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The Imposition of Participation? The Case of Participatory Water Management in Coastal Bangladesh


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By Camelia Dewan, Marie-Charlotte Buisson and Aditi Mukherji

Revitalizing the Ganges Coastal Zone Conference
21-23 October 2014, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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The Imposition of Participation? The Case of Participatory Water Management in Coastal Bangladesh

  1. 1. The Imposition of Participation? The case of participatory water management in Coastal Bangladesh G3: Water Governance and Community-­‐based Organiza:ons Camelia Dewan Marie-­‐Charlo0e Buisson Adi6 Mukherji
  2. 2. Participation in Water Policy From Top-­‐down poli.cized to depoli.cized par.cipa.on • 1950s: Floods and Krug Mission Report recommending embankments • 1960s: BWDB created 4000 km of embankments: Top-­‐down • 1970s-­‐1980s: Poli.cized par.cipa.on • Donors also funding social empowerment NGOs • Water projects with local decision-­‐making and involvement • Early Implementa:on Project (1972-­‐1995), Land Reclama:on Project (1978-­‐1991), Delta Development Project (1981-­‐1999) • Focus on marginalized groups: ‘Target groups’, Landless • 1990s-­‐2000s: A depoli.cized shiM: Par.cipa.on as Maintenance • Wider shiV towards decentraliza:on to non-­‐state bodies • Reduc:on of BWDB from 24000 to 8000 staff • Community-­‐Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) • Effec:veness, equitability and sustainability • Guidelines for Par:cipatory Water Management (GPWM) • ‘Stakeholder consulta:on’, Labor Contrac:ng Socie:es and Water Management Organiza:ons
  3. 3. Participation in Practice Lack of Efficacy: Inability to address top-­‐down engineering • CBNRM for water management through involving • GPWM seeks to place the decision-­‐making power in the hands of stakeholders through Water Management Organiza:ons (WMOs) • Integrated into: • BWDB’s Integrated Planning for Sustainable Water Management (IPSWAM) • LGED’s Small-­‐Scale Water resources Development Sector Project (SSWRDSP) • Constraints • BWDB: 50 year delay in the consulta:on of WMOs • Project dependence • Several examples of inadequate technical solu:ons • Unsa:sfactory number of regulators, too low or weakly constructed embankments, flawed sluice gate shubers, and superficial canal re-­‐excava:on. • (waterlogging, canal silta:on and river erosion) • Par.cipa.on as a ‘tool’ to give a 'human face' to depoli:cized and technocra:c projects (Palmer-­‐Jones et al., 2010). • WMO equated with community
  4. 4. Participation in Practice Lack of equity : WMO obscuring power differences within WMO’s to represent all societal segments BUT • Elite capture of WMOs • Domina:on of rural male elite • Non-­‐representa:ve • Focuses on ‘produc:ve’ uses • Exclusion of women & landless • Drinking water, homestead garden, bathing, livestock, cooking, • GPWM Percentage of households quota fails to empower target groups • Token members 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Elite Frequency in Executive Committee Composition. * From 1000 households selected in polders and sub-­‐projects. Small farmer (less than 2.49 acres) Medium farmer (2.5 to 7.49 acres) Large farmer (more than 7.5 acres) In the popula:on* In the WMOs execu:ve commibee members Ability to par.cipate defined by ‘power’ and ‘economic status’
  5. 5. Lack of Equity Rural and Conflict: Opera.on for water uses • Sluice gate commiaees created regardless of the presence of a WMO • Local operators paid through rice or fishing rights • Land and canal grabbing make WMOs redundant • A minority of gates is operated through WMOs (land grabs, private gates/pipes, • Canals are drying up • Par:cular problems with salinity intrusion in brackish gher areas • Respondents did not equate par.cipa.on with a WMO • WMO as an external idea that prompts polder popula:ons to create commibees in order to receive funding for maintenance à Prevent benefits of water management for ‘all the stakeholders’
  6. 6. Lack of sustainability The panacea of financial cost-­‐sharing • 1990s and ‘par.cipa.on’ as financial cost-­‐sharing • GPWM encouraged communi:es to contribute to maintenance costs. • Poor condi.on of canals, gates and embankment: • Canal excava:on and re-­‐excava:on are the top two issues in survey • No evidence that WMO micro-­‐credit ac:vi:es gives incen:ves to maintain the polder infrastructure. • Funding gap in maintenance • Both communi:es and implemen:ng agencies struggle to meet maintenance demand; Oversubscrip:on to: • LGED’s Emergency Fund • BWDB’s Non-­‐Revenue Development Budget No coherence between the considerable hydrological challenges and the means by which the WMOs can generate funds.
  7. 7. Conclusion – Permanent Funds The Role of Existing Institutions Acknowledge coordina.on role Union Parishad and NGOs already playing: • Implica:on in gate opera:on (UP), • Implica:on in conflicts resolu:on (UP), • Role in case of disaster (UP, NGO) • Rural employment schemes (UP, NGO, LGED) Perception of the responsibility for Water Management Establish Permanent Maintenance funds • Donors could focus on suppor:ng the increase of funds available for rural employment schemes for adequate canal excava:on and embankment repairs via Upazila Parishad. • Support autonomous quality assurance body for payment of funds aVer sa:sfactory comple:on. Community people 24% WMO 2% Union Parishad 35% BWDB 28% LGED 9% Other 2%