TROSA partner NERSWN engages with Bhutan Government - water channels maintained for downstream communities.

Bhutanese officials restoring irrigation channels. Photo: BIFA (Bhutan-Indo Friendship Association)

Following a flood warning threat shared by Bhutanese authorities (June 2020) to Indian farmers living in the border areas of Baksha district Assam, and the ensuing local protests on the Indian side, TROSA partner The North East Research & Social Work Networking (NERSWN) facilitated a reconciliatory communication process which brought together relevant stakeholders and authorities from both countries to discuss the issues.

NERSWN’s efforts involved bringing together civil society groups CSOs like the Bhutan-India Friendship Association (BIFA), farmer communities and Sarpamg (Bhutan Border DC), district committee, that led to discussions at the district administration level on both sides for improved water management for long-term durable solutions for transboundary water security and governance.

Dispelling media rumours claiming that Bhutan had blocked water to the traditional irrigation channels ‘dongs’ downstream, such dialogue processes have contributed to renewed solidarity among border communities in the Saralbhanga area. The outcome of the effort was a CSO-led media campaign to present the correct narrative of the situation which was supported by the statements from the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Chief Secretary Govt of Assam.

In 2019, Bhutanese and Indian CSOs signed the 7-point Kokhrajhar Call for Action following a two-day consultation on transboundary cooperation on water-risks supported by TROSA. Soon after, the Cooperation reaped rich dividends in Transboundary Early Warning and Community-led decentralised water management.. Farmer groups with improved irrigation system and training on improved agricultural practices now have access to border haats (markets) to sell the products - a direct result of our partners' endeavours on this front. This has been a great example of diverse and holistic results which the team has achieved by affirming their faith on CSO led Transboundary Cooperation.