Water Governance in the Transboundary Rivers of South Asia
Over 750 million South Asians depend on the transboundary Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basins for food, water, and energy needs.
This river systems also support a wide variety of ecosystems under threat due to unregulated infrastructure developments, unplanned land use practices, and climate change. Conflict and lack of cooperation amongst the rivers’ stakeholders leave the poor, marginalized riverine communities vulnerable and at a disadvantage.
Oxfam's Work on Water Governance in GBM River Basins
Since 2017, Oxfam and its partners, through the TROSA Water Governance Programme, have been working to address these underlying causes of poverty and marginalization of the people living in the transboundary river basins of GBM in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and the Salween river of Myanmar.
We want to enable the communities that depend on these rivers to claim their rights, participate in decision-making on water governance, and build their resilience. Together with our partners, we work to increase their access to and control over the river basins.
We want their livelihoods to remain secure, and their rights respected. We work with governments, civil society, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), private sector, researchers, academics, developers, regional institutions, youth, and indigenous groups to achieve this goal.
Women from riverine communities are disproportionately affected by how water resources are managed. That is why we work to help them express their perspectives to make sure that their voices are heard in decision-making.
Influencing Policies and Practices of Governments
In South Asia, water governance and water resource management are linked to rather challenging social, political, economic and administrative constraints. Together with our partners, we work with the local authorities to ensure access to water resources and control over the GBM and Salween riverine communities.
Our collective and evidence-informed engagement with the newly-formed Province 7 government in Nepal led to the February 2018 Dhangadi Declaration and Dhangadi Declaration into Action that reaffirms the government's commitment to protecting the rights of riverine communities along the transboundary Mahakali river.
Ensuring Inclusivity in Water Resource Management
We build mutual trust and understanding with the riverine communities we work with to ensure that water resource management of the GBM river basins and the Salween are inclusive and equitable.
We enable and equip communities to know more about their rights, identify issues that they need to be concerned about, and raise their collective voice to stand up for themselves and protect their livelihoods.
Private Sector Engagement
Together with partners, we analyse various private sector investments in the GBM and Salween basins and monitor their impacts on the river ecology and communities. Building on this evidence, we convene multi-stakeholder dialogues with the investors and infrastructure developers to promote more responsible and inclusive business practices.
Increasing Participation of CSOs in Transboundary Water Governance
We support and collaborate with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to build knowledge and capacity on transboundary water governance. In the GBM basin, we are supporting a network of more than 30 CSOs as part of the Building River Dialogue and Governance (BRIDGE Network) that works on transboundary cooperation, research and knowledge sharing, capacity-building, communication, outreach, and advocacy.
Strengthening Women's Participation and Influence
Our work is guided by a regional gender strategy to ensure that our work creates space for more women leaders to participate in key regional-level policy discussions crucial to protecting their rights as women and communities.
Engaging with the Youths of South Asia
We promote and support the youth leaders in South Asia to actively engage and contribute to discussions and decision-making to protect and restore rivers and riverine ecosystems. We organise Youth River Camps regularly to facilitate learning and to enable them to take collective action so that they can lead their own movements in the future.
Oxfam’s TROSA Water Governance team believes in partnership and collective action. We value your interest and welcome your support to foster stronger partnerships for a just world without poverty.
Please get in touch with our Program Management Unit (PMU) hosted at Oxfam in Cambodia, Phnom Penh to learn more about our work.