Sharing, Charging and Managing Water

Prof Mike Young

Professor Mike Young, Centre for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide was invited to speak on ‘experiences in sharing access to, charging for and managing water’ at the 2017 Lower Mekong Public Policy Initiative (LMPPI) Forum on Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources held in Da Nang, Vietnam. The LMPPI supports inter-disciplinary research, policy engagement and capacity building on the environment, agriculture and livelihoods across the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB).

Prof. Young spoke about the issues in some of the current global water management systems which include increasing water scarcity, rapidly changing demand and supply, improving quality and environmental service provision, funding built infrastructure, service provision and management, and securing and maintaining trust. Prof. Young also argued that the systems we have are not good at sharing equitable access to water.

A robust water sharing system is one that begins by issuing shares and when one nation, one province or one person wants more someone else has to agree to have less. Prof. Young also shared with the audience a pathway to transitioning to a robust water sharing regime. The other issue that was discussed in his talk was about water pricing and water sanitation, where it is observed that increasing block tariffs (IBT) are the norm of which expanding coverage is politically challenging and that they favour wealthy population of a region over lower income, there by compromising equitable access. It is important to remember that poor households without access to clean, piped water pay the full marginal cost of every drop.

In the view of Prof. Young international experience suggests that there is a need to rethink the role of institutional arrangements when it comes to water sharing.

To read more about the work GFAR does in this space please visit

Blog prepared by Rohan Yargop with inputs from Prof. Mike Young.

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