strategy

Developing appropriate water management technology

Synonyms:
Accelerating development of water resource technologies
Context:
A substantial proportion of project failures in water resource management in the developing world can be attributed to inappropriate technology. Given the relative scarcity of resources in the developing world, the need to choose appropriate technology cannot be over-emphasized. The appropriateness can be judged, of course, only in reference to existing natural, economic and social conditions. For instance, under difficult natural conditions, such as hard rock, there may be no alternative but to use sophisticated, expensive technology to develop ground water. Under more favourable conditions, less costly technology can be found that is equally efficient.

The question of choice of technology has been widely explored, but so far there is no agreement on the criteria for such choice in water resources management. The least costly technology, for instance, many not be the most economically efficient or the least risky, or it may not be so in all places. Moreover, it is not always easy to judge the relative economic efficiency of various techniques.

Agenda 21 indicates that water resource assessment necessitates the strengthening of existing systems for technology transfer, adaptation and diffusion, and for the development of endogenous capacity as well as for the development of new technology for use under field conditions. Prior to inaugurating the above activities, it is necessary to prepare catalogues of the water resources information held by government services, the private sector, educational institutes, consultants, local water-use organizations and others.

Implementation:
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

A number of criteria have been put forward for choice of technology, such as simplicity, dependability, labour-intensity, use of local raw materials, cost-effectiveness, speed of construction, environmental and social side effects [etc]. The relative merits of particular techniques for a given project cannot, however, be decided a priori. The technology must be chosen in relation to the objectives of the project. Still, wide dissemination of information on known techniques would provide users with a wider range of options. One way to achieve this goal would be to establish better links between scientists and technologists, on the one hand, and practitioners on the other.

Subjects:
Water
Resources
Management
Technology
Development
Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies