Growing more with less: China’s progress in agricultural water management and reallocation
This case study (PDF) by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) focuses on China’s ability to get ‘more crop per drop’ by improving agricultural water use. The case study identifies four factors driving improvements: Chinese decision-makers’ balancing of needs for water for food versus growth; institutional and policy reform; major government investment; and local technical, economic and regulatory programmes. Challenges remain, especially mismatched incentives between national and local decision-makers, frustrating the achievement of ambitious environmental targets. China’s progress offers lessons for other countries. For example, strong national leadership is necessary but not sufficient for environmental progress, even in a single-party state. Positive change requires ambition, innovation and investment of leaders and citizens at all levels. China’s experience highlights the importance of a problem-focused approach: using rewards and incentives, and clarifying roles, responsibilities and accountabilities among different users.