Kokrajhar: As multiple countries in the South Asian region struggle individually to deal with the impacts of climate change induced disasters, unfortunately, there is yet to be a promising development in collectively combating these vulnerabilities at the regional and transboundary level.
Several rivers that flow down from Bhutan to India, as many as 56 such rivers flow down from Bhutan to Assam itself. Though these rivers are the lifeline for riparian communities in both countries, they oftentimes wreak havoc, with flash floods, long term inundation, erosion, cyclones and siltation. Unscientific mining, unsustainable fishing, and improper water management and flood protection measures could be likely causes for cumulative risks and vulnerabilities in the region. If governed effectively, these rivers could help both countries thrive in trade and tourism, as well as enabling a prosperous livelihood for the respective riparian communities.
With Bhutan and India enjoying a friendly and cordial relationship, and in recent times, CSO to CSO ties strengthening, amicable ties between border communities and their collective approach in managing rivers is being cited as an early instance of trans boundary cooperation. As understanding grows, Transboundary communities are making continued endeavors to bring respective cultures together through various activities.
In this context, a two-day consultation has been organized, involving representatives from Government, CSO, Media and Academic Institutions. Titled ‘Consultation on Trans-Boundary Cooperation for Effective Management of Water Risks’, on June 20th and 21st, 2019, at Kokrajhar, BTC, Assam. Tireless efforts by women leaders from India and Bhutan have resulted in early platforms to enhance women’s participation in trans-boundary risk governance.
A cadre of community-based women leaders is coming together to collectively manage risks in the last mile with support from upstream and downstream communities. The Consultation on Trans-Boundary Cooperation for Effective Management of Water Risks is a collective effort of these women champions, represented by several agencies, including North East Research & Social Work Networking (NERSWN), Aranyak and Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI), Bhutan India Friendship Association, supported by Oxfam’s Project TROSA.
This two-day consultation aims to strengthen transboundary collaboration and cooperation with Government, CSOs, Academia and others with the following long term objectives: Transboundary communities are enabled to reduce vulnerability to water resource related shock, together, including from
- Water stress and disasters. Transboundary Governance is improved as a result of relevant bilateral mechanisms and protocols for transboundary risk
- Governance in India and Bhutan CSOs and Networks increasingly participate in and influence transboundary risk governance
The consultation was jointly inaugurated by Pankaj Anand, Director, Oxfam India and Dr. Kinzang Dorji Chairperson, BTI Board Former Prime Minister of Bhutan in presence of a huge gathering of eminent people from both the Bhutan and India. While inaugurating the Consultation, Dr. Kinzang Dorji said “Bhutan and India have always been friendly nations, it is a time tested the relationship, this consultation is a step towards strengthening this relationship especially through managing the water risk”.
Pankas Anan of Oxfam India said, “ effective management of water risks will not only lead to joyous access to water but will help to transform the conflicts around water into a peaceful state. I am sure this is just the beginning, both the countries together have to realize different goals which will benefit either side”.
Through the day, eminent participants discussed and deliberated on different topics, resolutions of these discussions will be declared at the end of the consultation.