Interrogating the Applicability of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Model

Itai Offat Manyanhaire, Leonora Nyaruwata


The global response to the increasing water scarcity in the last twenty years has been water policy reforms directed towards the implementation of integrated water resources management (IWRM). IWRM was expected to promote the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. This paper interrogates the applicability of the model using literature sources and personal experiences with the model. Literature at global level on the issue of IWRM has been split between optimistic peddlers of the model and the pessimists that in recent years have critically questioned the suitability of the model as a master prescription for varied and complex global river catchments catchments. The paper traces also the complexity of the definition of IWRM and the related implementation limitations of the model. The paper further demonstrates how this model of water resources management is unlikely to work for different social and environmental contexts. The management should focus on addressing real water problems affecting communities rather than wasting resources on the philosophical complexities of the model.

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Environment and Natural Resources Research   ISSN 1927-0488 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0496 (Online)

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