Understanding Water Management in Kuwait: an Application of IAD Framework

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Aljamal, Ali
Conference Paper
The State of Kuwait lies within one of the most water-impoverished regions of the world and relies almost exclusively on costly desalination for its fresh water supply. Yet, it boasts one the highest per capita water consumption and the lowest water tariff in the world. Some observers find this a seemingly irrational way of viewing water consumption and difficult to explain. Instead of treating water like any other commodity, it is treated as a costless resource that should be available practically free in whatever quantities a person can use (Kelso, 1967). Kuwait, like most countries in the region, traditionally adopts policies of producing more water supplies while maintaining artificially low water rates. This has lead to gross overconsumption and inefficient water use. These issues have been examined from many disciplines. However, one specific aspect of research which did not receive adequate attention is in the area of institutional analysis and development (IAD). Ostrom et al. (1994) developed a comprehensive framework of institutional description, analysis and design, which improves understanding of resources problems and permits a thorough evaluation of their institutions. There is an increasing appreciation for the IAD framework because most solutions to resource problems lie in the modifications of institutional arrangements, which specify the manner in which resource users interact with each others and with the natural environment. This framework, as applied by Kenney and Lord (1999), Koonts (2003), and Andersson (2006) can be utilized for the analysis of water resource problems in Kuwait and the arid Gulf region. This study will apply the IAD framework to examine water resource problems in Kuwait and illustrate how Kuwait might implement alternative institutional arrangements capable of addressing water resources problems.
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