The necessity and urgency for coordinated approaches in water management is becoming increasingly marked. As early as the 1980s, multiple-objective approaches to managing rivers have led to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). This approach recognises the complexities and uncertainties of water problems requiring solutions across governments, private sector and the community. It is also cognizant of the interplay between natural/bio- physical, social/behavioural, economic and governance dimensions of water management. IWRM has been seen as the most appropriate approach to solve water management issues in the modern world. However IWRM puts most emphasis on the technical aspects of holistic planning and management and does not pay sufficient attention to the social aspects. The most common failure in IWRM is that the intended sophisticated integrated planning is un- implementable, because the stakeholders fail to work together. Thus it is essential to understand the social dimensions and processes. Much literature is available regarding implementation of IWRM, but there has been limited study on how IWRM actually starts, particularly looking at its social dimensions and how does a set of collaborators decide to work together to solve a water management problem, and how does their IWRM process develop in practice.
This research aims to understand the dynamics of collaboration in water management, with particular emphasis on its initiation and early phases, and the practicalities of bringing actors into collaboration. The specific objectives of the research are to (1) explore the start-up process of collaboration including key drivers and levers for collaboration; (2) assess the dynamics of collaboration by looking at the changes over time at early stages; (3) investigate behaviour of main actors within IWRM and influencing factors such as motives, intention, perception and interest; (4) identify challenges and barriers of collaborative water governance. To achieve these objectives, the research questions are: (1) How did collaborators actually start to collaborate?;(2) How does collaboration in water governance work?; (3) What are the key barriers and challenges for collaboration in water management?; and (4) What is the perceived relationship between collaboration and management outcomes?
This study applied “a multiple case design” comprising two case studies in two separate contexts. The case studies were the commencement of collaboration to address water management issues: Citarum River Basin in West Java, Indonesia and Healthy Waterways Partnership in South East Queensland, Australia. The reasons for choosing these case studies are because of familiarity to the researcher and supervisor respectively and giving strong access to data and key collaborators for interviews. In addition to it, the case studies can provide different insight as they are laid in different contexts of developed and developing countries as well as give an opportunity for Citarum to learn from Healthy Waterways.
A conceptual framework developed from literature (Ansell & Gash, 2008; Emerson, et al., 2012; and Margerum, 2011) was used as guidance for the design and analysis of the study. It consists of three different layers, (1) System context, (2) IWRM institutional arrangements, and (3) Collaboration dynamics. System context represents the general conditions the case occurs within, and influences the IWRM institutional arrangements and collaboration dynamics. IWRM institutional arrangements explain how the formal governance for IWRM is set up, while collaboration dynamics describes how the collaboration among the parties actually works. Collaboration dynamics plays a vital role in the implementation of IWRM. The literature suggests there is a step-by-step process: discovery of values, shared definition and understanding, deliberation, shared motivation, agreements and decision, taking management actions and achieving management outcomes.
The study used purposive and snowballing sampling to identify and select the key actors in the collaboration in each case study. Data collection involved semi-structured in-depth interviews with 58 key-actors altogether (31 interviewees for Citarum and 27 interviewees for Healthy Waterways) and document analysis. Qualitative content analysis was then conducted using NVivo software.
The findings of the study show that collaboration in IWRM began from an effort to find a solution to particular water management problem. Later the parties saw the complexity of a related set of problems which needed several parties to solve the problems and requires them taking a full system view to solve the problem. Later still they realised that they could not fully solve the problem without looking at the whole system of the basin. Therefore they set an expanded goal and invited other parties to collaborate. Cita-Citarum and Healthy Waterways have different histories in how they developed their collaboration. Cita-Citarum began with a plan, and formed a collaboration later, while Healthy Waterways had collaboration first and developed the plan later. In promoting the collaboration, both Cita- Citarum and Healthy Waterways underlined the importance of clear communication and outreach strategies although they used different approaches and focuses.
Each stakeholder in IWRM has their own interest which motivates them to join or refuse to join the collaboration. However there are some common motivations in joining collaboration, first related to their values to do good deeds, and secondly simply a cost and benefit analysis to secure their own interest. The study also found that the collaboration experienced some milestone events marking changes in the nature of the collaboration over time. Interestingly each key actor pointed out different milestones according to what they believed important to them. However the milestones that assisted the collaboration were: (1) The emergence of an urgent complex problem or external pressure, (2) When champion(s) stand up, (3) Agreement reached, and the plan established, (4) A ceremonial event to celebrate establishment of the collaboration, (5) Resources (funding) became available, (5) A significant new collaborator joined.
The case studies also confirmed the relevance of the conceptual framework, except for the nature of the collaboration dynamics. The model based on literature is more appropriate for small scale action collaboration than for large and complicated scale collaborations as in river basin management. This study has found that large scale river basin management follows particular pattern: initial problem identification, realised need for many parties, strategy to involve those parties, demand for commitment from involved parties, mobilise resources, implementation the agreed plan, as well as monitoring, evaluation and feedback.