Bruce Lankford

Systems- & people-centred water and irrigation

Water and River Basin Governance

As a result of working on the RIPARWIN project in Tanzania, I have been fortunate enough to observe some of the challenges that face water managers in river basin management in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The IWMI Research Report “From Integrated to Expedient” emphasises a problem-solving approach which in turn grew out of earlier papers that argued for a pragmatic targetted approach (one drawing from the Red Routes analogy of manging traffic in London), The paper “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” grew out of the process of writing the first paper, bringing added insights from facilitating the river basin game. This was presented at the 2006 World Water Week, and examined how to substantively deliver decentralised, dialogue-based water management in contrast to a regulatory command and control model, promulgated by many policy documents and training programmes.

At the CAIWA 2007 conference, I further developed the ideas of polycentric domanial river basin management, arguing that large but remote and complex river basins (typical of Sub-Saharan Africa) would be better managed by determining and delineating sub-systems – or holons – of water regulation and distribution. Click on Adaptive CAIWA Integrated, adaptive and domanial water resources management.

More recently, co-writing with Dr Tumbo and Kossa Rajabu, I connect ‘Water competition, variability and river basin governance’ using the non-equilibrium environment of Southern Tanzania as a case study: 19. Lankford, B.A., Tumbo, S. and Rajabu, K. 2009. Water competition, variability and river basin governance: A critical analysis of the Great Ruaha River, Tanzania. In; F. Molle and P. Wester (Editors) River Basin Trajectories: Societies, Environments and Development, CABI. Pp 171-195.

nested holons

Nested holons: Configuring catchments on the basis of complexity

As a result of being invited to present at Lyla Mehta’s Scarcity 2005 workshop, I discussed how water managers tend to reflexively default to notions of water scarcity that need to be solved by volumetric means, rather than by identifying other behaviours and drivers of water and water timing: Lankford chapter scarcity Mehta 2010

To download other RIPARWIN papers on river basin management refer to these:

  1. McCartney, M. P., Lankford, B. A. and Mahoo, H. F. 2007. Agricultural water management in a water stressed catchment: Lessons from the RIPARWIN project. Research Report 116. International Water Management Institute. Columbo, Sri Lanka.
  2. McCartney, M., Kashaigili, J.J., Lankford, B.A., Mahoo, H. F., 2008. Hydrological modelling to assist water management in the Usangu wetlands, Tanzania. Intl. J. River Basin Management, Vol. 6, No. 1 pp. 51–61.
  3. Kashaigili, J. J.; McCartney, M. P.; Mahoo, H. F.; Lankford, B. A.; Mbilinyi, B. P.; Yawson, D. K.; and Tumbo, S. D. 2006. Use of a hydrological model for environmental management of the Usangu wetlands, Tanzania. IWMI Research Report 104. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute. 48p.
  4. Mehari, A., Barbara Van Koppen, B., McCartney, M. and Lankford. BA. 2009. Unchartered innovation? Local reforms of national formal water management in the Mkoji sub-catchment, Tanzania. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C. 34, (4-5): 299-308.
  5. van Koppen, B. Sokile, Hatibu, N., C., Lankford, B.A., Mahoo, H., and Yanda P, (2004) Formal Water Rights in Tanzania: Deepening the Dichotomy? Working Paper 71. Columbo, Sri Lanka; International Water Management Institute.
  6. Lankford, B. A., van Koppen, B, Franks, T and Mahoo, H. 2004. Entrenched views or insufficient science? Contested causes and solutions of water allocation; insights from the Great Ruaha River Basin, Tanzania. Agricultural Water Management 69:2 135-153.
  7. Lankford, B. A., Franks, T., 2000, The Sustainable Co-Existence Of Wetlands And Rice Irrigation – A Case Study From Tanzania. The Environment and Development Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2, 119-137.
  8. Baur, P. Mandeville, N. Lankford, B and Boake, R. 2000, Upstream/downstream competition for water in the Usangu Basin, Tanzania. In, Proceedings of the British Hydrological Symposium, Seventh National Hydrology Symposium, University of Newcastle 6-8, September 2000. BHS National Hydrology Symposium Series (PDF).

And for A level students in Geography, see this resource:
Hakes, C and Lankford, B.A. 2008. River Flow Restoration in Tanzania. Article for Geography Review. (Resources for A level Geography for schools).

See also this page on non-equilibrium water management in complex and dynamic river basins proposes that responses be geared towards facilitating transitions between states of wetness and aridity, more so than they are currently.

Similarly, refer to “Legal-Infrastructure Framework for Catchment Allocation” I have employed a design-management lens (from my doctoral research) to inquire whether the design of irrigation intakes on rivers can undermine or support the manageability of water allocation in that catchment. This built upon an earlier irrigation design critique that questioned the unhelpful protocols for designing intakes and determining the crop water requirement for irrigation in circumstances where demand and supply were dynamic and unknown.  The citation and download is: Lankford, B. A. (2004) Resource-centred thinking in river basins: should we revoke the crop water approach to irrigation planning? Agricultural Water Management 68:1 33-46 (PDF).