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Policy Choices and Challenges

4 How the IWRM ToolBox helps

Altogether close to 50 different tools are presented in the ToolBox, and the areas covered are set out overleaf. The characteristics of each tool are described in the ToolBox to allow the user to select a suitable mix and sequence of tools that would work in a given country, context and situation. The problems faced by water managers are many and diverse, as are the political, social and economic conditions, so no blueprint for the application of IWRM can be given. So the ToolBox provides a range of tools, which users can select and modify according to their needs. Some tools are preconditions for others, e.g. laws may need to be amended before private water rights can be acquired or traded. Other tools are complementary, e.g. demand management is strengthened by a simultaneous cost recovery policy. Integrated water resource management, by its nature, establishes and stresses the interrelationship of actions, so the tools in the ToolBox are not designed to be used randomly or in isolation. Thus, for instance, water resources policies must take account of other sector policies, in particular land use.

Structurally, the ToolBox is organised in a hierachial manner with each tool embedded in the wider perspective of IWRM. The structure is illustrated in a cascade below.

A conflict over water resources may be the issue that a user wants to address. Entering Part C in the ToolBox under management instruments, the user will find a chapter on conflict resolution (C5) with a variety of tools. The user may choose to focus on consensus building (C5.3) as the primary goal and study the options listed under the consensus building tool. Going through this, the user may settle on interest-based negotiation as an appropriate approach. The tool is linked to complementary tools, and the user is directed to C 4.4 (communication with stakeholders), C1 (demand and resource assessment) and A3.5 (investment appraisal).

The tools are illustrated by real case experience. The cases give examples of how a tool has worked in a given combination and context. Cases are at varying levels of detail and include references to sources of further information.

The following box shows how the Tools are relevant to key governance problems and failures.

Governance failures

IWRM Tools addressing governance failures

Governance problems

IWRM Tools from ToolBox

Failure to correct market distortions

Inappropriate price regulation

Perverse subsidies to resource users and polluters

Inappropriate tax incentives and credits

Policies (A1)

Economic instruments (C7)

Financing and incentive structures (A3)

The existence of upstream downstream externalities and conflicts (environmental, economic and social)

Conflict resolution (C5)

Over-regulation or under-regulation

Conflicting regulatory regimes

No independence and impartiality of the organisms of regulation

Provision of water services as natural monopolies

Regulatory instruments (C6)

Institutional capacity building (C2)

Imprecise reflection of consumer preferences


Voter ignorance and imperfect information

Special interest effects, including political weaknesses and vested interests

Information management systems (C8)

Water campaigns and awareness raising (C4)

The inability of the government to control and regulate the sustainable use of water

The non-payment of services linked to water

Bureaucratic obstacles or inertia

Lack of an overall responsible authority

Little entrepreneurial incentives for internal efficiency

Institutional roles (B1)

Social change instruments (C4)

Efficiency in water use (C3)

The lack of effective knowledge of the resource, the demands imposed on the it and the current uses that are made of it

Ignorance and uncertainty about water markets, droughts, floods, etc, leading to inability to set prices correctly

Water resource assessment (C1)

Plans for IWRM (C2)

Ill defined property rights, unclear ownership

Absence of or inappropriate legislation

Unclear ownership of property rights

Legislation and water rights (A2)

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