The Challenges and Pitfalls of Decentralisation in Water Resources Management
SourceWater Governance, 5, 5, (2015), pp. 16-21
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectShaping and Changing of Places and Spaces
Decentralisation is an important element of the discourse on integrated water resources management. A key assumption is that the organisation of water resources management on the level of (sub-) basins offers good possibilities to involve stakeholders and to coordinate their interests. Although there are ample examples of decentralisation in water resources management, most notably of the establishment of river basin organisations, the practice of implementation remains difficult. Drawing on the results of two international research projects, on transitions in water resources management and on the foundation of river basin organisations, we discuss six potential explanations for the troublesome implementation of decentralisation in water resources management: (1) the path dependent development of institutions, (2) the two-level game of decentralisation, (3) institutional competition, (4) poor interplay between newly established and pre-existing institutions, (5) the risk of a pendular movement in which absence of short term successes leads to centralisation again, and (6) the lack of institutional capacity on local and/or regional levels. Finally, recommendations are made for those involved in decentralisation processes.
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