Rapid Basin Assessment: Understanding the issues and formulating a response basin

Rapid Basin Assessment: Understanding the issues and formulating a response basin

Planning interventions to enhance water productivity in developing countries

Many river basins in developing countries are experiencing water challenges – declining dry season river flows and groundwater mining, inequitable access to water resources, water quality deterioration, degradation of aquatic ecosystems and low water productivity. These challenges impose additional constraints on achieving the Millennium Development Goals of reducing hunger and poverty, particularly in areas where the major limitation to increased agricultural production is water availability.

Produced by the Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), this paper explores issues associated with rapid basin assessment (RBA), a rapid appraisal process which involves a review of the appropriate literature, acquisition of data, and basin reconnaissance, including stakeholders and institutions, followed by preliminary analysis of the identified issues and information needs and gaps. More specifically, the authors look at how rapid assessments can be carried out to serve as a basis for detailed analysis that would guide future planning of interventions aimed at enhancing water productivity in ways that alleviate poverty and enhance food, health and environmental security.

The paper begins by presenting the stages and principles that guide the assessment. It then moves on to discuss the key issues and the components, and the process and outputs of the assessment. The diagnostic tools that might be used in the RBA are included in the appendices. The assessment process and outputs are outlined as:
  • commissioning of the study
  • team formation and bonding
  • gathering existing data and information
  • analysis of existing data and information
  • planning the basin diagnostic reconnaissance
  • basin diagnostic reconnaissance
  • data collection procedures
  • cross-cutting suggestions
  • planning follow up activities
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