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Basin-Level Use and Productivity of Water: Examples from South Asia

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Molden, David; Sakthivadivel, R.; Habib, Zaigham
Date: 2001
Agency: International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Series: IWMI Research Report, no. 49
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4234
Sector: Social Organization
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): water resources
Abstract: "Increasing water scarcity poses a threat to food security and safe domestic water supplies. Irrigated agriculture is a major driver in leading to water scarcity because of its high consumption of water resources. Obtaining more benefits from each drop of water consumed, especially from each drop irrigated agriculture consumes, will be key to mitigating problems of scarcity. The means of improving productivity of water are not always immediately apparent due to the complex nature of water diversions and return flows within basins. The purpose of this report is to discuss and illustrate concepts for identifying ways of improving productivity of water within basins. We applied a water accounting procedure to four subbasins in South Asia where there are perceived problems of water scarcity: Bhakra in India, Chishtian in Pakistan, Huruluwewa in northern Sri Lanka and Kirindi Oya in southern Sri Lanka. The accounting procedure identifies the quantities and productivity of various uses of water within a basin. This information is used to identify the water-saving potential, and the means of improving the productivity of the managed supplies. At Bhakra and Chishtian, there is little remaining prospect for water savings, while at Huruluwewa and Kirindi Oya, there is considerable opportunity for water savings and increasing beneficial use. At Chishtian, almost all water is consumed by beneficial uses, but considerable scope remains for improving the productivity of water. In all four of the cases we analyzed, productivity of water that is presently being depleted by agriculture can be improved. The four subbasins are representative of situations that we believe are typical of many other basins worldwide. With the methodology used, we were able to shed light on opportunities to increase water productivity. It appears that the methodology is thorough and robust, and can be applied to other basins."

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