Water and agriculture for sustainable development



water and sustainable developmentwm 3 – 2015
• board of directors-Joseina Maestu Unturbe • Tomás A. Sancho Marco • editorial board-Joseina Maestu Unturbe • Tomás A. Sancho Marco • Ramiro Aurín Lopera
• director-Ramiro Aurín Lopera • editorial production manager-Marta López Raurell • Contributors-Joseina Maestu Unturbe • Olcay Ünver • John H. Matthews •
Guillermo Mendoza • Mai-Lan Ha • Kyana R.L. Young • Joan B. Rose • Gareth George • Tomás A. Sancho Marco • Ángel Simón Grimaldos • Liana Ardiles • Adama Nombre •
Emiliano Rodríguez Briceño • Copyediting and translation-José Francisco Sáez Rubio • Raquel Cubero Calero • illustrations and Cover-Hiroshi Kitamura • layout and
Graphic production-Intercom Strategys S.L. • printing and binding-Gràicas Ortells S.L. • administration-www.intercomstrategys.com / info@intercomstrategys.com
• publisher-Oicina de Naciones Unidas de apoyo al Decenio «El agua, fuente de vida» 2005-2015/Programa de ONU-Agua para la Promoción y la Comunicación en el
marco del Decenio • WCCE – World Council of Civil Engineers • Fundación Aquae
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Editorial Ramiro Aurín Lopera 2
WatEr and SuStainablE dEvElopmEnt:
implementing the water related Sustainable
development Goals. the relevance of technology Josefina Maestu 4
WatEr and aGriculturE for SuStainablE dEvElopmEnt Olcay Ünver12
dESiGninG for climatE confidEncE: John H. Matthews
moving beyond uncertainty in Sustainable Water management Guillermo Mendoza 20
actinG rESponSibly:
business and the Human rights to Water and Sanitation Mai-Lan Ha 30
riSk aSSESSmEnt Kyana R.L. Young
as a tool to improve Water, Sanitation, and Health Joan B. Rose 38
Josefina Maestu
tHE WatEr for lifE aWardS Gareth George 44
WatEr and SuStainablE dEvElopmEnt:
challenges for civil engineering (abridged version) Tomás A. Sancho Marco 54
WatEr for a SuStainablE futurE
new paradigm, new vision Ángel Simón Grimaldos 68
an approacH to SuStainablE WatEr manaGEmEnt
tHrouGH rEGional collaboration and coopEration:
the conference of ibero-american Water directors (codia) Liana Ardiles 74
WatEr in africa cHallEnGES for SuStainablE dEvElopmEnt Adama Nombre 82
WatEr and SuStainablE HouSinG Emiliano Rodríguez Briceño 92
Water Monographies
Water and sustainable development? Is that the question? And sustainable living? Sustainable liv-ing requires health and dignity. And health and dignity need both water and development. Water
is a limited resource whose amount on the planet is constant, but its availability depends, beyond
the natural conditions of its location, on our technological capabilities. Therefore, sustainable wa ter management becomes sine qua non for sustainable living, but that sustainable management
is not a moral category, but an activity dependant of the technologies available in every place
and time, modifying the quantity of resource available and the achievement of higher health and
development standards.
The first steps towards sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation are the most
important to achieve an adequate healthy life expectancy, worthy to the name. Such steps are
costly and difficult, not so much economically but because of the difficult implementation of capacity building or the political blindness to accepting that sustainability and dignity in both rural
and urban environments may have differing solutions.
Water sustainability will define the conditions for sustainable development. And such water
sustainability will be determined by the water technologies available.
The body of knowledge made available to the sustainable management of water brings health
through improved access to water and sanitation. Water needed by people, for food production
and as a power source for development, providing in return access to education as a fundamental
source of dignity, transformed into independent life through access to knowledge. Thus, the circle
for sustainable living becomes closed.
The incorporation of the eradication of poverty as a basic objective of mankind and the acceptance of climate change has brought back our focus on uncertainty, which had been forgotten,
but never disappeared, and that, will bring back knowledge to the core of the experience of the
human species.
Ramiro Aurín
Cutting the umbilical cord while making our life compatible with that of Mother Earth. (© Illustration: Hiroshi Kitamura)
4 3 – 2015
enforcement of legislation. There is a need to scale up
appropriate technologies and improve capacity to deal
with inequalities and tackle the problems of open defecation, WASH in schools and health centres.
• WRM: there is insufficient financing and a need for
improved financing in water resources management.
Many countries already suffer an infrastructure deficit.
Without a major increase in investment for infrastructure many countries will struggle to meet targets.
Little progress has been made on payment for water
resource services and ecosystem services. There are also
challenges for implementing appropriate technologies.
Water efficiency is in some countries not integrated
into water resources management. Few countries have
advanced implementation for improving irrigation and
rainwater harvesting. “Technology divides” could be
addressed to ensure technology becomes an effective
means to attain socially and ecologically sustainable development. Insufficient capacity is also an issue. Typical problems relate to lack of human capacity both in
numbers and knowledge, to plan and manage.
• Water Quality: there are many challenges in implementing water quality and protection of ecosystems,
ith the conclusion and appraisal of the
Millennium Development Goals in
2015, a new post-2015 development
agenda will build on the lessons of the
last 15 years. his new agenda will comprise 17 new
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), representing
an expansion and a more ambitious plan of action to
help end poverty by 2030.
Goal 6 is a dedicated water goal – to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation
for all”. he agenda will be adopted by Member States at
the Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.
Moving to action is tackled by Goal 17 for about the
diferent Means of Implementation for the achievement
of the objectives. his includes Capacity Development,
Financing, Institutions, Policies and Partnerships and
Technology as a catalyst for change. Some key challenges
for implementation in relation to the diferent aspects of
the water related sustainable development goals are:
• WASH: there is a need for increased and locally appropriate WASH financing, institutional capacity, political support and management of inconsistencies in the
Water and Sustainable
ImplementIng the water related SuStaInable
development goalS. the relevance of technology
Joseina Maestu
water management
involving, among others, the need
for improved financing of soft and
hard infrastructures, development
of institutional capacity for development of standards and regulations and their monitoring and
enforcement, limited information
and experience on accounting for
water quality and ecosystem protection (scale, data, ground-truthing and relevance, coverage and
representativeness, added value for
decision making, monetary valuation), and disconnection between
water and land use regulations.
• Risks: implementation challenges
with regards to risk management
are mostly felt by the world’s
poorest communities. These include improved financing, lack of
access to financial resources, insufficient new technologies, lack of
capacity and limited use of traditional knowledge, improved water
governance with increased focus
on water, ensuring involvement
of all relevant national sectors in
climate actions, lack of discussion
of institutional barriers and how to
overcome them hindering adaptation strategies, lack of capacity,
skills, and time to access resources
by local governments, untapped
knowledge of women and incomplete, unreliable, inaccessible or
lack of hydrological information.
Fig. 1. voices of progress.
@ natalia dejean-ormaX.
6 3 – 2015
the relevanCe oF teChnoloGy to drive aCtion
the technology innovation. he innovation was the realization that while
women might be easy to marginalize, successful business people are
less so. he second domino was thus
economic empowerment. he third
domino came with a voice, organising to demand better capacities for
water and sanitation rights.[1] Since
2006 –just nine years– the situation
for women in Tanzania has become
much more hopeful. And it began
with a technological innovation.
he necessary transformation would
have to involve sweeping societal
change – empowering these women
and seeing them assert their rights
at community, district, national
levels. he women were also hampered by the fact that it was the
female duty to manage water. he
issues were so culturally ingrained
it seemed hopeless to expect change
within a short timeframe.
he irst domino was a growing
grant making mechanism – this was
he Post 2015 Agenda recognizes the
critical importance of knowledge as
a drive of human development and
sustainability. As such, technology
plays, and will play, a vital role in
implementing the water related Sustainable Development Goals to 2030.
An innovative technological
solution creates a domino efect that
can transform lives. In Tanzania,
women couldn’t realize their full
potential because they were marginalised, invisible, denied a voice.
For the purposes of development,
technology is the “collection of techniques, methods or processes used in
the production of goods or services
or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as the SDGs”. It includes
knowledge of techniques and processes, often embedded in machines.
his can mean software that is very
sophisticated but that can be embedded in machines, computers, devices,
infrastructures and thus can be used
by people without detailed knowledge of its workings.
It is hard to overestimate the
importance of technology for economic development. Despite recent
advances, for developing world
countries, foreign technology sources
may account for as much as 90%
of domestic productivity growth. In
general, technology opens the following development opportunities.
• Economic development – The spread
of technology is a strong catalyst
for economic growth, job creation,
human capital accumulation, and
• Environmental improvement –
Resource efficient technologies
enables societies to reduce their
environmental impacts, reducing
the risks, degradation or collapse,
and enabling adaptation.
• Poverty alleviation – Many innovations bring crucial social benefits
as well, such as better access to water, improved sanitation, reduced
energy poverty and lower health
risks as a result of replacing polluting products and processes with
cleaner technologies.
• Competitiveness – Technologies allow meeting stringent social and
environmental requirements and
acceding to markets with stringent
water related requirements.
• Resource productivity – Environmental technologies enable societies to
improve their resource productivity
resulting in real cost savings to the
economy and the environment.
then for the development of new
innovative solutions to curb current
unsustainable development paths so
as to make achieving the objectives
of WASH possible while improving
water quality, managing current and
future risks and preserving water
providing ecosystems.
When it came to fulilling the
MDGs and the elimination of
poverty, the critical pathway consisted often in expanding the reach
of crucial basic technologies (wells,
latrines, water harvesting, water
puriication for water provision and
sanitation, etc.) from high-income
and middle-income economies to
low-income economies, and to adapt
these techniques to local circumstances. he SDGs will expand the
range of existing technologies to be
used and adapted for human development via the ields of water quality, water resources management and
risk management.
In an important sense, meeting the SDGs will be diferent. he
world will need new technologies and
new ways to organise human activity
to combine improving human development standards and environmental
goals. And to fulil the new post
2015 development agenda, technological change will be paramount, in
both rich and poor countries alike.
Nevertheless, the technological
challenges are not the lack of knowhow nor even only the lack of innovation, they mostly consist in putting
technology efectively at the service
of fulilling the human development
goals. And this implementation challenge consists in bridging the gap
between knowledge and action. See
the box below for more information
on green technologies.
As deined above, technology
refers to what is feasible, and even
“which are the best technical ways
to cope with particular challenges?”
But when going from knowledge
to practice, the set of options available narrows down to those that are
socially acceptable and even more,
if the engagement of business and
people is required, the set shrinks to
those that are economically proitable or that can be made inancially
sustainable in the longer term.
Besides fostering innovation and
know-how, the main SDG implementation challenge for technology
• Social capital – Technology development and dissemination typically adopts a multi-stakeholder
approach that must build trust and
he “knowledge era” initiated in
the Industrial Revolution and the
Enlightenment has already led to the
accumulation of a vast repository
of human knowledge, and provides
convincing demonstration examples
of how this knowledge can be put to
the service of human development.
Beyond that, the experience with
the Millennium Development Goals
–MDG– shows that ixing a set of
well-deined priorities is a means to
foster innovation and steer innovation towards commonly agreed goals.
hough recent history can serve to
support technological optimism it
is also clear that the technological
challenge coming from the SDGs is
diferent to that of the MDGs. While
the MDGs focused mostly on poor
countries and provided an opportunity to advance towards poverty
reduction by implementing mostly
existing technologies, the SDGs call
for a change in current practices and
Green technologies have the potential to create new business opportunities, markets and jobs. hey can also increase
the amount of water available for drinking, agriculture, and manufacturing; boost resource eiciency; and contribute
to achieving development goals. his can be done by technologies in areas such as water resources assessments, reduction of water losses, wastewater treatment, eiciency of water utilities, bio technologies, and others. Technology development – if combined with public awareness – can also contribute to increased conservation, reuse and recycling,
and greater eiciency in most water using sectors.
While water use eiciency is a priority in a majority of countries, it is clear that introduction and implementation of water eiciency measures lags behind, particularly in low Human Development Index –HDI– countries. In
the lowest three HDI categories water eiciency is not perceived to be integrated into water resources management,
while less than 50% of very high HDI countries have advanced implementation or full implementation. Few countries have advanced implementation for irrigation and rainwater harvesting, and many lack suicient or appropriate
equipment, and several mention the need for advanced technology transfer.
While the North-South divide in access to technology remains a central issue that must be tackled based on global
equity, equally important “technology divides” must be addressed to ensure technology becomes an efective and
equitable means to attain socially and ecologically sustainable development: 1) Traditional versus new technologies,
2) Gender and technology, 3) Beyond technology transfer: Technology assessment, 4) Ownership and control of
technology and innovation, 5) Intellectual property rights.
See UN-Water Zaragoza Conference: Water and the Green Economy in Practice:
8 3 – 2015
across many sector and regions. Governments, international institutions,
private business, academia, and civil
society will need to work together to
identify the pathways to success, in
ways that combine technical expertise
and democratic representation.
he so called “advantages of
backwardness” (the advantage of
relying on the experience of now
developed countries) allows better
decision making between traditional
and new technologies, and going
further than mechanical technology transfers by embedding gender
issues, local knowledge and intellectual property rights in making
the right social choice. In addition,
green technologies, that increase
the amount of water available boost
resource eiciency and contribute to
achieving development goals, may
be converted into opportunities to
create new business opportunities,
markets and jobs. Technology, science and innovation development
when combined with public awareness can make a real contribution to
eiciency and sustainable growth in
most water using sectors.
Mobile to web platforms have
emerged as a key asset to aid in the
long-term sustainability of water
services. Mobile technologies collect
data on water point type, location
and functionality, and in real-time
map the distribution and monitor
the status of water infrastructure at
country level. he information collected can provide valuable insights as
a basis for informed decision-making,
programme planning, and strengthen
transparency and accountability. Yet,
transferring technology requires both
local knowledge and local capacities to make these options meet local
conditions. he efective adaptation
and use of these technologies depends
critically on knowledge, the human
and social capacities in place and the
existing institutions and policies.[2]
Presently, there is a range of innovative and low cost technologies
and behaviour change approaches
for sanitation and water supply and
management as well as technical
alternatives to increase eiciency in
water provision and water use. here
are also many alternatives for adapting to climate change and reducing
the risks derived from water extremes
such as loods and droughts.
Global problem-solving oriented
networks for sustainable water development will therefore become crucial
new institutions in the years ahead.
soCial media and sharinG
TICs and social media represent
a real opportunity to reduce the
transaction cost of screening among
existing alternatives and making technology choices. Scientists,
technologists, civil society activists
and others are increasingly turning
to online networks for collaboration, crowdsourcing, group problem
solving, and open-source solutions
such as for software and applications.
he pathways to sustainable development will not be identiied through
a top-down approach, but through
a highly energized era of networked
problem solving that engages the
world’s universities, businesses, non
governmental organisations, governments, and especially young people,
who should become the experts and
leaders of a new and profoundly challenging era.[3]
Sharing knowledge, through
Global Technology Platforms, is a
means to improve water decisions, this
includes not only the dissemination
of techniques but also to the enabling
conditions that may favor their transfer and adaptation and of the capacities required to make them work.
consists in inding ways to make socially possible what is already technically feasible. In this context the discussions have focused on accelerating
the development, transfer, adoption
and dissemination of appropriate,
in particular environmentally sound
For this reason, the SDGs require
a coordinated efort to ind the
way through new critical pathways
towards sustainability. In many development areas, but particularly for
water, this implies an unprecedented
mobilisation of know-how operating
Technology choices are an integral
part of water policy. hey imply
complex decisions based on nontechnical criteria. Smart technologies
choices require comparing between
conventional technologies and new
ones, balancing traditional infrastructures with green alternatives, mixing
local and global knowledge, adapting
alternatives from abroad to local conditions, dealing with environmental
and social impacts of the alternative
technologies, etc. All these decisions
require technology evaluation and
assessment tools and good water governance so as to insure transparency
and inclusiveness.
Besides the divide between
developed and developing countries,
to ensure technology becomes an effective and equitable means to attain
sustainable development goals, social
choices must consider some important trade-ofs.
his includes those initiatives intended to ease or remove barriers that
inhibit the adoption of water technologies everywhere –such as weak
market demand, uncertain return on
investment, and technological lock-in
to current infrastructure– as well as
other barriers that are more speciic
to some developing countries, such as
lack of technical skills and capacity.
Patents policies may need to consider
facilitating the use of technology in
developing countries. Competition,
policies may be examined under the
lenses of its potential to foster or inhibit the adoption and dissemination
of new technologies.
Fig. 4. voices of hope.
@ uniCeF.
10 3 – 2015
FinanCinG innovation and adoption
he post-2015 development agenda
may require a signiicant increase
in investment in infrastructure in a
signiicant number of countries. Particularly there is a need for countryspeciic investment for water resources management and the control of
water and wastewater quality, as well
as for operation and maintenance
necessary for the sustainability of
services from both existing and new
infrastructure, not forgetting funding
of related governance functions.
Apart from the development of
new infrastructures, important investments will be required to upgrade
and maintain the existing ones in order to avoid them becoming obsolete
and insecure.
Countries will have to ind the
inancial capacity to undertake all
this by working on strategies to attract inancing for water projects,
making an early approach to potential funders and making appropriate
provisions in their own budgets.
Innovations in environmentally
sound technologies, which are not
already in the market, are often more
expensive than incumbent technologies, without the necessary supportive infrastructure. his lack of infrastructures make easy for incumbents,
including “unsustainable technologies”,
to compete. Such challenges are
relevant to water quality, WASH
and WRM. Many innovations in
sustainable water management are
still perceived by private business as
high risk and with uncertain return.
Governments inancing and policies,
implemented by public private partnerships, can be purposely designed
and implemented to reduce risks and
promote development and difusion and transfer of technologies on
mutually agreed terms.
he introduction of environmental technologies in new markets
usually requires signiicant and
sustained funding, whether for
research and development, adaptation, licensing, installation, training
or operations. In some developing
countries and economies in transition, the private sector’s ability to
pay and government’s ability to support are often weak.
Governments can play a key role
to foster innovation by creating the
conditions to transform good knowledge and sustainable technologies
into feasible and proitable business
opportunities. he development and
difusion of environmental technologies signiicantly beneit from policy
incentives in the form of tax breaks,
subsidies, tarif protection, preferential terms of trade or government
endorsed promotional programs.
Where these policies are weak, or uncertain, or where perverse subsidies
for unsustainable industries exist, the
chances of success are much lower.
he possibility of water related
innovations to ind their way through
its implementation depends on the
existing market opportunities which
in their turn are heavily dependent
on markets prices, particularly for
water but also for energy, labour and
other resources. If water prices do not
relect current scarcities then market
gains from resource savings in the
water sector will be a poor driver to
trigger the adoption of water eicient
In the same sense, the inancial
risks of innovations is higher for early
adopters and reduces as well as the
innovation is disseminated. Pilot or
demonstration projects are means
to trigger innovation and to speed
up their difusion as they can help
reducing innovation risk and costs of
scaling up.
Adoption risks and dissemination
costs can also be reduced by global
business solutions like the certiication schemes are also eicient means
to motivate business to act in the
right direction of technology, science
and innovation development. Further
investments in science, and particularly in applied science, will help
speed the innovation curve and the
translation of new tested solutions
into the ground.
enablinG institutions For innovation and adoption
Successful environmental technology
adoption requires well-functioning
public and private sector institutions, with good governance, eicient
administration, an efective legal
system, strong management skills and
investment in R&D.
Lack of good governance can speciically hinder the opportunities of
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
–SMEs– to participate in the implementation of water related solution.
he creation of enabling and lexible
institutional setups is a clear pre-condition for technology development
and innovation.
Institutional inertia often favors
technology inertia: rules are shaped
to routinely approve traditional and
well established technologies while
increasing the costs of adopting innovations that may not ind an easy
way through red tape.
High transaction costs for SMEs,
in the position to use low scale and
better adapted innovation, may play
in favor of big irms facing less uncertain regulations and having better
access to public authorities.
buildinG CapaCities
not supported in universities. his
is stressed in the case of WASH and
dealing with water risks.
Capacity to respond to water risk,
for instance, may be strongly hindered
by the lack of understanding of the
interdependence of disasters with
development, climate change, disaster
risk and adaptation are the fundamentals of a culture of risk reduction.
As regards the technological
aspects of water quality and WASH,
professionalization of the water technology related practices is key. Codes
of Practices may ofer a relevant solution to this challenge.
empowerment brinGs down barriers
Innovative environmental technologies are prone to be perceived as a
challenge to cultural traditions. his
challenge is very important in all
water themes, and especially for those
activities that call for a signiicant engagement of local communities. It is
worth recalling the importance given
to local community participation in
water management in the current
Post 2015 Agenda.
Empowering local communities
and providing them with access to
technical knowledge can be a powerful instrument to avoid the risk of
technology project failures due to the
inability of countries to absorb the
technology into their infrastructure,
culture and society.
In addition to favouring innovation this can support technology
screening and adaptation to local
conditions as well as to avoid going
further with options that are not
properly aligned with the host country’s political and social priorities.
In the same sense empowerment
can help identify existing gaps that
could potentially make promising
technologies fail in the end. Fluent social dialogue helps identify
and tackle barriers to do with skills,
insuicient inancial support, market
barriers and mismatches with existing
Technological interventions are
not a panacea for all ills. But it has
been shown time and again that one
small technological change can create a ripple across myriad seemingly
loosely connected areas, having an
efect on social conditions, empowerment, visibility and beyond. When
something as simple as piped access
to water can transform lives, particularly of women and children,
by freeing them to engage in more
meaningful activities than gathering
water, we owe it to ourselves to support, promote and search for better
technological solutions where necessity brings us.
Joseina Maestu
Director, United Nations Oice to Support
the International Decade for Acction:
Water for Life 2005-2015
– Sachs, J. (2012) From Millennium Development
Goals to Sustainable Development Goals. Lancet.
– UNW-DPAC 2015 http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/waterandsustainabledevelopment2015/partnerships_cases.shtml and see
many of the cases presented at the 2015
UN-Water Zaragoza International Conference.
– UN-Water 2015, A compilation of aspects on the
means of implementation: water and sanitation.
By their very nature, new technologies require specialized knowledge and
skills, which are often lacking in countries where education levels in science,
engineering and technology can be
low, and emerging areas like environmental engineering, biotechnology or
clean energy are underdeveloped and
[1]. http://www.un.org/waterforlife decade/waterandsustainabledevelopment2015/pdf/
[2]. http://waterforlifeconf2015.org/eng/wpcontent/uploads/2015/01/Discussion-Document_05.06.pdf
[3]. http://jeffsachs.org/wp-content/uploads/
12 3 – 2015
Providing for the estimated 60% increase in the global
food demand by 2050 will need a careful combination of
closing yield gaps through intensiication, increased water
productivity, expansion of irrigation where viable, and
reducing waste and loss in the food chain.
he challenge of agriculture today is sustainably produce adequate and nutritious food
for a growing, sophisticating, and increasingly
mobile global population while preserving and
preferably enhancing the resource base.
his is a multi-faceted challenge that goes beyond
the ability to produce more food. Agriculture is a major
employer, provider of livelihoods in multiple ways and
a bufer in population mobility. Changes in the broader
landscape including external drivers and how we deal with
these have far-reaching implications.
he challenge today is greater than ever due to the fact
that the drivers of change for agriculture and for water
in agriculture have accelerated. hese are population
growth and mobility, economic development, changing
consumption patterns and diets, and social and technological change, all exacerbated with the impact of climate
change. hese drivers create largely negative pressures
not only on agriculture and water resources but also on
the other elements of the resource base, while interacting
among themselves, complicating the ways and means for
us to properly deal with them.
Water and agriculture
for sustainable
Olcay Ünver
sustainable agriculture
climate change
sustainable land management
he societal, macro goal of achieving a world free from
hunger and malnutrition, where food and agriculture
contribute to improving the living standards of all,
especially the poorest, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner establishes the framework within which the issues and options for societal
response (FAO, 2013) take place.
Within this framework, the agriculture sector, from
policy to practice, can be sustainable when the following
ive principles, developed by FAO in collaboration with
the member state governments and partners are properly
addressed (FAO, 2014a):
1. Improving efficiency in the use of
resources is crucial to sustainable
2. Sustainability requires direct action to conserve, protect and enhance natural resources;
3. Agriculture that fails to protect
and improve rural livelihoods and
social well-being is unsustainable;
4. Enhanced resilience of people,
communities and ecosystems is
key to sustainable agriculture; and
5. Sustainable food and agriculture
requires responsible and effective
governance mechanisms.
As agriculture as a sector does not
operate in isolation, sustainability in
food and agriculture is determined by
the success with which the interactions involved are balanced and the
trade-ofs managed between the natural system and the human system.
Figure 1 depicts how the elements
of the natural system in the form of
environmental services (e.g. climate,
nutrient cycling, biodiversity, water
cycle, coastal protection, iltering and
bufering, puriication, physical stability and support) and resources (e.g.
land, soils, oceans, freshwater, genetic
resources, forest resources, aquatic
systems, nutrients, and energy) are
linked to the human system in the
form of economic and social services
(socioeconomic development, poverty
reduction, employment, stability,
health, nutrition, shelter and clothing) and agricultural products (i.e.
food, feed, iber, and fuel). Agriculture accomplishes this through crops,
livestock, forestry, isheries, and other
agriculture-related functions.
he ive principles of sustainable
agriculture are closely interlinked,
mutually supportive and form a holistic conceptual framework. he environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development
are addressed in this continuum, with
the irst two principles referring to
the environment, the third to social
and economic aspects and the fourth
and the ifth underpinning all three.
Proper governance structures cuts
across the continuum and forms the
fourth dimension of sustainability in
this conceptualization.
he actions in the human system,
including increased levels of consumption, have grown towards the
bounds of the Earth.[1] Interactions
and trade-ofs involved are complex
and across the board and must be
managed with utmost care.
Fig. 1. the Five principles
of sustainable agriculture
(Fao, 2014a, Fig. 3 pp. 18-19).
Chart 1
trade-offs in the natural system-human system domains through agriculture
Trade-offs occur most anywhere with limited resources; and when economic, social and physical decisions are involved. They occur in the domain of the respective systems, space and over time. The latter are trade-offs where immediate benefits are traded for future costs or immediate costs (investment) bring future
benefits. Trade-offs occur in space when a land use decision is taken between agriculture, recreation or conservation. Inaction, like actions, also comes with
benefits and costs, depending on the specific circumstances at hand, such as leaving an ecosystem intact and letting a problematic practice drag on. Examples
of trade-offs involved in functioning of the natural system and the human system (FAO, 2013):
• In the allocation of use or access rights, in favor of small or large holders, and top-down versusbottom-up governance;
• In increasing production efficiencies, for example, by granting right of access to land or fishinggrounds in the hands of large operators but undermining smallholders’
• In choosing between production of food/fiber or biofuel;
• In increasing crop production and reducing land use through intensification, at the cost of increased water use;
• In intensification of production on cultivated land, sparing large areas of forest, but increasingpollution and use of energy and nutrients;
• In over-allocation of water with water scarcity decreasing food production capacity and human benefits within a very short time frame; and
• In conservation of natural resources which often entails immediate costs for future benefits.
14 3 – 2015
state oF Food and aGriCulture
On an average day, agriculture produces 23.7 million tons of food, of
which 19.5 million tons are cereals,
roots, tubers, fruit and vegetables, 1.1
million tons meat, and 2.1 billion
liters milk. On the same day, capture
isheries and aquaculture harvest
over 400 000 tons of ish, and forests
provide 9.5 million cubic meters of
timber and fuelwood. Agriculture,
on an average day, uses 7.4 trillion
liters of irrigation water and 300 000
tons of fertilizer for crop production.
he total value of the production of
this one day of agricultural activity
is estimated at USD 7 billion (FAO,
2012a; FAO, 2013a; FAOSTAT,
2013; World Bank, 2007).
here are more than 570 million
farms in the world, 90% of which are
run by an individual or a family and
rely primarily on family labor. Family
farms occupy over 70% of the global
farmland and claim more than 80%
of the global food production (in
value terms) (FAO, 2014). hey are
a key element of a food-secure world
and to sustainable rural development.
hey are also instrumental in closing
yield gaps (see Chart 2) and labor
productivity gaps as well as conserving the natural resources.
Agriculture, in addition to meeting our basic needs for food, feed,
iber and fuel, gives jobs to more than
one in three of the world’s workers,
and provides rural livelihoods for 2.5
billion people (FAO, 2013a). It is also
related positively to social stability,
preservation of local cultures and traditions, and makes important contributions to landscape and wildlife, water
management and water quality, and
lood management. Agriculture, on the
other hand, is a major contributor to
greenhouse gas emissions through soil
management practices and livestockrelated activities and ofers opportunities to mitigate climate change.
FAO (2015), and Lundqvist et al.
(2015) however, reports that while
the current levels of food production are more than adequate, the
distribution and social, economic
and cultural circumstances are failing
to serve the entirety of the global
population. Despite a decline of
167 million over the past decade,
795 million people are undernourished globally, counterbalanced, in
a negative way, by an overweight
and obese population of 2 billion.
Hundreds of millions in the bottom
one billion go to bed hungry; the
same vulnerable group who also lack
access to adequate water, sanitation,
energy and hygiene. he prevalence
of undernutrition in the developing
regions is estimated at 14.3 percent
(FAO, IFAD and WFP, 2013), where
the primary cause of hunger and
malnutrition is people’s inability to
buy. he situation has also a gender
dimension: 60 % of the undernourished are women, who correspond to
43% of the agricultural labor with
major disadvantages in terms of access to resources and services (Asian
Development Bank, 2013) as well as
in managing these resources.
Large losses, on the other hand,
occur along the entire food chain.
Approximately one third of all food
produced for human consumption
is lost or wasted, amounting to 1.3
billion tons per year. he loss or
wastage occurs at the consumption
stage in the medium to high-income
countries and in earlier stages such
as transportation and storage in low-
income countries. Per capita food
waste is 95-115 kg/year in Europe
and North America, and 6-11 kg/
year in sub-Saharan Africa and
South/Southeast Asia (FAO, 2011a).
Food lost or wasted represents wastage of labor, energy, water, land, and
other inputs used into the production of that food. his is 250 km
of water wasted (equivalent to the
annual low of Russia’s Volga River,
or three times the volume of Lake
Geneva year in, year out); and 1.4
billion hectares of land cultivated in
vain. It also causes 3.3 billion tons
of CO
equivalent of Green House
Gases –GHG– released into the atmosphere per year and an economic
bill of USD 750 billion every year.
On the production side, the net
cultivated area on a global scale has
grown by 12% over the past 50 years,
more than often at the expense of forests, wetlands and grassland. During
the same period, the irrigation area
has more than doubled, and water
withdrawals for irrigation have inChart 2
estimated yield gaps
(Fao, 2011b)
estimated yield gaps (percentage of potential) for
cereals, roots and tubers, pulses, sugar crops, oil
crops and vegetables combined
Actual yields in 2005
compared with potential yield (%)
Yield gap (%)
Region Year 2005
Northern Africa 40 60
Sub-Saharan Africa 24 76
Northern America 67 33
Central America and Caribbean 35 65
Southern America 48 52
Western Asia 51 49
Central Asia 36 64
South Asia 45 55
East Asia 89 11
Southeast Asia 68 32
Western and Central Europe 64 36
Eastern Europe
and Russian Federation
37 63
Australia and New Zealand 60 40
Pacific Islands 43 57
Source: Adapted from Fischer et al., 2010.
creased by some 80% (FAO, 2011b).
he scope of further expansion is
not great, with the most potential
in parts of South America and in
sub-Saharan Africa. Out of these two
regions, South America has succeeded
in improving yield from rainfed
agriculture, e.g. tripling rainfed maize
yield from 1 ton per hectare to 3 ton
per hectare since 1960s, sub-Saharan
Africa has shown little progress. Chart
2 lists the estimated yield gaps for
major crops for diferent regions in
the world, and Chart 3 shows the areas by region equipped for irrigation
as compared to the cultivated land.
Sub-Saharan Africa stands out the
least irrigated region globally.
he projections about the
increase in the global food supply
falling below the population growth
have so far been proved wrong,
largely thanks to the increase in
productivity. Crop intensiication
resulted in increased yields and saved
large areas to be converted to farmland. It has also avoided release of an
estimated 590 billion tons of CO
into the atmosphere (Burney et al.,
2010). he prospects for agriculture
to respond to the increasing food
demand by 2050 are supported historically but if and how this is to be
accomplished is yet to be established
given the state of the associated resources, investment policies, and equity issues that surround them. And
all that has to be done by preserving
the ecosystems whose services are
essential for all life on earth.
Chart 3
area equipped for irrigation (Fao, 2011b)
area equipped for irrigation (percentage of cultivated land and part irrigated groundwater)
Equipped area
(milion ha)
As % of cultivated
of which groundwater irrigation (2006)
Year 1961 2006 1961 2006
Area equipped
(milion ha)
As % of total
irrigated area
Africa 7.4 13.6 4.4 5.4 2.5 18.5
Northern Africa 3.9 6.4 17.1 22.7 2.1 32.8
Sub-Saharan Africa 3.5 7.2 2.4 3.2 0.4 5.8
America 22.6 48.9 6.7 12.4 21.6 44.1
Northern America 17.4 35.5 6.7 14.0 19.1 54
Central America and Caribbean 0.6 1.9 5.5 12.5 0.7 36.3
Southern America 4.7 11.6 6.8 9.1 1.7 14.9
Asia 95.6 211.8 19.6 39.1 80.6 38.0
Western Asia 9.6 23.6 16.2 36.6 10.8 46.0
Central Asia 7.2 14.7 13.4 37.2 1.1 7.8
South Asia 36.3 85.1 19.1 41.7 48.3 56.7
East Asia 34.5 67.6 29.7 51.0 19.3 28.6
Southeast Asia 8.0 20.8 11.7 22.5 1.0 4.7
Europe 12.3 22.7 3.6 7.7 7.3 32.4
Western and Central Europe 8.7 17.8 5.8 14.2 6.9 38.6
Eastern Europe and Russian Federation 3.6 4.9 1.9 2.9 0.5 10.1
Oceania 1.1 4.0 3.2 8.7 0.9 23.9
Australia and New Zealand 1.1 4.0 3.2 8.8 0.9 24.0
Pacific Islands 0.001 0.004 0.2 0.6 0.0 18.7
World 139.0 300.9 10.2 19.7 11.9 37.5
High-income 26.7 54.0 6.9 14.7 26.5 49.1
Middle-income 66.6 137.9 10.5 19.3 36.1 26.1
Low-income 45.8 108.9 13.1 24.5 50.3 46.2
Low-income food deficit 82.5 187.6 16.6 29.2 71.9 38.3
Least-developed 6.1 17.5 5.2 10.1 5.0 28.8
Source: FAO (2010b,c).
16 3 – 2015
can take the form of shocks at times,
be it impacts of price volatility on
the poor and the impoverished, or
hydrologic extremes all relate to the
resource. hese play varying roles.
For example, global agricultural
markets are able to absorb supply
shocks when land and water systems
continue functioning. he impact
of climate change, along with its
resource-related impacts, points to
increased uncertainty on the part
of farmers in terms of predicting
harvests, while moving the boundaries of agriculture with new possibilities in the northern hemisphere, and
rendering lower latitudes increasingly vulnerable to changing temperatures, humidity and new stress
levels. Overall, cumulative results of
the physical and economic external
drivers is further degradation of
land, soil and water resources and
deterioration of associated ecosystem goods and services.
Agriculture uses 11% of the
world’s land surface for crop production, and accounts for 70 percent of
all water withdrawn from aquifers,
streams and lakes. he land suitable for cropping is skewed against
those countries that are in bigger
need to increase agriculture production. Chart 4 lists the distribution
of cultivated land in terms of extent,
per capita use and quality by income
groups (FAO, 2011b).
On per-capita basis, high-income
countries cultivate twice the area as
low-income countries. he availability of prime land for cultivation
is higher in high-income countries
by some 13%, compared to lowincome countries. In most developing countries, there is little room for
expansion of arable land, especially
in South Asia and in the Near East/
North Africa region. Land is available
for expansion in sub-Saharan Africa
and Latin America but over 70% of
what is available have serious soil and
terrain limitations.
As for water resources availability and withdrawals, the geographic
distribution is uneven. Withdrawals
in Europe account for 6% of the
continent’s internal resources with
he availability of land and water
resources and healthy soils in the
provisioning of the demands for
food has been on the top of the development agenda for governments
and communities. Pressures which
state oF the resourCes
Chart 5
irrigation water withdrawals and pressure on water resources (Fao, 2011b)
annual long-term average renewable water resources and irrigation water withdrawal
water resources*
efficiency ratio
Irrigation water
Pressure on water
resources due to
irrigation (%)
Africa 678 3.931 48 184 5
Northern Africa 96 47 69 80 170
Sub-Saharan Africa 815 3.884 30 105 3
America 1.091 19.238 41 385 2
Northern America 636 6.077 46 258 4
Central America and Caribbean 2.011 781 30 15 2
Southern America 1.604 12.380 28 112 1
Asia 827 12.413 45 2.012 316
Western Asia 217 484 47 227 47
Central Asia 273 263 48 150 57
South Asia 1.602 1.766 55 914 52
East Asia 634 3.410 37 434 13
Southeast Asia 2.400 6.490 19 287 4
Europe 540 6.548 48 109 2
Western and Central Europe 811 2.098 43 75 4
Eastern Europe and Russian Federation 467 4.449 67 35 1
Oceania 586 892 41 19 2
Australia and New Zealand 574 819 41 19 2.3
Pacific Islands 2.062 73 – 0.05 0.1
World 809 43.022 44 2.710 6
High-income 622 9.009 45 383 4
Middle-income 872 26.680 39 1.136 4
Low-income 876 7.332 50 1.191 16
Low-income food deficit 881 13.985 48 1.813 13
Least-developed 856 4.493 28 190 4
* Refers to internal renewable water resources; it excludes “incoming flows” at the regional level.
Chart 4
share of world’s cultivated land suitable for cropping under appropriate production systems
Cultivated land
Cultivated land
per capita (ha)
Rainfed crops (%)
Prime land Good land Marginal land
Low-income countries 441 2.651 0.17 28 50 22
Middle-income countries 735 3.223 0.23 27 55 18
High-income countries 380 1.031 0.37 32 50 19
Total 1.556 6.905 0.23 29 52 19
Source: Adapted from Fischer et al., 2010.
only 29% used for agriculture, while
Asia withdraws 20% of its water
resources, to allocate over 80% of it
for irrigation. Chart 5 lists irrigation
water withdrawals for regions and
sub-regions, and according to income
levels, and the pressure on the resource emanating from irrigation.
he chart shows the extent to
which irrigation is stressing the existing resource base in certain regions
while existing resources can avail
themselves for increased use in others.
Water scarcity, be it physical,
capacity-related, or economic scarcity, is a major barrier for agricultural
production, and a challenge for intensiication. Withdrawals in regions
such as the Middle East, Northern
Africa and Central Asia are already
beyond critical thresholds and large
regions in the Indian sub-continent
and northeast China are highly
stressed. Figure 2 shows the extent of
water scarcity in the world based on
the consumptive use in irrigation.
he igure also indicates that subSaharan Africa and the Americas, with
the exception of the western United
States are lesser-stressed for physical
reasons. Sub-Saharan Africa has lower
water resources development levels
due to constraints emanating from
capacity and inancial reasons.
Fig. 2. Global distribution of physical
water scarcity by major river basins
(Fao, 2011b).
Climate change is a major stressor
interacting with, and impacting on,
most of the drivers involved in water
and agriculture scenery. he entirety
of the water cycle is vulnerable to the
impacts of climate change and the
consequences, current and future, are
well explained elsewhere. Adaptation
needed in the water domain to tackle
with climate change has a strong
agriculture component. he land use
and soils bring in a strong mitigation component that complements
the picture (see, for example, IPCC,
2014). Agriculture activities from
crop cultivation to livestock contribute to emissions in multiple ways.
hese range from nitrous oxide emissions due to reasons such as fertilizer
use, irrigation method and tillage to
methane emissions in cattle breeding
and manure management. Land use
and land use changes can lead to carbon dioxide emissions. Agriculture,
however, can also be a part of the
response to climate change as holistic
practices can provide both adaptation
and mitigation beneits (see Chart
6). he increasing (and variable) use
of climate-smart agriculture practices
is a good example how a sector can
move from a problem status to the
side of the solution.
Climate ChanGe and aGriCulture
Chart 6
a landscape approach for policy making, planning, and monitoring in the Kagera river basin*
The Transboundary Agro-ecosystem Management Project for the Kagera River Basin, funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by FAO,
aims to adopt an integrated ecosystem approach in this basin, shared by Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. The project helps restore degraded
lands, sequester carbon, adapt to climate change and use agricultural biodiversity in a sustainable way while improving agricultural production, rural
livelihoods and food security.
One of the farmers living in Kiruhura District, Uganda was inspired to take on the new way of herd management to improve his income after being introduced
to better farming methods that enabled him to keep a small, high productivity herd while combining this activity with agricultural cultivations. He sold 150
heads of cattle to keep only 10 animals and managed to increase his income from milk while planting about 10 000 trees, one acre of fruit trees, pastures and
leguminous fodders whose seeds he supplies to other farmers. In addition, his family benefits from gardens of maize, cauliflower and carrots in addition to
20 beehives. He attributes the quick adoption of the new land management ways to Farmer Field School activities that promote farmer-to- farmer learning.
Other farmers have benefited from the introduction of fruit trees by improving their nutrition and diversifying their income generating opportunities. Additional activities include communal tree nurseries which have enabled farmers to plant on bare hills over 150 000 trees in the area, both for timber and fruits.
A participatory multi sector process to assess and map land degradation and Sustainable Land Management (SLM) was carried out for the entire basin. The
assessment provided the baseline information and a harmonized territorial estimation of the tangible elements of the ecosystem’s good and services such as
the impacts of land use and management practices on soil, water, biomass and biodiversity as well as its social and economic implications.
Decision makers in the four countries are assisted in analyzing what type of land degradation processes are occurring, including those exacerbated by climate
change, where they are happening, what are the trends and why and what are the expected ecological and socio-economic impacts. The data and maps are used
to devise the best project intervention strategy, identify best SLM practices for scaling up and guide effective and responsive interventions at various scales.
A comparison of maps showing degradation and SLM effectiveness allows decision makers to identify areas requiring interventions, select good practices that
can be scaled up, and choose additional SLM measures that are needed to address specific degradation problems.
Information gathered allows for landscape and territorial management among sectors and contributes to achieving multiple objectives, including sustainable productivity, enhanced resilience to climate variability and change, and climate change mitigation.
* From brochure “FAO Success Stories on Climate-Smart Agriculture” dated 16 June 2014, accessed at http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3817e.pdf
18 3 – 2015
prospeCts and reCommended response options
FAO projections indicate that 80
percent of the additional food
required to meet demand in 2050
will need to come from land already
under cultivation. here is little scope
for expansion of the agricultural area,
except in parts of sub-Saharan Africa
and South America. One third of
global land surface is degraded fro
moderate to high due to the erosion, salinization, compaction and
chemical pollution of soils (FAO,
2011a). Moreover, some 12 million
hectares of land is added to this each
year through drought and desertiication (UNCDD, 2013). Much of
the remaining land available is either
unsuitable for agriculture, and/or the
ecological, social and economic costs
involved in cultivating it are prohibitively high.
Among the options available are
intensiication of crop production,
better water productivity, increased
soil health, reduction of food waste
and loss from farm gate to fork,
and changes in consumer behavior,
implemented in a holistic, coherent manner, based on the speciic
circumstances from community to
national scales, supported by right
incentives and regulatory tools.
A white paper produced by FAO
and World Water Council (2015)
assesses the prospect for global food
supply between now and 2050 as
encouraging, albeit with caveats.
he paper states many of the poor
who are currently food insecure will
remain so despite the encouraging
outlook. Substantial, targeted public
and private sector investments will
be needed to reduce poverty, increase
incomes, and ensure food security for
many of the world’s rural and urban
A similar outlook is predicted for
water availability in support of meeting the demand for food production
at the global level, accompanied
by an increase in the number of
regions facing water scarcity. his
will require better governance arrangements and investment in water
technologies and infrastructure. hey
will also need well planned food
security strategies to deal with supply
shortages and trade arrangements to
protect them from price volatilities
in food supply.
Much of the expected population
growth between now and 2050 will
occur in the urban areas of developing countries. he resulting competition for water and land resources will
have to be well managed so agriculture can support the needs of an
increased urban populace and remain
viable. his will need innovation and
synergetic solutions such as recycling
and reuse of water and nutrients embedded in municipal waste products.
As agriculture will continue to
support rural livelihoods and provide jobs for a substantial number
of people in developing countries,
investments will be needed in rural
infrastructure and security nets.
Agriculture will remain to have
the largest share in water withdrawals
globally and will need to be increasingly eicient, in the face of increasing urban and industrial demands
and environmental low requirements. Among the measures to be
taken now, technological innovation
and targeted investments in training,
institution building and education to
boost productivities are essential.
Climate change has already
added new challenges to the water
and agriculture agenda, mostly in
terms of enhanced adaptation at
both regional, watershed and household levels, including water storage,
conjunctive use of groundwater and
surface water, wastewater capture and
reuse, agroforestry, and investment in
research. Special attention is needed
for the uplands and mountains where
much of the world’s water supply
Overexploitation of land and
freshwater resources, both surface
water and groundwater, degradation
and pollution must be dealt with decisively. In other places, intensive agriculture, industrial development and
growing cities pollute water bodies
to the extent that it is not anymore
available for domestic or agricultural
use. Public policy interventions, with
efective blends of economic tools
and regulatory measures, should be
put in place for all levels, starting
from household level.
Increased investment in technologies and research to enhance
smallholder crop, livestock, and ish
production is essential. Incentives for
farmers to increase land and water
productivity and those in education,
training, and outreach should be
accompanied with arrangements to
encourage private sector involvement
and public-private partnerships in
new technologies are needed. hese
need to be complemented with programs and support mechanisms for
farmers, especially smallholders, to
deal with risks emanating from spikes
in input prices, low crop yields, and
extreme weather events.
Access by all to safe and adequate
drinking water, sanitation, and health
care is essential for food and nutrition security, with speciic emphasis
on women and children.
Policies and investments are
needed to provide of-farm employment in rural areas especially where
land and water resources constrain
development. his also helps relieve
pressure on urban areas.
Gender roles in agriculture work
largely and widely to the disadvantage of women, especially in the
developing countries where women
are responsible for much of the
agricultural activity. Institutional
reform, public policy discourse and
targeted investments are needed to
and yet many of the institutional
settings that inluence agriculture are
not supportive of women’s role in the
sector. More appropriate institutions,
supportive policies, and strategic
investments are needed to rectify this
situation, not only in production
but also in capacity development,
outreach, more equitable land tenure,
access to resources and employment
Water institutions must adapt to
increasing competition for water and
land in agriculture and must efectively relect equity and eiciency
concerns to deal with competition
and scarcity. Security of land tenure
and water rights must be ensured
in transparency. his will in turn
encourage farmers to invest in their
land to increase productivity and
close yield gaps.
Adaptive governance structures
catering to the changing circumstances, including administrative,
inancial and judicial systems should
be put in place and be allowed to
evolve, with efective stakeholder participation and proper transparency
and accountability arrangements.
Olcay Ünver
Civil Engineer
Deputy Director, Land and Water Division,
Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations (FAO)
[1] 2015 update to the landmark article “Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity” by Rockström
et al. (2009) states that four of the nine
planetary boundaries (climate change, loss
of biosphere integrity, land-system change,
altered biogeochemical cycles) have now
been exceeded due to human activity (Steffen et al., 2015).
– Asian Development Bank. 2013. Gender equality and food security – women’s empowerment as a tool against hunger. Mandaluyong
City, Philippines: Asian Development Bank.
– FAO. 2011a. Global food losses and food waste
– Extent, causes and prevention. Rome. URL:
– FAO. 2011b. The state of the world’s land
and water resources for food and agriculture
(SOLAW) – Managing systems at risk. Food
and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations, Rome and Earthscan, London.
– FAO. 2012a. Global forest products facts and
figures 2012. Rome. (available at http://
– www.fao.org/forestry/statistics/80938/en/).
FAO. 2014. Building a common vision for sustainable food and agriculture, Rome.
– IPCC. 2014. Fifth Assessment Report, Working
Group 3, Climate Change 2014, Mitigation of
Climate Change. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/
– FAO. 2013a. FAO statistical yearbook 2013.
World food and agriculture. Rome.
– FAO, IFAD and WFP, 2013. The State of Food
Insecurity in the World: The multiple dimensions of food security, 2013, Rome. http://
– ISBN 978-92-5-108471-7 (print); E-ISBN 978-92-5-108472-4 (PDF). URL: http://www.fao.
– FAO. 2014. The State of Food and Agriculture
2014, Rome. URL: http://www.fao.org/3/ai4036e.pdf
– FAO. 2015. The State of Food Insecurity in the
World 2015, Rome.
– FAO and World Water Council. 2015. White paper: Towards a water and food secure future.
Rome and Marseilles, 2015.
– FAOSTAT. 2013. FAO, Rome. (availAble at
– Lundqvist, J., Grönwall, J. and Jägerskog, A.
2015. Water, food security and human dignity
– a nutrition perspective. Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Swedish FAO Committee, Stockholm.
– URL: http://www.government.se/contentass
– Rockström, J., W. Steffen, K. Noone, Å. Persson,
F. S. Chapin, III, E. Lambin, T. M. Lenton, M.
Scheffer, C. Folke, H. Schellnhuber, B. Nykvist,
C. A. De Wit, T. Hughes, S. van der Leeuw, H.
Rodhe, S. Sörlin, P. K. Snyder, R. Costanza,
U. Svedin, M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, R. W.
Corell, V. J. Fabry, J. Hansen, B. Walker, D. Liverman, K. Richardson, P. Crutzen, and J. Foley.
2009. Planetary boundaries:exploring the safe
operating space for humanity. Ecology and
Society 14(2): 32 URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art32/
20 3 – 2015
been identiied as a potential risk for water managers for
some decades already, but extensive disagreement exists
about how to best address climate as a risk (and opportunity). Since 2008, however, the level of discussion for
water managers and planners has intensiied as highproile thinkers began to question the assumption that
analyzing past hydrology is a suicient means of understanding future water conditions (Milly et al. 2008,
Wilby & Dessai 2010).
Understanding the degree, form, and severity of
climate risks facing water management and planning is
necessary to achieve sustainable resource management
and development goals for energy, food production,
sanitation and supply, and ecosystems. Many authorities acknowledge that water is central to understanding
human impacts from climate change (Sadof & Muller
2009), but widespread disagreement remains about
where, when, and how climate change is important for
water management decisions. Climate change is not relevant to all water management decisions, nor are climate
he desire to manage water sustainably has
broad support, but deining “sustainable”
water management has proven diicult
for policymakers with instruments such as
the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the
goals are no less challenging at an operational level.
An important question for deining sustainability in
an operational context is the most relevant timescale
for measurement: can you deine sustainability over a
year?, a decade?, a century?, longer?
In practice, much of our management of water occurs through the medium of long-lived infrastructure
— infrastructure which can easily endure for a century
or more (e.g., Li and Xu 2006), even outlasting the
inancing and governance mechanisms that created that
infrastructure (Hallegatte 2009). At these timescales, decisions made today about design, allocation, governance,
and operations may have impacts decades away, which is
a timescale very relevant to the current period of climate
change (Dominique 2013). Indeed, climate change has
Designing for Climate
movIng beyond uncertaInty
In SuStaInable water management
John H. Matthews and Guillermo Mendoza
risk and uncertainty
climate change
decision scaling
adaptation pathways
change impacts equally signiicant
when they do show an inluence
(Stakhiv 2011). Beyond these basic
truisms, however, little consensus
exists around how we identify current and projected risks and then
develop adaptive strategies that are
robust to those risks.
hese risks do not weigh evenly
on all disciplines involved in water
management. For decision making on
aquatic ecosystems, for instance, the
tolerance for qualitative over quantitative knowledge is relatively high; an
awareness of how climatic trends are
proceeding may be suicient for environmental decision makers in many
cases. For infrastructure investments,
however, quantifying risks is necessary
for accurately meeting goals, especially if those goals have been deined
through an economic or inancial
lens. Because water infrastructure is
so necessary for meeting the demands
of modern economies, much of the
burden for constraining climate risks
falls on engineers and engineeringinformed positions.
Simply put, engineers build
things. hese structures are often
challenging to design and construct,
expensive, and diicult to move,
modify, or tear down. As investments, water infrastructure will often
inluence ecosystems, economies, and
communities for very long periods,
even outlasting their own operational
lifetimes (Hallegatte et al. 2011).
Here, an aquatic ecologist, a
civil engineer, and a climate scientist
describe their shared insights into
how climate change inluences the
work of water managers and planners, some recent approaches to
identifying and responding to those
risks, and the means for integrating
these approaches within institutional
frameworks and inance mechanisms.
the siGniFiCanCe oF Climate ChanGe:
unCertainty as a “new” risK
Neither climate change nor uncertainty about the future are new issues
for engineers or water managers.
Indeed, the assumption that that past
water conditions were suiciently accurate to describe future hazards and
water availability (e.g., designing a levee meet 1:100 year lood conditions
based on 30 years of monitoring data)
was known to be a “wrong” but useful
approximation. Climate was assumed
to be ixed or “stationary” (Milly et al.
2009, Wilby et al. 2009).
he water community become
uncomfortable with these assumptions, perhaps as the pulse of climate
change has quickened in recent
decades and climate scientists have
felt more comfortable attributing the
role of anthropogenic forcings to particular events. Certainly, the level of
awareness of a potentially disruptive
connection between climate change
and water management has intensiied. he appearance of new hydrological conditions, apparent shifts
in climate variability, and the widespread suspicion that many decadesold structures no longer match their
current climate conditions appear to
have fostered an increasingly wide
dissatisfaction with longstanding
approaches to quantitative analyses to
support design, planning, and operations (e.g., Lins and Cohn 2011).
Since the 1990s, climate models
have been used as a tool to project
the pace and extent of future climate
impacts in order to inform more
robust water management solutions.
As a tool, downscaled climate models
enabled a quantitative approximation of future climate. In many ways,
these models allowed engineers to
introduce new data without signiicantly changing how they made
design and management decisions.
However, the use of these models has proven controversial given
their limitations in approximating
the water cycle and in providing
practical, high-conidence guidance.
Discussions about the wise use of
climate model information have
often centered on how to reduce or
constrain the uncertainties within
22 3 – 2015
and between models and scenarios.
Technical discussions of “uncertainty” have often proven confusing and
unhelpful to decision makers seeking
simple, plain-language technical recommendations. Hearing that models
were unable to have consensus about
increases or decreases in annual water
resolution and accuracy, many water
managers and planners have found
climate models dissatisfying for
decision making when quantitative
long-term outputs are necessary.
Moreover, climate shifts on the water
cycle will not simply alter design and
operating speciications for availability and variability; climate change is
already shifting many aspects of water demand as well. While bleached
“bathtub rings” behind aging reservoirs and overtopped lood control
levees may show how large changes
in water availability can disrupt managed systems, there are also responses
by water users that may have a
comparable or even greater inluence
than direct climate impacts. Shifts
from rainfed to irrigated agriculture,
manufacturing to service economies,
demographic shifts from immigration and shifts in reproduction and
health, the rise of mega-cities, and
population inluxes from drying
to wet regions may be among the
easiest trends to predict, but all of
these trends will interact in complex
patterns. Together, the combination
of direct and indirect climate impacts
and socio-economic shifts has been
called “deep uncertainty” by some
observers to relect the challenge of
making long-lived, high-impact decisions despite large knowledge gaps
about future trends (Hallegatte et al.
2012, Walker et al. 2013).
availability may have even tainted
the reputation of credible methods
for incorporating climate information into water management decisions (Kundzewicz and Stakhiv 2010,
Brown and Wilby 2012).
While future models and scenarios are likely to improve in their
a huge rock
in the high norwegian arctic.
longyearbyen, norway.
@ un photo/rick bajornas.
normalizinG Climate adaptation: addressinG
Climate unCertainty at both projeCt and institutional sCales
Step 3 – Formulating alternative
Step 4 – Evaluating alternative plans
Step 5 – Comparing alternative plans
Step 6 – Selecting a plan
Including climate information in
a water management project should
include two elements: the need to
irst assess the potential relevance
of climate change to an existing or
planned project in a way that realistically accounts for climate uncertainty
and then to develop a strategy (or
set of strategies) to reduce or avoid
future identiied climate risks. From
a sustainability perspective, an ideal
solution should also take account of
ecological impacts and interactions.
Recent methodological developments
have identiied several promising
decision-centric approaches to incorporating climate information into
water management processes.
he types of engineering approaches necessary for a well-understood, clearly deined future would
be quite diferent than those necessary for an “untrustworthy” future or
even an unknown and unrecorded
past (Brown 2010). he widespread
level of dissatisfaction among engineers, water managers, and decision
makers around the usefulness of
projected climate information has led
to two general concerns:
1. How do we make long-term decisions about specific projects given
deep uncertainty about the future
of climate impacts in particular
places?, and
2. How do we scale lessons from
particular places and projects to
ensure that climate information is
appropriately mainstreamed within the design and operations of
all engineered water management
systems at an institutional level?
hese two concerns difer from
each other primarily in their level of
analysis (individual project scale vs
generalized decision-making processes): developing a single-project solution is not the same as ensuring that
all projects initiated by a potentially
large, diverse water management
institution have successfully assessed
and addressed climate risks. For the
project scale, emphasizing the best,
most appropriate, and efective practices is essential. At an institutional
level, the approach should begin by
examining how existing decisionmaking processes function and then
modifying the most relevant steps in
those processes to match successful
project-scale methodologies.
Formal engineering-based design
processes for water infrastructure
follow a similar structure and decision-making cycle globally. Using
the US Army Corps of Engineers
(2000) as a typical example, these
steps usually include:
Step 1 – Identifying problems and
Step 2 – Inventorying and forecasting conditions
identifying Climate risks through decision scaling
Developed about 2008 through
the Upper Great Lakes International Joint Commission in North
America, decision scaling is a systematic “bottom-up” approach to align
climate change adaptation designs
with traditional engineering planning
(Brown et al. 2011, Wilby 2011,
IJC 2012). Decision scaling starts
by examining the decision context,
deined by an explicit “problem statement” (USACE 2000), which then
drives the design and planning process (Brown et al. 2012, Weaver et al.
2012). Decision scaling sets boundaries with stakeholders to guide
the problem solving process, where
climate is simply a stressor of (potential) major concern. In other words,
future climate states are not forecast
or projected to deine the problem
statement, since such projections
have a strong tendency to limit metrics to those that can be visualized
through downscaling climate models
rather than the management goals as
deined by stakeholders and decision makers. Decision scaling asks
the planner to confront wide the full
spectrum of uncertainty provided by
climate models and scenarios, though
other forms of climate and non-climate data can also be included, such
as paleohydrological records, actual
climate records, and other types of
model output. Performance indica-
24 3 – 2015
climate states that violate these critical thresholds of performance or risk
reduction can be identiied through
decision scaling, which are overlaid
as added stressors to the planning
and design process. Climate science
and analysis are used at this stage to
determine the plausibility of these
critical climate states to inform the
evaluation of climate robust engineering solutions (Weaver et al.
2012).he diferent levels of conidence for a speciic climate state,
as well as institutional capabilities
and levels of consequence, provide a
decision framework for climate adaptation designs that can be geared
towards lexibility, robustness,
eiciency, or some combination of
evaluation techniques. Traditionally, engineering has often guided
decision makers towards selecting eicient solutions as the most
optimal approach, but often other
institutional mechanisms exist or
can be built to provide a framework
for robustness, lexibility, or some
combination of these qualities (such
as integrating Decision Scaling with
Adaptation Pathways, as described
below, or through the use of multiinstitution cost-sharing plans).
tors deined by stakeholders and
decision makers can be “stress-tested”
against climate data in order to
deine “breaking points,” which can
then be compared with the tolerance
for risk and failure held by decision
makers (Garcia et al. 2014).
Decision scaling as a technique
implies that projected climate
conditions should not be part of
the problem statement. Instead, we
should maintain traditional engineering practices where the problem
statement is deined by the critical
performance in service provision or
risk reduction (USACE 2000). All
Fig. 1. traditional approaches to assessing climate risks emphasize a top-down approach that begins with downscaling climate models to local scales, connecting these outputs to water management and water variables of interest, and the evaluating risk tolerance against some standard, such as an economic mechanism like expected net benefits (enb). uncertainties
in the projections are generally hidden, even when they are magnified through multiple model stages. decision scaling is
considered a bottom-up approach, that begins with approaching stakeholders to define a vulnerability domain (“breaking
points,” using criteria defined by stakeholders), mapping a variety of climate data onto that domain, and then evaluating
according to external criteria such as enb. image courtesy of patrick ray.
2009). Decisions about infrastructure, however, may be a challenge for
no-regrets approaches given that large
investments may have a high potential for “regretful” outcomes, relecting the necessity of making many
relatively inlexible decisions during
the design process. Hence, Adaptation Pathways (Haasnoot et al. 2012)
has developed as a mechanism for envisioning how sequences of decisions
can be navigated over time.
In efect, when planning consecutive investments for a water management system, a water manager needs
information on the plausibility that
potential climate changes will stress
the system beyond an estimate of
the performance range used to judge
urgency . hus, plausible ranges of
downscaled projections can be used.
For planning purposes, information
is needed on the order, lexibility, potential level of regret, and approximate
timing of actions to take. Adaptation
Pathways can provide a method for
prioritizing these actions. Adaptation
Pathways describe a sequence of policy
actions or investments in institutions
and infrastructure over time to achieve
a set of pre-speciied objectives (e.g.,
performance indicators and decision
thresholds) given uncertain, hard to
know, and shifting conditions.
An Adaptation Pathways diagram (see Figure 2) provides insight
into the performance of actions, the
sequencing of actions over time, potential decision dead-ends, and “path
dependencies” (e.g., decisions that
are diicult or impossible to reorder
or undo once made). For instance,
building a new dam may require
a decade of planning, design and
construction, which implies that the
lead necessary for investing in that
dam must be made at least 10 years
before its services are needed. What
decision tipping points must be met
before initiating such an expensive,
essentially irreversible process? What
alternatives for water supply or energy generation should be considered
in the meantime? Should the dam itself be built in a modular or stepwise
function? What long-risks should
be considered that might necessitate
modifying or supplementing the
dam’s function and structure as the
climate continues to evolve?
Decision Scaling and Adaptation
Pathways are two methods that cooperate well since they both begin by
testing robustness of proposed and/
or actual water management solutions against a range of climate states
using decision-relevant objectives
to derive performance metrics and
identify thresholds (also called “adaptation tipping points” [Kwadijk et al.
2010]) beyond which performance
may fall below acceptable levels. In
addition adaptation pathways add a
useful planning perspective, allowing
for bringing in the urgency to act,
possible order actions, showing the
(in)lexibility of actions taken and
allowing for comparative assessment
and tradeofs for alternative possible
paths based on other relevant criteria
besides the primary targets. his
can be done qualitatively as in the
example or with more advanced costbeneit analysis methods.
reducing Climate risks through adaptation pathways
Decision scaling presents a powerful
means to stress-test water management system, infrastructure, and
operating rules using performance
indicators that have been deined
by stakeholders and decision makers. hese performance indicators
are evaluated against a wide range
of conditions that is not restricted
by climate projections. As a result,
Decision Scaling gives water managers a good impression of the range
of climate states in which a speciic
managed system will perform acceptably according to preset performance
metrics — as well as which alternative
measures will increase this performance range. As such Decision Scaling represents a “diagnosis” based on
projected, actual, and hypothesized
conditions as seen at one moment
in time. Given the long operational
lifetimes of most water infrastructure,
how do we implement these decisions
through time, especially when high
levels of uncertainty may suggest very
diferent successful strategies in the
future, which themselves may require
long lead and preparation times or
may prove to be alternative, even
exclusive decisions, such that pursuing one adaptation intervention may
make another choice more diicult,
expensive, or even impossible to pursue? What should you pursue irst?
Can you maximize lexibility while
also minimizing risk?
Many current climate risk approaches maximize lexibility by
focusing on so-called no-regrets approaches, which leave open the fullest
range of options (e.g., Heltberg et al.
26 3 – 2015
performance indicators. “Ecosystem services” have been the most
widespread approach to integrating
ecological variables by assigning
monetary values to functions supplied by ecosystems that are comparable to infrastructure functions
such as water puriication, lood
risk reduction, and water storage
(Sappelt et al. 2011). he development and assignment of economic
value to ecosystem services is often
challenging and may be overwhelmed by promised investment
returns on planned infrastructure
services. While ecosystem services
have had some partial success, they
have not proven to be a panacea
(Schröter et al. 2014).
Recently, a team of ecologists and
engineers developed a framework
using decision scaling (Eco-Engineering Decision Scaling, or EEDS)
as a basis for facilitating trade-ofs
between infrastructure and ecological performance indicators (Pof et
al. 2015). While very new, EEDS
holds signiicant promise since the
methodology facilitates trade-ofs
early in the design and planning
process (when major changes are
relatively easy to make), without
reference to economic value, with
ecological indicators that focus only
on ecological function and resilience.
Moreover, EEDS was developed with
as an adaptation pathways complement, which can be used to evaluate
the relative environmental impact of
alternative decision pathways. For
individuals and institutions already
using decision scaling, EEDS should
be a straightforward technique for
adoption and implementation.
Fig. 2. an example of an adaptation pathways diagram and a scorecard for each of the pathways. in the map, starting from the
current situation, targets begin to be missed after four years; an adaptation tipping point is reached. Following the grey lines of
the current plan, one can see that there are four options. actions a and d should be able to achieve the targets for the next 100
years in all scenarios. if action b is chosen, a tipping point is reached within about ive more years; a shift to one of the other
three actions (a, C, or d) will then be needed to achieve the targets. if action C is chosen after the irst four years, a shift to action a, b, or d will be needed after approximately 85 years in the worst case scenario (follow the solid green lines). in all other
scenarios, the targets will be achieved for the next 100 years (the dashed green line). the colors in the scorecard refer to the
actions: a (red), b (orange), C (green), and d (blue). the point at which the paths start to diverge can be considered as a decision
point. taking into account a lead time e.g. for implementation of actions, this point lies before an adaptation tipping point.
Any credible deinition of longterm sustainability should include
ecological parameters. In recent
decades, ecosystem consideration in
infrastructure projects has typically
occurred through environmental
impact assessments, which often are
relegated near the end of a design
and planning process. here are few
standard methodologies for these
assessments, and their credibility is
often questioned, particularly since
projects are often well developed and
diicult to modify at this stage.
he gaps between the disciplines
of engineering and ecology around
water management issues have been
signiicant and durable, particularly
around the translation of issues of
ecological concern into an operational framework that can be evaluated using engineering-oriented
integrating ecosystems into long-term water management
Fig. 3. an overview of the process of eco-engineering decision scaling (eeds). the first two steps involve defining a set of
ecological performance indicators in the same terms as the relevant engineering indicators, with steps 3 and 4 (and 5, if
necessary) comparing and evaluating approaches to balance and tradeoff risks and opportunities between ecological and
engineering concerns. Credit: image first published in poff, n. l., brown, C. m., Grantham, t. e., matthews, j. h., palmer, m.
a., spence, C. m., et al. (2015). sustainable water management under future uncertainty with eco-engineering decision scaling. Nature Climate Change, 1–10. http://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2765.
28 3 – 2015
mainstreaming Climate adaptation through the project design Cycle
their investment practices as a means
to systematically reduce climate risks
(Ray & Brown 2015). Similarly,
with the support of groups such
as Deltares, the Dutch Water and
Environment Ministry (Rijkswaterstaat) as well as the Mongolian and
Bangladeshi governments have been
testing institutional-level implementations of Adaptation Pathways to develop long-term sequential planning
processes.[1] As both approaches
have matured and gained broader
acceptance and attention, interest has
grown in how to create a more uniied and integrated approach to longterm water management that makes
use of their complementarities.
A new initiative that started in
2014 and is led by the Dutch Water
and Environment Ministry, the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, and the
Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) is now connecting
these three methodologies — decision
scaling, adaptation pathways, and
eco-engineering decision scaling — in
a stepwise decision-making process for
engineering-oriented water managers, especially those in the developing
world. his project, tentatively called
Climate Risk–Informed Decision
Analysis (CRIDA), is intended to facilitate institutional climate adaptation
mainstreaming by supplementing the
standard engineering design cycle.[2]
While Decision Scaling, Adaptation Pathways, and EEDS represent emergent new approaches to
assess and avoid climate risks for
water managers, the challenges for
implementing these methods at an
institutional level require a more
general reassessment of how water
management decisions are deined,
evaluated, and implemented globally. In most cases, making climate
adaptation a consistent outcome at
the institutional level requires a formal mainstreaming process (Wilby
and Vaughan 2010).
Recently, the World Bank developed a stepwise process for mainstreaming decision scaling within
Going to scale: projects, institutions, policies
Global climate change and sustainable development policies have a
complex relationship with water
management: while eforts to promote clean energy, widespread access,
and efective adaptation assume that
well-managed and suicient water resources are available (and may indeed
be fueling additional development
and funding), neither the United
Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change –UNFCCC– nor
the SDGs address the gap in efective
knowledge about long-term robust
water resources management and
design (Lexén et al. 2013, Lexén et
al. 2015). he burden for developing coherent and efective operational approaches for implementing
sustainable water management relies
on technical decision makers and the
gradual synthesis of new knowledge
and expertise. Moving from project
piloting to institutional mainstreaming has been an actively evolving process. Ultimately, however, national
and global policymakers will need to
support and enable these emerging
methods to become standards, integrated within policy frameworks.
John H. Matthews
Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA)*
Guillermo Mendoza
US Army Corps of Engineers
Ad Jeuken, Deltares
[1]. For instance, see https://www.deltares.nl/
[2]. For more information, see http://alliance4
*. Corresponding author: johoma@alliance4 water.org.
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30 3 – 2015
mortality, and ensuring environmental sustainability,
will be sustainable management of water resources and
ensuring water and sanitation for all. SDG 6, the sustainable development goal focused on water covers the
interlinking nature of water including: increasing access
to water, sanitation, and hygiene, addressing issues of
water stress, water quality, integrated water management, and ecosystems. here is also recognition that
meeting an SDG on water, and any other sustainable development goal, will require that all societal actors take
action by committing resources, skills, and expertise.
Businesses will have a clear role to play given their dependency and impacts on water resources. Many companies are already doing so via corporate water stewardship
practices. hese practices can further be strengthened by
integrating business responsibility for the human rights to
water and sanitation.
the sustainable development Goals– enSure availabiliTy
anD SuSTainable manaGemenT of WaTer anD SaniTaTion for all
t its upcoming United Nations General
Assembly meeting in September, the global
community will adopt a new set of international development goals, the anticipated
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will guide
the implementation of development priorities for the
next ifteen years. With 17 goals and 169 targets, the
upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are
more complex than the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) they replace. hough the MDGs provided a
starting point for action, they were generally recognized
to be incomplete. he SDGs strive to provide a more
coherent framework for action that takes into account
both the complexity and interlinkages inherent in sustainable development.
Crucial to the achievement of the SDGs, such as
those related to eradicating hunger, improving child
Acting Responsibly:
buSIneSS and the human rIghtS
to water and SanItatIon
Mai-Lan Ha
water resource management
corporate water stewardship
human rights to water and sanitation
sustainable development goals
the business Case For aCtion
• Assuring investors and markets that
business operations will continue
to be profitable by securing water
availability for operations and reducing water-related costs;
• Upholding corporate values based
on sustainable and equitable development by contributing to
the well-being of the catchments,
ecosystems, and communities in
which the company operates.
Businesses function at a key
juncture in ensuring sustainable development policies are implemented
due to the critical and active role
they play in transforming resources
into products and services required
by societies. his case is further
strengthened with the realization that
business contribution speciically on
sustainable development also plays a
key role in businesses’ long term longevity and success. he case revolves
around a number of areas:
• Ensuring Good Water Governance:
Businesses that depend upon water realize that meeting development goals necessitates addressing
aspects of water sustainability
more broadly including: improving water governance systems
and addressing water security and
water quality; all issues of importance for addressing water-related
business risk.
• Healthier employees: Business action
to ensure adequate water and sanitation in the workplace provides
the opportunity for companies
to ensure their employees are
sufficiently cared for. Healthier
employees contribute to overall
long-term company productivity
through less frequent sick days and
absence of costs associated with
the need to replace or train new
• Vibrant communities: Beyond their
employees, businesses also realize
that healthy communities have
a positive impact on their businesses. Businesses are engaging in
activities that focus on not only
employees, but increasingly the
families of their employees and
communities at large. Healthy
families ensure a high level of productivity in their workplace while
Wherever we look, businesses today
touch upon aspects of water, either
through their direct operations, in
their supply chains, or in their role as
water service providers.
• Water is a non-substitutable resource: Water itself, or the services
it provides or enables, is an indispensable input for most businesses. Managing a secure access
to water in the quantities needed,
of the quality required, and at the
right time and place is essential
for the very existence of almost
all businesses. This becomes increasingly important as pressures
on the finite quantities of water
available increase.
• Water in the value chain: Water
plays a similar role throughout the
whole value chain of industrial
production and commercial activity as well as the multiple interactions with communities and stakeholders at all levels. Businesses
have an interest and responsibility
to understand these complex relationships and conduct their activities accordingly.
Given the importance of water, the business case for corporate
action is generally based upon a
number of factors:
• Ensuring the company’s local legal
and social license to operate in a
specific location;
• Preventing or reacting to operational crises resulting from the
inadequate availability, supply, or
quality of water or water-dependent inputs in a specific location;
• Gaining an advantage over competitors because of stakeholder
perceptions that the company uses
natural resources responsibly and
has a minimal impact on communities or ecosystems;
32 3 – 2015
tainable development goals offers
opportunities to create innovative
new products and markets.
hese elements make it clear that
ensuring adequate water for employees, communities, and society is
vibrant communities often serve
to bolster not only a company’s
social license to operate, but also a
healthy customer base.
• Triple Bottom Line: Business realize
that a strong business case can be
made that helping to achieve susneeded for the long term well-being
of businesses. Not taking action, on
the other hand, is untenable, leading
to potential greater conlict over
water resources, decreased social
license to operate, and increased
reputational risks.
Underpinning achievement of
SDG6 on water and sanitation is
the recognition of the importance
of the human rights to water and
sanitation. In 2010, the UN General
Assembly, oicially recognized the
human right to water and sanitation as a fundamental human right.
With its recognition, governments
across the world are now tasked with
meeting their obligations. Today,
over 80 states have recognized either
explicitly or implicitly the right to
water and sanitation for their citizens through constitutional amendments and national legislation, or
implicitly through interpretations of
provisions such as those related to
the right to life, the right to health,
or the right to a safe environment.
(CEO Water Mandate and Shift,
2012) In tandem these governments
are also passing new legislation that
will have a direct impact on businesses such as those elements which
prioritize water use for human consumption, public trusteeship of water resources, enhanced protection
of water resources, and increased
public participation and access to
information in water resources management. (CEO Water Mandate and
Shift, 2012)
In tandem, in 2011, the UN
General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council adopted the
UN Guiding Principles for Business
and Human Rights for implementation of the UN “Protect, Respect,
and Remedy Framework” making
them the authoritative framework
for business responsibility towards
human rights, including the rights
to water and sanitation. he Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework lays out the basic responsibilities of states and businesses. hey
rest on three pillars:
1) The state duty to protect against
human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through
appropriate policies, regulation,
and adjudication;
2) The corporate responsibility to
respect human rights, which
means to avoid infringing on the
rights of others and to address
adverse impacts with which a
business is involved;
3) The need for greater access for
victims to effective remedy, both
judicial and non-judicial. [2]
“the future development agenda must aim at
universal enjoyment of the human right to water
and sanitation by every single human being”
Former Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water
and Sanitation. Catarina de Albuquerque.
the human riGhts to water and sanitation
and business responsibility
Chart 1
the right to water and sanitation covers five main areas:
Dimension Definition
Water and sanitation facilities must be present in order to meet people’s basic needs. This means a supply of water that is sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses, which ordinarily include drinking and food
preparation, personal hygiene, washing of clothes, cleaning, and other aspects of domestic hygiene, as well as facilities and services for the safe disposal of human excreta (i.e., urine and feces).
Water and sanitation facilities must be located or constructed in such a way that they are accessible to all at all times, including to people with particular needs (such as women, children, older persons, or persons with disabilities).
Accessibility is particularly important with regard to sanitation, as facilities that are not easily accessible are unlikely to be used and may raise safety risks for some users, especially women and girls.
Quality and safety
Water must be of a quality that is safe for human consumption (i.e., drinking and food preparation) and for personal and domestic hygiene. This means it must be free from microorganisms, chemical substances, and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person’s health over a lifetime of consumption. Sanitation facilities must be safe to use and prevent contact between people and human excreta.
Water and sanitation facilities must meet social or cultural norms from a user’s perspective, for example, regarding the odor or color of drinking water, or the privacy of sanitation facilities. In most cultures, gender-specific
sanitation facilities will be required in public spaces and institutions.
Individual and household expenditure on water and sanitation services, as well as associated hygiene, must be affordable for people without forcing them to resort to other, unsafe alternatives and/or limiting their capacity to
acquire other basic goods and services (such as food, housing, or education) guaranteed by other human rights.
Source: CEO Water Mandate and Shift: http://ceowatermandate.org/humanrights/understanding-impacts/hrws/
he Guiding Principles look to
help implement this framework by
enabling businesses to develop policies
and practices to show that they are respecting human rights. hese include:
1. Developing and articulating a human rights policy
2. Assessing the company’s actual
and potential impacts
3. Integrating findings from such
assessments into the company’s
decision-making and taking actions to address them
4. Tracking how effectively the company is managing to address its
5. Communicating with stakeholders
about how it addresses impacts
6. Helping remediate any negative
impacts it causes or contributes[3]
Together, the recognition of water
and sanitation as human rights and
the adoption of the UN Guiding
Principles set the baseline expectation
for companies on the issue of water
and sanitation.
he previous sections laid out the
business case for action on water
as well as growing global expectations around the human rights to
water and sanitation. In response, a
number of companies have taken a
variety of actions to address their water risks and their impacts as related
to human rights. Many have done
so through implementation of good
corporate water stewardship practices. Corporate Water Stewardship
(CWS) is a company’s progression
from understanding environmental
and social water risks, to improving
water management in operations and
supply chains, to working collaboratively with other water users and
water managers to improve governance of shared water resources.
Companies that commit to water
stewardship broadly understand that
there are two sets of risks that need
attention: company-related risks that
require individual company actions,
and river basin-related risks that
require collective action with diverse
stakeholders. A foundational premise of corporate water stewardship
is that businesses can take positive
action to mitigate adverse impacts
on communities and ecosystems,
and thereby manage water-related
business risks, including physical,
reputation, and regulatory risks.[4]
Generally, companies can manage
and implement their broad stewardship practices and policies through
a corporate water management cycle
which can vary from company to
company. A typical process, which
has been adapted from the UN Global Compact Management Model for
water-related management is outlined below[5]:
1. Commit – Commit to drive sustainable water management.
Corporate water stewardship and business respeCt
For the human riGhts to water and sanitation
34 3 – 2015
2. Account – Collect data on internal
water performance and the condition of the basins in which the
company operates.
3. Assess – Use the data generated
in the Account phase to identify
water-related business risks and opportunities and negative impacts.
4. Define – Define and refine corporate water policy, strategies, and
performance targets that drive
performance improvements and
address risks and negative impacts.
5. Implement – Implement water
strategies and policies throughout
the company and across the company’s value chain.
6. Monitor – Monitor progress and
changes in performance and basin
7. Communicate – Communicate
progress and strategies and engage
with stakeholders for continuous
improvement by means of corporate water disclosure.[6]
he human rights to water and
sanitation have implications for all
companies’ water stewardship practices. By applying a human rights
lens to water stewardship, a new
focus on the social dimension of
water is added. It focuses company’s
attention on understanding the impacts that company practice, in their
main operations and supply chains,
might have on individual’s human
rights to water and sanitation and
requires companies to take action to
mitigate or remediate those impacts.
In fact, the due diligence elements
of the UN Guiding Principles outlined above align well with companies’ corporate water management
practices as shown in Chart 2.
Companies that look to respect
the human rights to water and
sanitation will often need to build
upon the work and competencies
already present in their water and
human rights teams as it requires the
expertise of both. At a very practical level this may mean integrating
elements of water or human rights
Chart 2
relationship between un Guiding principles and elements of Corporate water management
UN Guiding Principles Element Corporate Water Management Elements
Policy Commitment and Embedding Respect Is similar to Commit; Define
Assessing Impacts Is similar to Account; Asses
Integrating and Taking Action Is similar to Implement
Tracking Performance Is similar to Monitor
Communicating Performance Is similar to Communicate
Remediation No clear match but Elements of Implement are Relevant
Source: CEO Water Mandate and Shift, Guidance for Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, 2015.
Chart 3
elements of Corporate water stewardship
Key Elements Description of Activities
Addressing operational Issues
Technical and management changes that improve water efficiency, wastewater treatment, and employee access to WAter,
Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH).
Understanding basin, context, and impacts
Awareness of how the company interacts with surrounding basin(s), including the nature and extent of local water stress,
local regulation, and the company’s impacts on ecosystems and communities, including any potential impacts on the Human
Rights to Water and Sanitation (HRWS).
Developing a water strategy and raising
awareness internally
Developing goals, strategies, and policies that integrate water risks and impacts into core business processes and decision
Raising awareness of the company’s water impacts and stewardship strategy throughout the business, from the CEO and
leadership team, to facility managers, to suppliers.
Leveraging improvements in value chain
Managing water-related risks and impacts throughout the value chain from raw materials to consumers, including water
use, water quality, access to WASH services in the supply chain, and other social and environmental impacts outside the
company’s direct operations.
Advancing water sustainability via collective action
Actions that address basin-related risks or identified collective impacts, which require proactive collaboration with others to
improve local conditions and reduce water stress in the basin.
Advancing water sustainability via public
policy engagement
Responsible engagement by the private sector that improves public sector capacity and advances better water governance.
Communicating with external stakeholders
Ongoing transparent reporting, disclosure and dialogue with diverse stakeholders about corporate water stewardship strategy, policies, activities, baseline conditions, and progress toward targets.
into existing systems, structures, and/
or policies. For example, companies
may have both standalone water and
human rights policies. When they
look to make a public commitment
to the rights to water and sanitation,
they can look to integrate water and
sanitation into human rights’ policies
or vice versa.[7] he key here however is ensuring that the human rights
lens is preserved.
In many cases, companies meeting their responsibility to respect the
human right to water and sanitation
will likely undertake a range of activities that also fall under existing Corporate Water Stewardship practice,
described in Chart 3. Fundamental
to any action related to respecting is
a strong focus on ensuring appropriate and ongoing stakeholder engagement in order to develop policies,
understand impacts, and respond to
identiied impacts.
A few examples are included
• Assessing and responding to impacts
on human rights: Companies already taking action to understand
their basin contexts as well as
their impacts on ecosystems have
a starting point from where they
can look to assess impacts on
communities. In many cases, impacts on the human right to water
and sanitation will be dependent
on a variety of actions including
companies (or their suppliers’)
own water use, how that impacts
local ecosystems, and how that
in turn impacts communities.
To meet their responsibilities,
companies may conduct further
standalone human rights impact
assessments or utilize amended or
revised water risk and assessment
process that integrate the human
rights to water and sanitation into
them. Once companies understand their impacts, how they are
involved, and prioritize the most
pressing human rights impacts,
they can take a range of actions.
Often these actions are directly
related to operational performance
(such as limiting water use, increasing efficiency, implementing
improved wastewater treatment
processes) or working with others to improve water performance
through collective action or engaging in supply chains.
• Addressing cumulative impacts:
In many cases, impacts on the
rights to water and sanitation are
often cumulative, resulting from
the actions by a variety of actors
operating in a basin. Together,
these actors’ water use might lead
to unsustainable use of local water
resources or impact water quality
to an extent that it impacts local
communities’ rights to water and
sanitation. In order to both identify
these impacts and take appropriate action, companies will need to
work with other stakeholders in the
basin. Corporate Water Stewardship’s strong emphasis on collective
action enables exactly this type of
analysis and action via joint monitoring of local projects that leverage
the resources of the private sector
or engagement with policy makers.
• Leveraging improvements in the
supply chain: In many cases, a
company’s greatest water-related
risk does not lie in its direct operations, but rather in its supply
chains. Similarly, it is often the
case that the greatest impacts on
the rights to water and sanitation
lies in company’s supply chains.
Companies that recognize both
their increased water risks and
their water impacts and work to
bring about better water performance in their supply chains are
then able to both meet their responsibilities in regards to human
rights and to tackle their long
term water risks.
36 3 – 2015
business Case:
Company action to identify and respond to human rights’ impacts
A company in the food and beverage industry regularly conducts human rights impact assessments in high-risk countries and has begun incorporating impacts on the HRWS into its assessments. In one
country where it has a plant, the company’s assessment highlighted local community members’ concerns that they were experiencing reduced access to safe water and associated health problems.
Local stakeholders expressed the view that the irrigation practices of local farmers (responsible for 96% of the water use in the country) and the activities of the various companies located in the
watershed area were responsible for using the majority of available groundwater. This input helped the company evaluate the nature of its own involvement in the negative HRWS impacts on local
communities. Following the human rights impact assessment, an independent third party-verified water resource review was completed, which concluded that the company’s operations were not
causing or contributing to depletion of water in the region and that the company‘s approach to water stewardship, and waste water treatment in particular, was effective. But the assessment also
suggested that the negative HRWS impacts were nonetheless directly linked to the company’s operations through its business relationships, since some of the local farmers were supplying milk to
the company. In response to the linkage situation, the company committed to strengthen its engagement with local farmers about more effective use of water for irrigation purposes and responsible
water stewardship, thereby using its leverage to try to mitigate the risk of the impact continuing.
To help mitigate the risk that the company’s own activities might contribute in the future to negative HRWS impacts, the company also took some additional steps. The company committed to holding
regular consultations with local NGOs, water experts, environmental groups and other companies located in the area about access to water issues to help evaluate whether local approaches prove
effective over time. The company signed a memorandum of understanding with a major environmental NGO in order to improve water usage within the company’s operations, including its supply
chain, and to further implement the Alliance for Water Stewardship standard in the region and, ultimately, in the whole country.
From: CEO Water Mandate and Shift: Guidance for Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation.
For some companies, particularly
those who are UN Global Compact
endorsers, there is an additional
expectation that companies might
go beyond respect towards supporting the achievement of the rights to
water and sanitation. Supporting the
rights to water and sanitation can
take a number of diferent means
1. Core services through innovation
and services rendered.
2. Social investment or philanthropy.
3. Collective Action and public policy engagement.
4. Partnerships.
In many cases, businesses that
take steps to respect the HRWS have
positioned themselves to be able to
efectively support the rights. Some of
the key obstacles to increased private
sector engagement for activities that
support access to water, sanitation,
and hygiene are concerns about the
long term sustainability of such projects as well as lack of clarity in regards
to government versus companies’
roles. Often, these projects require an
array of competencies that go beyond
the company’s core expertise. Respect’s strong focus on efective stakeholder engagement enables companies
to determine what type of support
would be most appropriate to local
circumstances thereby increasing the
likelihood of its long term sustainability. In addition, new guidance related
to managing the integrity of multistakeholder water stewardship initiatives which would cover a number of
partnerships, social investments, and
support For the human riGhts to water and sanitation
collective actions that support the
right, also provides guidance for how
to undertake projects in a way that
meets local needs and respects the role
of governments.[8]
Other companies are taking a
diferent approach, by utilizing their
core businesses to directly contribute
to supporting the human right to water and sanitation and achievement
of WASH targets. For example, Unilever’s focus on changing consumer
behaviour and promoting greater
access through WASH via their prodAchievement of an SDG on water
will require a variety of eforts by
all actors. he private sector has a
unique role to play in their achievement. Central to these eforts will be
an alignment between companies’
water stewardship practice with the
rights to water and sanitation. here
already exists a number of leading
companies who have taken action to
do exactly this, though given the extent of the challenge; many more will
need to take up the call to action. By
playing their roles, businesses will
not only ensure their own long term
viability by can play a signiicant role
in ensuring the sustainability of this
life sustaining resource.
Mai-Lan Ha
Masters of International Afairs
and B.A. in History
Senior Research Associate for the Paciic
Institute’s Corporate Sustainability Program
and Advisor,
CEO Water Mandate
[1] For more information about the business case
for sanitation in particular, please see: http://
[2] See:
[3] For more see here: http://www.ohchr.org/
[4] Further details about risks can be found on the
CEO Water Mandate Website and WWF websites: http://ceowatermandate.org/why-stewardship/stewardship-is-good-for-business/
[5] http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/news_
[6] Please see: http://www.ceowatermandate.
org/disclosure/ for more.
[7] For more step-by-step guidance on how
to apply a human rights lens to corporate
water stewardship please see Guidance for
Companies on Respecting the Human Rights
to Water and Sanitation.
[8] Please see Guide for Managing Integrity in
Water Stewardship Initiatives.
– CEO Water Mandate. “Stewardship is Good
for Business.” http://ceowatermandate.org/
why-stewardship/stewardship-is-good-forbusiness/. (Accessed September 9, 2015)
– CEO Water Mandate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, CDP, and the World Resources Institute.
Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines: Toward
a Common Approach to Reporting Water Issues.
September 2014.
– CEO Water Mandate, Shift, and the Pacific Institute. Bringing a Human Rights Lens to Corporate
Water Stewardship. August 2012.
– CEO Water Mandate, Shift, and the Pacific Institute. Guidance for Companies on Respecting
the Human Rights to the Water and Sanitation.
January 2015.
– CEO Water Mandate, Water Integrity Network, and the Pacific Institute. Guide for Managing Integrity in Water Stewardship Initiatives.
August 2015.
– CEO Water Mandate, UN Global Compact, and
the Pacific Institute. Exploring the Business Case
for Corporate Engagement on Sanitation: White
Paper. September 2014.
– United Nations. The UN “Protect, Respect and
Remedy” Framework for Business and Human
Rights. June 2008.
– UN Global Compact and Deloitte. UN Global
Compact Management Model: Framework for
– UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Guiding Principles on Business and
Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations
“Protect, Respect, and Remedy” Framework. 2011.
the path Forward
ucts such as Lifebuoy and Domestos
aim at not only improving local
communities’ access to sanitation and
hygiene but also focus on changing
consumer behaviour as its relates to
WASH to help ensure the long term
sustainability of such interventions.
business Case:
respect as a basis for support
A company that is reviewing how to strengthen increased access to WASH in its own facilities may learn from its workers that there is a poor understanding of sanitation in the local community which
may hamper the company’s efforts within its factories. Via engagement with workers and others it also learns that there are existing government led programs to increase awareness around WASH
in the local community. It can then decide to invest in these initiatives to both ensure that it meets its own responsibilities within its factories but also contributes to greater achievement of the right
to sanitation in the local community.
From: CEO Water Mandate and Shift, Guidance for Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation.
38 3 – 2015
than 90 percent of the sewage generated in low-income
countries, and more than 70 percent of sewage produced in lower-middle income countries, is discharged
untreated to water bodies (Van der Bliek, 2014). Adding to these countries’ situations are the fragile states of
organized, well-maintained water distribution systems,
sanitation management, and hygiene conditions. Investment in water and sanitation technologies is critical if
global health goals are to be achieved.
Despite eforts to resolve the global issue of inadequate sanitation practices, forty percent of the global
population remains without access to basic sanitation
(Smith, 2002). Many people who lack access to basic
sanitation reside in rural areas where open defecation
is practiced. Between 1990 – 2011, the rate of open
defecation decreased by nine percent globally, with the
most signiicant change occurring in Southeast Asia.
Countries such as Ethiopia, Nepal, Laos People’s Democratic Republic, and Vietnam collectively achieved a
greater than 30% decrease of open defecation over the
20-year analysis period (WHO, 2014).
Countries that have interest in improving their water,
sanitation, and hygiene conditions are often restricted
in their progress by the scarce availability of inancial
rinking water and wastewater reuse goals
and safety have advanced through the use of
the Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
–QMRA– framework and through the use
of advanced diagnostic technology for monitoring pollution sources and speciic hazards. Without an established
framework that is inclusive of sanitation to resolve issues
outside of the quality access narrative, problems will
continue to amass. herefore, it is necessary to develop
a comprehensive framework that supports the concomitance of quality, access, treatment, education, and the
adaption of risk assessment as a tool to improve water,
sanitation, and health.
he United Nations set Millennium Development
Goals –MDG– for 2000 – 2015, which included issues
on wastewater treatment, unreliable energy infrastructure, maintenance capacity, and inability to pay for
water and/or sanitation services, and infrastructure
feasibility. However, the recommendations contained
in the United Nations MDG approach were narrow or
unspeciied and often unachievable for regions striving
for compliance; the nations in question were limited
by their lack of access to inancial resources particularly
for sanitation. In developing regions of the world, more
Risk Assessment
aS a tool to Improve water,
SanItatIon, and health
Kyana R.L. Young and Joan B. Rose
resources and the mismanagement of
the resources that are available. Fewer
than 25% of countries with poor
water and sanitation conditions have
established a national sanitation plan.
Lack of a management plan may
also contribute to inefective operation and maintenance of the existing
technology, poor capacity building,
and failure to provide education for
technicians, scientists, engineers, and
managers. his overview describes
what is needed to use a QMRA approach for decisions regarding wastewater treatment technologies and
eiciencies in the developing world,
using rotavirus as the target contaminant, in order to demonstrate how
prioritized and strategic investments
can be translated into improved
health outcomes.
Investments to improve sanitation
and thereby protect ambient water
quality for multiple purposes will
require translational science and risk
frameworks that improve assessment,
evaluation, and resolution. Successful
knowledge translation includes intentional strategies to allow for communication between multi-partied
stakeholders, and the sharing of data
and information from their respective
perspectives. To achieve science informed decision making, the science
must be written for a broad audience and information made readily
accessible (Jacobs, 2005). Scientiic
frameworks with workable models
will be imperative in communicating
scientiic principles and indings to
policy makers (Xu, 2007).
Risk analysis, as a framework,
aids in resolving the communication
dilemma by translating data-intense
scientiic results into metrics presented
as evidence-based risk estimates.
QMRA has been widely accepted as a
formal process for estimating human
health risks from microbial pathogens
and infectious disease processes related
to drinking and recreational water
exposure pathways (Regli et al., 1991;
Haas et al., 2014; USEPA, 2011;
WHO, 2011). he risk framework
systematically allows for the integration of science and policy, and can
be used to determine the degree to
which control of water contaminants
can protect water quality and health,
and improve the designated uses of
waterways. he framework exempliies
the translation of science into action
through a staged process of problem
formulation, hazard identiication,
dose response, exposure assessment,
risk characterization, and risk management for informed decision-making.
Policymakers are rarely involved
directly with scientiic studies, yet
they require science to make decisions regarding implementation of
sound, evidence-based policies. While
the methodological hypothesis-based
approach –along with new tools,
technology and models– allows
for complex problems to be more
eiciently analyzed, sanitation and
water quality issues are what might
be thought of as “wicked problems”
(Brown et al., 2010). his phrase
refers to a circumstance in which the
solution to a particular problems are
not fully known and the current body
of knowledge is not accessible or communicated clearly to those who need
the information for decision-making.
With diferent values, interests,
desired outcomes, and perspectives,
the relationship between scientists
and policymakers often sufers due
to complexities of the problems and
the lack of efective frameworks to
improve communication.
Regions with limited water
supply often use wastewater either
inadvertently or with planning to
supplement their non-potable water
needs, for designated purposes such
as agricultural irrigation, recreation
and simply maintaining environmental lows. Depending on the access
to a sewer, or sanitation facility, type
of sewage treatment, water use in the
community, prevalence of infection
in the population (in this case we will
use pathogenic viruses as our target),
the inal concentration in treated
wastewater will vary and the loading
to surface water resources will also
vary. Inadequate treatment of the
fecal wastes whether using dry or wet
sanitation prior to inal disposal or
reuses only displaces the risk, these
practices posing health risks to local,
downstream and special populations.
use oF the risK analysis FrameworK
40 3 – 2015
Fig. 1. rotavirus emissions
for log
viral particles
per grid per year
Quantitative miCrobial risK assessment For sanitation: a Case study
Characterization of pathogens and
particular viruses that are persistent,
potent, and excreted in high numbers in feces or into sewerage systems
is needed, as it is clear that fecallypolluted and sewage-dominated waters
as well as wastewater reuse will be
increasing in the future. Globally, waterborne diseases include hepatitis, viral
gastroenteritis, meningitis, encephalitis,
myocarditis (norovirus, coxsackievirus).
Recently, Kuilia et al. (2015) produced the irst global map of rotavirus
emissions to surface waters. Rotavirus,
one of the key causes of childhood
diarrhea, was estimated at 2 × 10
viral particles/grid/year, of which 87%
is produced by urban populations
(Figure 1). Key monitoring data are
needed to further study pathogen concentrations in sewers, sewage systems,
through various treatment processes
and in discharges to surface water, and
to address improved management.
A detailed assessment of the
virus in both untreated and treated
wastewater is imperative. he QMRA
process follows the problem statement, hazard identiication, exposure
assessment, dose response, risk characterization, and risk management
and the resulting analysis can be
used for informed decision-making.
Speciic to this paper, for the overall
assessment when using QMRA this
can provide evidence based recommendations on how to improve water
quality, sanitation management, for
improved health conditions of the
global populations.
the problem Formulation
Increases in population growth,
and the subsequent increase consumption and withdrawal of water,
presents challenges in providing both
adequate quantity and compliant
quality of water simultaneously. With
the addition of other external factors,
such as climate changes, eutrophication, and fecal contaminated waters,
greater health risks are present for
populations who have limited access to water resources. hese water
resources have a variety of designated
uses including the provision of safe
drinking water. Vulnerable populations with limited, or no access,
to improved sanitation and water
supply, are also the populations of
people around the world who live
under water scarce conditions; they
rely on polluted waters contaminated
with harmful microbial and chemical
Viruses, in particular, are a target
for control as the adverse health
efects can be vast and immediate;
a single exposure through drinking or recreational water can cause
an outbreak that widens over the
course of days or weeks. he problem
formulation will focus on the emission and health efects in a population once they are exposed to waters
fecally contaminated with rotavirus.
Management strategies that examine
various eicacies of sewage treatment
as a public health provide an efective
approach to improving water quality.
hazard identification
cerns about new viruses and other
waterborne disease-causing agents
in sewage. New genomic tools have
been extremely useful in identifying
possible hazards. Identiication of
quantitative data on total culturable viruses using more standard
methods (e.g. Information Collection Rule methods) and new methods for other viruses, including
Quantitative Polymerase Chain
Reaction –QPCR–, are useful for
determining the concentration of
a particular virus. his advanced
characterization aids in providing
scientiic evidence and justiication
for delineating the appropriate log
reductions required by water treatment practices. Rotavirus remains
an important virus, and while a
vaccine is available, uptake is poor
in some areas. As this virus mainly
afects children’s health, a targeted
efort on both the environmental
and community health will assist in
abating other pathogenic risks.
Fig. 2. scenarios for calculating
exposure and risk associated with
sewage inputs to surface waters .
Over the last 20 years, there have
been advances in water diagnostics
and testing technologies, allowing
greater ability to monitor pathogens
at full scale. A deeper understanding of the variation in pathogen
loads found in wastewater, and of
the ability of secondary treatment
to remove these waterborne microbial agents, has been forthcoming
in water treatment advancements.
Pathogen discovery has also been
a critical driver in emerging conexposure assessment
Exposure assessment is extremely
important as countries begin to
prioritize watersheds and designated
uses of their water resources for economic development (i.e. tourism,
food security and water supply).
he pathways from the source to the
location where humans are exposed
should be fully understood for each
watershed. As mentioned above,
Kuilia et al (2015) have produced
the irst global map of rotavirus
emissions to surface waters. his
map has the resolution to address
watershed impacts with ability to
estimate concentrations based on
hydrologic conditions.
hree exposures are conceived
for this case study: sewage discharge
with and without treatment to surface waters; use of the surface waters
for cleaning, washing (hygiene),
or recreation; potable water source
with various levels of drinking
water treatment. Information that is
needed for such exposure pathways
include virus concentrations in sewage, reductions by sewage treatment
and/or dilution in to the receiving
waters; volumes associated with various uses (Figure 2).
42 3 – 2015
he dose-response data and models for viruses have been developed
for nine diferent viruses (http://
Dose_Response). hese models are
used to determine daily infection
probabilities, given a certain exposure dose. he modiied beta-Poisson
Chart 1
risk estimates for rotaviruses in surface waters
receiving sewage after treatment
Average Virus Levels
Description Washing Bathing
Drinking with 4
log removal
Exposure dose calculations
Average sewage concentrations of rotavirus (Numbers/L) 10,000 viruses/L
Sewage treatment
removal rate (%)
90 (99) 90% (99)% 90 (99)
Surface water
concentration (N/L)
with 1/10 dilution
100 (10)
viruses / L
100 (10)
viruses / L
100 (10)
viruses / L
Volume consumed
per day (L)
25 ml 30 ml 2 liters
Health risk calculations
Average dose
received (N)
2,5 (0,25)
3.0 (0.3)
0.02 (0.002)
Daily probability
of infection
Annual Health Risk Goal for Drinking Water is 1.0E-04
Daily Health Risk Goal for Drinking Water is ~E-06
Where P is the probability of
infection, dose is the number of
microbes received; a and N
are the
model parameters (a= 0,26 N
96,1) speciic to rotavirus.
(Equation 1) model has been used
for rotavirus as a model for one of
the most potent viruses tested to date
(Haas et al., 2014).
he model is deined as a probability function with two host speciic
parameters (Equation 1):
risk Characterization
he single (daily) exposure risk
was estimated for average rotavirus
concentrations in sewage at 10,000
viruses/liter with 90 and 99%
reductions by sewage treatment
(1 – 2 log
removal, 90 and 99%,
respectively). his was done considering a 1/10 dilution by the surface
water receiving the sewage and three
exposures when using the water for
i. washing clothes, ii. bathing and
iii. drinking (presuming that the
potable water plant provides 4 log
removal of viruses). Chart 1 and
shows the risks for the average levels
of viruses with two sewage treatment eicacies.
Risks are quite high –between 10
to 40%– if using surface waters for
washing or bathing with rotavirus
loading into surface water systems
at 10,000 viruses per liter; this is
including sewage treatment reducing the virus levels by 90 or 99%.
While drinking water risks are below
epidemic (or detectable outbreak
levels generally <20%) if the potable
treatment process achieves 99.99%
reduction (4 log
removal) (as suggested by the Surface Water Treatment
Rule in the United States), the risks
do not approach the goal for safe
drinking water. Risks between 1/100
and 1/10,000 would be achieved if
99.9% of viruses were removed by
wastewater treatment. his analysis
suggests that a fairly high number of
endemic infections can be expected
as a consequence of bathing in or
drinking polluted surface waters that
have received discharges of inadequately treated sewage.
risk management
here remains a need to bolster
the management of investments in
innovative water and wastewater
treatment, infrastructure, resource
recovery and environmental protection policies that translate into improved water quality and sanitation
management. It is recommended that
eforts be made to examine innovative wastewater treatment to achieve
a minimum of 99.9% reductions of
viruses unless hydrologic conditions
can be proven to provide more than a
1/10 dilution.
Characterization of the quality of
a source or ambient water system requires initial assessment, followed by
continued monitoring, so that changes in that source can be observed
over time. he transport and fate can
be informed by geological data and
sanitary surveys, and this information
can ultimately be used to characterize water quality, modeling and risk
maps. his will ensure a sciencebased approach for decisions on the
development and implementation of
sanitation technology and optimization of goals around cost, eicacy,
training needs and long-term sustainability. he results from these studies
can be used to inform policy makers
of the risks involved in not providing
drinking water complaint, and eliminating the search for relevant data in
search of making informed decisions.
With the use of QMRA, the policymakers can take decisions based
on the risks posed to their respective
communities, without the intensive
search to delve into science heavy
publications and reports. In these
situations, mathematical functions
can be used to calculate the likelihood of an adverse health outcome
when a person is exposed to rotavirus
through water consumption. hus,
appropriate, risk-based policies for
public health safety are essential.
In addition to the lack of access to
basic sanitation, 768 million people
do not have access to an improved
drinking water source; eighty-three
percent of the 768 million people
(637 million people) live in rural
areas. One hundred eighty-ive million people rely on untreated surface
water for their main water source.
Between 1990 and 2012, 2.3 billion
people gained access to an improved
drinking water source (UN, 2013).
In the next 30 years, there will be
signiicant investment in new approaches to sanitation, wastewater
treatment, and reuse. It is imperative
that appropriate log reductions of
various microbial sand chemical contaminants are achieved as the designs
are implemented to protect public
health. Otherwise, investments may
provide very little incremental safety.
– Regli, S., Rose, J.B., Haas, C.N., and Gerba, C.P.
1991. Modeling the risk from Giardia and viruses in drinking-water. Journal of the American
Water Works Association 83:76-84.
– Smith, Rosalind Stanwell. “Sanitation-Controlling problems at source.” World Health Organisation, Genf, Schweiz (2002).
– U.S. EPA. Exposure Factors Handbook 2011 Edition (Final). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-09/052F, 2011.
– Van der Bliek, J., McCornick, P., & Clarke, J.
(2014). On target for people and planet: setting
and achieving water-related sustainable development goals (No. H046660). International Water Management Institute.
– World Health Organization. “Guidelines for
Drinking-water Quality. Fourth Edition” (2011).
– World Health Organization. “Investing in water
and sanitation: increasing access, reducing
inequalities, special report for the Sanitation
and Water for All (SWA), high level meeting
(HLM) 2014.” (2014).
– Xu, Yue-Ping, Martijn J. Booij, and Arthur E.
Mynett. “An appropriateness framework for
the Dutch Meuse decision support system.”
Environmental Modelling & Software 22.11
(2007): 1667-1678.
reCommendations toward meetinG sanitation Goals
As part of the new Sustainable
Development Goals (SDG) released
by the United Nations, several goals
for water and sanitation have been
released with a target completion
date of 2030. hese goals include
ending open defecation, achieving equal access to sanitation and
hygiene, supporting communities
to improve sanitation management,
and expanding capacity-building for
developing countries. During the
next 15 years, it is imperative that
scientists, researchers, and engineers
participate in proactive endeavors to
achieve these water and sanitation
goals. Recommendations for achieving the goals include obtaining more
data on pathogens of concern in
feces and sewage. his will aid in
creating decision support tools such
as the rotavirus map presented in
this paper; the information can be
used for estimates of concentration
and occurrences of speciic pathogen in water sources. Along with
obtaining more data on pathogens,
it is imperative to use QMRA as a
model to identify and to evaluate
minimization of risk based on the
available technologies for wastewater
treatment of pathogens. Overall the
objective would be to identify technologies to achieve, at minimum,
99.9% removal (3 log removal) of
viruses. Working within the realms
of these recommendations will aid
in achieving the SDG’s and help to
improve water, sanitation and health
conditions for the global population.
Dr. Kyana R.L. Young
PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Postdoctoral Research Associate,
Michigan State University
Dr. Joan B. Rose
PhD in Microbiology
Home Nowlin Chair in Water Research,
Michigan State University
– Brown, V. A., Harris, J. A., & Russell, J. Y. (2010).
Tackling wicked problems through the transdisciplinary imagination. Earthscan.
– Jacobs, K., Garfin, G., & Lenart, M. (2005). More
than just talk: Connecting science and decision-making. Environment: Science and Policy
for Sustainable Development, 47 (9), 6-21.
– Kiulia, NM, Hofstra, N., Vermeulen, LC, Obara,
MA, Medema, M and Rose, JB. 2015. Global
Occurrence and Emission of Rotaviruses to
Surface Waters. Pathogens 2015, 4, 229-255;
– Haas CN, Rose J.B., Gerba CP. 2014. Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment. John Wiley,
New York, NY.
44 3 – 2015
awards designed especially to recognise cutting edge
water and sanitation projects and programmes around
the world. And since 2011, 11 projects have taken home
an award, over ive editions of the scheme, and with it
increased media coverage, recognition and opportunities for partnerships. No less worthy is the way in which
these projects have, through the award, been studied so
that their successes can be replicated in other parts of the
world. For years experts on the ground have been trumpeting, for example, basic hygiene education. he winners
of the Water for Life Awards, and the inalists, provide
veriiable examples of such principles in action, and the
increased recognition brought by the award – the awards
are judged by an expert panel from among the top water
experts in the world – lends these successes greater legitimacy in the eyes of decision makers.
ater and sanitation interventions are
technical. hey don’t resonate with
the public in the same way as disaster
relief missions or the plight of hungry
children. he best water and sanitation interventions
often occur in less than dramatic circumstances – after
all, the cumulative efects of open defecation in a water
source do not create explosions or tidal waves. hey
stunt growth and intellectual development. hey steal
days of work and school. hey tend to be the subject of
ruminative feature articles rather than the stuf of hold
the presses front page late edition all night front line
reporting. Likewise the solutions that quietly condemn
these issues to history.
For this reason, in 2011, the Water for Life Awards
were created. hey remain the only United Nations
The Water
for Life Awards
Joseina Maestu and Gareth George
Water for Life Awards
Best practices
Water management
“cultivando aGua boa” (winner 2015) is a systemic program based on civil society participation, where
water is the backbone for a series of actions, with the objective to ight poverty and climate change. It represents
a new way to substitute old habits with sustainable and participative practices focused on those territories where
natural resources are threatened. It works with an awareness plan composed of 60 actions, which to date has enabled the following main achievements: recuperation of 200 micro-basins in the region, upgraded water quantity
and quality, reduced soil erosion, improved life quality and social insertion of local people, reforestation of riversides, increased nature conservation and a participative water management promoting water stewardship and
sustainable land management.
he awards comprise two categories. Category I awards “Best water
management practices” and category
II awards “Best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and
education practices”. his is to differentiate between two very diferent
but equally vital interventions – ones
that change the way water resources
are managed and ones that change
the way people interact with water.
hat said, many projects and programmes incorporate elements of
both categories.
What type of projects demanded
the attention of the juries? he
variety was staggering. Winners
included a civil society engagement
project to promote water stewardship; two behaviour change outreach
programmes – one in South America,
one in India; one involving arts, the
other science. here was a project
that became part of a national school
curriculum raising awareness of
water and sanitation issues. Another
winner created an advanced water
treatment system to ensure predictable water quality for industry. Yet
another involved educating and
mobilising a population to defend
their constitutional rights to lakes
as commons. A European project
tested water quality, and reached
out to communities so the people
better understood the value of the
dry toilets they were being provided
with, and were able to get involved in
the construction and water cleaning
process. An Asian winner introduced
an innovative water management
system across an entire river basin to
ensure natural recharge of groundwater even as land use changed with the
passage of time. In Africa, one winner rolled out water tanks and pipes
with breathtaking speed to provide
water and sanitation to a city expanding beyond its boundaries. Another
project uses research and lobbies
decision makers into seeing the value
of scientiic solutions which depend
on geographical conditions – such as
solar powered irrigation pumps for
agriculture beyond the scope of the
electrical grid. But all the winners
had something in common with the
very irst – a river rehabilitation project. Where the river had been choked
with ilth, they restored it. he result
was that it once again became a
source of life and community. While
we don’t often dwell on it, where
clean water and sanitation are lacking
there can be no hope for a healthy
community. his community health
boost is something that all these
diverse projects have delivered.
Fig. 1. 2011 water for life awards
awarding Ceremony.
onE drop (winner 2015) uses water to drive change with a unique approach that empowers people to improve
their living conditions. Called the “ABCs of Sustainability”, it is based on 3 complementary components designed
to establish a solid foundation on which communities can build and lourish: Access to Water and Sanitation (“A”);
Behavior Change through Social Arts (“B”); Capital/ microloans (“C”) for economic development. Project India is
rooted in the “A” and “B” components. It is implemented in Odisha, which is among the seven poorest Indian states.
Carried out over four years (2011-2014), it implements sustainable solutions to the problem of poverty through a
WASH program designed/implemented by Gram Vikas whereby a 100% coverage/inclusion method ensures access
to a toilet, a bathing room and water available 24/7.
46 3 – 2015
what has been Gained?
Fig. 2. Category i awardees “best water
management practices”.
tHE dWS/WbSSa EcoSChool WatER PRojECt
(winner 2015) main objective is
to strengthen water education
through the Eco-School’s 7 step
framework for Education for
Sustainable Development –ESD–
learning and change. hese steps
guide schools through a learning
process which promotes water
conservation and sanitation education as well as engaging learners in enquiry-based learning
methods which empower them
to better understand their local
water context and to take action
to improve this. he project has
a strong inclusivity focus. emphasizing public participation,
participatory learning processes
and action taking for better water management and to ensure
water security for the more disadvantaged communities that do
not have access to potable water
especially in areas where water is
increasingly becoming scarce due
to climate change and poor catchment management practices.
he Water for Life Awards have been
a powerful force for change. he
winners have shone because they
were exceptional – in the scope of
their ambition, in the innovative use
of new methods and approaches, in
their ability to challenge perceived
norms to afect change. hrough the
Awards, these cases and the stories
behind them have been shared all
over the world, replicated, improved
and updated.
Bolivia is one of the poorest
countries in Latin America. Extreme poverty afects 40 percent of
the population. In Cochabamba, in
some municipalities such as Arque,
Tacopaya, Bolívar and Sacabamba,
the under-ive mortality rate is higher
than the national average. SODIS,
who won the Category 2 Award
in 2012 for their Communication
strategy for social and behaviour
change’ could not approach the situation with any kind of standardised
solution. Women in Cochabamba
are hit especially hard with waterrelated problems such as scarcity,
pollution and the increasing needs
of households and the community.
he poverty and marginalization of
women is linked with their lack of
training and empowerment. his is a
barrier to expressing their problems
and expectations in water, sanitation
and hygiene services. Any behaviour
change approach needed to address
these women, while also empowering
them to speak out.
As project leader Elsa Sanchez
said: “It’s so important that people
make decisions in processes and project
implementation because any initiative
that wants to develop to respond to the
people’s needs and problems, must it
the context in which they live.
he multiple aspects ensure that
women are empowered in their ability to identify needs, prioritize, and
participate in decision-making in
these solutions and the administration
of funds”.
he Water for Life Awards have
been a series of proofs showing just
how much more efective water interventions are when the beneiciaries
are part of the solution themselves.
he SODIS project pushed this even
further by making children ambassadors of the messages:
“I remember very well students in
Tiquipaya; how they worked with their
parents in promoting handwashing
practices and safe water consumption.
Children taught their own families
to practice. he father of a boy said:
«hank you, my son, no one has taught
me to wash my hands as you have
taught me.» It was a source of pride for
father and son.
Arriving to the Sursubi community of the municipality Conception
for a monitoring visit and to support
the implementation of the Strategy
for Health, Safe Water and Sanitation (HASS), I went immediately to
the school at the precise moment that
children were playing in the green ield.
I believe we arrived late, I thought silently. Just then I noticed a small, thin
boy about six years old with a small
bottle in one hand and a ball of cloth
worn in the other and said, «Professor,
professor, worms that were in my water
do not move anymore because I killed
them yesterday with the sun. Can I
drink it now?» At that time my heart
made a chuño [swelled] and the tears
wouldn’t wait.”
he approach proved remarkably
efective. Indeed, today Sanchez says:
“he most important lesson is that the
sustainability of projects necessarily
requires strengthening community participation and empowerment, linked to
municipal management processes, while
considering the issues of water, hygiene,
sanitation, and health education as
skills of the Gobiernos Autónomos
Likewise Singapore’s NEWater
Project has been an exemplar of superior water management, and planning for the future, can bring sustainability, and with it security, to an
economy. he Project won Category
2 in 2014, and in the words of Director George Madhaven: “Singapore
may be water scarce, but our water
programmes have made us attractive to
business, because we can guarantee a
high quality, very reliable water supply.
We can’t aford any interruption to this
supply; the jobs of Singaporeans depend
on it. So now when you see companies
like Rolls Royce in Singapore, our water
supply has played a major role in this
and all Singaporeans are beneiting.”
Singapore’s investment in its
water security has been a boon to
the standard of living across the city
state. In the 60s water sources were
toxic, with unfettered dumping
of waste of all kinds. Today water
management is central to citizens’
well-being, and thanks to repeated
public awareness campaigns, people
take care of their water sources. But
technology has played a part too.
“In the dry season we put NEWater back into the reservoirs to ensure
levels are consistent. We use membrane
technology, forcing water through a
membrane that will only allow the
water molecules through, so there’s no
chemicals involved. We are researching bio-mimicry to copy the human
kidney. It’s the most eicient iltering
machine in nature, and we are beginning to understand how it works. We
hope that in the next few years we can
introduce this.
NEWater will be the pillar of our
water supply for the next 50 years.
We have replaced the use of potable
water for industry with NEWater. In
Singapore we have lots of high impact
industry. NEWater already provides
30% of the water they use. By 2060 it
will provide 55%. his is signiicant
because our growth will be founded on
water from our own catchment.”
Water for Life Award winners
have not only impressed with their
Fig. 3. Category ii awardees
“best participatory, communication,
and education practices”.
48 3 – 2015
results, however, but also with their
approaches. ESG’s project to Protect Bangalore’s Lakes for Posterity’
faced an uphill struggle to convince
a distant middle class that building
loating hotels and shopping malls
over traditional water sources didn’t
represent “progress”.
““Protecting the lakes by planting
trees not barbed wire, so they’re not
just freshwater reservoirs but wetlands,
green havens. Now it is law that all
lakes must be surveyed and protected
with money allocated from the annual
budget”, said Leo Saldanha, project
leader. “ANow the government can
see how we can create communities
invested in rehabilitating the lakes,
which brings jobs as well as fresh water,
and as a result better health. Now other
states are watching us and learning, so
these laws are inluencing change not
just here but Kolkata, Hyderabad.”
he project won the Category
1 Award in 2012. And thanks to
ESG’s continually adapting approach, which has been inclusive of
converts to the cause, not least the
media, the project is now seen as a
model for the whole of India to better develop sustainably.
“Five years ago people were very
cynical, they thought protecting the
lakes was a lost cause. hanks to our
protests, and the media, which has been
hugely supportive, and our successful
legal challenge, they can see the results.
Now neighbourhoods are ighting to
protect their own water sources.”
Something as simple as a toilet
can spur massive change in a community, when it is supported by
educational outreach and the community is involved.
Moldova is one of Europe’s
poorest countries, but since people
have been engaged, change has been
Says Natalia Dejean of ORMAX,
“he teachers at the schools are amazed
by the reduction in absences due to sickness. hey have been halved since the
new toilet was installed. he children
say it is better. It’s not just hygiene, the
old toilet was about 300 metres outside
the school gates. he winter in Moldova
is very long, frosty, cold, and rainy. It’s
better for them to have a toilet on site
for many reasons.”
he ORMAX Safe Water and
Sanitation for All project is not
“building roads or houses. But we
empowered people to change their own
lives by educating them. hey have
become the drivers of the work and
that is very positive. I was born in
Moldova. For me it is very important
to see the people. Like anyone, these
people don’t like to be told what they
should do, what is good for them. If you
don’t speak the language you don’t see
the sincerity. Something has changed in
people’s lives here [since ORMAX began
the project in Moldova]”.
By testing the chemical composition of the water, ORMAX could
begin to examine what was afecting water quality. Open defecation
was one issue, as was the proximity
Fig. 4. Category ii
ormaX project award.
of livestock to water sources. But
another was the level of chemical
pesticides – something that had been
introduced to Moldova only relatively recently.
“Moldova is famous for its fruit
and vegetables. We educated the farmers about the composting properties of
human and animal waste, but they
already knew. heir parents used these
same sustainable techniques, then
people forgot. In the Soviet Union there
was ready access to cheap chemical solutions, so people used those.
When the education began, people
remembered their parents using the
same techniques. hey remembered
their parents’ generation was healthier.
he education helped illustrate that it
was the unsustainable fertilizer practices that was to blame.”
Again, the project helped usher
out a false progress in favour of a
traditional, sustainable approach.
One of the key things highlighted by
Award winners has been that the 21
century approaches to sustainable development are often not novel – they
were the ways in which communities
sustained themselves for hundreds of
years before industrialization.
“he chambers for the sewage waste
in the waterless toilets are large and
only two years old in many cases. he
waste may not yet be mature enough
to use for compost. But the farmers
already collect the urine from the school
and use it to help the fruit trees grow.
Apples and apricots. hese are old ways,
now remembered.”
Natalia Dejean now believes that
the last generation of Moldovans
were an anomaly. Future generations
will value sustainability from a much
earlier age: “hree years ago we began
to focus more on educating children in
the schools. he next generation of Moldovans will be much more concerned
about the environment. hey are more
sensitive towards these issues than their
parents and they become great messengers in their own communities”. he
ORMAX Project won the Category 2
Award in 2013.
One of the most inspiring
things about the Water for Life
Award Winners has been the way
in which sustainable water management can bring communities
together. Kumamoto City had no
choice but to involve farmers when
it was realized that water tables
were dropping and becoming contaminated. As the main water users,
if the farmers didn’t engage with
the process it wouldn’t work. And
what was being suggested was unorthodox. Kumamoto began looding unused paddy ields to improve
the natural water recharge.
Said Seio Utsunomiya of Kumamoto’s international afairs oice,
“Because of our eforts, we use less
chemical pesticides in agriculture which
will hopefully improve people’s health.
And we have been planting broadleafed trees to encourage biodiversity.
Already people know how important it
is to buy local produce, both to sustain
the local economy and to reduce the
carbon footprint of our foods”.
he whole community has been
engaged with clearing old paddy
ields and planting trees. People are
proud of their local produce, and
are happy to involve their children
to become more aware of their pure
groundwater and how it must be protected. his is not a quick ix scheme
– the Water for Life Awards have
consistently shown that band-aid
solutions are unsustainable.
“We plan decade by decade. We will
complete the irst decade of our project
this year. he subsidies for the farmers
to lood their land will continue; the
whole project will continue for now,
which shows how successful we have
been. But each decade we will review,
and see where we can improve. In the
future, we will expand our eforts to
neighbouring cities, more companies
will come here. his will not be a
burden, they can help. Our UN Best
Practice Award has become a symbol
and it has encouraged people to take
these eforts seriously.”
Fig. 5. Category ii
iwmi-tata project award.
50 3 – 2015
Kumamoto’s basin wide groundwater management using the system
of nature project won Category 1 in
Other Award winners have shown
us how to deal with the dramatic
changes occurring in urbanization.
he ehekwini Water and Sanitation
project in Durban, South Africa,
needed to address the dramatic inlux
of rural people who were expanding the city faster than its water and
sanitation provisions could cope.
“We couldn’t look to the past even
if we had wanted to. he processes
were diferent, as were the challenges.
Several hundred informal settlements
had sprung up, essentially communities
in transition. One million people living
in shacks. As an interim solution we
had to put in shipping containers with
showers and toilets. his was a unique
solution for a unique situation.”
his was a big shift for a country
which had previously focused on
world class interventions for a wealthy
elite while the poor were often left
unserved. his approach has led to
more sustainable communities.
“here is no more open defecation,
so family health is better. In South
Africa, we had a culture of looking
after the irst world people. We had to
change our mindset to focus on poor
communities, and to engage and talk
with them. We took responsible risks
to create what people really needed –
through a formal process of dialogue
we did things that had not been done
before. Once we identiied what was
needed we created innovative technology to bring services to the poor.”
his “Participatory and Learning
Based Approach to Raising Awareness on Water and Sanitation” won
Category 2 in 2011.
Working with decision makers
and policy, rather than directly delivering interventions that beneit the
people, IWMI-Tata’s Water Policy
Programme could easily have gone
under the radar were it not for their
Award for Category 1 in 2014. Yet
their work has impacted millions of
lives for the better.
In the words of Tushaah Shah,
project leader, “Due to this project, 40
to 50 million people have better access
to consistent electricity and groundwater
availability.[1] But they don’t relate it
to IWMI or our work. he farmers are
not our target market, we speak with
Fig. 6. Category ii
one drop project award.
policy makers. So they don’t acknowledge our work but they do beneit.”
his is one of the greatest legacies
of ive year so of the Water for Life
Awards – bringing to public prominence projects which go on beyond
the public domain. And thanks to
the success of this project and others like it: “Today there is a greater
appetite for science-based solutions.
[2] Science was divorced from decision
making and we have been bridging
the gap. here is increased acceptance
of ideas and collaboration in water
systems management.
More recently we’ve conducted research into improving partnership and
cooperation. Ten years ago, when we began this project, we didn’t understand
the craft of addressing policy messages to
decision makers. We are better now.”
Each year projects bring fresh innovations, building on the work of
previous years. he most recent winners include the dramatic eight year
regeneration of the area surrounding
the world’s largest hydropower facility at Itaipu Binacional – with their
project Cultivando Agua Boa, which
took Category 1. And a curriculum enhancing school programme
run by South Africa’s Department
of Water and Sanitation and the
Wildlife and Environment Society
of South Africa (WESSA), which
shared the Category 2 Award (for
the irst time) with ONE DROP
Project India, which uses circus
skills and theatre to raise awareness
of water and sanitation issues.
Said Jacques Rajotte, Chief
Operating and Innovation Oicer at
ONE DROP “In each of these villages
we identify a group of artists, as well as
social art tools, so depending on the issues we go to those communities knowing or having a general idea about the
issues. We also run workshops, longer
interventions where we feel that the
challenges are greater. In these cases,
project team members go to those communities for four or ive days, with a
toolbox of potential social art projects
they can use. And they start interacting
with the community and based on those
conversations, and using these speciically designed art interventions they
start the community dialoguing among
themselves and becoming more aware
of the sanitation issue, realising that
if you have a divide when it comes to
water it’s about survival and your own
community and your children.”
In conclusion, the Water for Life
Awards have brought much needed
recognition to vital water and sanitation projects all over the world. But
even more, they have shone a beacon
on best practices: in water security,
hygiene, water resources management
and the relationship between water
and policy makers, water and cities,
water and a changing world, water
and sustainable development.
he case studies from these
projects alone are invaluable for
maintaining sustainable water management practices for a sustainable
world. We look forward to seeing the
life changing solutions the winners of
tomorrow may bring.
Joseina Maestu
Director, United Nations Oice to support
the International Decade for Action:
Water for Life 2005-2015
Gareth George
Consultant, United Nations Oice to support
the International Decade for Action:
Water for Life 2005-2015
[1]. By providing regular and reliable power, JGY
made it possible for farmers to keep to their
irrigation schedules, conserve water, save on
pump maintenance costs, use labour more
efficiently and expand their irrigated agriculture rapidly. While GDP from agriculture
grew at just under 3 percent per annum for
India as a whole, Gujarat has recorded nearly
10 percent growth since the project’s inception in 2003, the highest in India. The scheme
has been so successful the government of
India has made it a flagship scheme in its 12
five-year plan for the power sector.
[2]. This is just one instance of how ITP showed
that despite a lot of potentially useful scientific research being conducted in India, it
often does not reach the policy makers –who
are willing and keen to learn from science–
because neither the research objectives nor
the research design are formulated with
them in mind.
– http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/images/waterforlifevoices/Water_for_life_completo.pdf

54 3 – 2015
sustainable use of natural resources we have available,[1]
addressing the concept of an integral ecology to which
both human and social dimensions are incorporated.
WCCE (World Council of Civil Engineers) is involved in UN’s Global Compact initiative, which commits its signatories to properly manage their environmental and social impacts, including human rights, working
conditions and corruption prevention. WCCE is also
committed to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
–SDG– approved last September by the UN General
Assembly, and the actions under discussion in the Conference of the Parties, COP-21 Paris, December 2015.
We are facing an issue, which is critical to our future
and hovers over many ields of activity of civil engineers.
Our profession, civil engineering, is committed to the social mandate of creating a sustainable world and improve
overall quality of life,[2] and such makes us contribute in
a competent, collaborative and ethical manner as experts:
• Planners, designers, builders and operators of the economic and social drive of society: the built environment;
• Custodians of the natural environment and the efficient
and proper use of its resources;
rom a sustainability perspective, away from
short-term strategies (seekers of ephemeral successes which are then displayed as wrong decisions and turned to mourning for the mistakes
and missed opportunities), we must ask ourselves a question: What future do we want?
Among the media phenomena that reach people and
create opinion we recently have had two examples of
how to resolve with drastic measures a future which is
considered as unsustainable: the bestselling novel Inferno
and the featured ilm Kingsman: he secret service. In both
examples it is shown how a few (belonging to a small elite
of power) design tragic plans to eliminate a large part of
humankind, as a solution to the problems of sustainability of our planet. Another large share of opinions is in line
with the search for new potential colonies in space, on
other planets, and so several novels and movies (Interstellar, Gravity, Avatar, Mars …) approach this discussed potential, overcoming the pessimism of more apocalyptical
views shown in movies such as Planet of the Apes, Divergent, Elysium … On other grounds, other reputed voices
such as that of Pope Francis, more focused on the reality
of our world, have risen to request a more rational and
challengeS for cIvIl engIneerIng
Tomás A. Sancho Marco
Objective 6
management conflict
• Innovators and integrators of ideas
and technology in the public and
private sectors as well as in academia;
• Risks and uncertainty managers
of natural disasters, accidents and
other threats; and
• Leaders in debates and decisions
that shape environmental policy
and public infrastructure.
Speciically regarding with water
and sustainable development, WCCE
assumed the legacy of the International Exhibition Zaragoza 2008 and
its Water Tribune, which was summarized in the Zaragoza Charter,[3]
subscribing a partnership agreement
to help this legacy contribute to the
improvement of water management
and sustainability in the world.
main Goals
and ChallenGes
here are unmistakable signs that we
have not been driven properly growth
compliant with the requirements of
he Sustainable Development
Goals adopted in 2015 ofer an
unique opportunity for countries to
promote progress in several of critical political, social, economic and
environmental development issues.
In particular, the current proposal for
a speciic objective dedicated to water
(n° 6): “Ensuring the availability and
sustainable management of water and
sanitation for all”.
Speciic targets contained in this
Objective 6 are:
6.1. By 2030, achieve universal and
equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
6.2. By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation
and hygiene for all and end open
defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women
and girls and those in vulnerable
6.3. By 2030, improve water quality
by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and
materials, halving the proportion
of untreated wastewater and
substantially increasing recycling
and safe reuse globally .
6.4. By 2030, substantially increase
water-use efficiency across all
sectors and ensure sustainable
withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity
and substantially reduce the
56 3 – 2015
number of people suffering from
water scarcity.
6.5. By 2030, implement integrated
water resources management
at all levels, including through
transboundary cooperation as
6.6. By 2020, protect and restore
water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands,
rivers, aquifers and lakes.
6.7. By 2030, expand international
cooperation and capacity-building support to developing counPublic and private sectors managers will have to face diicult choices
in allocating water resources, as they
will have to address combined diminishing supplies of water with ever
increasing demands.
Population growth and climate
change increase the pressure on water
resources. he traditional fragmented
approach is not viable any longer,
and a paradigm shift is needed: now
a holistic approach to water management is essential.
he focus of Integrated Water Resources Management is now globally
accepted as the way onwards to reach
a sustainable, eicient and equitable
development and to achieve global
management of limited water resources and resolve conlicts between
diferent demands.
So was declared by 7 Global
Organizations in 2013’s Chengdu
Declaration on Global Security in
Water,[4] which focused on the
requirements posed by water scarcity
and called for joint actions in the
ields of politics, education, research
and implementation.
Human societies are often responsible for the degradation of water
resources. For example, the every
day pouring of over 2 million tons of
sewage and wastewater from industrial and agricultural use into Earth’s
bodies of water.
We must manage water sustainability so that everyone has enough
water to drink and to stay clean and
healthy; that food producers have
enough water to meet the demands
of growing populations; that industries can have enough water for their
needs; and that countries may ensure
a stable energy supply.
Water cannot be a limiting stakeholder to economic and social development of the regions and, moreover,
cannot generate serious environmental
impacts on water ecosystems. In addition to this, sustainability should
be taken into account deined as long
term feasibility in a context of solidarity with future generations, to which
tries in water and sanitation-related activities and programmes,
including water harvesting,
desalination, water efficiency,
wastewater treatment, recycling
and reuse technologies.
6.8. Support and strengthen the participation of local communities
in improving water and sanitation management.
All of them rely on the Integrated
Water Resources Management –
IWRM– (targets 6.4 and 6.5).
we cannot leave them a scenario with
social inequality, disproportionate
economic liability or depletion of vital
natural resources such as water.
Water scarcity is twofold: irst, one
in which due to a lack of infrastructure water available to users is not the
amount which would be technically,
economically and environmentally
possible and second, one in which
even having available all the water
potential available, the water demand
overrides the resource available.
herefore, action must be driven
through enabling better supply management in all its aspects (increased
regulation of surface water, groundwater use and increased combined
use) so that when technically and environmentally feasible, no water availability will be hindered illogically and
always to the detriment of potential
consumers of lower income, the irst,
and the environment, the second.
Developing an appropriate
demand management must not
be disdained. If this is not done,
whatever its supply management,
in the end always water will still be
lacking, at least in a country with the
peculiarities of Spain. his demand
management is achieved, irst,
through regulation, followed by its
efective practical implementation by
all stakeholders, empowering a leading role to consumers.
In the study that Nobel prize
awardee Ellinor Ostrom’s carried out
on 1990 on the management of isheries, grasslands and water resources
by local communities,[5] she shows
that users themselves can avoid the
tragedy of the commons at the time
that they manage the resource. he
tragedy of the commons[6] (Hardin,
1968) symbolizes the inevitable degradation of the environment when
individuals use a scarce resource in
a common opportunistic behavior
taking precedence over the collective
interest. hese opportunistic behaviours fall into a spiral of increasing
individual use, resource degradation
and tragedy for those who live on it.
58 3 – 2015
Regarding water management,
Ostrom bases its study on the
experiences of Spanish Levante’s
orchards, the Philippines’ zajeras
and California sub-basins. In his
analysis, the author shows that
the users of these settlements have
been able to make a proper sustainable water management through
the implementation of robust and
enduring institutions over time. he
study concludes that the experience
of Spanish orchards, where the user
participates in the resource management and the degree of association
holds a pyramidal shape (sub-basin
user communities, general user
communities and basin authorities)
are success stories which may be of
interest to other countries.
So, there should be more integrated supply and demand management, overcoming concepts of
compartmentalized visions of both
issues, promoting use of an economically eicient, environmentally
acceptable resource, that would meet
its demands fostering the necessary
socio-economic activity in the affected regions.
Contribution oF Civil enGineerinG
general planning, in water and energy
management planning, urban planning, mobility and transport of goods
and waste management, as well as in
the design and construction stages.
integrated water planning and management
Public action should promote strategic and participatory water planning
and integrated management of water
in all its aspects, as a socioeconomic
and environmental resource, trying to maintain the basin unity of
watersheds to prevent or mitigate
the permanent shortage or seasonal
excess of resource.
Water planning be should extended globally and simultaneously
to a region as a whole, and needs
harmonization to be integrated
with sectoral planning and general
economic planning explicitly. Water
planning objectives’ are to increase
the availability of water for sustainable development, to protect its
quality and rationalize its uses attuned with the environment. Water
Planning addresses the quality of life
and the correction of sectoral and
regional imbalances. It requires a
permanent approach, and continuous processes of review and update,
introducing the participation of all
stakeholders in the planning process.
Its core must be technical, which
may feed the water policy framework: other regulations will build on
this framework.
Some other further relections on
water planning are:
— Water must serve all society’s and
human needs, properly coordinating them with special attention to
food and energy.
— Planning should be a “bottomup” process. Participatory processes are a guarantee for the
effective implementation of the
agreed measures. These processes
should have their scope properly
adjusted (subject and grade),
respecting the priority role of
water users, who must cooperate
especially in the management and
conflict resolution and problems
that may arise, as well as the
funding of the measures adopted.
— Planning studies and management decisions must be carried
out by duly qualified, holisticallyoriented interdisciplinary teams,
but led by those more specifically
trained professionals in water issues, hydraulic civil engineers.
— The regional scope to such studies should be river basin water
systems, with its related groundwater systems, overriding any administrative and political barriers.
It is noted that a large part of the
world’s land, population and resource are located in transboundary basins.
— Water planning should be based
on a thorough compilation of
available resources, existing and potential demands, and its decisions
are to be taken based on models to
appraise the impacts of any alternatives on development, on society
and on the environment.
We, civil engineers, are eager to apply the available tools we know and
should be applied to contribute to the
sustainable development during all developmental stages of infrastructure: in
I would like to highlight following ive areas of speciic contribution
of civil engineers to sustainable development in the ield of water.
It should also be noted that water
initiatives are slow, and lack of longterm policies should be overcome
to uphold the necessary payback of
water investments. All agencies and
studies state that water investments
are the most proitable socially and
economically, but their maturation
period of deinition, execution and
commissioning is long, usually higher
than political oice mandates, making more attractive to political oicers short-term investments. But it is
proitable to invest in water: according to WHO, apart from the unquestionable improvement this will imply
for millions of people, there is a
potential economic beneit of $ 3-34
for every dollar invested in water
and sanitation. In the United States,
publications estimate the return of
hydraulic investments, just in terms
of avoiding damage to extremes, is in
the order of 1-6 ratio (cost-beneit).
Statistical data from show that 1 m
of water yields an average of 27 €
compared to a production cost less
than the euro.
Spain ofers successful models
to address the growth experienced
in its twentieth century, where the
population mostly became urban,
quad folded, and domestic water
demand multiplied by 24. Hectares
of irrigated land skyrocketed from
900,000 to 3,400,000 Ha, as well
as hydroelectric installed power
from 200 megawatts to 17,000
megawatts, from a 296 km channel network to one holding tens of
thousands of kilometers of canals,
from 57 to over 1,200 large dams,
10 liters per capita daily demand to
three hundred. We created basin organizations (Water Authorities) for
better water management, and we
transfer about 1 km
to ensure water
security and correct imbalances …
Spanish hydraulic engineering
milestones throughout its historical
development and the knowledge acquired through them, places Spain as
a leading and state of the art country
regarding solutions and technologies
for eicient water management and
water-related technologies, being a
reference in planning and integrated
water resources management as well as
in the use of unconventional resources, reducing its energy expenditure.
his progress in the ield of water
technology is fuelled by a historic
drive, based on Spain’s geography,
being a country with a delicate
water balance as a result of an irregular rainfall regime. his has led,
throughout our history, to stir up the
wit of the professionals responsible
for the exploitation of the resource
and their colleagues. Among these
milestones we can ind the approval
of the Water Act, back in 1866, and
the creation in Spain of the irst
basin authority in the world, the
Confederación Sindical Hidrográica
del Ebro, in 1926, which resulted in
an administrative model for water
management to be replicated in
many countries.
It should also be noted that
our country holds the fourth largest inventory of large dams in the
world, with about 1,200 employees
in charge for infrastructure operation
and regulation, lood control and,
less frequently, recreation usage.
On these grounds, we are technology leaders in water supply systems, sanitation and water treatment
with special emphasis on desalination and water recycling. he brief
summary of the historical activity
of Spanish hydraulic engineering
brings up evidence to conclude that
Spain has achieved excellence and
international recognition, not only
on drinking water technologies but
Fig. 6. the spanish water Governance
Framework seGa, a successful case.
60 3 – 2015
also in modernization of irrigation,
water treatment, in desalination, use
of recycled water, etc.
he current challenge is to address
the worldwide solution to the problems posed by water scarcity, conducted from a sustainable approach
that would unquestionably include
water planning and water management, clearly participated by the
public, led by hydraulic engineering
professionals to its accomplishment.
It is this moment when these practices: water planning, environmental
restoration, and the design and calculation, maintenance and operation
of water infrastructure from catchments to regulation and distribution
networks, through puriication plants
and water treatment, require the performance of professionals with speciic
knowledge gained from previous
training and subsequent experience in
the ield of hydraulic engineering.
Unfortunately, in these times, on
many occasions the role of engineering is underestimated when it should
be remembered that his former
activity brought up the great development that has taken place over the
past, and engineering will always be a
driver for progress which has always
been a cornerstone to face the present
and future challenges.
the water, food and energy nexus
Humanity faces the challenge of ending hunger in a time when population growth may cause serious water
stress in certain regions of the world.
Irrigation (along with rules of fair
international trade) is the best guarantee to address the food needs of the
population, but it needs to improve
its eiciency and productivity.
In general, the most commonly
used surface irrigation technique in
most developing countries is lood
irrigation, having a very low implementation both localized irrigation
and sprinkler irrigation.
he great advantages of localized
irrigation is its eiciency, not only
in saving water but by its automation capabilities and improvements
to farmers’ quality of life which can
drive modernization of irrigation in
developing countries, which engineering, with its experience and expertise,
must assume as a new challenge.
Within this objective several other
infrastructures necessary to ensure
water for irrigation may be built
such as regulation works, may them
be large dams or irrigation ponds.
he modernization of currently
existing irrigation systems is key to
the sustainability of our planet, not
only through water consumption but
through its quality and good condition of water bodies and their associated ecosystems.
Moreover, water and energy are
strongly imbricated. Water provision processes require energy input
for water catchment, transportation,
treatment and regeneration, and also,
many of the most common energy
processes need water, as a transfer medium, coolant or in steam cycles, etc.
he water has a very important
role in power generation. From
hydroelectric energy power source
to cooler of thermal power plants.
Energy is essential for the supply
and treatment of water (about 8%
of world energy is devoted to water)
and although there is still a long way
to ensure universal access to water
supply and sanitation in many coun-
tries, the power supply in developing
countries is even lower. More than
2,000 million people in these countries do not have access to electricity.
he Water Energy Nexus is not often considered in the planning or political levels. It is essential to integrate
the management of these two resources, because it improves the savings and
increases water and energy eiciency.
Today, this is of vital importance in a
context of growing world population
and therefore its demands. Improving energy systems can not only save
energy but also the water used in its
generation and if we improve water
management, we can spare part of the
energy required for its supply.
Globally, there has been a signiicant commitment to the development
production by renewable energy
sources. Its main objective is to generate energy in an eicient and environmentally friendly way, processes which
also save a lot of water. Engineering, as
a result of the Industrial Revolution,
plays a key role in this objective.
he global energy outlook has
deinitely been conditioned by our
present concern on climate change
caused by the emission of greenhouse
gases. Today the world’s population is
aware of the need to protect the environment and use environmentally
friendly methods of energy production[7] (see Figure 7).
he global analysis of the WaterEnergy Nexus assesses the signiicant
cost that requires the integrated
management of the water cycle. Each
cubic meter of water collected requires an expenditure of energy that
can be deined as its energy footprint.
Even today, this concept has not been
accounted enough in the analysis
of investment associated with water
planning, since it is assumed that it is
borne by the end user or consumer.
he energy footprint of water in a
given process can be deined considered as the sum of the water input
units of each stage of the process and
depends on the characteristics of the
system to which it is applied. hereWATER IS KEY
Increased agriculture production from water management will be essential to ensure food supplies in the world and
achieving food security. Increasing water scarcity and more intense rainfall events will be the feature changes in the
overall pattern of water availability due to climate change. hese changes create a serious and continuous threat to
stable agricultural production, in particular to irrigated areas in the world. A secondary threat posed is the loss of
productive land due to increased barren (and associated salinity), the groundwater reservoirs’ depletion and the increase of the sea level.
By 2030, it is estimated that irrigated areas will be under increasing pressure to raise productivity per water input,
both to bufer the more volatile production of dry crops and respond to declining water availability. Managing this
production risk caused by the increase of barren land and more variable rainfall events will require systems for dry
and irrigated crops which should become more responsive and lexible in approach.
In the short term, the progressive adjustment of large-scale operation and drainage systems will be essential to ensure
greater cultivation intensity to close the breach between actual and potential yields. Key adjustments for maintaining
cultivated areas in irrigation schemes include:
• Optimizing operational storage and distribution through provision of on demand water services.
• Protect serviced areas from any damage caused by floods and maintaining drainage outlets.
• Introduce more water efficient farming practices and adjust institutional capabilities to ensure planning performance.
Negotiating allocations and inlows of water to agriculture across river basins among competing sectors will be an
essential prerequisite for improved operating performance and productivity gains.
Well targeted investments in small-scale water control services and the improvement of services on a larger scale
and institutional reforms, will become in the medium term. Other strategies that can be used to increase water productivity directly or that have indirect water-saving beneits include:
• Reducing soil evaporation through the adoption of conservation agriculture practices.
• Planting more water – efficient crop varieties.
• Improving soil productivity to increase the yield per unit of water used.
• Decreased runoff from cultivated land.
• Reduce crop water requirements by microclimatic changes and reuse of water for agricultural purposes.
Finally, in the long term, a transition needs to be anticipated towards a new irrigated agriculture more speciic to
areas afected by water scarcity and where commercial agriculture may be possible.as
62 3 – 2015
fore, and although it has always been
sought to improve processes to save
energy, potential energy savings derived from a more rational use of water are still very important and only
through comprehensive approaches
joint water and energy savings may
be addressed.
he challenges linked to climate
change can be divided into four key
areas: greenhouse gases, hydrological
vulnerability, mitigation of climate
change and adaptation. he energy
sector is a major user of water, as
already mentioned, and water and energy policies should be studied in close
coordination. Hydropower provides
solutions in both directions in this regard. On the one hand generates clean
energy and on the other, contributes
to the storage of fresh water.
he market for Clean Development Mechanism –CDM– is beginning to play an important role in
providing renewable energy to the
developing world. It is expected that
the hydropower sector continues to
be one of the main contributors to
the carbon credit market.
Hydropower is currently the
only means through which energy
from the sun, wind or water can be
integrated into the energy mix. Enabling safe integration of renewable
energy due to the lexibility of the
hydropower generation technologies,
which should serve as backup for the
complicated management of renewable sources’ energy production.
Hydropower generation technology
can be described as renewable, proven,
reliable and currently capacitated to
produce far more electricity than all
other renewable sources together.
Hydropower is used in more than
150 countries, with 11,000 plants
built and around 27,000 generation units installed. he worldwide
installed capacity is around 900 GW
of power. hese igures may be combined with those obtained through
reversible systems (pump-turbine) in
existing plants, estimated between
120 GW and 150 GW more.
Fig. 7. the world bank report thirsty energy
has stressed the important role of water for secure energy supply.
Fig. 8. source: international energy agency (2011).
Fig. 10. Green water defense (Gwd), conceptual framework.
Fig. 9. source: luis berGa, iCold, honorary president.
he average annual production
of hydroelectric power worldwide
is around 2,600 TWh , representing approximately 16% of the total
energy produced.
And there is still signiicant room
for growth in hydroelectric generation, in a safe and sustainable manner.
extreme risk
management: floods
Between 1985 and 2009, 2,900
signiicant looding episodes have
occurred worldwide because of which
more than 175,000 people have been
killed, and more than 2,600 million
have been afected. In 2009, property
damage related to looding exceeded
7,700 million.
In Europe, major loods between
1998 and 2004 were the cause which
put into force an European Directive
on the assessment and management
of lood risks after the loss of more
than 700 human lives and economic
losses over to 25,000 million euros
during the above mentioned period.
Current knowledge has highlighted the merits of conducting
Adaptive Flood Management, a trend
internationally accepted today. his
involves the application of a series
of measures to reduce the efects of
looding. Some of them are more traditional, and others more recent and
in line with green infrastructures and
management measures, which internationally have been named “Green
Water Defense” –GWD–.[8]
he GWD approach makes full
use of the role of ecosystem (in form
of natural forces and processes) and
seeks to balance the structural and
nonstructural measures promoting
an efective development and improvement of both land and water
For example, changes in land uses
and water (in the layer of the Occupation) can impact positively or
negatively on health and ecosystem Fig. 11. the layer model for deltas. source: vrom, 2001.
64 3 – 2015
function (the base layer) and lead to
new requirements in infrastructure
development and operation (the
Network layer). Similarly, payment
for ecological services through the
protection of mangrove forests (Base
Layer) allows farmers to live and
grow along the coast (in the layer of
the Occupation). he three spatial
layers linked by GWD concept, function as a dynamic system to contribute to water security and lexibility.
he GWD approach adheres to the
criterion of cost-efectiveness for advice and options for the prioritization
and selection of measures, based on
the concept of acquisition-risk reduction ‘taking into account social and
environmental costs and beneits.
In the United States, to defend
against the risk, it has been adopted a
new paradigm in the same vein, adding to the traditional view (dams and
dikes-channeling) a series of nonstructural measures, and sharing its
implementation among all stakeholders, both public and private.[9]
Risk reduction is clearly seen
as a collaboration between diferent levels of government and the
afected citizens. Candidates must
be active participants in the process
of deining, sharing, accepting and
choose risk levels. In this sense, the
public must move from the traditional view where it is expected that
engineers or experts would “solve
the problem”, or the illusion that
somehow infrastructure buildup
would eliminate all risks to a new
vision based on accepted standards
of risk through processes based on
informed consensus.
Fig. 12. Flood risk management
(usaCe hQ 2012).
smart cities
Some very important challenges lie
ahead regarding water, resulting from
global change:
a) Population growth and concentration of population in cities, which
50% now will happen to host 70%
of the world population in 2050.
c) The increase in living standards,
leading to a greater supply of water per person, and especially in
developing countries.
d) The space-temporal resource
variability, which is expected to
increase as a result of the trends
related to climate change.
Facing these major challenges we
must act, applying appropriate solutions, based on successful experiences
known and the search for new possibilities available today. In a recent
workshop hosted in Spain, WCCE
concluded the following:
General remarks
— The water required to meet basic water supply and sanitation
a) Allocates, both presently and in
the near future, 13% of total water demand worldwide (600 km
today, 900 km
in 2030).
b) Should be considered a basic right
of the individual, and as such
should be guaranteed by public
c) Must be combined into (even
more due to the growing gap
between available resources and
demands) an integrated water
resources management –IWRM–,
carrying out an appropriate strategic water planning which:
) provides precise restrictions on
environmental grounds
) preserve and protect the sources
of better quality for human supply as first priority
d) The true availability of these resources for a sustainable urban
water cycle without inducing
negative impacts requiring:
• A thorough planning within a 10
or 20 years time horizon.
• A stable development and funding in the medium and long term,
with legal and financial security.
• A demanding engineering effort to
build infrastructure and to manage
them, prior and posterior to any
urban water use.
• Legal capacity to intervene in territorial and urban planning.
• A comprehensive, proper and optimum sized action, upper than local authority, with defined powers
to obtain the necessary economies
of scale and scope which may provide an efficient service.
• A huge engineering effort through
the water cycle: to enable the flow
of water through a water tap to
citizens, great engineering activity unfolds, both before –offering proper access in quantity and
quality– and after –evacuating and
treating it properly–.
• Transparency and public communication to citizens by water services, enabling their participation
in terms of matter and their level
of interest.
• Adaptation to the local circumstances, both in the decision of
the management model to apply,
as the amount to be provided, its
funding mechanism and its education and capacity building.
Technical aspects
• The water storage amount in dams
(or available in groundwater deposits) is the most closely related indicator to supply security, and must
be managed hiper annually taking
into account drought cycles.
• Alternative resources (desalination,
regeneration and utilization) are
more expensive and increase energy
dependence, so they should be considered as complementary sources,
not a substituting alternative.
• It is necessary to control and monitor the resource in quantity and
• The benefits for network sectorization (consumption control, leakage
control, investment planning) and
connections and distribution rings
must be highlighted.
• The importance of sanitation and
treatment of wastewater is vindicated on the same level as water
supply, as it affects the sustainability of the resource and the health
conditions of the population.
These cannot be left out of sync,
to a later date, once the minimum
subsistence level is exceeded.
• The modernization of systems and
the provision of a “smart” factor
which will enable them the best
operation and management available, via R&D and knowledge
Our cities should move towards
the concept of “smart cities”. his
concept goes beyond the application
of the latest technologies to the cities
because they must incorporate the
criteria of the Local Agenda 21 and
align to the Europe’s 2020 strategy
2020. Such requires, among other
things, an overview in the planning,
taking into consideration aspects like
resource scarcity and climate change,
a decentralized vision of the city,
with a signiicant contribution of
its diferent neighborhoods; and the
involvement of the people in deining
the city’s future.
improving governance
On the one hand, civil engineers
want to contribute to the improvement of governance with an active
prevention of corruption scourge
afecting public works contracts.
he alliance that WCCE has
established with GIACC –Global
International Anti Corruption Centre–, through the the publication
of corruption prevention manuals
in both Spanish and English and
workshop celebration in its various
member countries are in line with
such initiative.
On the other hand, we have to
contribute to the improvement of
water governance providing new
mechanisms and methodologies.
he governmental and non-governmental stakeholders can achieve
its planning and water management
objectives by improving the relationship between them. At a basin level,
there are at least four mechanisms
66 3 – 2015
that may help. Participation, transparency, fair and honest conduct and
conlict management.
Participation deines the process
by which non-governmental stakeholders are involved to some degree
in collective action. he government
decides what level of power is to be
ofered to those participating. his
power can range from mere information, through consultation and
coordination (with consultation
mechanisms in stable structures) to
consensus and co-decision.
Transparency is condition to
genuine participation. Basically,
transparency refers to the quantity
and quality of information that a
stakeholder makes available to others in regards to the decisions taken.
hese decisions can afect individuals (eg, recognition or suppression of
individual rights by the authorities)
or a group of individuals. Transparency is a feature especially required
to the government. Lack of transparency, both in terms of the decisions
that afect individuals or decisions
afecting groups, inluences strongly
the perception that other stakeholders may have on such federal /
national action.
Fair and honest conduct is also
required to all stakeholders, not just
the government. his principle refers
to the extent that all stakeholder
actions are guided by the principle
of common good and do not take
advantage of other stakeholders. As
in the case of transparency, fair and
honest conduct would be predicated
not only on decisions that afect
individuals but on those that afect
communities. However, it seems
that behaviours which are afecting
individuals should the most important object of the honesty of the
action. For example, it is required
from a fair and honest government
not to conduct initiatives or register
grants which would privilege some
stakeholders over others. his fair
and honest conduct may also require
users by requesting them not to
use more water than their granted
license, for example.
Finally, management conlict is
a mechanism that has enormous
importance at basin level. he resolution of the conlict will sometimes
require authority action and other
times, only mediation. he conlict is part of the relations between
sometimes divergent interests on
how public goods are to be managed,
so the ability to manage conlict is
increasingly necessary if we want to
achieve good governance. Conlict
resolution is a shared responsibility
between government and nongovernmental stakeholders.
he involvement of diferent
stakeholders to the federal / national
authorities in water management
would not eliminate the fundamental
role played by the authorities, but
it would change them, because the
power national / federal government
can no longer act as sole manager
or simply as authority, but should
lead the basin. he changing role of
leadership monopoly of the basin
involves some changes. In addition,
the government should still be able
to intervene should other stakeholders fail to agree on targets or how to
reach them. his is especially necessary when public good is considered
strategic and the risk that private
stakeholders may act against future
generations (for example, extracting
more water than ecologically sustainable) is present. As a result to this
shift in emphasis from command and
control to negotiation and persuasion, the governmental decision makers must acquire a new skill set. In
contrast with the typical management
skills (planning, organizing, staing,
directing, coordinating and budgeting), in the area of governance, the set
of skills of public decision-makers are
activation, orchestration and modulation (Salamon 2002 ).
he activation skills foster the
various stakeholders to participate
constructively and to engage in joint
problem solving. Orchestration skills
serve to support the networks set as
orchestra conductors, directing that
all musicians to play the same piece
synchronously with the necessary
harmonies to avoid the cacophony.
In a basin, the ability to orchestrate
the various interests involves the
ability of enabling the alignment of
individual goals with collective goals.
he modulation set of skills deines
the modulation of incentives, as rewards and punishments are necessary
to encourage cooperative behavior. In
the area of governance, public policy
makers are constantly faced with
the dilemma of deciding how much
authority or how much assistance
(grant) is “enough” and how much is
too much. If the authority is excessive, “partners” may decide not to
cooperate; if there is no authority,
public goals can be obviated for the
sake of private interests. If subsidies,
for example, to implement new irrigation systems are inadequate, they
will not be adopted; if excessive, they
will run the risk of inancing an investment that would in any case had
been developed.
Good governance presumes users
to become actively involved in the
management of water resources with
the authorities of other levels of government, establishing mechanisms
for relations between stakeholders
(mainly participation, transparency,
fair and honest conduct and conlict
management) and trying to ind
objectives that go beyond the speciic
outputs of particular intervention
programs, but the objectives of
increased water quality, improvement
of the economic development and
social welfare for all basin stakeholders and inhabitants.
he coaching staf (engineering and other disciplines) must
make great educational eforts, also
through the media, for citizens to
participate and act on the basis of
adequate information.
Final remarKs
It’s time for action. A time in which
engineering is needed, where hydraulic engineering professionals
are needed to lead the process and
culminate it successfully. One of the
lessons learnt from history should
be the successful development of the
twentieth century in much of our
globe provided and driven by engineering. We should learned from our
errors: environmental conditions that
were not anticipated and managed
timely, but such errors –which obviously requires efective action, and is
now being addressed– should not be
magniied or overruled their beneits. Another essential pillar to the
solution, Integrated Water Resources
Management was adopted and fostered by hydraulic engineers.
Regarding of water, engineering is
essential to all: he necessary structures for its use, as well as for the following operation and maintenance,
planning and resource management,
water systems modeling, optimization, data collection (quantitative
and qualitative), regulation, distribution and transport, puriication
and water treatment, lood control,
determination of lood areas, dam
safety, droughts special plans … Professional activities all which require
capacity and speciic knowledge, and
cannot and should not be relied on
hands diferent from professionals
and expert companies.
One thing is the times require
new skills such as transparency
and participation –and quite another (and an error to avoid)– is that
leadership is relinquished from the
most prepared professionals. None of
the above mentioned activities may
be carried out successfully without
the supervision of skilled hydraulic
engineers, who can also propose the
most eicient actions from a holistic point of view. Our professionals
remain at the forefront of knowledge,
and are willing to contribute with
their work to a suitable basis for the
corresponding political and social
processes. Hence the timeliness of the
cooperation derived from our role as
UN Water partner, which is bearing
good fruit such as this series of Water
Tomás A. Sancho Marco
Civil Engineer
WCCE Past-President
World Council of Civil Engineers
[1]. Papa Francisco (2015), Laudato si Encyclical.
[2]. ASCE, Vision for Civil Engineering 2025,
authorized by the Association of Civil Engineers, Channels and Ports (Spain) translation, 2010.
[3]. Water Tribune, Zaragoza International Exhibition “Water and Sustainable Development”
(2008), Zaragoza Charter. Zaragoza Charter:
[4]. Global Water Security Declaration, IAHR,
WCCE and other global organizations,
Chengdu, 2013. Global Water Security Declaration, Chengdu 2013: https://www.iahr.
[5]. Ostrom, Elinor (1990) Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective
Action. New York, Cambridge University Press.
[6]. Hardin, G. (1968) “The Tragedy of the Commons”, Science, 162, pp. 1243-1248. Grow
in Concert with Nature: Green Water Defense
for Flood Risk Management in East Asia. The
World Bank and Water Partnership Programme, 2012. Water-related disaster risk
reduction (DRR) management in the United
States: floods and storm surges. Jerome Delli
Priscoli and Eugene Stakhiv. Water and Policy, nº 17 (2015).
[7]. Rodriguez, Diego J., Anna Delgado, Pat
DeLaquil, and Antonia Sohns. (2013).
“Thirsty Energy.” World Bank, Washington
DC. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/
[8]. Grow in Concert with Nature: Green Water
Defense for Flood Risk Management in East
Asia. The World Bank and Water Partnership
Progamme, 2012.
[9]. Water-related disaster risk reduction (DRR)
management in the United States: floods and
storm surges. Jerome Delli Priscoli and Eugene Stakhiv. Water and Policy, nº 17 (2015).
[10]. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization).
2003a. Agriculture, Food and Water. A contribution to the Word Water Development Report. Rome.
[11]. 2011a. The State of the Word´s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture: Managing Systems at Risk. Rome/London, Land and
Water Division, FAO/Earthscan.
[12]. 2011b. Climate Change, Water and Food Security. FAO Water Report, no. 36. Rome, FAO.
[13]. UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza
Conference (2014) Final Report: “Partnerships for improving water and energy access,
efficiency and sustainability”.
[14]. Parrado, Salvador y Sancho, Tomás A.
(2004) “Los organismos de cuenca: puntos
fuertes y reflexiones para su mejora”. II Congreso Internacional de Ingeniería Civil, Territorio y Medio Ambiente, tomo 2, pp. 935-946
68 3 – 2015
he new vision, corresponding to the present time
and future prospects, based on recognition of climate
change and the need for a change of direction, also makes
it necessary to endeavour to reduce inequalities, preserve
equal opportunities and, inally, use a new toolbox which
will allow us to guarantee a better future. It is no longer
possible to view this future from a fortiied Europe but
rather, as we have seen so harshly with the migratory phenomenon and the personal drama which entails, it compels us to seek forms and formulae of global governance
for an interconnected world without borders. Water again
plays a fundamental geostrategic role.
Water may represent a serious challenge but, if managed eiciently and fairly, it can play a key facilitating role
in strengthening the resilience of social, economic and
environmental systems in the light of fast and unforeseeable
changes. Technological disruption must necessarily reach a
sphere such as water resource management, which represents
a challenge for governments, companies, professionals and
academics. Knowledge management is thus once again the
key to a great leap forward in solving the problems raised.
he debate between sustainable and/or longlasting may be passionate in the ield of
linguistics. It is, however, clear that the
paradigm generally accepted as sustainable
development will deine the new age of humanity. In
this future and liquid reality, water is called upon to play
a central role. Sustainability refers both to our productive model, and also to the structure of our societies and
to the shaping of our cities, whose accelerated growth
all over the planet represents one of the main risks for
the preservation of our natural resources. he idea, the
concept, is not new. It was formulated in the seventies
and arose from the demographic explosion and energy
crisis of that decade. Paradigm is, however, a term of
Greek origin (parádeigma), meaning model, pattern and
example. In a broad sense, it is something which has to
serve as a guide or roadmap to be followed, the instructions of a group which establishes limits and determines
how a person or organization should act within such
established parameters. Sustainable development is,
therefore, our roadmap.
Water for a sustainable
new paradIgm, new vISIon
Ángel Simón Grimaldos
sustainable development
climate change
water resource
knowledge transfer
publiC and private responsibility
he central idea of the deinition
of sustainable development made by
the Brundtland Commission is intergenerational solidarity or justice: the
commitment to future generations.
he depth and breadth of the deinition have enabled it to enlist the
support of numerous organizations,
contributing new perspectives to the
sustainability of a constantly changing planet, with a growing population increasingly concentrated in
cities, the urban environment, with
the consequent progressive abandonment of rural areas.
he former Prime Minister of
Norway, a member of the United
Nations High Level Global Sustainability Panel, explained, in a conference organized by the Agbar Foundation on the occasion of World
Water Day 2015, that the traditional
separation between the public and
the private sector is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and therefore joint
actions will be crucial to confront
the dangers of climate change and
encourage a green and circular
economy, which allows resources to
be preserved and reused.
Not only the public sector and
society as a whole need to be globally responsible, but also the business
community. Companies are also
obliged to set an example, because
society demands behaviour which
fully incorporates a new virtuous
circle based on the green economy
and the reuse of waste. he citizens
shareholders for the common good,
in particular regarding water.
We must therefore be able to
relect all the environmental and
human costs of economic decisions
and establish lags, alerts and criteria
which clarify the consequences and
the costs, both of action and inaction. his means that contamination, including carbon emissions,
must not be free, that subsidies (in
the form of free contamination) for
fossil fuels must be progressively
eliminated and that we must ind
new formulae to measure or assess
development beyond GDP.
One of the biggest challenges
faced by the international community
is to establish common principles so
that developing countries may apply
growth policies which are low in carbon emissions, while the more developed countries reduce their emissions.
he former are going to experience
a higher population increase, more
energy needs and a more pronounced
population and urban development
growth. Good global results may conceal growing inequalities, not only on
the global level, but also at the heart
of these developing countries.
Fig. 1. Collblanc command control.
A long time has passed since 1980
when United Nations introduced
the expression sustainable development into the international debate
in the document “World Conservation Strategy”, with the subheading
“Living Resource Conservation for
Sustainable Development”. Just a few
years later, in 1987, the former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem
Brundtland raised the alarm in the
report “Our Common Future”, which
conceived and institutionalized the
concept of sustainable development,
subsequently incorporated into all
UN programmes, becoming the focal
point of major international meetings such as the Earth Summit, held
in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
As deined in that document,
sustainable development is that
which meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability
of future generations to meet their
own needs. Sustainable development focuses on the idea of needs,
in particular the basic needs of the
poorest people in the world, which
must be given priority, and on the
idea of establishing certain criteria
and limitations so that economic
growth does not further erode our
environment, the defence of which
has ceased to be a national or local
task becoming a global issue.
70 3 – 2015
At the end of last September, UN
approved the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in New York.
heir aim is to set the post-2015
agenda. hat is to say that they are
a new action plan to continue and
complete the work of the former
MDG (Millennium Development
Goals) up to the year 2030. he
major new development that they
present is their special emphasis on
the involvement of companies of all
and complete the work of the former
MDG (Millennium Development
Goals) up to the year 2030. he
major new development that they
present is their special emphasis on
the involvement of companies of all
sizes and from all sectors to achieve
a sustainable and inclusive economy.
Responsible production and consumption patterns and sustained
industrial growth must prevail in this
economy. We should not lose sight
of the fact that the world population
is growing enormously. A circular
economic model must therefore be
built which beneits everyone and, in
this respect, the business sector will
play a decisive role.
sizes and from all sectors to achieve
a sustainable and inclusive economy.
Responsible production and consumption patterns and sustained
industrial growth must prevail in this
economy. We should not lose sight of
the fact that the world population is
growing by leaps and bounds. A circular economic model must therefore
be built which beneits everyone and,
in this respect, the business sector
will play a decisive role.
At the end of last September, the
UN approved the 17 Sustainable
Development Goals (SDG) in New
York. heir aim is to set the post-2015 agenda. hat is to say that they
are a new action plan to continue
Fig. 2. navarre irrigation channel.
water, main ConCern For the neXt 10 years
he World Economic Forum held
in Davos this year, in addition to
expressing its fear of worldwide
political instability, situated water as
the main cause for concern over the
next 10 years, followed by our failure
of the ight against climate change.
Business leaders are beginning to become aware that the current model of
growth is not viable in the medium
and long term. Moreover, since the
US president, Barack Obama, recognized the existence of the planet’s
global warming, this issue has gained
mommentum on the international
political agenda. Even Pope Francis,
in his encyclical Laudato si, gave a
irm warning stressing the need to
care for our common home, our planet
and its natural resources, with a special mention for water.
Water, as I was saying, is at the
centre of sustainable development.
Water is vital when it comes to
reducing the worldwide burden of
diseases and improving the health,
welfare and development of countries, of their citizens, and is essential
for the production and preservation
of a series of beneits and services
that people enjoy. Water is also at the
heart of the adaptation to climate
change, being a crucial link between
the climate system, human society
and the environment. Indeed, water
is the lifeblood of the Earth. For the
irst time, thanks to remote sensors,
science has a way to monitor water
during each phase of its natural cycle:
when it falls as rain or snow, when it
lows toward the rivers, when it is extracted from aquifers, when it returns
to the atmosphere through evaporation or when it is reused for diferent
purposes. Researchers rely on what
has been learnt to predict droughts,
announce loodings, protect drinking
water and improve crops.
he recent water crisis in California has converted this state into a sort
of laboratory for remote-sensing projects. Over the last three years, a team
from NASA has been devoted to ly
over Yosemite National Park with an
aircraft equipped with speciic instruments to measure the accumulations
of snow which feed Hetch Hetchy
Reservoir, the main supplier of water
to San Francisco. he smaller quantity
of water reaching the rivers and reservoirs of California has led the authorities to restrict the volume supplied to
the state’s farmers. he reaction of the
farm owners has been to extract more
water from the wells to irrigate their
ields and, consequently, the groundwater levels have gone down. his
is precisely one of the fundamental
problems that we are facing: depletion
of part of the planet’s aquifers, which
supply at least a third of the water
that Humankind consumes. Some
data available indicate that half of the
world’s aquifers are being emptied
faster than they are recharged, above
all in the Arabian peninsula, India,
Pakistan and the north of Africa.
he dynamic interactions between
climate change and freshwater resources on earth are closely linked to
the availability of good quality water
for human consumption. At present,
at least half of the world’s population
depends on groundwater for safe consumption. With the current urban
growth forecast, it is expected that by
2050 demand will have increased by
55%, meaning that water management will become a strategic issue. In
most areas of the world, the problem
is not the lack of fresh drinking water, but rather the bad management
and distribution of the water resources available. his is where knowledge
transfer becomes the most efective
way of cooperation.
the main verteX oF a vital trianGle
he liquid element plays a decisive
role in the Water-Energy-Food triangle, as it is an essential requirement
for the other two. You just need to
look at what happens when searching
for life on other planets in our solar
system. NASA scientists recently
expressed their great satisfaction
on having found signs suggesting
the existence of liquid water, most
probably salty water, on the planet
Mars. We have also learnt that there
is a large body of water beneath the
surface of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s
moons. he interest in locating water
lies in it being the key to the possible
existence of life, in whatever form,
outside Earth.
Agriculture is by far the world’s
largest consumer of water, representing 70% of extractions worldwide,
although this igure varies considerably between countries. Rain-fed agriculture is the world’s predominant
agricultural production system, and
its current productivity is on average
a little more than half the potential
that could be obtained from optimal
agricultural management. By 2050,
apart from the waste or bad use
which may be made of the food existing, agriculture will have to produce
60% more food worldwide and
100% more in developing countries.
With irrigated agriculture, the majority of the systems operate ineiciently, thus losing around 60% of the water that they use. Ineicient irrigation
methods entail their own health risks:
waterlogging of some areas of South
Asia, as a result of excessive use, is the
main factor in the transmission of
malaria, a situation repeated in many
other parts of the world.
For its part, global warming can
afect the current distribution of
crops. hus, for example, climate
change will leave new areas available
for the cultivation of corn, but will
reduce production in the current
areas. It is therefore expected that
it will be grown by more farmers
in more places. On the contrary,
all climate scenarios point toward a
reduction in wheat yields. Furthermore, a warmer climate may activate
more harmful plagues. It should not
be forgotten that, in order to meet
the demand resulting from the population increase in 2050, worldwide
agricultural production will have to
increase by between 60% and 70%.
In relation to livestock, the proportion of producers who will change to
breeding heat-resistant species will
increase. his will represent more
sheep, pigs and goats to the detriment of beef and poultry farming.
In these circumstances, water
and energy are a highly interrelated
combination. hey are two fundamental pillars for balanced economic
72 3 – 2015
development and access to each of
them represents a key for the eradication of poverty in widespread areas
of the world. Water requires energy
in all stages of extraction, treatment
and distribution; energy requires
he latest United Nations report on
the Development of Water Resources, entitled Water for a sustainable
world, highlights the relationship
between water and critical areas such
as human health, food and energy
security. However, this observation
is not relected in the global focuses
and action plans. here is a lack of
global perspective dealing with the
needs foreseen for present and future
generations. In 2013, the rich countries allocated a total of €35.2 bn to
environment-related development
cooperation projects. On too many
occasions, greater emphasis is placed
on infrastructures than on their management. For instance, the sectors
which received the largest injections
of capital were energy (with €4.4 bn)
and transport (with €4.4 bn). On a
lower level we ind water, agriculture
and environmental protection in
general. he biggest donor was Japan
with €6.4 bn (far ahead of the second
donor, which is the World Bank),
and the biggest recipient was India,
with €2.65 bn.
Global warming modiies rainfall
patterns and increases the melting of
glaciers, altering water reserves and
intensifying looding and droughts. It
changes the climatology and leads to
one major catastrophe after another.
his is a new scenario which, in
addition to increasing the humanitarian drama and major migratory
movements, opens the door to the
possibility of new conlicts in the
world, in which the dispute for water
may reopen historical enmities.
he reduction in the surface area of
agricultural land, food insecurity or
the diiculty to access raw materials,
often understood as inancial assets,
and the forced displacement of signiicant population masses are some
of the foreseeable efects about which
the main specialists in geostrategic
risks have already warned.
A journey around the latest
conlicts that have shaken the world
shows us the connection existing with
climate change and its efect on water
availability. In Darfur, the recurrent
droughts confronted the nomadic
population with the tribes of farmers, who closed their land to defend
themselves from the avalanche of
people in search of new pastures for
Fig. 3. la Farfana water treatment plant.
water to be produced in almost all its
forms. hey can moreover be united
to produce hydropower. According
to a report by Spanish energy grid
operator, Red Eléctrica, in Spain hydropower represented 14.6% of the
energy generated and consumed in
2012, exceeding solar photovoltaic,
renewable thermal and solar thermal.
It therefore seems clear that both
water and energy supplies are limited
and that demand is ever increasing.
Estimates indicate that demand will
continue to grow signiicantly in the
coming decades. A United Nations
report estimates that by 2030 demand for water will increase by 40%,
energy demand will double current
consumption levels and food demand will increase by around a third.
Often, a population which does not
have access to water and to sanitation
facilities also lacks energy.
he neediest sector of the world’s
population urgently needs access to
both water and electricity services. Estimates indicate that worldwide there
are 1.3 bn people without access to
electricity, 768 m who lack improved
drinking water sources and up to
2.5 bn who are deprived of sanitation services. It is a priority to reduce
these inequalities in order to eradicate
poverty from the planet. Cooperation
and knowledge transfer are the best
paths to make progress in this ield.
new ConFliCts
their cattle. he tensions between the
two groups turned into a war which
has caused over 300,000 victims and
2.5 million displaced persons, according to the United Nations.
Many people also think that the
drought that plagued Syria between
2007 and 2011, the most important
ever recorded, was an important factor contributing to the destabilization
of the country. In 2009, more than
800,000 Syrians had lost their livelihood and, in 2015, over nine million
were in a situation of food insecurity,
6.8 million of which on a serious
level. his episode led almost two
million people dependent on agriculture and livestock to lee toward the
more developed areas of the country,
which had already taken in a huge
contingent of Iraqi and Palestinian
refugees. Many other factors played
a role in the Syrian hornet’s nest, but
we should not underestimate factors
related to the efects of the aforementioned population movements.
Likewise, the drought in Somalia (it has hardly rained for a year)
threatens 300,000 people, a further
tension added to the imbalances
sufered by the country, including
the environmental problems of its
coasts, related to the development of
maritime piracy in the country. he
same applies to the Sahel area, where
climate change is a factor accelerating
civil conlict and interethnic violence.
he Mekong River is one of the
longest rivers in the world and one
of those which is most exploited, as
it feeds hailand, Cambodia, Laos,
Myanmar and China. If modiications occur to the Himalayan glaciers
which feed it or changes to the
monsoon pattern, the low may be
reduced and destabilize the region,
particularly when China, which is
also sufering from a considerable
drought, is accused by its neighbours
of having contributed to the reduction in the water low on building
hydroelectric dams in its territory.
his is another example of a new
danger for geostrategic stability.
the Cities’ ChallenGe
on World Urbanization Prospects
prepared by the UN Population
Division indicates that the highest
urban growth will take place in India,
China and Nigeria. he management of urban areas has become one
of the 21
century’s most important
development challenges. housands
of kilometres of pipes make up the
water infrastructure of each city.
Many antiquated systems waste more
freshwater than what they ofer. In
many fast-growing cities (small and
medium-sized with a population
lower than 500,000 inhabitants), the
wastewater infrastructure is non-existent, insuicient or obsolete. A great
deal of work remains to be done and
we are all invited and obliged to take
Good companies are groups of
people, tens, hundreds, sometimes
thousands, who cooperate to generate
not only products but also knowledge which is useful and beneicial
for other people. he income statement and the assets of these companies increasingly incorporate the
knowledge produced and the social
returns of their actions. In companies
such as ours which participate in
water management, this individual
and group responsibility, this commitment, is not a choice but rather
the starting point which legitimizes
our front-line position on shaping
the future of humanity. his is our
commitment, in order to bring about
a sustainable future.
Ángel Simón Grimaldos
Ingeniero de Caminos, Canales y Puertos
Chairman of the Aquae Foundation
Over half the world population lives
in urban areas. In 2050, it is likely
that cities will house two thirds of the
planet’s population. Given that urban
areas are already responsible for approximately 76% of CO
and that many of them are vulnerable
to looding and high temperatures,
it is logical that local administrators
are beginning to take climate change
and the new sustainable development
paradigm seriously. It is an opportunity to reduce contamination, improve infrastructure management and
maintenance and introduce a circular
economy model for the permanent
reuse of waste.
Sustainable water management is
a pending issue in many cities. his
is not just the case in emerging or
developing countries, but also in our
aluent western world. It is therefore
necessary to make an efort so that
innovation, talent and knowledge
make it easier to develop and use new
technologies to take full advantage
of each drop of water in the supply
and distribution channels, and to
reuse it in the best way possible. he
urban planning of cities plays a very
important role and sustainability also
entails incorporating so-called green
buildings, which save energy using
the most advanced air conditioning
systems so-called smart streets and
all the infrastructures and connections necessary for the development
of electric vehicles. his is a smart
concept, involving a succession of
small revolutions which must result
in a new concept of city, designed
to be at the service of sustainable
A city’s average annual air temperature may be between two and six
degrees higher than in the surrounding rural areas during the day, and
between two and ive during the
night. New solutions, such as heatinsulating roofs, can mitigate this
heat island efect. he 2014 report
74 3 – 2015
An approach to sustainable
water management through
regional collaboration
and cooperation:
the conference of Ibero-amerIcan water dIrectorS (codIa)
Liana Ardiles
sustainable management;
regional cooperation;
CODIA; Ibero-American
Forum of Environment
Ministers; Millennium Development Goals; Sustainable
Development Goals; public
participation; water supply
and sanitation; financing of water services;
hydrological basin planning; integrated resource
management; human right
to water and sanitation;
social equity; democratic
and participatory governance; European Union;
opment. Such key issues address the shift of focus from the
Millennium Development Goals to a new more inclusive
approach that will result in the post 2015 UN agenda and
the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Presently looking into the future to respond efectively
to the challenge of water security in the region, it is time
to highlight what had already been mentioned during the
First Ibero-American Forum of Environment Ministers
in 2001 regarding the planning and management of the
water resource, a strategic resource to ensure the region’s
development, inequality reduction and improve the protection and conservation of the environment.
As early as 2001, references to watershed management
were made: “he most adequate territorial framework
for integrated water resources are watersheds. he most
appropriate way to address water management is through
river basin authorities”.
he importance of public participation was also
mentioned: “Public water management policies require
a high degree of social consensus, requiring substantial
he First Ibero-American Forum of Environment Ministers, held in 2001 in Spain, agreed,
inter alia, that “the environmental challenges
of the Ibero American Community can be
largely overcome by boosting and strengthening the current
collaborative means, expanding their scope to share the pool
of skills, knowledge and experiences that the Iberoamerican
Community holds on environmental matters.” he Ministerial Declaration fruit of this forum included several
topics related to water resources which showed the views
and concerns of the Latin American community of countries regarding water management and its administration.
Such views and concerns that then focused on the need
to accomplish the challenges of water management as presented in 2000 by the Millennium Development Goals.
From its outset, the Forum presented some guidelines
that should draft the political and administrative action for
the accomplishment of good water governance in the region, guidelines which today remain in full force and have
become the roadmap to a new agenda on sustainable devel-
public participation. Means should
be facilitated to establish the widest
stakeholder participation and enable the coverage of the more water
related issues in the discussion.”
he importance of planning was
stressed: “Water planning should be
developed through river basin management plans, which are a basic tool
in water management. Such plans
should be lexible and allow periodic review and evaluation, hosting
mechanisms to enable inter-agency
and inter-sectoral coordination and
facilitate the involvement of water
users, civil society and environmental
organizations in such planning.”
he need to ensure supply and
sanitation to populations through
water services inancing was underscored: “One of the most important
problems facing our societies today
is to ensure urban and rural populations drinking water in the amount
and required quality together with
adequate systems for the sewage
and treatment of wastewater, with
sound impacts on health, welfare
and the environment. he scope
and complexity of the problem and
its investment needs –which should
include the fund allocation for the
maintenance of such facilities– are
so great that should mobilize all
possible funding sources, including
the private sector and international
inancing organizations.”
And inally, included among
the actions to be undertaken, “he
creation of a Conference of Directors
Fig. 1. Codia Conference01-10-2013.
water directors at the 14
meeting of
the Codia. madrid, merida and elvas.
76 3 – 2015
(CODIA) responsible for water management as a technical support group to
the Ibero-American Forum of Environment Ministers to explore and implement new cooperation policies.”
he elapsed time has only
strengthened the validity of each
one of the former conclusions of
the Forum.
What was found at the time is
that Ibero American countries share
common challenges regarding water
resources: how to achieve universal
access to water and sanitation; how to
achieve the good condition of its rivers, how to reconcile food security, energy security… But above all a shared
common vision on the management
on water resources was stated. A vision
which focuses on river basin approach and a participatory governance
scheme, respectful to the environment, based on water planning.
And this has become CODIA’s
raison d’etre. A forum where diferent countries with a common vision
on water challenges, could present
and share their experiences. A forum
that may enlighten decision-makers
on water related issues in each country on how to address such challenges. hus gave birth to CODIA.
he Conference of Ibero-American
Water Directors was created in
2001 in response to the mandate
of the First Ibero-American Forum
of Environment Ministers held in
Spain which agreed to set up a body
which would had to be participated
by each country’s water management
decision makers in the IberoAmerican region.
hat same year CODIA’s irst
meeting was held in Cartagena de
Indias (Colombia) to establish its ob-
jectives, which broadly speaking are:
to facilitate cooperation in the ield
of water, to serve as a platform to
facilitate the presence of the common
regional positions in international
forums, to promote the development and exchange of experiences
and technology among its member
countries and coordinate cooperation
activities within Ibero America.
hrough CODIA’s establishment,
the Iberoamerican Commonwealth
grafted water issues the importance
that by that time were not shared
on the same terms as today on that
many countries worldwide. he
Ibero-American Forum of Environment Ministers could foresee
that water management was and is
essential to developing countries.
Essential, above all, for their sustainable development.
Since then, 15 conferences have
been held, in which developments
have brokered to consolidate the
CODIA’s new strategic framework.
he last conference was convened
late last year in Panama. In such
conference, CODIA’s mission buttressed its role as a regional platform
for cooperation and collaboration
between Ibero American countries in the area of governance and
management of water resources to
promote sustainable development
and human welfare.
spain’s Commitment to the ibero ameriCan water aGenda
Such objectives are shared and
promoted by Spain. Our country has
played a key role not only as a driver
of this forum but also as a facilitator
stimulating cooperation in the ield
of water in the region and cooperation between the water administrations of Ibero American countries.
Spain’s geography and climate
have forced us since antiquity to
develop sound management models
to handle a resource as precious and
scarce as water. A system based on
good water governance; a governance
based on the hydrological basin planning, public participation, integrated
resource management, legal security,
traditional infrastructure, technological know – how and innovation in its
business sector community.
A model of governance that has
become the development of a water
vision, a water culture which states its
responsible use, which allows us today
to have a wide experience in managing the risks associated with its exploit, especially those concerned with
its shortage. It has also led Spain to
assume an ethical and social commitment on water access. A commitment
which has resulted in the recognition of the human right to water and
sanitation and its practical implementation as one of the backbones
of Spain’s political commitment with
the international community. Spain is
now working to share its knowledge
and experience in governance and
water management with countries
that, though geographically apart are
facing similar challenges, challenges
which are well knowledgeable to the
Ibero American Commonwealth.
Spain’s commitment with the international community and the recognition of the human right to water and
sanitation is practically universal and
covers all regions of the world. However, for cultural, economic, social,
linguistic and historical, Ibero America
has been and remains today the region
over which Spain has turned most of
its eforts on collaboration and technical and economic cooperation.
he very fruitful collaboration
that Spain has developed through its
Development Cooperation Agency
(AECID) is an expression of such
commitment, whose main instrument of action has been the Latin
America and the Caribbean Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation,
now eight years old, whose partnership with the IDB has allowed to
multiply investment and results.
Despite progress in recent years,
millions of people in Ibero America
and around the world still lack access to
safe water and sanitation. In the Latin
America and the Caribbean, progress in
these areas have a very positive impact,
but are not enough, despite the great efforts made to increase levels of drinking
water coverage in many countries.
Spain continues working and
collaborating with its partners in the
Ibero American Commonwealth to
increase the quality and improvement
of services that contribute to the current coverage. his is not only done
through economic cooperation. Water
governance, planning and management systems are key to ensuring the
sustainability of these services.
Furthermore, it has also recently
renewed this commitment to cooperation with the Ibero American
Commonwealth, to which the Spanish Government has given top priority in its Strategy for Foreign Action,
adopted in December 2014.
herefore, today, and in Ibero
America, and from the point of view
of governance, the commitment to
the sharing of experience in water
management is managed through the
Conference of Iberoamerican Water
Directors, in which its Permanent
Technical Secretariat (PTS CODIA),
unit responsible for preparing the
works and meetings of this collaborative forum program, is based in Spain.
78 3 – 2015
Codia empowerment
been developed. On the one hand,
the CODIA’S presence has been
strengthened in water related Ibero
American policies, especially in its
role as an advisory technical organ
of the Ibero American Conference of
Ministers of Environment and its responsibility for raising their proposals
for action for the Forum’s political
ratiication. On these grounds, CODIA has adopted a new strategic plan
and new internal rules of operation.
On the other hand, and this is a
particularly novel aspect, an objective has been established of making
CODIA an inluential forum for
international discussions on water.
Water management is essential
for developing countries. Spain is in
favour of continuing to promote the
Fig. 3. Course on integrated water
resources management in the training
center of aeCid, montevideo, 2011.
In order to development this commitment, Spain, both as a member of
the CODIA, and in its capacity as the
hosting country to its CODIA’s PTS
lately, has been promoting a process of
revamping this collaboration platform.
he work of revitalizing the
CODIA has relied on two pillars: institutional strengthening on the one
hand, and the development of a new
outreach capacity. Such revamp is
closely related to the negotiation process on the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDG) and the need to promote sustainable water management
policies in Ibero America, through
better governance and management
of water resources.
To build these pillars two coordinated diferent lines of work have
work that CODIA has been doing,
not only to strengthen our governance capabilities and empowering
the authorities responsible for water
management in the region, but also
to achieve that IberoAmerica’s vision
on water management issues may
become a reference to be taken into
account in discussions on the international water agenda.
Relecting this new international
dimension, CODIA has presented
its position to the UN in favour of
the recognition of the human right
to water and sanitation and its support to the creation of speciic SDGs
on water and sanitation and monitoring indicators based on good
governance of water and its horizontal dimension. A position which has
also become visible in the recently
held 7
World Water Forum in
South Korea.
In the same line, CODIA defends
the creation, under the umbrella of
the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change – UNFCCC–,
of an Intergovernmental Panel on
Water to provide scientiic advice to
policy makers.
speCiFiCs oF ibero ameriCan Countries
Spain is working within the Ibero
American Commonwealth for
CODIA to become an instrument
not only to know the speciics of
the Ibero American countries, but
for these speciics to be taken into
account when deining a common
strategy on water.
CODIA wants to project a vision
for water management based, inter
alia, on the principles of social equity,
democratic and participatory governance, and the promotion of hydrological planning, as well as consolidating the river basin as the basic and
integrated unit of planning for the
management of water resources.
A vision concurrent with the
Sustainable Development Goals and
the Millennium Development Goals
agendas, in the recognition of the
human right to water and sanitation,
as well as upholding the concept of
water security and cross-border cooperation as a means for the peaceful
settlement of conlicts associated to
shared water management.
CODIA members are committed
to continue working for this platform, making it present in as many
debates held outside its scope so that
common problems to Ibero American countries are taken into account
when designing water policies.
A vision that feeds on the experiences of water management on both
sides of the Atlantic, in America
and in Southern Europe, two areas
geographically distant but sharing the
uniqueness of facing both low rainfall,
droughts, and its excess, looding.
Indeed, the last meeting held in
Panama served to forge new alliances
with international stakeholders such as
UNESCO, the World Bank, the IDB,
the OECD and the European Commission through RALCEA, alliances
which have allowed to adopt a series of
partnership agreements deals to exploit
their potential and capacity to interact
in international forums and institutions.
Codia’s revamp
On the other hand, CODIA has
undergone in recent years a major overhaul to fulill the current needs of training and knowledge transfer with which
to tackle challenges concerning water
security and the protection of present and future water resources, which
the countries of the region are facing.
All this from a clear commitment to
sustainable resource management.
he keys of this renewal have
been based on a review of the training topics to be provided, making
them consistent to current challenges. It has been necessary to maximize
the capabilities of virtual training,
particularly on the side on the training of new knowledge or technical
skills, without forgetting classroom
learning, especially oriented to
promote the exchange of technical
80 3 – 2015
personnel as the most efective way to
provide solutions to real problems of
management and resource planning
based on experience.
A review which has been accompanied by the entry of new players
by establishing partnerships with institutions which have a predominant
role in training. In particular, work
is being done in order to establish
a Network of Centres of Excellence
to support managers (alliance with
RALCEA programme) and to promote cooperation with UNESCO.
At the last meeting of the CODIA held in Panama,the basis for
this trend change began with the
adoption of a series of agreements
as to entitle the Permanent Technical Secretariat to prepare an annual
operation plan for the year 2015
that will deine CODIA’s short and
medium term objectives, the budget
needed to implement them, as well as
enabling the co-inancing of CODIA
by entities such as UNESCO, SEGIB
and the UN Oice for the Water
Decade, or foster the development of
exchanges of experience and technology transfer among Member States in
the framework of the management of
water resources.
In order to expand CODIA’s
outreach it was agreed to support
the integration of CODIA in the
Americas regional preparatory process to the 7
WWF in Korea irst
and Brazil’s 8th WWF in 2018,
Future ChallenGes
Once we have achieved CODIA to
adapt to the new challenges that
water management is facing, the
next meeting in Bolivia aims to consolidate the strategic lines of change
started in Panama in order to gain
the Mexican proposal to establish an Intergovernmental Water
Panel under the UN Framework
Convention to Combat Climate
Change was endorsed as well as the
enhancement of the collaboration
with the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID). All these commitments have been fulilled thanks to
the active collaboration of the Ibero
American countries at the World
Water Forum in Korea.
more institutional presence in the
Ibero American Forum of Environment Ministers; to promote alliances
with new partners, seeking synergies
between institutions that promote
the CODIA and its training pro-
grams; and continue to win greater
international presence; and inally,
by ixing the position for 2016’s
international water agenda.
It is possible to make this forum
a platform with efective capacity to,
through cooperation and collaboration, provide efective solutions to
the challenges of water management
in IberoAmerica and to accomplish such objective, it is key the
sum of eforts not only of all the
CODIA directors but also of other
institutions like the World Bank,
the IMTA, the AECI, CEDEX, or
Undoubtedly, CODIA has
become the ideal forum to publicize
the shared speciics of Ibero American countries and to demand these
speciics to be taken into account
in all forums in which water and its
sustainable management is discussed.
A platform which, since its birth 14
years ago, has adapted to the times
and has reached enormous importance outside its scope.
he countries of the Iberoamerican Community have endorsed the
goal of putting water management
within a sustainable path, to walk
together such path through the
MDG agenda to the SDG agenda.
We all have much to contribute
and is an ethical imperative that
all countries make the efort to
channel their potential and make
come true the human right of access to water and sanitation in all
his year is a crucial year for
development and in particular for
water in the world. In New York, in
September, UN Sustainable Development Goals will be adopted,
shaping the development agenda for
the coming years. he King of Spain
declared in June in Madrid “both in
New York in September and in Paris
in December we will set the path
beyond 2015, specifying ambitious
instruments and goals and persisting in the ight against poverty and
climate change. I am sure we will
continue working together as partners and fellow countries”.
Liana Ardiles
Civil Engineer
Director General on Water
Ministry of Agriculture,
Food and Environment, Spain
82 3 – 2015
increasing rate of urbanization, one of the highest in the
world, with the resulting consequences in term of pressure
on undeveloped natural resources.
he aim of this paper is to share some views and
proposals for contributing to the discussions and
search for Sustainable development in Africa and will
focus on the water aspect of the problem of sustainable
frica has a population of around 940 million
inhabitants and will reach 2 billion by 2030
characterized by an increasing rate of urbanization, one of the highest in the world, with
the resulting consequences in term of pressure on undeveloped natural resources.
Africa has a population of around 940 million inhabitants and will reach 2 billion by 2030 characterized by an
Adama Nombre
renewable energy
capacity building
tion. he yearly rainfall is very high
in the forest zones in Central and
West Africa, whereas there is hardly
any rainfall in the Sahara and a low
one in the Sahelian region which
is located between the Sahara and
the forest area of West and Central
Africa. Due to the impacts of global
climate change, there are more and
more extreme event like severe
droughts or loods and an increase in
lows’ variability.
he main source of freshwater in Africa is coming from
rainfall and water stored in some large aquifers. here
is no important snowmelt contribution to the water
resources in Africa.
water resourCes in aFriCa: a General overview
he total amount of mean rainfall
for Africa is around 20 000 Km
year (UNECA, 2006). he variability
of rainfall is very high in many parts
of the continent in term of spatial
seasonal and inter-annual distribu-
Fig. 1. main transboundary
groundwater systems in west africa.
Chart 1
large rivers systems in africa
Drainage area,
Average discharge
at mouth, m
Runoff volume,
Runoff layer,
Congo 3680 4370 41250 1300 353
Nile 2870 6670 1696 53.5 18.6
Niger 2090 4160 4217 133 63.4
Zambezi 1330 2660 3519 111 83.4
Orange 1020 1860 486 15.3 15.0
Chari 880 1400 1252 39.5 44.9
Juba 750 1600 546 17.2 22.9
Senegal 441 1430 545 17.2 39.0
Limpopo 440 1600 824 26.0 59.1
Volta 394 1600 1288 40.6 103
Ogowe 203 850 4729 149 734
Rufiji 178 1400 119 35.3 198
Cuanza 149 630 946 29.8 200
Source: IA Shiklomanov 2002.
Africa is covered by 13 large international rivers with some of the largest
rivers in the world like the Congo
and the Nile. Within these rivers
systems there are around 160 lakes,
among them some of the world’s
largest. he main features of these resources are their uneven distribution
and also their important variability
leading to severe recurrent droughts
and loods. Chart 1 shows the main
characteristics and the importance
of the run of for some large rivers
systems in Africa.
Ground Water is crucial and vital
for many countries in Africa mainly
in the northern part of the continent. he case of Libya is illustrative
of this situation as 95% of the needs
are fulilled by ground water. Many
rural communities rely on groundwater during the long dry season.
In North Africa over extraction of
groundwater is a real problem. An
important part of the groundwater
is constituted by fossil water. he
following map presents the situation
in West Africa (Figure 1).
surface water
large aquifer
systems in africa
84 3 – 2015
water availability
Pollution of freshwater is an
increasing concern in Africa due to
the deicit in sanitation systems, the
huge and fast development of mining
activities, artisanal and industrial
systems and the use of pollutant from
the agricultural sector. Considering the emergency situation of the
people, misuse of the reservoirs areas
and dams’ upstream land are leading
the data on the above igure, one
can see that the majority of Africa’s
regions are really facing water stress
when considering the water really
available for use. Such conirms the
statement declared in a recent television documentary “one cannot eat
the potential” and water needs to be
controlled and managed wisely for
life and development.
Fig. 2. per Capita water storage for some countries.
Chart 2
water resources availability in africa
Sub Region
Available Water Resources Water Use Km
Water Use in Relation to
Water Resources %
Per Capita Water availability 10
local inflow total 1950 1995 2025 1995 2025 1995 2025
Northern 41 140 181
34.6 *
52 0.62 0.32
1088 30 1120
2.8 4.9 2.1
1770 80 1850
0.49 27.2 12.0
749 29 778
7.6 3.6 1.5
399 86 485
5.8 5.3 2.8
4050 – -56.0
5.3 5.2 2.4
Source: IA Shiklomanov 2002.
* The first line indicates Water withdrawal and the second water consumption.
he situation of Water availability in
Africa is much contrasted: whereas
there are huge water resources in the
Congo River basin, the northern and
soudano-sahelian area are characterized by water scarcity. Chart 2 shows
the situation for the diferent regions
in Africa.
the main water issues and ChallenGes in aFriCa
he main issues and challenges in
Africa in term of water availability
is the uneven distribution and high
interseasonal and interannual variability within the seasons of available
water resources and also the lack of
adequate water resources’ mobilization and management. Many areas in
Africa are facing already water stress or
scarcity today and large parts of Africa
will face water scarcity by 2025 considering the high rate of growth of the
population and urbanization and also
due to the quality of water available.
he need to have an important
storage capacity for improving water
availability and managing both its
variability and the recurrent droughts
and loods is very critical. Africa is the
continent where dams and reservoirs
for water storage are not yet fully developed. Figure 2 indicates the available water storage capacity per capita
for some African countries compared
to others well-equipped countries and
regions of the world.
he real water available is the
water stored in natural and manmade
reservoirs and also renewable groundwater resources. When considering
water availability
to fast sedimentation and also pollution. In many areas of Africa, the
pollution from uncontrolled mining
activities has become a real threat for
the water resources.
he knowledge and assessment
of the resources and their variability
and their is still weak due to lack of
sound data collection, processing and
Fig. 3. access to improved water sources.
management systems in many countries and regions. One of the main
challenges in term of water resources
management will be in the future, the
increasing pressure on water resources
due to the growing demand of an
increasingly urbanized population and
the impacts of climate change which
will be translated in more variability
and the multiplication of extreme
events like loods and droughts.
An important part of small cities and villages are dependent on
groundwater for access to drinking
and domestic water. he fast depletion of such resources is acknowledged in many regions in Africa,
mainly in the Sahel.
access to clean water and modern sanitation
An important share of the population of Africa lacks basic access to
clean water and sanitation. With the
efort committed at the national, regional and international levels in the
framework of the MDGs ending this
year 2015, millions of people have
access to clean water today. Access
to modern sanitation is still very low
with dramatic consequences in term
of morbidity and mortality rate in
many countries and region of Africa.
Figures 3 and 4 present the situation by countries in term of access to
water and sanitation services.
86 3 – 2015
access to food security
Fig. 5. irrigated land by continent.
Fig. 4. access to modern sanitation services.
Africa is one of the continent where
unused arable lands are still available
in large quantities and also where
there is no food security. Famines
are current in many areas of Africa
and an important share of the population, mainly women and children,
is sufering from malnutrition and
starvation due to lack of suicient
food production. We know the role
of irrigation in securing food for
billions of people around the World,
mainly in Asia. 40% of the world
food production is produced under
irrigated agriculture and provide
food to feed 2.4 billions of people
around the world.
Only a small proportion of the
cropped lands (around 7 to 10%) are
under irrigation in Africa as showed
in Figure 5.
One of the main cause of the
food crisis, which reached a critical
state on 2008 with foods riots in
many countries in Africa, are the
insuicient production of food due
to insuicient development and use
of arable land, the high dependency
of agricultural activities on rainfall
and other highly variable climatic
conditions and the commitment of
the available resources to crop for
exportation like cotton and other
agricultural commodities. he crisis
of 2008 shows also the fallacy of
the concept that any country and
region can ind food commodities
at the international level and does
not need to have a minimum food
sovereignty (between March 2007
and March 2008, the price of wheat
more than doubled).
access to
modern energy
Despite Africa is one of the most
important world oil and gas producers and is endowed with large
potential of Hydropower, rate of
access to modern energy is the lowest
of the world. Millions of households
are still in the dark. he main energy
consumed in Africa is biomass and
wood fuel counting for more than
75% of the total inal energy consumption, with a huge impact on the
environment in terms of deforestation and huge degradation of land
cover leading to soils’ degradation
and river and reservoirs sedimentation. he consequence on women
Fig. 6. per Capita cereals production by continent.
Fig. 7. electricity Generation per capita in africa.
and children’s health is also worsened
with an important rate of mortality
due to fume pollution. he limited
access to modern, afordable and
clean energy is a huge constraint for
economic development and welfare
in the continent.
Africa has an important hydropower potential which can be developed to supply a clean, afordable
and renewable energy. Only 7% of
the economically feasible potential
has been so far developed. Countries like Democratic Republic of
Congo with the Inga site, Ethiopia,
Cameroon, Angola, Madagascar,
Gabon, Mozambique, Nigeria etc.
have a huge potential which needs
to be developed.
Figure 7 presents the situation in
term of electricity generation for different countries in Africa.
88 3 – 2015
the most frequent and worst natural hazard hitting regularly many
regions and areas with important
fatalities and loss of natural and
economic asset. One can remember
the severe loods of Mozambique
and the recurrent one in the Niger
River basin.
he overall consequences of the situation regarding Water issues is the weak
human and economic security in Africa
as an impact of insuicient development
and management of water resources.
he main constraints for sustainable development can be summarized
as presented in Figure 8.
Fig. 8. Constraints for the sustainable management of water resources.
Africa, like many areas and regions
of the world is sufering from natural hazards linked to water, mainly
loods and droughts. One can recall
the historical droughts in the Sahel
region in the 1970’s and 1980’s and
also in the African horn with the
resulting famines. Floods are also
protection against natural hazards linked to water
Water has provided room for life development and is vital for any living
species on the earth. Water harnessing and wise management is also
a fundamental issue for social and
economic prosperity and no sustainable development will be achieved
without a sustainable management of
the Water resources.
For preparing and achieving
sustainable development in Africa is
necessary to work on the improvement of human security, keeping in
mind that a healthy population is
an active and productive one. Water
security will help to improve the
long term economic development in
Africa which will provide the means
to ensure sustainability. Based on the
Sustainable Development Goals under preparation and considering the
important progress with the decision
of the UN to make access to water
and sanitation as a basic human
right, the important areas for actions
could be the following:
— Invest in multipurpose Water
storage dams and infrastructures
combining large, medium and
small reservoirs and also in the
protection and improving of natural reservoirs and water storage
areas like wetlands. Invest in water conveyance and distribution
network in an integrated manner.
Protect the quality of available
fresh water against pollution.
— Develop universal access to clean
water and modern sanitation and
education services. Africa Water resources’ need to be developed and
managed wisely for such purpose.
The majority of African population does not reach the internationally accepted minimum of 40
– 50 liters per day per capita which
ensures real access to clean water.
— Improve food security through
land reclamation and irrigation
development. Africa is the continent with the largest resources in
term of arable land which once
developed can feed the African
population and contribute also to
the food security worldwide.
— Develop a universal access to
modern, affordable, clean and
renewable energy. For such purpose, Africa has sufficient natural
resources in term of fossil fuels,
hydropower potential, solar and
wind sources to be developed.
It is internationally agreed also
towards a new water approaCh For sustainable development on aFriCa
that a minimum of 500 Kwh
per Capita is needed to ensure a
decent quality of life. Multipurpose storage reservoir needs to be
developed and Africa’s Hydropower reservoirs will provide also
room for the storage of renewable intermittent energy sources
like solar and wind power and
will provide water for irrigation
and water supply.
— Improve the protection against
floods and droughts’ damages and improve the resilience
against the adverse impacts of
global climate change by increasing the water storage capacity to
mitigate floods and also reduce
the severity of droughts. Considering natural variability of
Water resources in Africa, Water
storage is a prerequisite for any
development process.
— Develop inland navigation facilities and protect the rivers system
against degradation and silting.
— Improve the Environmental and
social impacts management and
protect ecosystems endangered in
many areas.
As stated in the World Water
Council report on Africa, there are
three fundamentals pillars for the
progress: knowledge, governance and
inance Actions for sustainable development in Africa should take into
consideration the development and
improvement of these pillars.
Fig. 10. population per engineer and doctors.
Fig. 9. Gross enrolment ratio in africa.
urgent need for knowledge development
and capacity building in the water sector
he state of knowledge development
is still weak in many countries and
regions in Africa with high level of
illiteracy and low availability of Water resources’ scientists, professionals
and engineers. he situation in term
of general education and availability
of Engineers is presented in Figures
9 and 10.
90 3 – 2015
the private one and not the reverse.
Continuing education and on the
job training should be used during
projects and plans’ preparation and
implementation to provide practical
experience and knowledge transfer
from International and local irms to
he R&D sector in Africa is not
receiving the necessary care for development and improvement of knowledge and technology in the sector of
Water resources. Figure 11 shows the
situation of fund allocation to the
R&D for some regions of the World.
Knowledge development is an
important key for a better planning
of water resources and for wellprepared, implemented and operated
water infrastructures projects. his
is a condition to mobilize funds and
also for long term development.
It seems important to reverse the
trend consisting on a high rate of
privatization of engineering education in Africa. It is strategically important to develop public universities
and engineering faculties to ease access to brilliant young people of any
conditions. he rate of production of
trained and qualiied scientists and
professionals should be developed by
public education complemented by
Fig. 11. Fund allocation of r&d by Continent.
Water resources development and
management is facing some important constraints like the lack
of sound data on water resources
(surface and ground water even for
medium and small rivers systems).
Many projects and initiative have
been and are developed and implemented by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in term
of rivers gauges and data transmission and management improvement
but there is need for government
and Rivers Basins organization to
improve deeply such systems.
need to improve the Governance of water and its water sector
A better knowledge, assessment and monitoring of Water resources
Lot of progresses have been achieved
in many countries and regions of
Africa by the implementation of the
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Integrated
Rivers basins management-IRBM)
during this decade. here has been
important developments in term of
Water policies, institutional frameworks at Regional, National, major
Rivers basins and local levels, albeit
the development of River basins
plan for the major International
and local rivers basins need further
development. he holistic approach
for water resources development and
management should be really implemented to fulil all the present and
future needs when developing water
resources plans and projects. IWRM
planning and implementation is time
and fund consuming and sometimes
the stakeholders may not ind the expected results in term of real progress
for their life. here is a need to adapt
this process to the reality of each
country and river basins considering
the priorities of people.
Implementation of integrated Water resources and river basins management
Cooperation at the international river basins and regional levels
implementation in many of these
agencies. Improving the common
vision and building a common future
will be an important tool for the
sustainable development of Africa.
Regional cooperation through
the regional organization such as
ECOWAS, SADCC is also important for the development and
management of the water resources
for human security and economic
prosperity. Such initiatives are
under development or implementation (ECOWAS Guidelines for large
dam projects).
In terms of planning, there have
been some progresses with the NEPAD Program, the PIDA and many
others regionals programs and plans
for the water resources sectors and a
growing political will is developing
in Africa with the AMCOW plans
and initiatives, providing room for
future progress.
he context in Africa is characterized by the fact that all major rivers
systems are shared by at least ive
countries and such requires improved
cooperation between countries at the
large river basins’ level. he major
rivers basins are now organized
through River Basin Authorities
(Volta, Niger…) or Initiatives like
the case of the Nile River. A common
vision and integrated development
plans are under development to its
At the local, river basins and national
level it will be important to ensure
full participation of all stakeholders including afected people in the
process of projects’ preparation and
implementation to achieve equity
and long term development.
Ensure participatory approach,
equity in the development of Water resources projects
need to improve funding of the water sector in africa
Funds for Water resources development and management are coming
from the international agencies,
bilateral and interstate cooperation
and from national regional and local
resources both public and private.
he internal efort to mobilize funds
for water sector is still weak in many
countries and regions. In the framework of the MDGs, lot of funds have
been mobilized and some successes
in term of access to water have been
achieved but there is a need to
improve the funds’ mobilization at
national and local levels to ensure accelerated development in the sector.
he economic growth experienced in
many African countries provide important possibilities for such actions
and when combined with international support, will provide sound
basis for sustainable progresses.
Africa is receiving more and
more direct investment and is experiencing in some regions an important economic growth. In general,
Hydropower and energy sector are
providing an important return on
investment with an important growing market through the regional
power pools and are more adapted
to Public Private Partnership investment approach as it is occurring
now in many parts and sectors of
the African economy. An important
part of the Public and multilateral funding should be allocated
to Water supply, sanitation and
foods production through irrigated
agriculture. he funding approach
needs to be adapted to the fact that
water is a vital resource for life and
economic security.
As the new sustainable Development Goals will be adopted soon, it
is important to ensure that the goals
will be backed by real actions in term
of fund allocation, better implementation conditions and also monitoring.
Adama Nombre
Ingeniero Civil
President Burkina Faso Committee on Dams
Honorary President of ICOLD
92 3 – 2015
he Water and Sustainable Housing project was proposed at the initiative of Ramiro and through him by
the World Council of Civil Engineers and Interagbar to
UN-Water for Life Best Practices Award, and to describe it
I will mainly use the information prepared by the project directors and Ramiro himself, to which I modestly
Water and Sustainable Housing is a program developed by the Latin American Foundation for Water and
Sustainable Housing, an NGO created by three people
15 years ago and is dedicated to this social initiative in
nine municipalities in the Mexican state of Querétaro.
Municipalities as Amealco, Jalpan, Arroyo Seco, Landa de
Matamoros, Peñamiller, Cadereyta, San Joaquín, Ezequiel Montes, which have very diferent geographical and
environmental conditions ranging from semi-desert and
barren climate from the Mexican plateau, to the hot, suffocating desert, through summits with pinales and dense
and humid permanent fogs.
In the development of the project, several individuals,
as well public and private stakeholders have participated
t is a bit over two years when Ramiro Aurín, friend,
engineer and director of this publication asked me for
referrals to develop a workshop on women and water
in Mexico. I, recalling such conversation and without
the relationship seeming obvious, got in touch with the
project Water and Sustainable Housing, whose NGO’s sponsor is now known as Latin American Foundation for Water
and Sustainable Housing and was developing in the Mexican state of Querétaro.
Today I write this article pushed by him, but also in
the assurance of the importance for millions of people
that may have the replication and dissemination of an initiative like this.Let me begins with a quote from Ramiro
Aurín, to which I concur: “With age, nothing excites me
more than the candid sincere desire for cooperation, and
nothing upsets me more that the sophisticated manuals
for mean intentions.”
Water and Sustainable Housing is a project that has
allowed me to witness how the life of entire families has
changed in terms of health, education and economy in an
indigenous community in Mexico.
Emiliano Rodríguez Briceño
Water and
sustainable housing
Water for Life
Dry toilet
Rain water cistern
Bio filter
Solar heater
Fuel efficient stoves
Solar cooker
Orchard and hotbed
and supported it such as the Secretariat for Environment and Natural
Resources, Lerma-Chapala Rescue
Program, the Secretariat of Social
Development and the Commission
for Indigenous People as well as
several Querétaro state government
agencies, the Autonomous University
of Querétaro and with them many
people who have lent their efort, but
its main driver has been the NGO,
led by Lic. Manuel Pérez Cascajares
and Ing. Abraham Ramos Alvarado.
he description of the project
in terms of infrastructure is simple:
with an approximate budget of 9,000
dollars per housing, it includes the
construction, installation, monitoring and improving:
• Dry toilet
• Rain water cistern
• Bio filter installation for grey waters
• Solar heater
• Fuel efficient stoves
• Solar cooker
• Orchard and hotbed
he project included a process of
awareness and capacity building for
family parents. Labour force was provided by the family themselves which
represented up to 3,500 dollars, to
be applied in the selfconstruction
and installation of the items above
he primary objectives of the
project were to raise the health standards by improving sanitation and
feeding, as well as water quality and
its eicient use.
he project and the awareness efforts provided knowledge about the
proper use of water and sanitation
in daily life, through better comprehension.
Having water culture as guiding principle, these concepts are
transferred to practice at home, with
repercussions on family education
and are implemented both in the
land and housing units. he aim is to
promote a qualitative leap in family
homes’ living conditions and sustainability of scattered rural nuclei, populated with indigenous / or mixed
origin people, with none or very poor
access to water, sanitation and energy,
in which families should become the
main actors, and simultaneously, to
make the awareness program become
efective to disseminate the project,
creating a generation of women to
lead change.
he means implemented for such
purpose are:
1. Installation of dry toilets, where
before there was open defecation,
or downloaded near the home
area. The product of these dry
toilets is a very good quality compost.
2. Catchment and rainwater storage
that provides drinking water for
the family.
3. Gray water treatment through
green filtering, and subsequent
use for orchard and garden irrigation.
4. Creating orchards from compost,
not only from dry toilets, but
also produced from plant waste
and water, which provides an
important improvement in food
production, which may sometimes produce food surplus for
sale or barter.
5. Solar water heater, which allows
them to have hot water, sometimes unavailable, or in the best
case, required timber to as fuel for
its heating.
6. Replacement of open furnaces with
ceramic closed furnaces, saving almost 70% of fuel consumption.
7. Use of solar cookers, which save
both time and care by mothers.
They are portable, and allow to
cook in the field during labour.
8. Sometimes also the installation of
solar interior lighting systems.
9. Creation of a solar dehydrator to
better preserve the garden surplus.
Fig. 1. the circle of life.
© emiliano rodríguez.
94 3 – 2015
With this set of actions family incomes have increased up to 50% more.
he quantitative and qualitative results are felt in everyday life;
Chitejé del Garabato’s community in
Amealco Querétaro, Mexico, which
is project’s core community, reports
the largest suicide and inter-family
rapings index in the state, while
the families involved in the project
reports no cases. Since the housing
selfconstruction, mothers have become the drivers of the model, making a diference in the perception
and considerations of the mother
igure and feminine in general, to
the children. Fathers interact respectfully as mother has become a basic
resources supplier. Sustainability
education in the family core provides
an identity that keeps them away
from addictions and criminal behavior, aware that their home labour
involves them as household providers, becoming essential to maintaining and improving the infrastructure
of sustainable housing. Diseases
Such was what led me to write,
probably aware of my lacking the
necessary skill, but with the desire
to relect in part the truth of my
personal experience and incorporate
the words of several of the protagonists to talk about the project, words
I have attempted to preserve as
heard, with particular emphasis and
structure that imprints Spanish the
indigenous Otomí mother tongue.
Moreover, I wish to bring to the
potential readers, not only the words
of the participants, but try to ind in
them the emotion of a living process
that has altered forever the environment of families who live in physical
and cultural conditions in which
health, development and dignity
are seriously threatened, becoming
owners of their own future and their
awakening to a diferent culture,
more complete and satisfactory.
the settinG
Amealco, municipality in which the
project is located, within the Mexican
plateau 2,500 meters above sea level;
and up to 3,500 above the sea, hills
held forests that due to deforestation
have become yellow grassland.
Chitejé de Garabato, an indigenous settlement, whose urban center
consists of a few streets and extends
itself among diferent pathways in
scattered housing, around 500 m or
more away from one another, hardly
earning to be called “town”, albeit
its population igures. Such place is
described by the Dean of its High
School as follows:
associated with poor supply or lack
of sanitation and hygiene disappear,
as indicated by the drastic reduction
of visits to the doctor in the families
involved in the project.
1. Awareness campaign to convince
families to join the initiative.
2. Construction / Selfconstruction.
Labour force comes from the family
itself, a fundamental element in the
identification with the initiative.
3. Capacity building for the operation of the new infrastructure and
its integration into daily life.
4. Commissioning of the infrastructure.
5. Moment in which, through selfsufficiency, the family is able to
make the project evolve, generating new revenues.
Until here comes the description
of the project, presented by those
who proposed it for UN-Water’s
Water for Life Best Practices Award.
While I was reading it myself, as a
person accustomed to read books and
enjoy the images that my imagination evokes from such texts, I realized
that reading itself did not bring to
my imagination the vision we readers
recall, and which allows us to enjoy
a book or an article; much less even
grasp the reality of what I had lived
in the ield, witnessing the results
of the project, which made me talk
about it, not only with Ramiro, but
with many other people with whom I
have shared the vision of life and cultural change of the families involved.
Fig. 2. barren yellow grassland.
© emiliano rodríguez.
“My name is Jesús Camargo
Hernández, I work in the High
School located in the community of Chitejé de Garabato, is an
indigenous community of about
2,700 inhabitants. Being such a
small community, we have a lot of
problems of social character among
which we can mention Alcoholism,
Drug Addiction, violence and one
that causes certain shame to being
spoken openly, not by me, but by
the people of the community, which
is the sexual abuse. Sexual abuse has
become a problem that ultimately
leads youngsters to embrace other
tendencies may them be suicide,
drug addiction, alcoholism, violence. We, as a school, we grab any
program that comes our way which
give our young the opportunity to
leave such situation.”
We walk through the town centre
and head up to Soia’s house. We
drive through the hills and we stop
by where the rocky path allows us to
reach by car, then we walk through
paths formed by other people’s
footsteps and storm water runofs
from the rain season, until suddenly
we run into a grove of trees whose
green contrasts with the yellow grass
and appears as a small oasis. A small
gate opens our way and we enter a
lush compared with its surroundings.
A typical house comes before us and
among diferent vegetables several
facilities can be noticed.
To our meeting comes a little
dark-skinned woman, with intelligent eyes and a pleasant smile which
welcomes us. She is Sofía, owns the
house is the leader of the process
triggered by the project Water and
sustainable housing.
Seated at the refreshing shade of
a thick group of trees and lowering
shrubs, Sofía shows us some facilities,
and from now onwards, I give the
loor to the descriptions and comments of Sofía and her family:
“Well, there is the rooing where
we collect rainwater, its ferrocement,
the same as the cistern where we
store it and the bath where we wash
ourselves. he bio ilter is at irst, the
second and the third are gardening
pots, there behind is the pool where
we store the water and at the back,
we have the landscape garden. To
take care of our water we have a dry
toilet, a toilet which does not use
water, only earth, as our toilet has
gates in the back, because here we
only use earth, which helps us a lot,
because we do not use water but the
toilet gives us compost. Such compost
serves us to improve the quality of
the soil of our orchard. Here we have
planted lettuce, carrots, beets, usually
all types of vegetable, may them be
leaves or bulbs. It has been a great
beneit as our children eat all of them.
To save water is very important to
know how to work with it. On these
grounds, we have planted our medicinal plants to improve our health, and
for biological pest control and over
there we have green compost, that is
homemade with green and dry leaves
and earth beneath, and a bit further
we have the organic fertilizer.We also
have learned how to sow and plant.”
She shows little cardboard boxes,
waste soda cases which she uses land
illing them and using them as seeders.
“Sowing is not directly made, we
may use too much water, because the
seed is too tiny; what we do is fabricate tiny pot for early plant and then
we transplant them. hat is when
they are very tiny. hen it is moved
to bigger pots.”
Inside one of the rooms she
shows us:
“Well, is where we have our fuel
eicient stove. It has been very good
to us, healthy and economic, healthy
as we no longer breath smoke and
economic, because we use very little
timber, from the brambles we collect, what we pick up near the trees.
Previously we had to buy the timber,
but later we knew that cutting down
impacted the environment, so now
Fig. 3. dark skinned, intelligent eyes.
© emiliano rodríguez.
96 3 – 2015
what we do is to plant our own trees
and take their timber, we no longer
buy and apart from this, leaves us the
ashes, which we also use add to the
compost, and that improves the quality of our environment.”
hrough the door, she proudly
points us another construction:
“he solar heater is another great
beneit because we no longer buy
gas because the gas right now is very
expensive. Now we beneit from the
sun, which helps us a lot as we have
hot and cold water at any hour. I
can bath whenever, whereas before
we had to heat water and took very
little time to cool down, but now we
have water and we can bath whenever we want.
For us, water is sacred and saving
water, as I commented, we have managed to have 500 trees when before
we had only one. Trees give us a better life, a better air and this also takes
care of our environment. Because it
is what I said a moment ago, which
is a circle of life of everything we saw
earlier. If we had not the water we
saw in the catchment, I would never
have had such beautiful garden, a
place to enjoy by my family. I never
dreamt that I would own such a
place.We begun working hard and
we made it, now we are happy, and
when my family comes and they tell
us how much they enjoy our garden,
for me it is marvellous, as it closes
the circle of life I told you before.
Truth, as I am happy, my family is
happy, and those who visit are also
happy. I think more families should
live this, to have a homely place for a
better family integration.”
Her teenage daughter talk to us:
“My name is Perla Iveth and I am
16 years old. Personally, this project
has helped me because I have learned
to esteem my family and especially
my mom and thanks to this project
we have always been together in the
good times and the bad times and we
have learned to have better health and
eating more and better food, balancing our meals, and such has motivated me to continue helping my family.
My Mom and my dad quarreled
a lot before, I don’t know, because
of money, perhaps because we had
nothing to eat, but now we have the
orchard, we do not need any more
food, as from the orchard, any fruits
or vegetables we collect from it can
be sold and with that we can buy any
other things we need.
We all have obligations here no
matter if you are a boy or a girl, we all
cook, we will labour the ield, and in
general, we all have a responsibility.”
Sofía smiles at the words of his
daughter and she adds:
“As family heads and mothers,
is our duty to engage our children,
motivate and show them what this
project is about, which is what we
have, about life in general. I started
to see that everything I was doing
was considered positively by the
people and I kept on working, nothing could stop me now and I felt
the need to learn more and more..I
started looking for books that would
give me more information, and I
was invited to a workshop, to give
talks. I am not that meek person who
was always at home, and I started to
involve my children.
Earlier before, our family barely
talked, now in the orchard we are
happy and it has become the place
where we meet and talk and we discuss about our concerns.
We now understand family as a
team, I think mutual support is the
family essence.”
—And how was all before this
Sofía? How was your life?— I asked
now seated in a modest room.
“I was not very sociable, my only
life was to take care of my kids. I
had my daughter, my son had only
Fig. 4. her teenage daughter.
© emiliano rodríguez.
8 months, I took him to primary
school, it was almost 40 minutes to
get to school, and she was so small I
had to carry her in my arms. I could
not stop to talk to anyone as I had no
time because I had to go to fetch water 1 km away, as we had no drinking
water available. In addition to this, I
also had to go and fetch the timber.
Such was my daily life, which also
included going to cooking to the primary school my daughter attended.
A day, I remember very well that
we were called for a very important
meeting, but I had no interest in
attending, because I never feel lucky,
but a friend inally convinced me.
hey were talking and discussing
about water cisterns. I left, because as
I said before, I don’t feel lucky. About
a month later, we went to Amealco
municipality and we found the city
delegate stressed, as 10 people had
been awarded, but they had not
submitted the required paperwork.
hankfully, one awardee resigned
and we were awarded the cistern, the
stove, the toilet and the bio ilter.
By that time, I was with child
with my daughter and I was very big
depressed, I was very much halfhearted. But by January or February
we started to collect water, I saw that
my job of fetching water reduced, I
saw the usefulness of the toilet and it
was then when we gradually begin to
accept the project.
It did not cost me much, because
I have always liked having my place,
there is now green where before it
was just barren. My husband encouraged me to have lowerpots and
seeing the lowers grow made me
feel good, and I began to overcome
my depression. My husband and me
began to share our tasks and that was
a great motivation.”
Curious about the change she was
narrating, I asked:
—How much did it take you to
build the toilet and begin to use it
“It took us about half a year after
we inished it, but during the irst
year we had no problems, it had no
smells, anything, everything was ine.
After the irst six months, the irst
chamber was full, but we still had the
second chamber empty . he diicult part came at the end of the year
when we asked ourselves who was
going to take out everything in there.
It was the most complicated part,
but us, as housewives are always
the irst to take the initiative in our
home, and I grabbed a shovel and a
wheelbarrow and I begun. My family
thought there would ind a monster
in there, but with my irst shovel,
they saw it was only compost, we
were already doing compost at that
time, and later the earth we added
with some moisture moist, that was
the only diference. We kept on
working and we found nothing, not
even smells, just moist air.
Later we covered the compost
with leaves for another six months.
hen, we removed the coverage,
and later we covered it with fodder
and we added it to the trees. I am
very happy because I have managed
to plant about 500, and stop erosion in this barren piece of land. I
have my pines which I was yesterday
pruning when I said to myself, how
incredible it is to me that I am now
removing some branches, when I
irst planted some cuttings. I am
very happy because we have not just
saved ourselves from carrying water,
but also on the environmental part,
as our soil is much richer now and
we have planted trees as a windbreak barrier.You see, here is a a very
rough place with huge temperatures
changes, even reaching below zero
centigrade.Or when the strong winds
come, which are very aggressive.
But right now, we do not have that
problem any more.
And besides, we have found many
diferent birds nests, we had none
before. Beehives hang from the trees,
and we are not polluting. We are
not using water access, although we
Fig. 5. the cistern.
© emiliano rodríguez.
Fig. 6. bio ilter.
© emiliano rodríguez.
Fig. 7. here we plant lettuce.
© emiliano rodríguez.
98 3 – 2015
now have it, as we have our cistern.
In fact, when there are problems in
the water supply network, that does
not afects me as I have my cistern.
If I need to water some plant during
droughts I use recycled water, so for
me its marvelous.
It is the only project that I have
been granted by the government and
I have accepted it as it is, with the
beneits it brings. When I saw all the
proits it was giving me, back in late
2007, such motivated me much more
to continue, and I began to socialize
with my partners as I asked myself:
Why other people may not proit the
same as me?
Now, if anyone of us, has a problem, we face it like family. We are 70
persons now, and if anyone of us has
a bigger problem, it is given priority.”
he project has been adopted
by a total of more than 70 families.
Some, with diiculties similar to that
of Sofía, and others probably with
minor diiculties. But among them
Sofía has arisen as a true leader of
her community and has turned her
community as a sample group, which
receives visits from institutions,
schools and other NGOs interested
in the project. Each organized tour
ofers a meal that is paid to the
family that ixes it and this leaves a
proit per visit of approximately 100
dollars, which are shared equally
among all community members. he
order is altered if a family is in need
and receive preference. here are also
sanctions to any families which do
not work properly, losing their turn.
Sofía continues relating:
“his season we have planted
roman lettuce, zucchini, coriander
cilantro, all seasonal vegetables. We
plan on season basis, roman lettuce
right now is not very viable because
we do not have a greenhouse. A
consultant advised us on the orchard,
he taught us how to make organic
fertilizer and such motivated us. He
told us it would be madness to stop
such a beautiful project.
My daughter had asthma, and the
advisor taught me how to prepare
energy juices to avoid illness and my
overcome her asthma problem. At
that time we learned the importance
of having a balanced diet and we
began changing our eating habits. We
paid our advisor to give us a workshop and we dig up a well.
Some weeks ago, Mexico tierra
de amaranto, ofered us to plant
amaranth and they left with the idea
that we know how to work as they
tested our amaranth and reviewed all
our process as organic, and now we
are earning some money by selling
amaranth leaf, and I was able to pay
my daughter’s high school tuition
fees, with the savings that came from
the amaranth selling. We planted lots
of vegetables and sometimes we have
had some surplus, but now with the
amaranth, I only devote a share to
vegetables and the rest to amaranth.
Now, our next goal is to save money
for building a greenhouse, in fact,
some colleagues already have one and
we are saving week by week.”
—How is the diference between
your current and former living?—
“Complete. I am now a diferent person. I had the impetus to
do something but now I know my
community. At that moment, I did
not knew my community, neither its
needs. I am quite encouraging with
my friends when they tell me their
husbands will not help them.”
—Why others are not supported
by their husbands?—
“I was fearful that I was breeding
conlicts in marriages, but that did
not happen in the end. hey stood
tall, and were able to shoe the proits
to their husbands.
I think that sometimes the
women of our community are very
compliant to our husband’s opinions
Fig. 9. we noticed there was no odor.
© emiliano rodríguez.
Fig. 8. a small oasis.
© emiliano rodríguez.
Fig. 10. our saving stove.
© emiliano rodríguez.
and we get to do nothing, but in the
end, we come to the conclusion that
usually we as women are the ones
who sufer more; for our children,
for is there anything to eat, money
to buy food for our children, if not,
who are we going to ask for help?
Mum has to fetch timber, mum is to
carry water. We no longer sufer these
problems anymore.
I always tell my friends that
before expecting to be given, yo need
to give.
Now, after I have analyzed, why
they have to pay me for making my
own proit?, but it had to be that
way and I am very happy so far for
all that, and the hardest part was to
convince the partners.”
And I am curious about another
topic and I ask her:
—And what about the sons
“When we started, we had two
grown children, one was 15 and the
other 13. hese really had a hard
time changing their habits, eating
vegetables or making compost. One
day my 13 year old boy asked me
why did I follow those “madmen”.
I answered him that he will have to
do it whether he liked it or not. And
that was one of the thing I learnt.
And that has been one of the things
I have learned, to say the things
with authority.
Bit by bit we have grown and we
are now a united family. With the
other daughters all was easier, as they
began to engage more, in fact the
daughter that I was with child back
then has assumed and learned his
responsibility from the beginning.
I recall a day when she came back
from her irst day at school, and
asked me startled: Why the teacher
does not separates the garbage and
his schoolmates threw their bottles
of juice anywhere?
hey have had a good experience
but sometimes, back then, I was
afraid to get involved in the project
too much because I may become absorbed completely by the project and
I would forget about my daughters,
but that did not happen, we grew together. In fact, Michel is my son right
now and he is now 20, he works in a
ranch where he does the same as us.
One day a person passed by and told
us that he was about to open a ranch
in Colorado and asked me if I knew
someone that could help him. At that
time, my son was only 16 then, but
he wanted to go to work to Colorado.
Looking at his impetus, and what I
have taught them, I thought. Isn’t it
true that folly is contagious?
My children have become aware
much to care for the environment. I
think we’ve brought up a good family
and hopefully these generations get
older that. Now we have no problems
of malnutrition as I had with my irst
two children”
Sofía has discovered her inner
leader, she is now another person
and enjoys his awakening. His words
move and drive her environment.
hey make you aware that water is
not only life or development, health
and welfare, but water is also dignity.
Emiliano Rodríguez Briceño
Civil Engineer
Deputy Director General
of Planning National Water Commission
Member of the International
Water Association (IWA),
Representation Mexico
Fig. 11. seeders.
© emiliano rodríguez.
Fig. 12. why the teacher does not
separate trash? © emiliano rodríguez.
Fig. 13. isn’t it true that folly is contagious? © emiliano rodríguez.

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