or saline intrusion; soil salinization; erosion; and spread of waterborne diseases.

In the course of analysing major issues, it may be useful to develop both quantitative and qualitative projections for the demand and supply of water; from these, a number of other needs, such as the demand for a variety of services in the water sector, can be inferred. The projections should reflect the dynamic nature of potential water demand, and stakeholder participation can help make projections more realistic. Hydrological and meteorological factors, population and economic growth, urban development, diversified agriculture, water pricing policies, environmental allocation, changes in technologies and improved demand management are all factors that can affect the nature of water supply and demand.

Indicative projections are normally sufficient to identify trends in water use and supply, and may highlight issues or help to rank them in order of importance. It is important that the expert team set limits on the amount or complexity of the projections. In many cases, basic forecasts already exist.

Qualitative or descriptive forecasts should be made to cover basic views of what the future will be like, or how it will be affected by impending socio-political developments. For example, the expert team might postulate the effects of trade agreements on water resources issues. Such agreements may cause shifts in agricultural production that will change the characteristics of demand for water and attendant products and services. Another example is a change in the domestic legal or administrative environment, such as de-centralization or privatization of water services. Sensitivity analysis can be a useful tool in attaching quantitative values to qualitative changes affecting water resources management.

The final task in Phase I is ranking key issues in order of importance and will help the expert team focus on developing a variety of options that may cover several issues at once.

An interim stage


It is useful to review the process at this point. If there are gaps in data or serious conflicts among stakeholders, remedial action may be necessary before moving on to selection of strategic options. In some countries, completing Phase 1 can lead directly to formulation of strategic options. In others, particularly in larger countries with many big river basins and complex institutional arrangements, or where international waters are involved, water management strategies may require further and more detailed work.

Conducting Review Workshops

At the end of Phase 1, a series of workshops could be organized to evaluate the outcome of the assessment, to review progress and to plan the next steps. Participants could include the country's decision-makers, key stakeholders, members of the expert team, and representatives of external support agencies. In cases where the country is ready to proceed with the second phase, specific terms of reference could be agreed at the workshop.

Phase 2: Formulating possible alternative courses of action

During Phase 2, the expert team develops and evaluates alternative courses of action and presents recommendations to decision-makers. The actions chosen constitute the water resources management strategy.

In developing and analysing options and in making recommendations, the expert team must strike a balance between the ideal and practical forms of water resources management for a country. Without becoming overly concerned with political ramifications, the expert team should nonetheless be acutely aware of the feasibility of recommendations.

Developing options

On the basis of the work done in Phase 1, the expert team should have identified the major water resources issues or problems to be dealt with in order to implement water policies. Issues can be ranked on the basis of physical, institutional and human resources options. For example, if further development of groundwater resources is an option to satisfy growing urban demand, the complementary institutional and technical arrangements must be developed. If pumping more groundwater is the best solution, the expert team should consider who should develop the resource, who should regulate, and whether adequate environmental safeguards are in place. In short; the institutional and human resources options are necessary adjuncts to any technical or physical options.

Evaluating options

Feasible options should be compared on technical, sociological, environmental and economic grounds in order to arrive at recommendations. Evaluating options, both technical and institutional, should involve analysis of the costs and benefits of each alternative. In this process, the extent to which options respond to original policy objectives should again receive attention. At this point, as in Phase 1, analysis may show that some policies are unrealistic or unmanageable.

Evaluation presupposes established criteria which should be quantitative and as succinct as possible. Criteria used to choose between administrative options for management of water supply might include cost, the quality of service that could be provided immediately, and acceptability to water resources stakeholders. Evaluation needs to consider the necessary inputs to achieving a strategy, their availability and the likely outcomes and consequences of a particular strategy. This should include cultural, ideological and legal issues.

The options should consider various means of matching supply and demand, and of satisfying environmental concerns. The strategic options should include:

The expert team might wish to give an indication of the broad economic efficiency of each option and an indication of its multisectorial effects. Finally, evaluating the options should include careful consideration and mention of the risks involved. For example, formalizing water use rights and legalizing water trading may raise the potential for monopolization of water supplies and may exacerbate inequitable access in rural areas. Some measures might be suggested to lessen such risks, whereas others may be an 'accepted' consequence of necessary change. It may be appropriate to present the draft strategy to stakeholders, gauge the response and incorporate suitable modifications and alternatives.


On the basis of evaluations and with due consideration of political and economic realities, the expert team will provide a list of recommendations. The inter-ministerial committee (or another authority empowered to do so) will eventually choose among the options presented. These choices will constitute the strategy, which should include the nomination of the body which will oversee its implementation.

Selection of options

The urgency of water resources management reform notwithstanding, it will probably take some time for a government to make choices and allocate resources to implement the strategy. Debate in the legislature or discussion among executive departments will no doubt prove a lengthy but necessary process.

Water resources strategy assistance

Individual developing country governments or their agencies may wish to seek external support in developing a strategy for water resources management. Technical expertise may be required at a variety of levels and across sectors, but it is desirable that any outside support be primarily focused on assisting the host country to develop or reinforce its internal planning and management capability.


Defining an action programme and implementation schedule

This final step should be taken once it is clear from the foregoing what the strategy is, what needs to be done, and what the mixture of policies should be. However, it is difficult to measure the impact of broad-based policies, especially if the strategy and resulting programmes and projects are not implemented as proposed due to changing needs and priorities. Continuous monitoring is clearly an essential part of the ongoing, dynamic process of strategic planning. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is an increasingly important area of monitoring, which may result in substantial modifications to policy and strategy if unforseen outcomes emerge. Effective routine monitoring and information management allows more of a preventive as opposed to a reactive process, allowing earlier and less costly correction of problems. A preventive and more flexible approach will also facilitate acceptance and approval of the proposed action programme.

No matter how well conceived the action programme may be, negative impacts might arise through interaction between water policy and other national policies; similarly it is conceivable that policies in the various sectors may be in conflict with each other politically, financially and instrumentally. An example of the interaction between a policy monitoring plan and an EIA is shown below, in Figure 3.

FIGURE 3 Diagrammatic interaction between a policy monitoring plan and EIA (Based on Feld, 1994)

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