Integrated Water Resources Management as a System Approach for Water Security: Evidence from the Awash River Basin of Ethiopia
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is one of the systems thinking approaches that emerged in the 1990s to achieve water security. Ever since, it has been applied in various countries and contexts. However, the implementation of the IWRM is contested. There is paucity of literature and guidelines as to how the concept can be operationalized. In Ethiopia, there is no evidence that IWRM is successfully instituted. The study generated data from household and expert surveys, in-depth interviews, focused group discussions, observations, workshops, and secondary sources. We found that pragmatic water resources management through system approach helps to resolve the problem of fragmentations among various actors, sectors, interest, and priorities. It also enables the operationalization of IWRM as a system approach to secure water resources through strengthening of the interactions of various systems, subsystems, and the elements within the entire basin system. In addition, it is important to facilitate institutional environments such as overcoming financial constraints, considering the scarcity value of water resources and equity issues, as well as ensuring progressiveness of water institutions to emerging circumstances. To this end, strengthening water resources information systems, recognizing and balancing water as economic and public goods, creating awareness among key stakeholders, encouraging the engagement of private sectors in water resources development and management should be considered as mediums of realizing IWRM.
Keywords: IWRM; system thinking; water security; Awash basin; Ethiopia
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