Wetlands International South Asia as the lead implementation partner of Watershed India Programme organised the Watershed Annual Partner Learning Meeting on 22 -25 October 2019 in Gopalpur, Odisha. The meeting was attended by 53 participants from 8 countries and representatives from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting saw cross-country learning between civil society organisations around engagement and policy influencing strategies for improved governance and management of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and water resources. The participants visited one of the Watershed India implementation sites – the Tampara wetland basin to gain an overview of landscape level programme implementation.
Knowledge from Mali, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Bangladesh and India suggests that while community institutions adopt a contextual approach to resolve water resource management and WASH issues, the key challenges happen to be similar across countries. There is no magic formula but knowledge sharing does leads to actions by governments. Water quality analysis is a good entry point for community and civil society engagements. Creating awareness on Water as a finite source and building capacities of civil societies and communities to deal with water security risks also helps. Improved knowledge and capacities needs to be backed by a conducive policy and governance framework. There is always a need to adopt new approaches to involve multiple stakeholders at different levels. This is not always easy given the hierarchical nature of societies, conflicting interests and sometimes high power dynamics involved. Messaging to different stakeholders need to tuned to their interests but again there are no quick fixes in issues related to WASH and water resource management.