Decentralization of River Basin Management: A Global Analysis
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3637
91 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2005
Date Written: June 2005
Decentralization and increased stakeholder involvement have been major elements of water sector reform as ways to promote sustainable and integrated resource management particularly of river basins. Based on an analytical framework for relating decentralization and stakeholder involvement to improved river basin management, this paper infers several hypotheses about factors associated with greater or lesser likelihood of success of the decentralization process using data from 83 river basins worldwide. The results suggest that physical, political, economic, financial, and institutional characteristics of the basin do affect the process and the level of performance of the decentralization. In particular, the presence of water scarcity may be a stimulus to reform, uniting the stakeholders in the basin and leading to better performance; organized user groups push for the initiation of decentralization reforms but may be associated with costs to the process and difficulty of achieving decentralization; the existence of dispute resolution mechanisms supports stakeholder involvement and improves decentralization performance; where stakeholders accepted greater financial responsibility, complying with tariffs and contributing to the budget for basin management, the decentralization process and performance measures increased; basins with higher percentages of their budgets from external governmental sources benefited from better stability and support and it shows in the performance of the decentralization process.
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