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Water governance and management rules

The World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) in 2002 called countries for development of national IWRM and water efficiency plans by the end of 2005. However, the CA countries have not been enough successful in this respect. In fact, it is not a simple task to develop IWRM plans that needs political willingness and qualified experts in this area.


Goals qualitative provisions on what is to be achieved and what problem is to be addressed. In case of IWRM plan or policy, the use of already adopted national and global goals could be a way to reach harmonization with larger scale initiatives on sustainable development and poverty reduction, like the efforts to achieve SDGs, national sustainable development plans, etc.

Tasks means identified to achieve the goals or key problems to overcome in the area of development or water resources in order to achieve the established goals.

Measures certain actions identified to fulfill the established tasks. They cover infrastructure development and changes in policy, institutional structure, and governance tools.

National IWRM plans: specifics, role, measures

In contrast to instructive and quite tough master plans, the process of IWRM planning proceeds from more flexible and dynamic approach to planning water development and management measures. Planning addresses the whole activity within a system of river basin, water catchment (or watershed), which includes farming, forestry, resource development and other land uses. The planning process becomes important for good water governance in terms of goals, the course for actions and planned measures.

National IWRM plans include all measures needed to create the efficient framework for policy actions, law, financial structures, effective institutions and governance tools. Such framework is to ensure effective regulation of water use, conservation and protection and to avoid disproportions between economic development and ecosystem protection.

Here, it is very important to set priorities and measures for integrated water resources management. Ecosystem protection and preservation is among such priorities. The dynamism of the planning process should be well understood as one of the weighty advantages of such an approach to organization of work is flexibility.

The planning process is to take into account both the development of the water sector itself and the development in other sectors and associated effects on water resources (e.g. water demand or water quality). Moreover, in this process, one should analyze consequences of water management decisions in other sectors (e.g. tourism or healthcare). It is important to analyze risks (climatic, economic, policy and other) and identify needed measures for reduction and management of the risks.

Social mobilization is a well-structured process, where all key stakeholders act towards the achievement of a common goal (the example could be participatory water governance).

Social mobilization is based on a combination of choice and voluntary participation. People come to help, if they see that this is to their benefit and when they believe that this is important for other people as well.

The key interrelated elements of mobilization are the propaganda, cooperation, resource mobilization, and information exchange.

The propaganda of ideas is the process of changing the public opinion or policy in order to achieve any goals. This implies formation of political and social beliefs. This is done through formation of coalitions, propaganda at the level of ordinary citizens and work with mass media. The propaganda of ideas means formation of such an environment, where political will and legal circumstances contribute to changes required.

To this end, propagandists may act bottom up.

Social mobilization will bear fruits only if necessary political and legal frameworks are in place. Those who make key decisions should have deep insights and should be willing to act. Otherwise, at the first stage, it is necessary to solicit their support by the way of propaganda. This support from the top level of governance is essential for social mobilization.

Social mobilization is the continuous process. This is the process, through which all stakeholders are involved in water resources management and decision-making. In the process of social mobilization all stakeholders are to reach understanding that they establish organizations, in which they are involved themselves and that are directed to achievement of their own benefits, will work for them and will report to them, in line with the rules and procedures set by stakeholders themselves.

Social mobilization is driven by overall understanding of stakeholder needs and problems in the field of water management, where they are conducting a comprehensive dialog for co-ordination of collective actions with the purpose to improve water resources governance. This process is to mobilize demand (understanding of a need) among all stakeholders for the establishment of organizations, in which they are involved themselves.

Such organizations include Water User Associations (WUA) or WUA Federations and Canal Water User Unions (CWUU) that are involved in water governance at their respective level.

Participatory organizations established in the course of such process report to their members, should be partially or fully self-governed (i.e. water users themselves set rules of conduct and follow them) and, as far as possible, be sustainable (i.e. when members get profit and are able to cover all or bulk of management costs and fully control organizations finances and resources).

Social mobilization is based on recognition of the importance of human factor and aims to achieve the optimal involvement, employment and development of human. Moreover, contribution of everyone is proportional to the profit gained: no profit, no contribution. And the profit gained by everyone increases the common good. This process is based on a dialogue and joint decision making, where interests of everyone are considered and everyone has a possibility to have his/her own interests and protect them.

Social mobilization is not a one-time activity, in which initiators of social mobilization meet with the public once or twice to disclose to them the institutional framework of IWRM, procedures for establishing community-based organizations, etc. In essence, social mobilization is the continuous comprehensive process of a bilateral dialog, where opinions and new ideas of all stakeholders are taken into consideration.

Author: Mirzaev N.N., SIC ICWC