Community Based Water Resources Management: Some Regional Experiences

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Community Based Water Resources Management – Some Regional Experiences1 K M Baharul Islam
Development Gateway South Asia

ABSTRACT
Massive economic and industrial development across the world is depleting access to water resources for the poorer and marginalized communities. While available water resources are increasingly put to sever stress due to over exploitation, the communities whose livelihood depends on water resources are being threatened by the lack of access to water. Therefore, it is felt that user communities must have a greater share in determining the demand and supply of water through an inclusive and participatory approach. In this process the grassroots communities will become a part of the water management planning and implementation process. Community based water resources management (CWRM) has gained worldwide acceptability and recognition over the years, Local knowledge on traditional water resources management practices became the center-stone of this approach (Devine 2006). However, CWRM is not free from its share of criticism from different quarters. Conflict among heterogeneous groups with a single community with their complex economic, social and political power structures and cultural contexts often pose a serious challenge to the success of any CWRM programme. (Bruns 2005). Against this backdrop, let us discuss here some of the illustrative experiments in CWRM from the countries in the region namely, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The paper highlights some interested initiatives which are based on principles of community-based water management in order to increased access to water for the grassroots communities. It also considers how people benefitted through their participation in community-based water resources management programmes. Based on a holistic picture that emerges from these experiences, we can clearly conclude that a new trend is gradually emerging that is based on a combination approach to both – demand and supply processes. It concludes that while various types of community based practices and traditional knowledge enabled community members to access water resources more effectively at the household level, the communitybased management approach is yet to gain a more widespread implementation in other parts of the region which are still heavily dependent on ‗government-delivered‘ water supply schemes. Key Words: water resources management, development, community, demand, supply, participatory approach

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Published in Community Based Water Resources Management in North East India: Lessons from a Global Context. Jain, CK, KMB Islam and SK Sarma (eds), Allied, New Delhi, 2011; pp Jain, CK, KMB Islam and SK Sarma (eds), Allied, New Delhi, 2011; pp. 3-12 [ISBN: 978-81-8424-696-4]

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1. Introduction
One of the most unfortunate fallouts of the economic and industrial development across the world is depleting access to water resources for the poorer and marginalized communities. While available water resources are increasingly put to sever stress due to over exploitation, the communities whose livelihood depends on water resources are being threatened by the lack of access to water. A paradigm shift has evolved over the years from water supply to water demand management where an effort is made to minimize the pressure on limited water resources rather than concentrating on executing large scale water supply schemes (Ellefsen and Kolic 2010). Therefore, it is felt that user communities must have a greater share in determining the demand and supply of water through an inclusive and participatory approach. In this process the grassroots communities will become a part of the water management planning and implementation process. However, for any such community based initiative will need sustained efforts to empower and strengthen the community roles and responsibilities in the whole process. Bruns (2005) enlists a number of characteristics is such a community based...
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