More so than for other countries, the management of China's water resources is an important aspect of its policy and politics, yet existing scholarly attempts to understand this importance are scattered among a wide range of sub-literatures that lack a unifying theoretical framework. This article attempts to identify common themes and features of the relationship between water, politics and governance in contemporary China by examining how this relationship has unfolded in historical perspective. It identifies three basic objectives that have shaped the politics and governance of China's water resources over time: legitimacy, economic development and environmental sustainability. These objectives map, though imperfectly, onto different periods in the history of the People's Republic of China, thereby highlighting how they have evolved. Together, these objectives explain policies towards, and the politics of, water resources in contemporary China. This understanding shows that water both shapes and reflects Chinese politics, and highlights the need for a theoretically coherent sub-literature on Chinese water policy and politics.
A combination of poverty, water scarcity, armed conflict, and warfare has produced serious challenges for both water supply and sanitation in Yemen. Although the tanker truck system plays a critical role in filling this gap, it raises serious questions with respect to affordability, health, environment, and water resources management. Because active conflict makes parts of the country remain inaccessible, little recent data are available on the state of the country’s water supply and sanitation systems. This discussion paper presents assessments of basic features of urban water supply systems in Sana’a and Aden, a detailed profile of the tanker truck service structure, including supply chain mapping, value chain analysis, and an assessment of changes to the sector since the war began. It also covers institutional support structure for the water sector, well-to-consumer supply chain, water quality, well operations, tanker trucks water delivery services, and household water demand. The analysis culminates in recommendations of interventions urgently needed to improve service delivery in Yemen’s two largest cities.
The prospect of international conflict over water has long been the subject of academic and popular concern, but subnational political conflict is considerably more common, and almost certainly imposes greater economic and environmental costs. Indeed, subnational hydropolitics are an important feature of several large countries, including the United States, India, and China. Moreover, disputes between water users in shared river basins have often persisted despite repeated attempts by central governments to resolve them through both persuasion and coercion. Yet despite the growing threat of water scarcity around the world, little research exists on sub-national politics of shared water resources. This book attempts to fill the gap by explaining how and why hydropolitics play out within countries, as well as between them.
Subnational Hydropolitics re-examines the issue of water conflict by examining conflicts at the subnational rather than international level. By examining several in-depth case studies of both conflict and cooperation, author Scott Moore argues that increasing sub-national water conflict is driven by two inter-linked forces, identity politics, which gives subnational politicians a reason to compete over shared water resources; and political decentralization, which provides them with the tools to do so. To understand politics at the subnational level, the book blends insights from both the environmental governance and comparative politics literatures. By examining the challenges many countries face in achieving cooperation over shared water resources, the book helps to shed light on different mechanisms and processes for solving cooperation problems at the regional scale lessons relevant to tackling a wide range of transboundary environmental problems, including air pollution, urbanization, and ecosystem protection. But at its core, this book promises a definitive contribution to the growing sub-field of environmental politics, centered on understanding how different countries attempt to solve the problems inherent in governing water resources in shared river basins.
The new reportUncharted Waters: The New Economics of Water Scarcity and Variabilitylooks at how the increasing number of droughts and floods impact farms, firms and families in ways that are far costlier and longer lasting than known before. New research shows that while the consequences of drought are often invisible, they are significant and cause “misery in slow motion”.
This article examines the political economy factors that are likely to shape China’s attempts to reform its approach to managing floods, particularly by implementing integrated flood risk management (IFRM). IFRM emphasizes the use of structural and non-structural measures to reduce flood risk, rather than simply seeking to control flooding. For China, reducing flood risk is increasingly important in light of urbanization and climate change. However, a number of political economy issues, especially the division of power between central and local levels of government, create considerable challenges for flood management reform. This article examines China’s approach to implementing IFRM in light of existing political economy constraints and the institutional framework for flood management. It argues that effective flood management reform requires addressing common challenges, including interjurisdictional and intersectoral coordination and stakeholder participation.
This article develops a framework for understanding the role of subnational states in water politics in decentralized federal systems. First, that role has increased worldwide as a result of decentralization. Second, the quest for autonomy sometimes leads subnational officials to prefer weak forms of cooperation. Third, the interaction of subnational states, central governments and non-governmental actors largely explains interjurisdictional conflict and cooperation in shared river basins. This framework is applied to the case of the Colorado River basin to help explain a long-term shift towards more cooperative relationships between the riparian states.
This article reviews the dynamics of conflict and cooperation between sub-national administrative jurisdictions in China, and assesses the implications of these dynamics for its transboundary waterways. The article argues that domestic hydopolitics can rival the international variety in both complexity and contentiousness. This is especially true in China because of its marked fiscal-economic decentralization, which creates considerable interjurisdictional conflict. These internal politics may help explain tension between China and its neighbours over transboundary rivers, and future research should attempt to more fully link the domestic and international arenas.