Understanding Northern China's Water Crisis
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Understanding Northern China's Water Crisis



Presented by Christine E. Boyle at the Beijing Energy & Environment Roundtable on Jan 21, 2009

Presented by Christine E. Boyle at the Beijing Energy & Environment Roundtable on Jan 21, 2009



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    Understanding Northern China's Water Crisis Understanding Northern China's Water Crisis Presentation Transcript

    • Understanding Northern China’s Water Crisis Christine E. Boyle Doctoral Student | Fulbright Fellow Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy & University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Presentation at B.E.E.R.
    • Hydrology of Northern China
    • Water Scarcity in China is concentrated in the North Northern China accounts for: • 19% of China’s water resources • 46.5% of its population • 64.8% of arable land • 42.5% of China’s GDP • Level of annual per capita available water ranges from 358 m3 per person to 750 m3 per person. • < 1000 m3 per person is considered water scarce, worse than water stressed. Sources: Liu 2002, Shalizi 2006
    • Water Use Source: China Bureau of Statistics (2005) Statistical Yearbook of China 2005
    • Water Resources Country: People's Republic of China United States Bulletin 2000; Colorado River Commission 2000 Source: Yellow River Conservation Conservancy Study Unit: Yellow River Basin Colorado River Basin Basin Indicators Length (km): 5,463 2,333 Catchment Area (km2): 795,125 631,960 Population (millions of people): 136 25 Major Urban Areas (> 100,000 people): 9 3* Mean Annual Discharge (bcm): 185 (at River Delta) 580 (at Fort Lee) Water Utilization Indicators Water Available per Capita (m3/year): 553 740 3 Water Use per Capita (m /year): 379 660 6 2 Cropland Total (10 km ): 0.28 .011** 6 Irrigation Area (10 ha): 4.83 1.2 % of water to Agriculture: 80% 80% Current Storage Capacity (bcm): 57 74 Rate of Population Growth since 1990: 60% 50% Average Water Price (USD/m3) Urban: $0.15 $0.35 Industrial: $0.16 $0.28 Agriculture (volumetric): < $0.01 $0.23 3 2 ** Includes 4.1 x 10 km irrigated agriculture in Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley, California
    • Water Resources Per capita water availability for Huang Hai Huai River Basins is well below global standards for water scarcity 8000 7000 cubic meters per 6000 5000 capita 4000 Water scarce 3000 2000 1000 0 World China HHH Region
    • Water Usage • Increasing demand: Water Utilization from 1949 - 2003 – Agricultural – Non-Agricultural sectors • Sign of depleted water resources: Source: Lohmar (2008) -dry river beds -falling groundwater tables
    • Water Shortage Discharge Trend at Aixinzhuang Station: Lower Haihe River Basin 25 20 Discharge 108 m3 15 10 5 0 1957 1962 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997 Year Source: Wang, JX (2005) “Evolution of Tubewell Ownership in the North China Plain”
    • Water Shortage No-Flow Days in the Lijin Station, downstream in the Yellow River Basin 250 200 Days 150 100 50 0 72 75 78 80 82 87 89 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 20 20 Year Source: Ministry of Water Resources (2003)
    • Map of Yellow River
    • Response • Is there a crisis? • What is the government Bazi Village, Ningxia Province. 2008 doing about it? • What are farmers doing about it? Fengyuan Village, Ningxia Province, 2008
    • Policy Response “Deepen the systemic reform of water pricing, promote a water saving society”“ • Many responses (1988 Water Law, 2002 Water Law, participatory management reform, 11th Fifth Year Plan (2006-10), 7 River Basin Commissions…) • Almost zero effect on agricultural water use
    • Farmer Response – Rapid increase in groundwater use •Groundwater playing an increasingly important role in proliferation of privately run tubewells (based irrigation in northern China on sample of 400 villages in northern China) •Over 3.5 million tubewells established since the 1960s •Farmer’s response to surface water shortage has been to sink tubewells •tubewells provide about 68% of the total irrigation water in northern China Source: Zhang et al 2008
    • Surface Water Management • River Basin Management Policies –Implementation of Integrated Water Resource Management principles in Yellow River Basin – Yellow River Conservancy Commission (YRCC) Substantial gains from allocating water to downstream users (roughly US$1 billion/year) – Confounded by provincial interests • Irrigation District Management Policies – Seek to resolve cost recovery and promote water conservation
    • Irrigation District (ID) Reform • Water User Associations (WUAs) – Ostensibly farmer organized groups to elect managers and make joint irrigation policy decisions • Canal Contracting – Contracting the management of lateral canals out to individuals who make investments, provide delivery services and collect fees • Investment & Subsidies –funds channeled from central & “Farmers water user association’s five guiding provincial government to ID’s for principles” installation of water saving technologies, canal lining, and system rehabilitation
    • Increased Adoption of Reform in Yellow River Basin Source: Wang et al (2005) “Incentives to Managers or participation of farmers in China’s irrigation systems: what matters most for water savings, farmer income & poverty”
    • Participatory reforms have not achieved water savings With reform From surveys in Ningxia, 2001. source: Wang et al (2005) “Incentives to Managers or participation of farmers in China’s irrigation systems: what matters most for water savings, farmer income & poverty”
    • Summary of ID – Level Reforms When effective ID reform can: • reduce per hectare water applications • not impact incomes or crop production Unclear how reforms: • impact long term sustainability Focus group discussion with farmers in Hunan, 2006 • Cost recovery of system infrastructure
    • Adoption of Water Saving Technology is low < 20% of sown land Low adoption rate! Source: Blanke, A , et al (2006) “Water saving technology and saving water in China”
    • Water Technology in Ningxia Plastic sheeting & burrow irrigation Branch canal water control point
    • Institutional Framework • Economics perspective: misplaced incentives do not promote water conservation (i.e. wrong price signals, lack of water rights to guide rational water allocation) • Institutional perspective: bureaucratic conflicts impede integrated water management and water conservation (i.e. incomplete legal framework, unwieldy water management coordination)
    • Fragmented Authoritarian Model Central Government consensus Bargaining Bargaining Province A Province B Adapted from Dr. Yok-shiu Lee (2008, “DONG JIANG: WATER RESOURCES CONSERVATION AND BUREAUCRATIC CONFLICTS”
    • Bargaining for water Reform complicates bargaining by decentralizing resource authority to localities Central government : Use of coercive means national policy agenda Local government units: Resource autonomy (buy, sell, trade) Bargaining positions
    • Recommendations • Implement complementary policies to water price policy to protect the poor (offset effect of water fee increase on crop production & incomes); • Establish secure water rights framework to set conditions for water users related to rights for utilization of water (withdrawal, consumption, and return flows; • Continue to facilitate grassroots institutional reform aimed at promoting sustainable water use at the irrigation district and village level; • Establish agricultural extension network of professionals. Embed trained agriculturists into rural communities to aid in development of soil management, irrigation, technology adaption, seed & fertilizer use.
    • Further Work • Explore village-level irrigation fiscal policy to see how localities are in fact responding to water scarcity; • Develop better understanding of decision-making framework for infrastructure investment and water allocation in response to changing environmental conditions; • Further research into training, agricultural entrepreneurship, agricultural credit and other grassroots initiatives.