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PUTTING A FACE ON WATER TENURE
This exercise takes you through what a lack of secure tenure might look like. It
highlights how understanding water tenure allows us to give/suggest concrete
solutions to actual problems on the ground
Abdulah is a poor farmer on a state irrigation scheme. He cannot get a reliable supply of irrigation
water because the scheme is operated by a corrupt irrigation agency/his WUA. By working to
strengthen the water tenure of people like Sebastian FAO is helping
Tarquin is a nomadic herder. Due to land encroachment and the fact that upstream farmers have taken
all of the water under a new water rights system he cannot water his herd. FAO is helping to strengthen
the water tenure by______________________
Faisal is rich hydropower investor. He cannot get a loan from the bank because the country he would
like to invest in has a very weak water law and no system of formal water rights. FAO is helping people
like Ali by____________________________
Ali is a traditional basket weaver and the sole breadwinner for his large family. Following the
construction of a dam upstream all of his reeds were washed away, along with his livelihood. The FAO
water tenure guidelines stipulate that_____________
Hammou is an inland fisherman. But the water is so polluted due agricultural intensification upstream
that all the fish are dead____________________________
…..Now for Real documented cases from Spain
Valentin is an illegal horticulture farmer. On a regular basis he has to go 40 km away from his
village to rent land to grow his melon and garlic crops. Changes in water tenure by unbundling
water from land would allow him to “rent” water from farmers in his village…
Fernando is a vineyard farmer. He has private water rights on three wells to irrigate his three
plots of land. The cost of energy however means he would rather irrigate from only one well,
yet at the moment if he did that, this would be illegal. Changes in making the water tenure
arrangements in agreement with the water authority would mean savings in operation and
Alberto is a fisherman. His family used to collect crabs and reeds from a large wetland area.
The wetland however has not really degraded due to poor water quality from farming and
lack of water treatment and due to reduced water flows into the wetland. The wetland has
now recovered and through water tenure Alberto sees an opportunity to make a claim to his
indirect use of water, for fisheries which he can sell to the local restaurants and in the market.
Salva is the president of an irrigation community. Successful mediation and negotiations
between the water authority, the agricultural department and the water authority has meant
the re-organisation of collective water rights and infrastructural investment, where 14
communities have merged into one single WUA, and the old infrastructure removed to be
converted into one modern system, and a new collective water right. Farmers now produce
more with less water and have a better quality of life.
Julio is a teacher but he is also a farmer in a WUA that benefits from the use of recycled
water. Together with other farmers they manage the WUA to irrigate vineyards, and this
scheme and the recognition of water tenure formalized into water rights has meant secure
access to water, even during drought.
Jorge is the technician for a thermosolar company which has invested in the region. At one
point it looked that the scheme might not go ahead because there was no water (or water
rights available). Reform to the tenure arrangements in the shape of modified planning
priorities in use and a flexibilisation of the water rights system has meant a win-win for
thermosolar and local farmers, who have sold their water rights for a high price but kept the
Antonio is the mayor of a village. He was not aware however that his water rights are not
formalized, because it is a customary use. He is now aware that it might be important to
formalize his rights because shale gas permits are starting to be granted in the area. This
would give him and his village security of tenure.
Cristina is the manager of a nature conservation reserve. She wants to undertake a pilot
project for amphibian conservation. She is also aware of the importance for the nature
reserve of good environmental flows. Secure tenure has meant that the water authority has
ensured that the hydroelectric company upstream complies with the flow regime and a new
type of water rights has been granted for a conservation pond for amphibians. A public
benefit is that it is a good indicator species for e.g. water quality and diffuse and emergent