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Water Development and Poverty Reduction  

I.H. Olcay Ünver, Rajiv K. Gupta and Aysegül Kibarogammalu (Eds), Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003, 320 pp.

A summary on the back cover states the purpose of the book:

“Despite recent improvements in water management, approximately 1.4 billion people lack adequate water and about 3 billion people lack adequate sanitation services. It is commonly acknowledged that these and other water problems affect the poor adversely in terms of their livelihoods, their health, and their vulnerability to water- related natural disasters.”

The authors of the different chapters are 21 experts in water-management projects in integrated social-economic programmes aimed directly at poverty reduction in different regions of the developing world. The book’s four parts offer an interdisciplinary approach to many issues that (may) contribute to the relationship between water and poverty. (The word “may” is added by the reviewer, for reasons indicated below.)  

The four parts deal with the issues as follows:

        Part I includes articles on the conceptual and methodological issues concerning poverty reduction through water-resources development. It also offers an analysis of quantitative measurements of poverty reduction, including some approaches for creating a Water Poverty Index.

        Part II considers institutional frameworks for the management of water and poverty reduction. Topics range from community-based decision-making to international leadership.

        Part III encompasses discussions on participatory irrigation management and privatization of urban water supplies and sewerage and the link to poverty.

        Part IV includes case-studies from India, Jordan and Turkey. 

The book contains an introduction by the three editors who also added a conclusion.

The introduction gives a summary of the 14 chapters and comments on each of them. It defines first the term “poverty” in general, according to the UNDP, which defines the Human Poverty Index as “the percentage of population lacking access to safe water”. The basic problem is the inefficient management of drinking-water supply, sanitation and irrigation infrastructure, politicization and power rivalry in water allocation, all of which further exacerbate the conditions of the poor. It  stresses the issue of privatization and commercialization in urban water and sewage services, which leads to water shortage for the poor, who face constantly increasing water bills. In general there are, at different national levels, different strategies of water management to reduce the incidence of poverty, which range from interbasin transfer by impounding water in large projects, integration of water-based development with sustainable human development, to community-based small-scale water projects and intersectoral water allocation and water pricing, which could lead towards poverty reduction. These are the main questions of the different chapters treated by the authors who are from both industrial and developing countries.  

Obviously, the answers to these questions depend on the experience of the authors, on the results they aim to achieve and, in many cases, on the interests they represent.

A book of 320 pages could not cover both problems: the existence of water sources for human needs and their management in all different circumstances of nature and conditions of life and the origins of poverty of communities at all levels—local, national, regional and continental. It appears that the authors cover only situations in which water conditions influence directly the origin and development of poverty in those parts of the world in which the authors may have experience. This means that the conclusions can cover only the parts— water-management systems or conditions of life of the civil society—which the authors know.

 Unfortunately, when reading the conclusions, the reviewer had the impression that the editors consider their application to be largely universal. Nevertheless, it should be noted, that several of the chapters, in particular Chapter 9, are quite critical about existing or newly installed water-distribution systems, whether for irrigation or urban water and sewerage. The commercialization and privatization of such systems are given special attention, which in sustainable development is very important.  As noted in other publications concerning similar problems,  “private sector participation”, one of the commonly proposed economic measures, has been taken by many environmentalists and antiglobalization activists as being a euphemism for privatization. Valuation of water and its perceived consequences have accordingly proved to be extremely controversial.

This can be noticed in connection with the many large multinational events observed lately, such as the three triennial World Water Forums in 1997, 2000 and 2003, of which the latter two were each attended by more than 5,000 participants. Equally numerous in the 10 ten years were global water initiatives such as the Global Water Partnership, the World Water Council, the World Water Assessment Programme and many others. The purposes of many, if not all, of the above events and initiatives are to some extent also incorporated in this book. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to identify the ultimate goal of the endeavours.

As a last small but important footnote for the authors, editors and publisher of the book is the lack of explanations of sometimes complicated and uncommon abbreviations and acronyms.

J. Nemec



Meteorologia. Climatologia.  Cambiamenti di Clima.  Storia della Meteorologia nel sec. XX in tre saggi.  (Meteorology. Climatology. Climate changes. The story of Meteorology in the 20th century in three parts).Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (I-00143 Rome, Via di Vigna Murata 605) (in Italian). 72 pages.

This work makes up for the dearth of publications summarizing studies made after 1955.

The main body of the work is preceded by a historical overview of meteorology, a descriptive bibliography and a presentation of some topics of study which may be of interest to science historians.

The first chapter keeps to essentials, omitting any mention of research areas of recognized importance such as teleconnections but, nevertheless provides, little known and highly illuminating information on the political use of meteorology.

The chapter on climatology is apparently the first attempt to put this discipline into a historical perspective.  Although of undeniable interest, it may seem overly influenced by the author's opinion that there should be a detailed meteorological description of the area that is understandable to the layman.  Thus, there are places where the mean and minimum winter temperatures are higher than those observed on the Riviera but which are rather frequently exposed to strong, relatively cold winds.  But this should be expressed in words—only a specialist can interpret meteorological statistics in order to deduce this kind of information.

The history of the study of climate changes is, however, partial, since the author writes at length about initiatives which have now been almost forgotten, such as the efforts made in the past to collect information on climate fluctuations, the reprinting by G. Hellmann (1854-1939) of the most relevant writings and the first instrumental data, the surveys led by WMO and the classification of various forms of climate change covered in the publication Climate Change (WMO-No. 195, TN No. 79; 1966 (out of print)). 

Although the author makes a rather artificial attempt at defining national schools to give some order to disparate information, the choice does seem quite reasonable and interesting to the reader. 

A comparison shows that the bibliography is almost complementary to that given in the work by J.R. Fleming, the current president of the International Commission on History of Meteorology of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, entitled Historical Perspectives on Climate Change (Oxford University Press, 1998).

The pages covering research after 1975 suffer a little from the author's conviction that most of the ideas to be taken into account are described in The physical basis of climate and climate modelling (GARP Publ. Series, No. 16, 1975, Appendix 2.1) and that the results of analyses of ice cores taken from Greenland after 1997 are their experimental confirmation. 

The author also highlights WMO’s programmes and scientific publications which seem to him to be insufficiently known and cited.  Moreover, on the basis of rather questionable indications, he implies that WMO may have entrusted the IPCC with studies closely linked to social and political considerations in order to be able to devote itself to research that is free of such concerns. 

The sections on Italy are more detailed, occupying almost a quarter of the book. 

Certain passages give the impression that the author has not gone much beyond rudimentary studies of mathematics and physics. 

One serious omission is that of an index of names. 

V. Cantú          

New books received for review in the WMO Bulletin

Atmospheric Turbulence and Mesoscale Meteorology  

E. Fedorovich, R. Rotunno and B. Stevens (Eds.). Cambridge University Press (2004). x + 280 pages; numerous equations and figures. ISBN 0-521-83588-7 (h/b), Price: £70/US$ 120.

The Interaction of Ocean Waves and Wind

By P. Jansen. Cambridge University Press (2004). viii + 300 pages; numerous equations and figures. ISBN 0-521-46540-0 (h/b). Price: £70/US$ 120.

Hydrogeology of the Oceanic Lithosphere  

E. Davis and H. Elderfield (Eds.). Cambridge University Press (2004). xx + 706 pages; numerous figures + CD-ROM. ISBN 0-521-81929-6 (h/b). Price: £95/US$ 170.  

Earth System Analysis for Sustainability

H.J. Schellnhuber, P.J. Crutzen, W.C. Clark, M. Claussen and H. Held. The MIT Press, London (2004). xiv + 454 pages. ISBN 0-262-19513-5. Price: £24.95.

Particulate Matter Science for Policy Makers—A NARSTO Assessment  

P. McMurry, M. Shepherd and J. Vickery (Eds.). Cambridge University Press (2004). xxxi + 510 pages. ISBN 0-521-84287-5 (h/b). Price: £100/US$ 150.  

Impacts of a Warming Arctic—Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

Cambridge University Press (2004). 140 pages; numerous illustrations. ISBN 0-521-61778-2 (p/b). Price: £19.99/US$ 29.99.



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