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IWRM 2005:

Streamlining Malaysia's National IWRM Strategy Plan and Development of the

Implementation Road Map
Extracted by Liew Yuk San, from "IWRM 2005 Report on Malaysia by Dr. Lee Jin, Drafting Task Force

Abstract water vision as:

"In support of Vision 2020 (towards achieving developed
This paper review issues related to IWRM2005 project in nation status), Malaysia will conserve and manage its
Malaysia, the current IWRM implementation status and water resources to ensure adequate and safe water for
present the project outcome in terms of key results, all (including the environment)"
lesson learned and the way forward in Integrated Water
Resources Management. The challenge in water The key objectives of the Vision are:
resources management is to achieve the developed - Water for people: all communities will have access to
status by 2020, where the country is developed but the safe, adequate and affordable water supply, hygiene and
environment remains pristine. sanitation.
- Water for food and rural development: provisions for
1. Introduction to IWRM 2005 sufficient water to ensure national food security and pro-
mote rural development.
"IWRM or Integrated Water Resources Management" - Water for economic development: provisions for suffi-
can have many definitions but the most commonly used cient water to spur and sustain economic growth within
definition by GWP (Global Water Partnership) is, the context of a knowledge-based economy and e-com-
"A process which promotes the coordinated development merce.
and management of water, land and related resources, in - Water for environment: protection of the water environ-
order to maximise the resultant economic and social ment to preserve water resources (both surface and
welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the groundwater resources), and the natural flow regimes,
sustainability of vital ecosystems." biodiversity and cultural heritage as well as the mitigation
of water related hazards.
At the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(WSSD), Johannesburg 26 August to 4 September 2002, In support of the national water vision, specific water pol-
Malaysia represented by YAB Datuk Abdullah Ahmad icy statements have been embodied in Malaysia's 5year
Badawi, was a signatory to the WSSD Declaration in development plans to ensure the integrated manage-
which all signatories agreed to prepare Integrated Water ment of natural resources including water. In the 8th
Resources Malaysia Plan, an Integrated Water Resource
Management (IWRM) Strategic Plan by 2005, hence the Management (IWRM) approach was adopted to manage
project name IWRM2005. water resources, with integrated river basin management
(IRBM) utilized as a management unit. Chapter 22 in the
United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) has 9th Malaysia Plan, focused on environmental steward-
provided a small grant for interested countries to gauge ship to promote a balance between developmental needs
their current status in the preparation of IWRM strategy and the environment, with emphasis on preventive meas-
and road map for implementation. The project objectives ures to mitigate negative environmental effects at source,
of this UNEP programme are: intensifying conservation efforts and sustainably manag-
- To sensitize top level decision makers on the IWRM ing natural resources including water.
concepts and approaches to managing a finite resource
such as water. The 9th Plan Document re-emphasized the need to
- To develop a shared understanding and vision among improve water quality with efforts targeted towards reduc-
all major institutional and community stakeholders on the ing the number of polluted rivers. In this respect, the pub-
major IWRM issues in Malaysia and their roles in achiev- lic sewerage systems will be upgraded and additional
ing the vision. centralized sewerage treatment plants will be construct-
- Based on the shared understanding and vision to devel- ed to reduce the discharge of inadequately treated
op the streamlined National IWRM strategy and imple- wastewater into river systems. Gross pollution traps and
mentation road map. sedimentation ponds will be installed at critical locations
in river basins to reduce the outflow of non-point source
2. Present IWRM Implementation in Malaysia pollutants. Siltation and erosion control will be addressed
through the amendment of existing laws. Enforcement
Stakeholders in Malaysia had previously articulated our will be intensified to ensure that effluent discharge com-

ply with environmental standards in order to maintain process has started in policy making, water resources
environmental health. planning and other related studies, though not in an
obviously structured and formal manner. There are gaps,
A number of major studies related to IWRM have since conflicting and complementary strategies and objectives
been carried out such as "National Physical Plan", among the various water related sectors. Coordinating
"National Economic Recovery Plan: Agenda for Action", and collaborative efforts exist among institutions but in a
"National Water Resources Study 2000 - 2050 vague and not concerted manner. There is inadequate
(Peninsular Malaysia)", "National Study For The Effective mechanism and system for sharing information and
Implementation Of Integrated Water Resources knowledge in IWRM among the stakeholders. Capacity
Management In Malaysia (2005-2006)" and others. As building and knowledge enhancement in IWRM are
part of the efforts to create an enabling IWRM important to enable policy makers, planners, and
environment and build capacity on IWRM, many IWRM- implementers to make informed and timely decision.
related workshops and seminars have been held in the Numerous segmented Acts and guidelines relating to
country by various stakeholders. water resource are in existence.

3. IWRM2005 Project Activities In general, public participation in IWRM has started but
need to be further encouraged and promoted. Research
IWRM 2005 project activities are related to the efforts to build up knowledge in IWRM must be
implementation of three National-level IWRM Workshops coordinated and stepped up, especially in the area of
as follows: valuation of the water ecosystem and related
i. 1-day Institutional IWRM Assessment Workshop, biodiversity. Integrated and comprehensive water
20 June 2006 attended by 53 participants from various resources management legislation should be enacted,
government agencies, an enabling environment be created to further encourage
ii. 1-day Community IWRM Assessment Workshop, and promote public participation in a proactive,
21 June 2006 attended by 25 participants from various constructive and effective manner. The formal and
universities, NGOs and private agencies, and informal processes of capacity building in IWRM must be
iii. 2-day Multi-stakeholder IWRM Strategic further strengthened.
Planning Workshop, 3-4 August 2006 participated by 83
representatives from public and private sectors, 4.2 Lessons Learned
academia and NGOs.
The lessons learned in implementing IWRM in Malaysia
4. IWRM2005 Workshop Findings are grouped in accordance with the three IWRM pillars of
enabling environment, institutional framework and
The outcome is summarized into Key Results, Lessons management instruments.
Learned and The Way Forward.
4.2.1 Enabling Environment
4.1 Key result
There is a general increased in awareness In IWRM. The Policy
consensus among the participants on the current priority Water resources planning, implementation and use are
water management issues in the country are as follows: still sector driven. However, the sector policies, strategies
- Deterioration in river water quality and action plans, are now increasingly been formulated
- Flooding to incorporate the principles of sustainability. There is
- Incongruent landuse and development now a need to make progress towards the streamlining of
- Threat to aquatic biodiversity the individual sector policies, strategies and action plans,
- Water shortages and increased water demand into an integrated national IWRM strategic action plan
and implementation roadmap. The agencies in the
The stakeholders are aware of the weaknesses and gaps different sectors should work together, under the
in the current implementation of water management leadership of a joint National IWRM coordinating
framework in the country and were able to appreciate the committee, to streamline and optimize their respective
need for adopting IWRM concepts and approaches in the sector goals and address gaps in implementation and
sustainable management of water resources in Malaysia. enforcement. Only through such collaborative working
arrangements within the different agencies will each of
Through these workshops, the stakeholders were made the agencies be able to achieve their respective
aware of the need to work together to streamline their individual goals and targets that are based on
respective water management related goals and targets, sustainability principles.
as documented in the 9th Malaysia Plan. There was
consensus among all the stakeholders that the IWRM

4 NAHRIMNET Legislation the past. However, more needs to be done to increase
There are many laws, regulations and enactments that the TOT capacity building and to generate the
govern water resources management and use in the momentum and demand for the IWRM training programs.
country. However, there is no over-arching national policy
framework that brings them altogether. There is a need 4.2.3 Management Instruments
to create more awareness on the importance of the need
for a concrete national policy framework to facilitate the Resources Assessment
respective sector agencies, with enforcement powers, to The pertinent technical agencies responsible for the
act in a coherent way to achieve the objectives of IWRM collection and storage of the resources information are
in the Malaysia. well-equipped with modern information and
communication technological infrastructure, with Finance computer databases, monitoring system and
A review of the 8th and 9th Malaysia Plan reveal that communication networks. The assessments are carried
significant expenditure and allocations have been made out with the support of computer models. However, there
by the government to address flood mitigation, basic is a need for more up-to-date analysis of the collected
water supply and sewerage infrastructure needs of the data to convert them into useful information to be used by
country. The challenge now in the water financing is how planners, engineers and decision-makers.
to make the transition from the current, sector-specific,
financial and budgeting paradigm of the sector agencies Planning
to an integrated base program, that can provide added Each pertinent technical agencies has developed sector
value bearing in mind, the achievement of the immediate plans to enable them in fulfilling the responsibilities of
goals and targets in one sector may contribute to their agencies. For example the Town and Country
increasing the negative impacts in other sectors, or "sew Planning Department has developed the National
the seed" of a bigger problem within the sector over the Physical Plan for Peninsular Malaysia to guide the
longer term. physical development of land-use in Peninsular
Malaysia. The Plan is supported by State conceptual
4.2.2 Institutional Environment land-use development structure plans and finally the
cadastral lot based local plans. The Drainage and Institutional Framework Irrigation Department has developed Integrated River
The institutional framework in Malaysia is complex as it is Basin Plans, Flood Mitigation Plans, etc. The Department
a federation of many states. Issues related to landuse of Environment has developed plans for improving river
and water resources management are the states water quality. The Department of Water Supply has
matters. There are many government agencies, both at developed plans to create water reservoirs to meet the
the federal and state levels dealing with water issues, projected future water supply needs of the country. The
leading to gaps and overlaps in responsibilities for Forestry department has created plans
managing the land-use and the water resources in the
country. Continuous reviewing and reform are on going to for the sustainable management of the forests in the
strengthen the institutional framework. The last major country. In the preparation of these plans each of the
reform in March 2004 resulted in entrusting water agencies are aware of the need to take into accounts the
resources management and water services management related factors that are under the responsibility of the
to different ministries. other agencies and sectors. There is a need for effective
co-ordination between the related agencies and in view Capacity Building of the current sector-focus; this is a challenge that needs
The Government of Malaysia recognizes the importance to be overcome.
of capacity building and the development of the country's
human resources to achieve the national vision of a Water Use Efficiency
developed country by 2002. In the 9th Malaysia Plan The current water pricing systems for domestic and
(2006-2010) human resources development has been non-domestic water supplies in the various States of
given a substantial budget allocation. In water resources Malaysia does not reflect the actual costs of developing
management, capacity building is required to enhance and providing the water supply. On a national basis,
the performance of staff in the water-related agencies, to under full cost recovery at nominal cost of funds of 10%
adopt and to implement the IWRM concept. The per annum, the Government will be subsidizing the
Malaysian Water Partnership (MyWP), have and can play public at RM0.23/m of distributed water. This subsidy
an important role in creating awareness and building and low pricing of water may not provide the incentive for
IWRM capacity among the water-related agencies in water consumers to use potable water efficiently.
Malaysia. It has conducted a number of IWRM Training
of Trainers (TOT) workshops and training programs in The 8th and 9th Malaysia Plan reports on Non-Revenue

Water (NRW) highlight the poor efficiency in the delivery powers, to act in a coherent way to achieve the
of potable water to consumers as seen below objectives of IWRM in the country. The 3 IWRM
workshops carried out in this project has sensitized all
- In the 8th Malaysia Plan (2000-2005) NRW decreased the pertinent stakeholders on what needs to be done and
from 40% to 38% after replacement of 3380 km of old the immediate next-step to be taken to enable IWRM to
pipes, old water meters and reduction of pilferages. be implemented effectively on the ground, by all
- In the 9th Malaysia Plan the NRW is targeted to be
reduced to 30% by 2010. Economic
The use of economic instrument to complement the use
Irrigation is currently highly subsidized and consumes of institutional, regulatory, technical and other kinds of
about 70% of the surface water. There is a need to tools in the water sector is currently not widespread in
increase the efficiency of water use in this sector and Malaysia. The Economic Planning Unit has developed a
sufficient incentives need to be provided to encourage booklet to educate users on how it can be done.
increase efficiencies. However, there is not enough incentives for the agencies
to adopt the "total cost" paradigm in its financial and Social Change budgeting approach. The use of economic instruments
The current awareness on IWRM of all stakeholder will enable the appropriate incentives be given to adopt
groups is minimal. There is water conservation and the "total cost" approach. The formation of a joint
awareness campaigns for the general public and National IWRM coordinating committee among key
specific groups, but water problems persist. The general IWRM sector agencies may facilitate the pertinent
public is aware of water issues but lack commitment to agencies to adopt economic instruments as part of the
be involved. This is may be attributed to the lack of strategy to move towards the desired "total cost"
avenues to carry out water related programs. Thus, it is paradigm.
important to provide opportunities and platforms for
networking among stakeholders and implementers of Information Management
water projects in the country. There is increased used of Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) to capture, store,
On education, there are no IWRM specific courses in analyze and disseminate information. Each of the
pre-school, primary and secondary school levels. water-related sector agencies has developed their own
However, water issues are taught indirectly through ICT infrastructure and databases to support their work.
existing syllabus. IWRM is taught as a sub-set of other There is a need to facilitate the sharing of information.
courses at the tertiary level. There is also the lack of For spatial information, the Malaysian Centre for
trained teachers on this subject and a need for a Geospatial Data
framework to implement the water related courses in
schools. Infrastructure (MaGDI) has been set-up as a
clearinghouse for such information, stored in the form of Conflict Resolution GIS maps. There is also a need to develop a system for
There are at present not many cases of water use con- sharing non-spatial information.
flicts between different water users in Malaysia. Though,
conflicts do arise from time to time, in water-stress areas 4.3 The Way Forward
during droughts between different users, e.g. potable and
irrigation water use. In the rural areas of Sabah and The workshops recommend the formation of a Steering
Sarawak, where villages depends on gravity-fed river Committee (SC), with representatives from all
water conflicts do arise between the villagers and the log- stakeholders to facilitate the continued discussion and to
ging companies that cause pollution to the village water follow-up on the inter-sectors IWRM issues identified in
sources. All pertinent agencies need to institute effective this Workshop. The SC shall be chaired by the Secretary
stakeholder consultations when carrying out the develop- General of NRE and responsible to take the
ment and implementation of any water related projects, recommendations and outputs from IWRM2005
to minimize the possibility of future conflicts. activities, to the Government for further action until a
formal Permanent Committee is formed under the Regulatory National Water Resources Council (NWRC). The SC
As previously mentioned, the regulatory control of water should also established a communication mechanism,
resources in the country is still fragmented and sector preferably a website, to keep all the stakeholders
based. Increase awareness need to be developed, to informed on the progress of the development of the
ensure a concrete national policy framework, to help National IWRM Strategic Plan based on the framework
facilitate the respective sector agencies with enforcement provided by the outputs from this Workshop.

The immediate action need to be taken in creating Above all, sufficient funding for both curative and
awareness of the issues highlighted, through public preventive measures should be provided and it should
forum and by disseminating information gathered. There cover studies and/or dialogues to integrate the various
is a need to present the findings to the SC and National sector plans; studies for integrated legal framework;
Water Resources Council (NWRC), consisting of major grants, seed money and budget lines for the various
stakeholders, for decisions on further actions. The advocacy groups to ensure awareness improvements,
recommendations to NWRC may include the setting up capacity building, community case studies and Best
of a Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) where the Management Practices.
main function of this committee is to facilitate
main-streaming of water resources, IWRM and IRBM The developed status is targeted by 2020, in which time,
implementation as well as the preparation and used of "the country is developed, the environment remains
river basin master plans and integrated shoreline pristine". There remain a timeline of 13 years which
management plans. The PTC have to ensure greater should provide ample time to streamline the National
networking and better partnerships, creating common Integrated Water Resources Management Plan. The
platforms, identifying commitments at the various levels Permanent Technical Committee, after dialogue,
and to increase awareness and capacity building. Other deliberation and study should be able to recommend
responsibility involves coordinating and stream-lined NWRC on the strategies to be achieved in the short term,
issues at both state and federal levels as well as to report medium term and by 2020.
back to NWRC on the development of IWRM
implementation and its impact to the country.