Assessing the Feasibility of Climate Change Adaptation Options in the Water Sector: Examples from Rural and Urban Landscapes

Chandni Singh, AmirBazaz, Debora Ley, James Ford, Aromar Revi | 2020


Water availability mediates rural and urban development through impacts on sectors such as agriculture and industry. Recognising that climatic risks attenuate this water availability, various adaptation options have been implemented in the water sector. To inform adaptation prioritisation, it is critical to assess the growing literature on adaptation options related to water management and synthesise lessons on which options are feasible and under what conditions. We assess the multidimensional feasibility of adaptation options in the water sector at the global scale using two examples: strategies to improve irrigation efficiency in rural areas (e.g. drip irrigation, watershed management), and sustainable water management in urban areas (e.g. flood management, upgrading sewage systems). To contextualise the assessment and showcase how adaptation feasibility is regionally differentiated, we present two case studies: flood management in Jakarta and Rotterdam; and community-based watershed management in India and the Dry Corridor of Central America, specifically Guatemala and Honduras. The assessment highlights that while improving irrigation efficiency is technically feasible and has economic benefits, it is constrained by issues of replicability and trade-offs across scale and institutional barriers. In urban areas, flood management measures are technologically and geophysically feasible but barriers such as inadequate institutional capacities constrain their feasibility. We also assess mitigation and sustainable development synergies and trade-offs for the two adaptation options. The findings on factors constraining adaptation feasibility in the water sector are useful for policymakers who are increasingly faced with a diverse suite of adaptation choices.