Bolivia, India, Mali share experiences in integrated water management

Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) has gained international recognition as an appropriate framework for meeting the challenges of water scarcity. IWRM is fully supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), where experts asked themselves how they and their partners could learn together and in an innovative and forward-looking way from the wealth of existing experience in water and watershed management...

BERN, Switzerland, Jan. 8, 2008 -- Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) has gained international recognition as an appropriate framework for meeting the challenges of water scarcity. IWRM is fully supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), where experts asked themselves how they and their partners could learn together and in an innovative and forward-looking way from the wealth of existing experience in water and watershed management.

This question triggered an initiative named "Water, Land and People - Voices and insights from three continents", which was implemented in Bolivia, India and Mali, facilitated by Intercooperation. In each of the three countries, a learning group of 12 to 15 participants from different sectors - farmers' and water users' associations, project teams, NGOs, private sector, government, SDC staff - jointly defined a learning agenda and deepened topics tools like story-telling to ensure a high level of authenticity while capturing experiences. Participants and facilitators appreciated this innovative tool for enabling them to break with the usual formal setting, see complex issues from previously unperceived angles, and challenge fixed mindsets.

The learning groups concluded that the learning process was most effective and motivating when intermediate results were immediately put to use as inputs for decision-making in other ongoing initiatives (as opposed to working in isolation to achieve a final product). In India, the learning group was consulted by the authorities and thus contributed to the elaboration of revised watershed guidelines. The three learning groups exchanged and presented their preliminary findings during the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico City in March 2006.

Moreover, each learning group presented its findings in an innovative and attractive manner, by putting video, audio and PowerPoint presentations, short stories and comics into interactive presentation CDs. These country-specific products were then partially translated and assembled to form a global product available on DVD as well as on the Internet (www.waterlandpeople.net). This final product provides a rich resource base and is meant to be used by many actors on different levels, ranging from local stakeholders (e.g., water users' associations and authorities), the SDC and partner institutions to policy-makers and the wider public.

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