Technical Meetings – 2019

Increasing Water Security: How do we do it?

Date: 8th November 2019

Read the full meeting notes here.

Recording coming soon

Putting Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) into practice will be the most comprehensive step that countries make towards achieving SDG 6

Cahora-Bassa-dam-Zambezi-river-MozambiqueHow do societies increase water security? In the past, the answer was simply to develop new water resources, for instance, by building dams or drilling boreholes. Today is a different story. The global population is expanding rapidly and is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Socio-economic growth is increasing the demand for water for people, food, energy, and recreation; food consumption habits are changing, and communities are becoming more mobile. Food production is already a major water consumer, taking 70% of available freshwater resources. By 2050, water demand for additional food production is expected to outstrip existing water supplies by as much as 40% if we continue to use water at current rates (2030 Water Resources Group, World Bank 2009).

Most analysts now accept that the greatest benefits will come from improving the way we use and manage existing water resources and finding ways of sharing our dependency of limited resources. Over the past 25 years this thinking has led to the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) – a process of cooperation and sharing limited water resources. IWRM is now enshrined in the 2030 UN Development Agenda and particularly Sustainable Goal (SDG) 6 – the ‘Water Goal’. Most countries have accepted the principle, but few have put IWRM into practice, not least because there is no ‘blue-print’ for implementation.

This one-day event explored current experiences of implementing IWRM in the UK, Africa and Asia. How can we learn from each other to contribute to development of ‘best-practice’ approaches? We also examined the challenging relationship between governments, that plan national water strategies, and large corporates, that often play a significant role in water resources management as major water users and polluters through their water stewardship schemes. How should governments and civil society approach complex questions of asymmetries of power and political economy?

Read the full meeting notes here.

Speakers and Topics

Julien Harou

Professor of Water Management, Water Engineering Chair, University of Manchester

Integrating agricultural use into system-scale water resource assessments and planning.

Assessing how agricultural water use fits into wider river basin planning means understanding how energy, food, water supply and other uses are distributed over space and time, and how infrastructure and its operation can deliver water allocation policies and service goals. This talk will review several regional, national, and trans-boundary modelling efforts in the UK, but also Africa and Asia to see concrete examples of how this can be done. Special attention is set on ways of working in practice with models and software, also the link of IWRM to the new science and practice area of ‘decision-making under deep uncertainty’ is discussed.

Steve Moncaster

Technical Director Water Resources East

Progress through collaboration

  • Experience managing scarce water resources in the western US
  • Emerging policy landscape in the UK
  • WRE response in the East of England

Richard Austen

Water Resources Manager – Regulation

Reforming Abstraction licensing to improve water security.

The joint Environment Agency and Defra Abstraction Plan set out the actions we are taking to reform the way we regulate abstraction in England. By following the actions set out in the plan, we will develop a regulatory framework which will help support the move to improved Water Security.

Jelle Beekma

Senior Water Resources Specialist (food security), Asian Development Bank

The leap forward, IWRM from concept to action

The presentation will review the introduction of IWRM in a number of developing countries (e.g. Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China, Tanzania) identify main pitfalls for action and propose tools and methods to address the challenges.

Jelle is a hydrologist and agricultural engineer with over 30 years’ consulting, research and teaching experience covering a wide range of irrigation, agricultural drainage, (trans-boundary) river basin management and related policy and institutional issues. Jelle has water management experience in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and North and South America as a researcher for ILRI-Wageningen, New Mexico-Tech, and a consultant for LML-UK, Mott McDonald, DHV and other assignments as free-lancer. Jelle holds a MS degree in Physical Geography (hydrological processes) from University of Utrecht, Netherlands, did a Masters at Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands and his PhD candidacy in Hydrology at New Mexico Tech, NM, USA.

Hero Heering

Project Principal, Mott MacDonald

Blue Gold – Lessons learned from participatory water management for development in Bangladesh

The coastline of Bangladesh suffers from multiple vulnerabilities, such as cyclones, storm surges, floods, droughts, salinity intrusion, as well as lack of safe drinking water, water logging, and river siltation. Over half the population in the coasts live below the poverty line, suffer from inadequate governmental service provision and face high vulnerabilities in terms of insecurity of food, income, water, health and poverty. These vulnerabilities will likely increase in the light of climate change. The essence of the Blue Gold Program is to establish and empower community organizations to adress potentials and opportunities to sustainably and equitably manage their water resources and to deliver the services (in the area of agriculture, livestock and fisheries development) for which they have expressed a demand.

The Blue Gold Program builds on the results obtained and lessons learned from previous programs and projects. Its concept is emphasing the need to further integrate Water Resources and Food Security policies and practices. It contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 6, 8 and 13 aiming to end poverty and hunger, ensure sustainable water resources management, sustain economic growth and contribute to climate action through climate change adaptation interventions.

The Blue Gold Program’s main objective is to reduce poverty and improve food security through equitable water management and increased and diversified agricultural production in approximately 119,000 ha of polder areas and 200,000 households in the coastal zones of Patuakhali, Khulna and Satkhira. Specific objectives of the Blue Gold Program are to:

  • To reduce the risk of communities and their land located in polders against floods from river and sea and to optimize the use and management of water resources for their productive sectors
  • To organize the communities in water management organizations which will have to become the driving force for the natural resources based development (agriculture, fisheries and livestock), whereby environment, climate change, disaster risk reduction, gender and good governance are effectively addressed
  • To increase the household income derived from the productive sectors for the entire range of rural population but particularly creating income opportunities for the poor and landless
  • To strengthen the institutional framework for sustained water resources development and related development services

Water resources development is thus the entry point and the initial driver of the community organization process within the Blue Gold Program, but will be complemented by capacity building activities to enhance productivity of crops, fisheries and livestock, adapt to climate change and to improve processing and marketing of agricultural products.

Dr Therese Rudebeck

Lecturer in Environmental and Ecological Economics, University of St Andrews

Aligning Public and Private Ambitions: finding synergies between IWRM and Corporate Water Stewardship

This presentation will argue that corporates have a significant role to play in furthering IWRM implementation. However, it will also show that corporate engagement in water management and governance needs to be accompanied with – among other things – appropriate regulatory requirements. In this presentation, I will unpack what is meant by ‘Corporate Water Stewardship’ and explain why many companies are demonstrating a growing interest in addressing water issues. I will also explore the various implications this could have for addressing societal water security. More specifically, I will question where and how public and private responsibility to ensure water security meet, and where possible productive synergies between Corporate Water Stewardship and IWRM can be found and developed

Read the full meeting notes here.

Irrigation: Making it Work for the Poor

Date: 22nd February 2019

irrigation-iwfSee the recording here

Read the meeting notes here

Irrigation can contribute significantly to poverty alleviation, food security, and improving the quality of life for rural populations. However, irrigation often does not live up to expectations and can also be highly inefficient and have negative environmental and socio-economic effects, such as water logging and salinization, water and vector borne diseases, and inequitable access to water. In turn, these negative social and economic impacts can be compensated through improved planning, implementation and management of irrigation systems.

This meeting explored the linkage between irrigation and drainage, and hunger and poverty alleviation, in which the poor benefit through higher yields, lower risk of crop failure, adoption of diversified cropping patterns, increased high‐value and market‐oriented crop production, and fixed employment. Experts shared lessons from various countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Read the meeting notes here 

Speakers and Topics

Peter Newborne


Farmers/Irrigations in Semi-Arid Lands: What Future?

Peter is a researcher and consultant on water and environment policies/programmes and Research Associate to ODI.

His recent work has included: research on water management in semi-arid lands in West Africa; studies of private sector involvement in water management and ‘stewardship’ in the UK/Europe and beyond; review of the national environment system in Colombia; and analysis and debate relating to the strengths and weaknesses of the regulatory framework for water supply and water resources management in England & Wales.

Timothy Foster

University of Manchester

Lessons in Sustainable Agricultural Groundwater Management

Tim is a Lecturer in Water-Food Security in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. His research integrates crop and hydrologic models, earth observation techniques, and economic analysis to evaluate decision-making about land, water and energy use in agriculture.

A core focus of his research is on evaluating policies to support resilient and sustainable agricultural water management, in particular in areas of intensive groundwater-fed irrigation. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in Hydrology from Imperial College London, and a bachelor’s degree in geography from University College London.

Jamie Skinner


Irrigation, Food Security and Poverty: Lessons from Three Large Dams in West Africa

Jamie is the leader of the water team at the International Institute for Environment and Development. He led the Global Water Initiative in West Africa that engaged communities and decision makers to improve outcomes from large dams and their irrigation schemes as well as writing on water and land governance issues.

He was the Environment adviser at the Secretariat of the World Commission on Dams and is a member of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol social chamber, focussing on mechanisms for the equitable sharing of benefits from large dams.


President Honoraire ICID

Key and Smart Actions to Alleviate Hunger and Poverty through Irrigation and Drainage

Peter graduated from Imperial College in 1966, and initially worked as a VSO for the Department of Water Affairs in Zambia. He joined Sir M MacDonald & Partners in 1973, becoming a Partner in 1987 and a Director of Mott MacDonald in 1989. He retired after 33 years with the firm in 2008. He is now kept busy helping run his local U3A, and as historian and head gardener for his son’s 39 acre property in Norfolk.

With Mott MacDonald (MM) he worked on many water resource projects in Africa and West Asia, and travelled extensively as MM’s International Director, finishing his career running the Group’s Indian operations.

Whilst working for MM, he was Chairman of the British National Committee of ICID 1992-95, and an active member of the ICE’s Water Board (1989-1999), a member of the Steering Group DFID’s Engineering KAR programme (2001-03) and Chairman of the Consultative Group of IPTRID at FAO (2001-08).

Active in ICID’s international activities since 1987, he was elected Vice-President 1997-2000, and President 2005-2008. While President he encouraged inter alia the formation of a task force on the Role of Irrigation and Drainage in Poverty Alleviation and Livelihoods, and became its Chairman in 2009, until the completion of its tenure in 2014. He will talk today primarily about the findings of that work body, with reference to the recent paper in Irrigation and Drainage by Olcay Unver, Robina Wahaj et al on ‘Key and Smart Actions to Alleviate Hunger and Poverty through Irrigation and Drainage’.

Read the meeting notes here