Managing Water Locally: An essential dimension of community water development

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Communities are frequently excluded from important aspects of environmental management. But they can play a fundamental role in the management of common pool resources such as water. This is particularly true when state capacity is weak or when communities remain on the periphery of support from any government. Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) has been widely promoted over the last two decades as a solution for nations' resources. Yet, managing water resources at a global or state level can be over-ambitious and unrealistic, particularly when many developing countries have weak regulating institutions and limited technical and financial capacity. There is a need to redefine the mechanism for water resource management - giving greater respect to the needs, priorities and possibilities of different countries and contexts. There is potential to develop creative and realistic options for water resource management, particularly at local geographical scales, involving water users. This report explores how local water resources can be managed successfully by community-based institutions in support of state-level initiatives, where they exist. It follows 12 months of close collaboration between the Institute of Civil Engineers, Oxfam GB and WaterAid, who are jointly promoting Community-Based Water Resource Management. ‘...the potential for monitoring and managing water resources at local or community level should be better acknowledged. In particular, traditional water management practices must be recognised and used as a foundation for the development of future water management strategies.' Sir Crispin Tickell.