What important lessons in water management can India learn from other countries?
We don’t have to go overseas to see good examples of water resources management. The Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, established under a World Bank project, is putting in place policies, regulations, institutions and incentives that promote more efficient and more productive use of water, e.g., by ensuring the equitable distribution of water among users, and by establishing water tariffs.
Efforts to establish effective authorities are also underway in other states, and Maharashtra is disseminating the lessons learned from its experience.
In India, experience with improving water service delivery has been mixed as, only in rare cases, have efforts been embedded in a favorable policy and regulatory environment. When it comes to improving water service delivery, India can learn from Brazil, Colombia, Mozambique and New South Wales (Australia), among others.
Poor or absent water management policies also exacerbate the effects of climate change on water. On the other hand, sound water management can neutralize many of the water-related impacts of climate change. Vietnam, for instance, has implemented a comprehensive program to manage water-related risks and build resilience. Nigeria has helped prevent erosion, reclaim valuable land and focused on sustainable livelihoods to reduce the vulnerability of people, infrastructure, assets, natural capital, and livelihoods to land degradation. And the Philippines is implementing comprehensive urban drainage works to improve water management.
How is the World Bank supporting this issue?
The World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework for India recognizes the importance of the efficient use of natural resources, including water, in support of the country’s ambitious growth targets. Several World Bank projects support India’s efforts in the water sector:
Through the National Mission for Clean Ganga, the World Bank is helping the Government of India build institutional capacity for the management and clean-up of the Ganga and investing to reduce pollution. The $1-billion operation has financed investments in wastewater and effluent treatment, solid waste management and river front development.
Another World Bank project, the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project, has improved the safety and performance of 223 dams in the country through rehabilitation, capacity-strengthening and measures to enhance legal and institutional frameworks.
The National Hydrology Project is providing significant support to strengthen capacities, improve data monitoring and analysis, and laying the foundations for benchmarking and performance-based water management.
The Shimla Water Supply and Sewerage Service Delivery Reform Development Policy Loan supports the Government of Himachal Pradesh in its policy and institutional development program for improving water supply and sewerage services that are financially sustainable and managed by an accountable institution responsive to its customers.
The West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation supports farmer-led irrigation by improving service delivery to farming communities and linking these to agricultural markets.
Innovative instruments are being deployed to finance these operations, such as the development policy loan in Shimla, the program-for-results financing in the Swachh Bharat Mission Support Operation and the National Groundwater Management and Improvement Project, and the use of disbursement-linked indicators in Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project-II.
Analytical work at the World Bank focuses, among others, on irrigation and water and sanitation service delivery. The results will be incorporated into future lending operations.