This paper examines the weaknesses in the current understanding of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) from the perspective of livelihoods. Empowering poor people, reducing poverty, improving livelihoods, and promoting economic growth ought to be the basic objectives of IWRM. But as currently understood and used, IWRM often tends to focus on second-generation issues such as cost recovery, reallocation of water to “higher value” uses, and environmental conservation. This paper argues that IWRM needs to be placed in the broader context of both modern Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) and the livelihoods approach, which together take a holistic and people-centered approach. The paper concludes with an alternative definition of IWRM as involving the promotion of human welfare, especially the reduction of poverty, encouragement of better livelihoods and balanced economic growth through effective democratic development and management of water and other natural resources in an integrated multilevel framework that is as equitable, sustainable, and transparent as possible, and conserves vital ecosystems. Transparent user-friendly information and models for assisting decision making are essential features of livelihood-oriented IWRM.
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The authors would like to thank K.A.U.S. Imbulana for his suggestions while reviewing the paper; and we thank the other two reviewers appointed by the editors for their useful suggestions. We also thank Ernst Mwape of the Community-based Natural Resources and Sustainable Agriculture (CONASA) for drawing our attention to the concept of Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM). The authors alone are responsible for the final product.
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Merrey, D.J., Drechsel, P., de Vries, F.W.T.P. et al. Integrating “livelihoods” into integrated water resources management: taking the integration paradigm to its logical next step for developing countries. Reg Environ Change 5, 197–204 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-004-0088-5
- Water Supply System
- Integrate Water Resource Management
- Livelihood Approach
- International Water Management Institute
- Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper