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What does international cooperation in water management really mean?

May 15, 2013
Can this be tapped?

Can this be tapped?

“You cannot step into the same river twice”, I read somewhere recently.

Lately a series of articles on international and transboundary cooperation for water resources and crises management caught my attention. These articles more or less summarize the current situation around water under the following headings:

  • Not Conflict, But Stress and Tension
  • Untapped Waterways
  • Making Treaties More Comprehensive and Responsive
  • Information Helps, But Political Process Crucial

Yet in another article the global challenges were explained in a different way stating that  the state of water resources is constantly changing as a result of the natural variability of the Earth’s climate system and the anthropogenic alteration of that climate system.

Having worked on a transboundary water resources management program, I agree to all that has been stated in these articles.

However, I still truly believe that one approach that needs to be emphasized and strengthened even further is to initiate dialogue and cooperation on water issues at all levels with the identified stakeholders. That said it means that grassroots, community based and civil society organizations cannot be left out from the process. Also, it cannot be ignored that both technical and political solutions are needed to reap the rewards and alleviate the danger from the proposed solutions especially the ones around infrastructure projects. Esoteric approaches may not work in this particular situation.

From personal experience, I can say that this approach goes a long way in the following situations:

  1. Community water resources management of traditional water storage structures such as tanks, lakes and ponds along with the watershed management in rural settings
  2. For Basic Services to Urban Poor provision in urban areas for clean water supply and wastewater management
  3. For coastal and marine water resources management and
  4. Transboundary water resoources management for river basins and such

The crux of the matter is that these challenges being global it is true that no stand alone country or approach can solve the rapidly increasing problems around water related issues on it’s own such as the availability of water in the natural and man made channels, clean and safe drinking water for all, water for irrigation and so on to name a few.

It is envisioned that a holistic plan incorporating all the proposed solutions shall go a long way in solving the global water crises.


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