Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Directing the flow, a new approach to integrated water resources management, EUR 22018

Funded under: FP6-INCO


From the late 19th century, the rationality and science of the Enlightenment began to change the way people thought about water. The idea spread that Nature existed for people's use, and that men could control it to use it as they wished. The result was the construction, worldwide, of some 45 000 dams more than four storeys high. This building boom peaked in the 1970s when two or three such dams were being commissioned each day.
With the global population expanding from about 1.5 billion in 1850 to 6 billion in 2000, the last three decades of the 20th century witnessed economies in semi-arid regions beginning to experience water shortages. In industrialised countries, the 'green' movement argued that the dams and their irrigation systems were actually starving ecosystems of the water they needed to thrive. People also began to realise that the poor communities which suffered when a dam was built were not those which benefited from its construction.
In the early 1990s, the economic value of water preoccupied many in the water policy field. The idea was that water, like any scarce resource, should be used efficiently and consumers should pay for it. In an alliance between many governments and the private sector, industrialised countries have since adopted this idea. Large water companies and agencies such as the World Bank have tried to export it to developing countries. They are now beginning to rethink this approach, after public opposition harmed such ventures.

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Record Number: 7439 / Last updated on: 2006-06-21
Category: POLI