For the past century, Thailand had been experiencing constant severe floods which typically occurred in between August and December. Yet, the worst flood ever experienced in more than a half century in Thailand was the mega 2011 flood – indicating tremendous loss of lives and properties across socio-economic sectors.
The Mekong is the longest river in Southeast Asia, beginning its 4,200 km journey in the mountains of the Tibetan Plateau, passing six countries and reaching the South China Sea. Policy reforms to adopt integrated water resources management had been initiated and water related laws had been developed. However, there were still major gaps in the supporting knowledge and information. IUCN and its program Water &Nature Initiative (WANI) supported to scale up so called Tai Baan research (villagers’ research) that enabled local communities to represent their own social reality and through media and public forum, this knowledge can be mainstreamed into water management research and implementation.
There are growing concerns about the potential effects of climate change on the socio-economic characteristics and natural resources of the Lower Mekong Basin. In response to the potential impacts of climate change, the Mekong River Commission has launched the regional Climate Change and Adaptation Initiative. Furthermore, a Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment has been conducted. The most important lesson learnt is that it is essential to establish a regional organisation to combat climate change.
Steadily shrinking for decades due to unsustainable irrigation policies, the Aral Sea is under increasing pressure, making both allocation and availability major challenges. Action has been taken and the Basin Economic Allocation Model has been developed as a long-term decision support system to facilitate putting “value on water use”. This demonstrates that economic models can be applied to assess economic value maximization of different water uses.
Unsustainable irrigation policies during the Soviet era have had devastating consequences for the Aral Sea. With the collapse of USSR, the riparian states took action and entered into agreement on Cooperation in the Joint Use and Protection of Water Resources of Interstate Significance. Furthermore, the international community took action and much attention has been devoted to re-establish the Aral Sea ecosystem. This case illustrates the importance of engaging all key stakeholders.
The first dam on the Lower Mekong River Mainstream, Xayaburi was notified to the Lower Mekong Countries in 2010. The public consultations took place in each country. The result favoured the construction to be postponed for 10 years to allow further study.
In Central Asia, water is unevenly distributed with states positioned downstream being placed in a very unfavourable position. The situation is further complicated since the benefits from cooperation are highly asymmetrical. Despite the challenge, the states have taken action and entered into a regional agreement, which attracted the international donor community to engage further. This case illustrates how international initiatives can influence institutional arrangements in transboundary basins.
With the collapse of the USSR, the water sector seized to be subsidised leading to deterioration of basic infrastructure. Action was taken to partially transfer the responsibility for operation and maintenance of irrigation systems to water users. Nonetheless, this has had limited success because it has been seen as an additional cost rather than benefit. This illustrates that for this to work, the returned benefits need to be higher than the costs.
The World Bank has conducted feasibility studies in order to offer input for the decision making process over the construction of the Rogun dam. This case study describes the impact of the World Bank feasibility report on the cooperation over transboundary water resources between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Uzbekistan is experiencing water scarcity, an issue which will be exacerbated with increased demand. Although policies exist, the water seldom reaches the end water users. To combat this issue, action has been taken by GWP Uzbekistan to conduct trainings and workshops on the dissemination of IWRM to encourage a participatory multi-sector approach. This case study illustrates the importance of public awareness, and the need for work to be conducted at all levels.