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Water Champions initiate or implement water reforms in their chosen field, and are directly involved in improving the water situation in their respective countries..
Imam Anshori: Authorizing Water Use, Assuring Water Rights
By Maria Christina Dueñas Knowledge Management Officer ABOUT THE CHAMPION
Mr. Imam Anshori is the Director of Water Resources Management for Indonesia’s Directorate General of Water Resources (DGWR), which is under the Ministry of Settlement and Regional Infrastructures. His involvement with water user rights began when he became a member of the working group that prepared the report for the draft Law on Water Resources, which in 2004 became Indonesia’s Law No. 7—the Water Resources Law. He also provided inputs to the World Bank-sponsored Indonesia Water Use Rights Study, conducted in 2003 and 2005. When the concept of Water Use Rights was opposed by several NGOs and brought for judicial review in the Constitutional Supreme Court in 2004-2005, Mr. Anshori was part of the government team that prepared the counterstatements presented before the justices of the Constitutional Supreme Court. As Director of DGWR, Mr. Anshori spearheads the government’s efforts to draft water licensing regulations for Indonesia.
Does Indonesia generally see water as a right or a privilege? It is difficult to say. Majority of the people think that water available in nature is free, given by God, and can be drawn by anyone however they see fit. Still, those who own water wells or have rivers flowing in their backyard consider those waters theirs— and anyone taking water from those sources without their permission would be met with anger. Our 2004 Water Resources Law specifies that “the State guarantees the right of every individual to have access to water as a minimum daily basic need for a healthy, clean and productive life.” This right to use water is not the right to own, but rather the right to draw, use, and cultivate for various needs. Our law classifies water user rights into two—the right to use water (for basic needs, agriculture, and non-commercial activities), and the right to use waterworks (for commercial or production purposes). Both types of rights cannot be leased or transferred. How does Indonesia prioritize water uses? The Water Resources Law gives primary consideration for the use of water for daily basic needs, i.e. for drinking, bathing, cooking, washing, sanitation, and religious worship. Second priority is given to irrigation needs of farmers within an existing irrigation system. For both cases, licenses aren’t required, although the government provides written documents or certificates to farmers’ groups within an irrigation system. The rest of the water uses are prioritized based on local conditions.
Does the environment hold a right to a reserved amount? The government is responsible for ensuring that sufficient water is allocated to sustain the environment. If we do not do this, we can expect a lot of complaints from the environmentalists. What challenges have you encountered in implementing Indonesia’s water rights and allocation system? We still have many rivers without reservoirs to control the volume of water so guarantees from water administrators are difficult to implement. There are also water users who applied for licenses a long while back but have yet to get their permits. Meanwhile, several new users have already gotten their permits. As can be expected, conflicts arise from these conditions. And then add to this scenario the long-time permit holders who, over the years, have stopped exercising the rights indicated in their licenses. Finally, we have cases where water users for industry purposes obtain permits through the irrigation networks that hold the rights to the water they need.
How are you managing these challenges? We’re working to attain several key ingredients in implementing the water rights and allocation system. For instance, the Water Resources Law clearly defines the delegation of authority and responsibility in the management of water resources at the national, provincial, and district levels 1 . The national government created 30 Balai Wilayah Sungai at the local (Provincial or District) governments to be responsible for the day to day water operations at the basin level. These are supported by more than 45 Balai Pengelolaan Sumber Daya Air or Technical Implementation Units for the Management of Water Resources in the basin level, which serve as think tanks. These balais help strengthen stakeholder coordination at the basin level. We’re working to develop the hydrologic network and strengthen the hydrologic information system. Every river basin needs to be organized based on the Water Allocation Plan, with an accountability system set up. We also recognize the need for a corps of professional water administrators. Our major challenge now is how to re-skill our technical personnel working at the Balai to become effective water administrators. I think an intensive training program is needed. Your department is handling the drafting of water licensing regulations. What progress have you made? We worked to strengthen the regulations regarding the licensing of water use that were incorporated in the Draft Government Regulation on Water Resources Management. This Draft was already reviewed at the inter-ministry level, and is currently in the final stages of editing.
Do you think Indonesia will ever reach the stage of trading water rights? I think not. The Water Resources Law is firm in prohibiting trading water rights in Indonesia. What key lessons has your experience in managing water rights and allocation taught you? I would say that water user rights should be used as an instrument to protect the people, especially those economically marginalized. The system should also take into consideration the need for water to sustain the environment, and the government should ensure that water is allocated for this purpose. Finally, we need to look out for the effects of global climate change as this is expected to reduce water availability, thereby creating more conflicts among water users and making water allocation guarantees that much more difficult to meet.
Mr. Imam Anshori, last row, fourth from the left, during the Integrated Water Resources Management Workshop in Negombo, Sri Lanka, April 2006.
At the same time, the DGWR is preparing the Ministry of Public Works’ Draft Manual on Licensing of Water Use, which will specify the implementing rules and regulations on operational licensing. How will this new operational licensing system be managed? Licensing on water use under the authority of the National Government may be delegated by the Minister of Public Works to the Governor based on the principle of decentralization. Only licenses that have wide-ranging effects on the public interest will not be delegated, for instance the licensing for the construction of large dams.
_______________________________ 1 Please refer to Articles 14-16 of the Water Resources Law *This article was first published online at ADB's Water for All website in July 2007: http://www.adb.org/Water/Champions/anshori.asp. The Water Champions series was developed to showcase individual leadership and initiative in implementing water sector reforms and good practices in Asia and the Pacific. The champions, representing ADB’s developing member countries, are directly involved in improving the water situation in their respective countries or communities. The series is regularly featured in ADB’s Water for All News, which covers water sector developments in the Asia and Pacific region.
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