New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Chapter 4: Sharing Water Peacefully: Understanding Transboundary Water-Resource Conflicts
4. Sharing water peacefully: understanding transboundary water-resource conﬂicts 4.1 INTRODUCTION Improving access to water and sanitation often entails reallocation of water resources from one use or one region to another. In many developing countries, a major share of water is used for agriculture and irrigation with domestic use taking a share of about 8 to 15 per cent. This chapter will explore international and inter-state river-water disputes in a federal context. Water resources are prone to contested entitlements and property rights. Such contests are exacerbated with increased water stress as pressure on freshwater sources increases. In the case of river waters, cooperation is further complicated because of the asymmetry between the upstream and the downstream users. A further complication arises when a river’s waters can be used for multiple purposes and there is no easy way to determine which purpose should have a priority over others. Against this background, this chapter examines various challenges to sharing water peacefully. Section 2 presents a review of some theoretical considerations in understanding river-water disputes. The main viewpoints to consider are economic, legal, sociological and political. Section 3 discusses two case studies, namely, the Murray–Darling Basin and the interstate river water compacts in the United States. In Section 4 some issues are summarised. (This chapter needs to be read along with Chapter 5 where an in-depth case study is presented of one river dispute in India.) 4.2 UNDERSTANDING RIVER-WATER DISPUTES: INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL ASPECTS We tend to think that a discussion on...
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