The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

In Search of Integration. Analyzing the Gap Between Theory and Practice of Integrated Water Resources Management with Case Studies from West Africa and International Policy Processes

Virpi Stucki (née Lahtela)

Doctoral dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Aalto University School of Engineering for public examination and debate in Auditorium R1 at the School of Engineering (Espoo, Finland) on the 9th of September 2011 at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-60-4213-8)   [1371 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-60-4212-1)


Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is one example of integrated approaches to natural resources management that has been widely promoted during the past decades. In this thesis, IWRM is understood as a strategic management procedure that integrates the natural resources and society (users and institutions) around a body of water. Numerous international conferences and meetings have promoted IWRM as a key approach to water management and subsequently a way to sustainable development. Yet, practical implementation of IWRM on the ground has had uneven success.

The overall objectives of the thesis were to increase understanding of the high-level, strategic issues that hinder or enable the translation of IWRM from policy into practice and based on that, to distil special considerations of IWRM in Senegal River and Lake Chad, for integrated approaches, and among practitioners. This was done by examining the gap between theory and practice of IWRM with the help of case studies representing IWRM in practice (Senegal River, Lake Chad), and IWRM in theory (IWRM in international policy, climate change adaptation policies as a driver for integration). A framework was developed and used in order to systematically analyze the appearance and implementation of IWRM in the four case studies. The methods used in examining the case studies varied from a literature review and field visits, to Bayesian Causal Networks, comparative analysis and qualitative data analysis.

The thesis concluded with four high-level, strategic issues that hinder or enable the translation of IWRM from policy into practice. These include i) the importance of recognizing externalities, ii) defining and understanding the "IWRM area of influence" (the confluence between theory, practice and externalities), iii) the key role of institutions and especially management and communication aspects, and the fact that iv) understanding, analyzing and managing the above is more about nouns than numbers.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 5 publications:

  1. Virpi Lahtela. 2003. Managing the Senegal River: National and local development dilemma. International Journal of Water Resources Development, volume 19, number 2, pages 279-293.
  2. Olli Varis and Virpi Lahtela. 2002. Integrated water resources management along the Senegal River: Introducing an analytical framework. International Journal of Water Resources Development, volume 18, number 4, pages 501-521.
  3. Olli Varis, Muhammad M. Rahaman, and Virpi Stucki. 2008. The rocky road from integrated plans to implementation: Lessons learned from the Mekong and Senegal river basins. International Journal of Water Resources Development, volume 24, number 1, pages 103-121.
  4. Virpi Stucki and Madiodio Niasse. 2008. The role of domestic security in the functioning of the Lake Chad Basin Commission. In: Nevelina I. Pachova, Mikiyasu Nakayama, and Libor Jansky (editors). International Water Security: Domestic Threats and Opportunities. Tokyo, Japan: United Nations University Press. Pages 110-126. ISBN 978-92-808-1150-6.
  5. Virpi Stucki and Mark Smith. 2011. Integrated approaches to natural resources management in practice: The catalyzing role of National Adaptation Programmes for Action. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, volume 40, number 4, pages 351-360.

Keywords: IWRM, West Africa, international policy, institutions, externalities, area of influence

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© 2011 Aalto University

Last update 2011-08-15