Tag Archives: Water Initiative Retreat

Projects Tools and Frameworks

Pre-Feasibility Assessment for IWS

The Water Initiative has developed an “IWS Pre-Feasibility Assessment” to help stakeholders or managers for potential projects assess whether or not IWS/NI provide the best solution for their case.

Comment on this post to let us know what you think. Have we left something out? Would this assessment have captured the problems and opportunities in your watershed? Is it too detailed, not detailed enough, or just right?

What’s the difference between a pre-feasibility assessment and a feasibility study? And why should we do one?

A feasibility study should make a detailed assessment of the hydrological, economic, political, and social conditions existing in the watershed that will determine whether or not a project would be successful. This pre-feasibility assessment, in contrast, asks potential managers to make estimates of each of these factors – detailed enough to make a broad “possible/impossible” decision – but without requiring a large time or financial commitment.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, too many projects decide to use IWS as an end in itself, rather than as a means to an end.  When it’s viewed as an end, then understanding whether the interventions have any economic value is moot – we’ve got the system in place, who cares if it’s producing the benefit we need.  This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing – if a project is sustainable, the payers and beneficiaries are happy, and there’s not a negative environmental impact, it’s creating a positive impactl.  But if we want to succeed in Scaling Up Investment in Watershed Services, then we also need to make it clear that IWS may not be the best solution to every problem – sometimes the cultural, political, economic, or environment context are not right. The pre-feasibility assessment is a tool to help us accomplish this task without too much upfront investment.

What’s in the pre-feasibility assessment?

  • Identification of Main Problems and Ecosystem Impacts. What are the problems? How are they affecting consumers and ecosystems?
  • Livelihoods and Social Baseline. Who is affected by these challenges? What are the economic drivers in the area?
  • Watershed Services. What actions could be taken to solve the water problems?
  • Economics. Is there someone out there who might be a payer? Why would they want to? What are some rough estimates of management costs and values of the benefits?
  • Status of negotiations. Who would be the main players? Do they get along? Have they already attempted negotiations about watershed management (or other issues) before? Can we learn something from prior negotiations?
  • Identification and mapping of stakeholders.
  • Possible model. What IWS model would work best in this cultural, economic, and political context? What are some political, regulatory, or institutional challenges that will need to be addressed?

Take a look at the template here: IWS Pre-feasibility template v2Comment on this post to let us know what you think. What else should be included? How could we make it more user-friendly?