Free Custom «Sustainability Science and Water Management» Sample Essay

«Sustainability Science and Water Management»


One of the biggest challenges, which the humanity will face in the 21st century, concerns sustainability. The humanity will have to understand how to meet the basic requirements of all people for nutrients, energy, and water. It should be achieved without demeaning the basic physical and organizational structures of the planet, including its atmosphere, climate, ecosystems water resources, flora, and fauna. Undoubtedly, there is a huge gap between the developed and developing countries. The latter suffer from water shortage, inappropriate or lack of sanitation, and deadly health issues, which are aggravated by the existing institutional barriers. The current paper will analyze the effects of institutional barriers on sustainability practices in developing countries through the demonstration of the negative correlation between inappropriate water management practices and health conditions in developing countries. It will also demonstrate how two most sustainable countries, the U.S. and Australia, have reached their levels and have achieved possible solutions to the existing problem.  

Overview of the Problem

The realization of concepts and issues, which are necessary for sustainable water resources governance and sustainability science in general, have sustained significant alterations during the past decade. The world is currently divided into the developed and developing countries, whereas the latter face the shortage of fresh water and sustainable water management. Moreover, the governments of developing countries act as institutional barriers to the sustainable development of water management due to high levels of bureaucracy and autocracy.

Review of Prior Research

There are materials dedicated to the sustainability of water management and development of this approach to the developing countries. This research paper synthesizes existent research and defines gaps in knowledge. It equips an estimated basis of knowledge, which enhances research activities and defines opportunities for new and innovative sustainable water management approaches, which suit developing countries.


The major purpose of the paper is to show the effects of institutional barriers on sustainability practices of developing countries. The paper will present the analysis of causal and relational factors, which contribute to the negative correlation between water management practices and health conditions in developing countries. The paper aims to show how sustainable practices of the U.S and Australia can be applied in the developing countries. The paper will also expose and compare the effectiveness of sustainability programs in different continents of the world in terms of sewage and water management practices.


Sustainable Practices and Water Management

Primarily, water resources governance and management have undergone a “precognition and control” approach, which has been controlled by technical end-of-pipe resolutions (Matson, 2009, p. 40). For instance, pollution management depended originally on wastewater treatment instead of source management and control, while deluge control was grounded on causeways and reservoirs instead of non-structural actings, including land-usage zoning. The abovementioned approach has produced significant outcomes, but it has required a high price (Matson, 2009, p. 40). Numerous places demonstrate that the natural dynamics of the river settings have been destroyed. In addition, such an approach no longer works appropriately (Lang et al., 2012, p. 37). It cannot appropriately cope with the increasing obscurities, elevating the ratio of alterations, various stakeholder outlooks, growing institutional barriers and increasing mutuality, which are intrinsic for the current resource management problems (Pahl-Wostl, Mostert, & Tabara, 2008, p. 25). The world, especially developing countries, require a new comprehension of sustainable water resource management as a societal search and learning process (Pahl-Wostl et al., 2008, p. 25).

Astute implications of water shortage incorporate impeded economic evolvement and public welfare, inappropriate food supplies, regional conflicts, and environmental demission (Lang et al., 2012, p. 37). Locations with the biggest water shortage frequently have the biggest requirements for the economic evolvement, public prosperity, and more food to supply an increasing population (Lang et al., 2012, p. 37). The analogous locations also have a tendency to be subjected to regional disorders and environmental demission (Pahl-Wostl et al., 2008, p. 25). Regions are outlined as “water stressed” or “water deficient” if supplies are <1700 and <1000 m3 per individual per year (Roy & Ricci, 2005, p. 1197). The statistics demonstrate that by 2025, a minimum of 3.5 billion people (which makes approximately 48% of the global population) are projected to live in water-deficient river basins and a minimum of 2.4 billion people will live under high water stress circumstances (Roy & Ricci, 2005, p. 1197). Water deficiency problems are projected to be higher for the developing countries. However, the analysis demonstrates solid and increasing deficiencies in the developed countries as well, including the U.S. Water deficiency issues are well-known in the typically dry and progressively populated southwestern parts of the U.S., but even water-abundant locations, such as the southeastern U.S., especially Florida, might meet solid emulations for the existent water resources (Silva & Silva, 2014, p. 24).

There are two major obstacles, which hinder efforts aimed at dealing with the issues connected with sustainability, including institutional barriers, which hinder the process of addressing them (Komiyama & Takeuchi, 2006, p. 4). The sustainability crisis is provoked by a variety of factors, while the multiplicity of the global environmental issues is the main obstacle. In addition, the institutions, which analyze these complicated issues, have themselves developed to be highly disunited in recent years, which means that the research and solutions for the issues are performed from a highly limited prospect (Komiyama & Takeuchi, 2006, p. 5). The major reason of the present crisis in sustainability concerns of industrialization, which have followed the industrial revolution and the impetuous economic evolvement, which it has actually stimulated. One outcome concerns elevated consumption of fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources, including water (Ioris, Hunter, & Walker, 2008, p. 1191). Pollution, which originally appeared as a solid isue in concrete locations, also developed into the global issue. Due to the fact that environmental issues develop to become global in scale, their outcomes and impacts have become progressively complex (Gleick, 1998, p. 573). Such multiplicity hinders both the attempts to define these issues and the research for possible resolution (Komiyama & Takeuchi, 2006, p. 6). In fact, sustainability challenges cannot be solved efficiently if the federal research and mission agencies are not engaged (Gleick, 1998, p. 573). Thus, governmental institutions should develop innovative knowledge, implementations, and approaches, which will simultaneously address the needs of people and protect the environment. Resources, especially water, should be the focus of attention (Matson, 2009, p. 25).

A wide variety of ecological and human crises results from inappropriate access and management of freshwater resources (Gleick, 1998 p. 575). They incorporate the extermination of aquatic ecosystems and extinction of species, millions of deaths from water-connected diseases, and increasing hazards of regional and international inflicts per scarce, shared water supplies. As human populations proceed to increase, these issues will become more regular and severe (Silva & Silva, 2014, p. 26). New approaches to long-range water planning and management, which incorporate principles of sustainability and impartiality, are necessary, and are currently being explored by national and international water organizations (Teixeira & Guilhermino, 2006, p. 280). In the past, the primary objectives of water evolvement policy were to support increasing levels of economic evolvement and investigate the methods of elevating the accessibility of fresh water in order to meet growing demands (Matson, 2009, p. 40). The consideration of fundamental human requirements, ecological water needs, the functions of communities and culture, and the desires and requirements of future generations were unessential. The objective of depending on innovative supply plans to meet unrestricted increasing demand has created mixed outcomes. The water infrastructure, which has been evolving during the last 100 years, has been extremely efficient for permitting serious disseminations of irrigated land and crop production required to feed rapidly increasing populations (Sala & Serra, 2004, p. 7). Massive urban population development in the majority of locations has been enabled by transporting great quantities of water from remote sources to cities (Silva & Silva, 2014, p. 26). Devastating floods in numerous countries have been reduced and tamed by flood control projects (Sala & Serra, 2004, p. 7). 

Nevertheless, traditional water management projects and approaches to water planning neglect the ecological and environmental influences, both desolate and joined. As a result, a great variety of unanticipated or ignored ecological influences have appeared with sometimes devastating outcomes. Thus, water-management-related ecological issues incorporate acidification of water, unstable fisheries control, wide expansion of non-native species, and a waterfall of biological influences from inter-basin transfers, reservoirs, and aqueduct constructions. A plethora of land-usage operations also seriously influences aquatic systems, including deforestation, urbanization, and agricultural chemical contamination (Sala & Serra, 2004, p. 7).

Water Management, the Developing Countries, and Institutional Barriers

Developing countries are suffering from insufficient water management. Therefore, good quality strategies for community water delivery and sanitation programs in developing countries have to be based on a distinct comprehension of the existent issues, beneficial influences, which can be obtained, and agents, which might define the required sustainability (Wood, 2001, p. 643). The influences of numerous water and sanitation program are restricted, and multiple systems demonstrate a tendency to break down and become deserted. In fact, restricted influences can be easily obtained in the short time without any serious investment (Wood, 2001, p. 643). Moreover, the experience of the developing countries demonstrates that various behavioral, institutional and economical agents threaten sustainability in the understanding of prolonged supply and conception of services, while the community approach is not a guarantee of success (Silva & Silva, 2014, p. 27).

There are two great challenges, which are obvious for the developing countries with regards to the sustainability of water supply projects. The first one stands for the dependence of community-grounded approaches on the power of the community spirit. In fact, numerous developing countries, particularly those in more remote areas, have strong traditional community organization. Thus, ‘modernizing’ impacts typically threaten their strength (Wood, 2001, p. 644). Elevated mobility via infrastructure evolvement, enhanced employment off the land via industrialization, rural-urban shift, elevated wealth, materialism, and individualism all weaken the traditional structures and valuables, which make community management of development projects possible. It practically means that the development itself is a threat to community-grounded approaches, even if in the long range these trends can expand the national wealth (Brown, 2008, p. 228). The second challenge lies within the governmental agencies. Bureaucracy, particularly in the developing countries, demonstrates a tendency to be severe in structures, personnel, regulations, and procedures, as well as the provisions of inappropriate amends to the staff (Teixeira & Guilhermino, 2006, p. 280). The radical alterations of approach from direct performing of projects to making the communities able to manage their own schemes require serious changes in attitudes, approaches, and techniques, which have been very slow to emerge. For instance, the African domestic water and sanitation sector demonstrates that it is generally agreed that community involvement and authorization are the resolutions to the sustainability of water supply and sanitation operations (Brown, 2008, p. 228). The features of authorization and capability building are transparence, partnership, compliancy, respect, and condolence. On the other hand, the institutional models, which are usually connected to governmental departments, are despotic, bureaucratic, authoritative, and “top down” in their classical representation (Brown, 2008, p. 228). It is incredible for an organization with such characteristics to be able to evolve and educate a whole system of local level institutions, which have very different features. Moreover, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) typically have a higher level of rapport with communities, which actually explains the huge sums of aid money in this sector, which flow through them (Brown, 20008, p. 229). They will continue to hold a key role for the near future. People do not trust governments, which at present are supposed to permit NGOs’ operations (Carter, Tyrrel, & Howsam, 1999, p. 294).

The experience of the developing countries demonstrates that they suffer from numerous problems connected with water management, which are frequently caused by institutional barriers. Thus, there are several direct human outcomes of poor or non-existing water and sanitation infrastructure in the developing countries. Firstly, much time and energy is spent on water gathering and hauling, which is typically done by females and children (Teixeira & Guilhermino, 2006, p. 280). Secondly, people, especially children, suffer from poor health, which is typically caused by several reasons. Firstly, they obtain direct injuries from moving and transporting heavy loads, which reach 15-20 kg, over very long distances (Teixeira & Guilhermino, 2006, p. 280). Secondly, they suffer because they do not have sufficient amounts of water to sustain appropriate hygienic norms. The sources of water are situated more than 2 km from homes, which means that the overall consumption reaches only 3-4 liters per day, which is very low (Teixeira & Guilhermino, 2006, p. 280). Thirdly, children suffer from the consumption of polluted water (Strande, 2014, p. 17). Fourthly, they suffer because of the fecal-oral disease transfer due to the existence of excrements or contaminated wastewater in their environments (Strande, 2014, p. 17).

Water Management and Health Conditions in the Developing Countries

Globally, billions of people do not have access to safe water and adequate sanitation. Approximately 40 % of the global population is experiencing a shortage of fundamental sanitation and sanitation coverage is typically much lower in rural areas than in urban areas. The statistics demonstrates that 25 % of the developing countries’ urban population faces a shortage of access to sanitation services with a much greater percentage level for the rural populations of developing countries (Carter et al., 1999, p. 294). The number of rural population in this case reaches up to 82 % (Carter et al., 1999, p. 294). The shortage of appropriate sanitation services leads to serious diseases.

Moreover, developing countries suffer from poor health, which is typically caused by poor hygiene practices, as the infrastructure is not adequate. The experience of India demonstrates that people are not using toilets. Thus, people have a tendency of going to jungles when they feel the natural need. Indians have serious problems because of the toilet shortage, which leads to one of the biggest sanitation problems of diarrhea (Mehrotra, 2014). As many as 600, 000 people in India die from this disease annually (Mehrotra, 2014). Moreover, the case of India demonstrates that the construction of toilets will not solve the problem, as people should be explained and taught about the value of sanitation as well (Teixeira & Guilhermino, 2006, p. 280). The country suffers from institutional barriers, which impede the process and do not dedicate the costs to solving the immense problem. Despite the fact that officially money is provided to the local institutions to build toilets, the official government still has a tendency to use this money for something else (Haanaes, Michael, Jurgens, & Rangan, 2013). Moreover, local authorities and institutions will not be able to get the resources if they cannot prove and demonstrate how they have utilized them during the previous year. Central government has a tendency to run out of money, which makes it suffer the costs for local authorities and use it for own purposes (Mehrotra, 2014). The money can be provided to the local authorities during the last quarter or month, which means that it will be nearly impossible to use them, which creates cost cuts for the next year. This is a vicious cycle for India (Mehrotra, 2014). Moreover, developing countries suffer from poor health, which is typically caused by poor hygiene practices, as there is little privacy for defecation (Strande, 2014, p. 17).

In fact, an enhanced water and sanitation infrastructure can provide actual benefits, but not all of them are vivid, requiring further development of the water management and infrastructure (Carter et al., 1999, p. 294). Firstly, people will utilize less amount of water supply than designed per person. Secondly, the distance from the source to the home will be reduced. Nevertheless, even despite the fact that this distance will be reduced, women and children will still have to carry heavy loads of water in clay jars or plastic jerry cans, which might lead to discomfort or injuries (Carter et al., 1999, p. 295). Thirdly, the water quality might become enhanced. Nevertheless, fecal contamination might be evident at the point of consumption, which has to be dealt with in order to combat bad sanitation and such diseases as diarrhea. Fourthly, people will adopt new hygiene practices (Carter et al., 1999, p. 295). Actually, the experience of India demonstrates that the construction of sanitation infrastructure is not a target, as people are not used to it. Therefore, it is important to dedicate time and costs to the education of people. In fact, appropriate utilization of water supply, sanitation infrastructure and hygiene practices are a necessary but not passable condition for disease reduction, and therefore health enhancements might not be as far-flung as hoped (Haanaes et al., 2013).

Developing countries have not been sustainable. They face a shortage in both the funds dedicated to the construction of the centralized facilities and the technical practices for their control and management (Carter et al., 1999, p. 295). Developing economies are frequently depicted as sustainable, because people believe that they are more concentrated on combating poverty than on saving their environments. Nevertheless, they have not been sustainable because of institutional barriers, not the shortage of the desire to deal with the problem (Carter et al., 1999, p. 295).

In fact, the reasons of breakdown or non-sustainability in the developing countries are numerous. Firstly, communities or households may never have been confirmed concerning the advisability of new water sources, or especially new excreta disposal facilities (Azeredo, Cotta, Schott, Maia, & Marques, 2007, p. 749). Secondly, the funds, which communities are expected to collect as a contribution to capital or recurrent expenses, might be insufferable, too high, or unfeasible. Thirdly, governments may have been over-stretched and under-resourced so that repairs and maintenance have not taken place. In addition, local institutions might suffer from bureaucracy and underfunding by the government facilities (Azeredo et al., 2007, p. 750).


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