Integrated Water Resource Management in Indonesia: Heading in the Wrong Direction?
The ICWRMIP Case Study
Hamong Santono, Diana Goeltom, Arimbi Heroeputri
Water is not merely for life, it is life itself. It is the exact expression to use when trying to comprehend the importance of water. Not surprisingly, water has become one of the major development issues, at least in the last two decades. Various meetings at international and national levels have been frequently held to discuss water issues and the connection of these to other development issues.
In July 2010, the United Nations Organization (UNO) declared the access to clean water and sanitation as a human right. In 2000, the world leaders also agreed to include access to clean water and sanitation as one of the targets in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved in 2015.
Global concern regarding clean water and sanitation issue is at least based on the fact that there are many people in the world (particularly the deprived/poor) who still have not had any access to clean water and sanitation. According to WHO (2010), in 2008, at least 900 million people did not have access to good clean water and 2.6 billion people did not have access to sanitation. WHO also added that diarrhea, which usually occurs as a result of inadequate clean water and sanitation condition, was the second biggest disease in the world.
Nevertheless, water issues do not only cover clean water and sanitation. The world has for a long time been seeking for solutions to the water resource issue. The year 1977 is recorded as the year of initial serious discussion regarding the water resource, which was held during the United Nations Conference on Water in Mar del Plata, Argentina. One of the recommendations from the conference was to urgently carry out assessments on the condition of water resources in the world. Since the conference, the water issue had then been absent from international debates, until later in January 1992 during the International Conference on Water and Environment which was held in Dublin, Ireland with its result the Dublin Principles.
Since the conference in Dublin, solutions for water resource problems began converging into one idea, i.e., Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which initially came up in 1977. In fact, the World Bank immediately responded to the result of the Dublin conference and its connection to IWRM by drafting the paper on water resource management policy in 1993. The Water Resources Management Policy paper marked a shift in the Bank’s overall framework on water resources management – from fragmented to an integrated approach that puts together all four subsectors — irrigation and drainage, water supply and sanitation, hydro-power, and environment — under the umbrella of water resources management. The approach supposedly takes in consideration both the environmental and economic aspects of resources management. The environmental tone was undoubtedly inspired by the period’s pressing global concern for the environment and the need to address the criticisms against the Bank’s poor environmental management of its water infrastructure projects. The economic aspects called for cost recovery, productivity, efficiency and the introduction of water pricing or water rights to ensure that users take the financial and resource costs into account when using water.
The World Bank’s initiative was later followed by other international financial institutions, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), where ADB made IWRM approach as the foundation in solving water resource problems, particularly in Asia.
Based on the background mentioned above, this paper is meant to, firstly, look at the history and conditions which provide the background to the birth of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) idea; secondly, to observe and analyze the role of international financial institutions in relation to IWRM; and thirdly, to observe and analyze the practice of IWRM in Indonesia, including taking stock of the situation occurring at the community level, particularly in the Integrated Citarum Water Resources Management Investment Program (ICWRMIP) project funded by ADB.
It is hoped that this paper will be able to provide assistance to policymakers, international financial institutions, and the civil society to get a better comprehension of the existing problems in Citarum River management, so it can encourage the emergence of a better policy within that context, as well as enable assistance to civil society in carrying out campaigns related to the management of the river.
2. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)
2.1. History of IWRM
“It is hoped that the Water Conference would mark the beginning of a new era in the history of water development in the world and that it would engender a new spirit of dedication for the betterment of all peoples; a new sense of awareness of the urgency and importance of water problems; a new climate for better appreciation of these problems; higher levels of flow of funds through the channels of international assistance to the course of development; and, in general, a firmer commitment on the part of all concerned to establish a real breakthrough so that our planet will be a better place to live in.” (Mageed, 1977)
Such was the expectation expressed by Yahia Abdel Magged relating to the United Conference on Water held in Mar del Plata, Argentina in 1977. The conference was attended by at least 1,500 participants representing 116 countries, international institutions, and civil society organizations. The awareness about the potential problems relating to the water resources in the world at least began to emerge in the conference. The conference approved the Mar del Plata Action Plan, which was the first internationally coordinated approach of IWRM. The plan had two parts: a set of recommendations that covered all the essential components of water management, and twelve resolutions on a wide range of specific subject areas. It discussed assessment of water use and efficiency; natural hazards, environment, health and pollution control; policy, planning and management; public information, education, training and research; and regional and international cooperation (Biswas, 2004). The Mar del Plata conference was undoubtedly a major milestone in the history of water resources development in the 20th century. Viewed from any direction, the conference has become an important yardstick in water resources management, particularly for IWRM. Regrettably, transboundary water resources management was not discussed comprehensively and an implementation scheme for the action plan was not developed during the discussion.
After Mar del Plata, water issue was once again missing from the international agenda until 1992 when International Conference on Water and Environment was held in Dublin, Ireland. The conference’s output was the Dublin Principles, which consisted of four main principles in water resource management, namely: (1) recognition of fresh water as a finite, vulnerable, and essential resources and suggested that water should be managed in an integrated manner; (2) adoption of a participatory approach involving users, planners and policymakers at all levels of water development and management; (3) recognition of women’s central role in the provision, management, and safeguarding of water; and (4) suggestion that water should be considered as an economic good. Although there were numerous controversies that emerged, particularly those relating to the fourth principle, nevertheless it had to be admitted that current thinking regarding the crucial issues of IWRM is heavily influenced by the Dublin Principles. Hereinafter, various international meetings such as the World Water Forum, the International Conference on Freshwater, and the like attempted to discuss IWRM and make IWRM as an internationally accepted water policy tool.
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