Allocating water from agriculture to growing cities: the Hyderabad case (South-India) and its implications for urban water transfers research and policy
thesisposted on 2011-02-23, 11:10 authored by Mattia S. Celio
Demographic trends depict a vibrant increase of the world population, particularly in Africa and Asia, and the share of people living in urban agglomerations is steeply growing when compared to rural areas. Increasing urban population and urban water demand often implies competition with other uses and users, notably the agricultural sector that accounts for the largest share of water diversions over the world. This thesis undertakes a critical analysis of the case of Hyderabad in the South-Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, one of India's fastest growing cities, to shed light on the process of administrative water allocation to cities from irrigated agriculture, an underdeveloped area of research. It does this by examining -1) the implications of Indian water institutional set-up on intersectoral water allocation; -2) Hyderabad water supply decision-making process, with focus on the role that politics have played; and -3) the impact of the urban water transfer on agriculture in general and on poor farmers more specifically, also reckoning on the contribution of groundwater in irrigated agriculture. The methodology adopted is based on the collection of primary and secondary data and encompasses-1 ) the analysis of water institutions in India and Andhra Pradesh; -2) an historical reconstruction of the main policy milestones of Hyderabad water supply and the study of intersectoral competition through a conflict analysis framework; -3) the calculation of surface water balances and groundwater withdrawals at one of Hyderabad water sources; and -4) the statistical analysis of primary data for determining the impact of shortages in canal water supply on poor farmers and their adaptive responses. A main research finding is that institutions vesting overarching powers over surface water on governments can expose urban water supply to harsh political opposition and chronic delays, in particular where farmers represent a large share of the electorate and transfers occur across regional boundaries. Then, this thesis demonstrates that intersectoral water transfers don't necessarily only bear negative effects on agriculture, notably if intersectoral water sharing rules are in place, and that groundwater may play a major role in compensating agriculture for urban water allocation. The research findings also show that poor farmers are those more likely to be negatively affected by water reallocations, not only because of reductions in canal water supply, but also because of social inequities in access to agricultural inputs in general and groundwater in particular.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering