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Environmental Sciences March 2006; 3(1): 73 – 75 Francois Guerquin et al. (2003). World water actions: making water ﬂow for all.World Water Council, Water Action Unit. London, UK: Earthscan Publications Ltd. ISBN: 1-84407-078-6. Softback: Price £25, 174 pp. Caroline Figueres, Cecilia Tortajada & Johan Rockstrom (eds) (2003). Rethinking water management: Innovative approaches to contemporary issues. London, UK: Earthscan Publica- tions Ltd. ISBN: 1-85383-994-9. Softback: Price £18.95, 242 pp. Overview of contents Both books satisfactorily cover a wide range of water issues that are water-speciﬁc (such as transboundary management), water-related (such as gender and water) and water intervention-related (for example, funding and participation). The ‘Water actions’ book is divided into three sections; the ﬁrst provides a backdrop to why water is challenging— reminding the reader of numerous dimensions of water values, management and ﬁnancing at different scales. This then leads to the second section which addresses ﬁve key areas for promoting change; supply and sanitation; energy; health; agriculture and ecosystems. The ﬁnal section provides a summary of the issues covered in the ﬁrst two sections and proposes that key issues be kept on the agenda when moving forward. A CD is bundled with the book, allowing the reader to engage with more detailed material and case studies. There is abundant use of quotes, tables, photos and diagrams, and a clear font and column-format which help the reader scan through the material. The ‘Rethinking water management’ book is more conventional in its structure, with chapters written by invited authors. This covers two synthesis chapters (the introduction and conclusion); four chapters that cover policy and development dimensions of water (in terms of context and directions for water policy); and six chapters that address management dimensions (for example, rainfall harvesting; transboundary management; groundwater and water rights)—although policy recommendations are also given in these chapters. Intended readership The construct and coverage of both books makes these good readers for undergraduate and postgraduate students studying water and natural resources management. In many respects the ‘Water actions’ book works well as a repository of agenda items for policy thinkers and advocates of change—although of course the degree to which prioritised strategies can be drawn from this may be limited. It is also a useful guide to water professionals seeking to expand their knowledge beyond their expertise. The ‘Rethinking water management’ book also works well as a university-level text book and research primer, and in the ﬁrst instance has an academic readership in mind. However, this book can be recommended for a wide range of professionals and policy-makers; it is written as if its readership are interdisciplinary ‘water managers’. ISSN 1569-3430 print/ISSN 1744-4225 online 2006 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/15693430500539522 74 Book Review Critical evaluation The ‘Water actions’ book is thought out well in terms of structure and content, and provides a very useful stock-taking of the outcomes of three World Water Forums and associated work. It provides a good blend of the many dimensions of water in terms of values, beneﬁts, problematics, subject areas and challenges ahead. For example, it is good to see the authors giving due weight to the beneﬁts that water utilisation have given rise to, rather than picturing utilisation as a ‘problem’. There is sufﬁcient debate given in places to provide some critical and cautionary exposition of the recommendations being provided; however, as would be expected from this kind of overview, many of the nuances and counter-arguments associated with these issues are omitted or glanced over. Perhaps most worryingly, many of the recommendations are provided as if they have considerable consensus supporting them; a series of bullet points underneath a title ‘‘What needs to be done’’ suggests a complete story, but this cannot be so—there are new and on-going debates regarding a range of currently accepted water-management doctrines; the beneﬁts and necessity of large versus small-scale infrastructure, the limits of participation and the degree to which environmental allocation of water should be held to account. In general, the book does well and outlines many mainstream considerations to which water policy has to attend. The ‘Rethinking water management’ book is more thoughtful and academic in its approach, in keeping with its aims and objectives. Here it largely succeeds; although the chapters are variable in this regard. Chapters 1 and 12 are the bookends to the contributions, and are similar. They provide succinct summaries of the contributions which is helpful, given that in some instances this is not very clear within the chapters. However, one wonders where is the ‘new framework’ mentioned at the end of Chapter 1 that brings all the work together. Chapter 2 asks for water management to be grounded in various principles of sustainable development, acknowledging that blueprint solutions should not be promulgated. This is sound advice but has been part of IWRM theory for at least a decade. The key issue is, as the author recognises, that the strategic implementation of IWRM is wanting, but on this there is less information given. Also, the latest debates regarding the dynamic unstable nature of sustainable development do not seem to be aired; the author has a rather benign conventional view of what sustainable development constitutes. Chapter 3 addresses the human dimensions of IWRM, examining the interface between local and global agendas. While some excellent points are made, the line of argument within this chapter is difﬁcult to follow; and again the latest critical engagement with for example virtual water, is omitted (export of environmental costs, carbon-related food miles, the need to promote local water develop- ment). Chapter 4 is a thoughtful examination of the forces of globalisation, giving a welcome cautionary exposition of the various dimensions of this debate and identifying new drivers affecting future water governance. For example, the author explores the beneﬁts that private – public partnerships might play while noting a problematic track record. Chapter 5 starts with a welcome analysis of the ﬂaws within discourse of global water scarcity, and then leads slightly disjointedly from this to the point that rainfall in semi-arid areas is water that needs managing. The discussion then appears to move away from rainfall because the author then covers groundwater utilisation, bucket irrigation (which is actually very expensive on a per hectare basis) and farm ponds for supplemental irrigation. In addition, second-generation problems of rainfall harvesting (maintenance, equity, upstream/downstream conﬂicts, land tenure issues) are not given enough airing. Thus while the author recognises dry areas are difﬁcult and that farmers are risk-averse, these ‘pre-conditions’ are occasionally conveniently neglected—some of the technologies appear to need at least some surface and groundwater to be attractive. In some respects the chapter lacks a conceptual framework, but in other ways Book Review 75 it gains from picking its way through various interesting problems and solutions. Chapter 6 is an important contribution highlighting an issue that will become more signiﬁcant—that of re- use and recycling of previously used and possibly contaminated water. It is not clear why rainfall harvesting is included in this chapter, but in many other respects the analysis is thoughtful and grounded in theoretical contention, although it perhaps would have been good to see an overall framework in the introduction (and hence the reason for rainfall harvesting). Chapter 7 is a well-written analysis of the background, context theory and ways forward for groundwater management. This is one of the few chapters that addresses its subject via a conceptual framework; and in this case the author chooses new institutional economics. This is a chapter that works well, but in some respects the reader is left wanting to know more detail about the solutions; for example, whether trading rights will have an overall impact on abstraction and whether the solutions seen in North America are valid in the developing world. Perhaps a greater non-conformity exists here than the author believes—and thus, one wonders, why the chapter gives little space to any ideas for groundwater management by ‘developing world’ farmers themselves—they do exist. Chapter 8, although difﬁcult to follow in places, provides a useful checklist of various dimensions of water rights, but again the reader is left wanting more detail about the different types of ‘rights’, and to know of their biases, risk and costs as well as their beneﬁts. Chapters 9 and 10 are very useful and thoughtful examinations of river basin management in an international setting. Chapter 11 holds that more money should be put into the water sector, an argument this reviewer does not reject, but more information is required about how this will be different from the mechanisms pursued to date in terms of equity, efﬁciency, leverage, accountability and coherence of outcomes. In summary, the book makes a good overall contribution to policy- formulation but is patchy in terms of its contemporariness, and theoretical and empirical base. Dr Bruce Lankford Senior Lecturer, School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, UK
Environmental Sciences – Taylor & Francis
Published: Mar 1, 2006
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