Achieving regional collective water management

Within a context of water scarcity, all stakeholders within a region (communities, farmers, manufacturers, users, etc.) should be involved in the creation of sustainable water management projects. To this end, at the behest of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Irstea, in partnership with Cirad, has produced a guide for performing economic and financial assessments of regional water management projects (RWMPs) with an agricultural component.

Due to the impact of climate change, water resources are increasingly depleted during summer periods. As a result, the government’s instructions of May 7, 2019 aim to encourage the development of RWMPs. Their aim is to involve all regional water stakeholders (users, communities, organizations, government organizations, etc.) in the joint creation of sustainable resource management projects. Decision-making support methods such as economic and financial assessments can provide specific contributions.

Technical support for project leaders

Creating an RWMP involves developing a course of action to achieve long-term targets defined by regional stakeholders. To this end, the stakeholders must develop various project scenarios that can be compared to a project-less scenario, imagining the future of the region over the next 40 to 50 years. The comparison uses a variety of evaluations, including an economic and financial assessment, to select the most appropriate course of action.

However, these types of evaluations are either rarely undertaken or poorly addressed in RWMPs (report by the consulting quantitative water management unit to deal with episodes of drought in 2017-2018). Economic and financial assessments do, however, make it possible to evaluate the reality, profitability and relevance of any actions considered, in order to provide regional stakeholders with comparative data for the various scenarios on the future of the region over the next 40 to 50 years. By assigning objectives to these challenges, these assessments provide discussion points and can facilitate dialogue between the stakeholders. With this in mind, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food asked Irstea to develop a technical guide consisting of 5 chapters:

  • An initial overview chapter, providing general principles for creating the various possible courses of action;
  • A second chapter on the generic procedure for the economic and financial assessment;
  • A third chapter detailing the methodology used for the economic and financial assessment of agricultural use, often the most affected and impacted by RWMPs;
  • A fourth chapter addressing the need to perform a “multi-criteria” assessment to take other issues (such as the environment, social issues,etc.) into account;
  • A final chapter focusing on potential participation strategies that can be implemented throughout the process.

A guide to be further adapted

The guide provides a methodology that will be developed in line with feedback. From 2020, authors will meet regional stakeholders by organizing workshops about the guide for RWMP project leaders. This will provide an opportunity to assess the implementation of the guide on actual projects and to see how the processes suggested work in reality. This feedback will then be integrated into the guide to enhance it and create a community of RWMP project leaders and clients that is similar to the one for flood prevention action programs (PAPI).

Further information