Beyond the Watershed: Avoiding the Dangers of Hydro-Centricity and Informing Water Policy

  • John Anthony Allan


The purpose of this chapter will be to demonstrate that there are a number of economic processes that have the capacity to ameliorate local water scarcity. Arid and semi-arid regions and economies worldwide encountered water scarcity in the past thirty years. Many more will encounter water scarcity in the next three decades. The analysis will review briefly three ameliorating processes - first, the global role of virtual water in water scarce regions, secondly, the impact of socio-economic development on water management options and thirdly, the cultural specificity of water demand management policies. All three processes have the characteristics of being economically invisible and politically silent in the easily politicized management of water. Their impacts, however, are determining with respect to solving local water deficits.

It will be shown that the water, food and trade nexus is not easy to model because of the dynamics of the political economies in the North and the South. Water sector policy-making is subject to evolving discourses, which can easily de-emphasize the underlying environmental and economic fundamentals. The chapter will conclude that invisible and silent virtual water will provide the food water for water scarce regions such as Palestine and Israel. Its invisibility and silence will, however, have the effect of attenuating the pace of water policy reform with respect to water use efficiency and the consideration of the environmental services provided by water. A range of demographic, economic, social and poli-tical theory will be used to frame the discussion.


water policy problem shed solutions hydro-centricity soil water virtual water socio-economic development 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Anthony Allan
    • 1
  1. 1.KCL/SOAS Water Research GroupUK

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