Home / ToolBox / B1 CREATING AN ORGANISATIONAL FRAMEWORK – Forms and functions

Forms and functions

Many different types of institution can be involved in integrating water resources management, ranging from very large, trans-boundary or international entities to local and regional governments, much smaller civil society groups and community organisations (as listed in B1.2 to B1.11 below). The composition in any given country will depend on the nation’s experience and needs. Today water organisations are experiencing both institutional and structural change, reflecting national desires for greater efficiency and improved performance. B1.1 deals with the reform of institutions for better governance.

But at the same time, many organisations whose primary function is not water management are responsible for sectors where the impact on water resources can be enormous – agriculture, industry, trade and energy are examples. Similarly water resources organisations will have to consider non-water issues, such as environment or gender.

Institutional structures vary from country to country, but whatever the specific structure it is essential to have mechanisms for dialogue and co-ordination to ensure some measure of integration. A balance has to be met between providing a fully integrated approach where specific issues may get lost due to lack of expertise or interest, and a sectoral approach where different policies are followed without any co-ordination.

The roles, responsibilities and functions of water organisations vary. They may include:

  • Policy formulation;
  • Education and promotion;
  • Networking and information exchange;
  • Regulation, control and enforcement;
  • Surveillance and monitoring;
  • Allocation and supply of water;
  • Flood control and risk mitigation;
  • Water treatment and reuse;
  • Conservation and protection;
  • Pollution control and water quality management;
  • Adjudication in the case of conflict.

The structure of institutions is a matter of water governance, which deals with the design and implementation of public policies for sustainable water investments and management that elicit the support of society as a whole. Governance activities include legal frameworks, policies, institutions, and management tools and, as such, is an overarching concept that influences many of the tools in the ToolBox. Without appropriate policies institutions cannot function – without appropriate institutions policies will not work – and without a working set of policies and institutions, management tools are irrelevant. Without good governance civil society will not support the policies and will have a difficult time achieving sustainable and equitable water use. Good governance requires, above all, transparency of the institutions and participation by the citizens.

Governments and civil society have increased their scrutiny of water groups, having been driven by accountability concerns, and demanding performance assessments. These reviews have looked at such aspects of the organisations’ performance as jurisdiction, enforcement powers, fiscal adequacy, staffing adequacy, administrative discretion, flexibility, visibility, accountability and structural compatibility. All organisations should also aim to practise what they preach. Knowledge sharing, conflict resolution and equity are not just issues to be addressed between organisations, but should be part of the ethos of each organisation.

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