Water Commons and Transboundary Rivers (A study report of AAN)

Blues Beyond BoundariesThis study explored water commons in selected regions of Nepal in the context of the country’s agreement with India on the Koshi, Gandak and Mahakali rivers. The study sites lie in Nepal’s Sunsari, Morang, Saptari, Nawalparasi and Kanchanpur districts. Ten VDCs representing the head and tail ends of the canal systems from the transboundary projects were selected. The VDCs receive services in the form of irrigation and flood control measures.
The study examined how the projects affected livelihood of the riparian communities in terms of water use and disaster risk management. It collected people’s perspectives on perceived benefits, inundation problems, their knowledge on treaties and the support that communities received during disaster events. The study explored the civic action initiated by riparian communities and highlight issues of displacement, compensation and inundation.
The study touched upon the disputes regarding water use at the national and transnational level. The treaties, in principle, aimed to address the various challenges faced by the riparian communities of both countries – including their low socio-economic condition, food insecurity, and poverty. In their current form, the treaties do not meet these stated goals and are not sensitive to the challenges faced by the riparian communities. The present development approaches pursued within the context of the treaties have, instead, created problems for local communities particularly the poor.
People had mixed views regarding the transboundary projects. In all the study areas felt that India had benefitted more from the projects than Nepal. Flood was recognized as the major disaster in the study areas. People felt that hydro-engineering structures have blocked the natural drainage and elevated the riverbeds increasing instances of inundation. They were also displaced when land was acquired for developing the projects. Although compensation was provided to the affected families, no support was provided to help them re-establish their homes and build their livelihoods. Generally, the amount compensated was inadequate, low literacy level of the affected families, lack of adequate information and bureaucratic approach hindered compensation management.
In the future, the competition for water is likely to increase at the local, regional and transnational scale. Such competition will magnify disputes as water is allocated among different users. Cooperative development of rivers needs to be based on the principle of equitable sharing and distribution of benefits not only between the countries but also with the riparian communities within a country. The concerns and interests of riverine communities as well as the need to the river ecosystems that help local livelihoods are often neglected when governments agree on sharing river waters. Innovative approaches are needed to empower local communities so that their adaptive capacities to deal with various shocks are enhanced.

Download: Water Commons and Transboundary Rivers


Transboundary Water Commons
India Reporter

Blues Beyond BoundariesThe rivers flowing from the Himalayas are the cultural and economic backbone of South Asia. The Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra have contributed to the rise and prosperity of earliest civilisations in history and today they are the source of life and livelihood for millions. These South Asian river basins support rich ecosystems and sustain the riparian communities. However, rivers are also a source of conflict between countries and people in the region. For many years, water has been one of the most commonly contested bilateral and multilateral issues between countries of South Asia.
The rapid retreat of the Himalayan glaciers, increasing effects of climate change, unrealistic command area of irrigation projects, draining waste water into the rivers, deteriorating river ecology, unplanned developmental activities on flood plains, thrust for hydro power and inattentive water governance through age-old water treaties and agreements have all impacted the life of rivers in South Asia. The question, whether to harness rivers are necessary for flood control or to dam it for hydropower generation and commercial irrigation, is an issue of great concern and a source of controversy. Large-scale water and riverrelated structures have contributed to the ruin of many river basin communities in South Asia.



A South Asian Manifesto
on the Politics and Knowledge of Water

This document is a collaborative venture supported by three short-term Fellowships in south Asian Alternatives (FISAA). It was first presented at the Residential Workshop on ” Sources of Conflict in South Asia: Ethnicity, Refugees, Environment”, Kandy, Sri Lanka, March 6-16, 1997, organized by the Regional Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS). The present version has gained much from critical comments from the participants of the workshop especially Dipak Gyawali, Ainun Nishat, Syed Ayub Qutub and B. George Verghese, Vijay Paranjape and Tariq Banuri also provided valuable suggestions. FISAA Steering Group and the RCSS express their gratitude to the Ford Foundation for supporting the FISAA project. They are also grateful to the Frederich Naumann Stiftung for its partnership in Kandy workshop.



Haor Declaration 2008



-Imtiaz Ahmed

People of Many RiversTales from the riverbanks are no different. Indeed, a deliberate attempt has been made to focus on rivers and, at the same time, collect stories from those residing on the riverbanks, mainly to understand the intricate relationship between water and people and recover ‘lost’ or ‘hidden’ knowledge. In fact, ‘oral history’ tends to focus on groups of individuals who might otherwise have been ‘hidden from history’ mainly to have a sense of the living experience and not a reconstructed one via secondary sources or through opinions of the out-of-place experts!



flyer-11-150x150The need to put focus on water comes from a history of abuse wrought upon water and watercourses. Land-centric development in recent years has adversely affected this natural resource. Development, structures, encroachment, pollution, mismanagement etc. have taken serious tolls on it. The results are desertification, salinity intrusion, erratic rainfall and biodegradation.

Download: WM flyer - English & WM flyer- Bengali


In today‟s program, among 124 guests/participants, total 18 guests gave their speech including the chief guest and keynote speaker. They shared a lot of opinions based on their experiences in the water management issue. Their discussion was divided into two parts namely, internal water management and regional water management. The center of the discussion was about the water management perception and moral values regarding water.

Download: WWD Report

Display Board:

Download: Display board

Haors of Bangladesh: Threats, Constraints and Potentialities:

  • Haor: Bengali word ‘haor’ from the word ‘sagor’,dialectically ‘saior’ from ‘sagor’ and ‘haor’ from ‘saior’ (Khan, 1990).
  • Popular vatially (folk) song ‘majhi bya jaoray- okulo saiorer majhay’ -exhibit ‘saior’ as ‘haor’.
  • During monsoon, vast and boundless deep water body of ‘haor’ with strong wave shows the scene of sea. Therefore, it is also called ‘inland sea’.
Download:Haor Presentation(PPT) & Haor Presentation(PDF)