Integrated Water Resource Management for Mega City: A Case Study of Dhaka City, Bangladesh - page 3

The Concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) has defined IWRM as: a process which promotes 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 (GWP-TAC, 2000). Thus, IWRM is a process that addresses the following three overriding elements:

  • Economic efficiency in water use: because of the increasing scarcity of water and financial resources, the finite and vulnerable nature of water as a resource, and the increasing demands upon it, water must be used with maximum possible economic efficiency.
  • Social justice and equity concerns: the basic right of all people to have access to water of adequate quantity and quality for the sustenance of human well-being must be universally recognized.
  • Environmental and ecological sustainability: the present use of the resource should be managed in a way that sustains the vital life-support systems, thereby not compromising the use of the resource by future generations.

The GWP Technical Advisory Committee (GWP-TAC) has proposed a framework for moving towards IWRM (Figure 4). Concurrent development and strengthening of the following three elements are needed (Albert et al., 2001):

  • 'Enabling environment' comprises national, provincial, and local policies and legislation. These constitute the 'rules of the game', which enable all stakeholders to play their respective roles and promote their participation.
  • 'Institutional roles' define clear demarcation of responsibilities between actors, the separation of regulation from service provision functions, adequate coordination mechanisms, filling jurisdictional gaps, and eliminating overlaps and matching responsibilities both to authority and to capacities for action.
  • 'Management instruments' comprise water resources assessment, demand management, social change instruments, conflict management, regulatory instruments, economic instruments, and information and communication instruments.


Figure 4: The complementary framework for IWRM. Source: GWP-TAC (2000)