International Water and Communities: Shared Learning Dialogue in Water Management in India

The Pacific Institute and our India-based partners ISET and TARU published a report on sustainable water management in the face of climate change in Indore and other cities as a result of our research and interaction in Indore. Climate Change and Urbanisation: Building Resilience in the Urban Water Sector – a Case Study of Indore, India, provides detailed analysis of the water situation in Indore, India and shows a way forward to a more secure water future for developing country cities.

In December 2010, the Pacific Institute, ISET and TARU brought together more than 60 local residents, elected officials, water utility managers, and representatives from the informal (or private) water sector in the city of Indore, India for a Shared Learning Dialogue to present the results from a household water survey and a water market survey the three organizations conducted – and to develop ideas to improve water management in Indore. The meeting was a tremendous success, with numerous respondents saying that it was helpful to hear the perspectives of other sectors before identifying solutions to water problems. One participant stated: “This is the first time I’ve come to a workshop where the informal, formal, and community groups participated together. This is a positive step toward making communities self-sufficient.” Participants also suggested that the dialogue should be expanded in the future to involve more communities.

“The Shared Learning Dialogue was a rich opportunity for the many water managers in Indore to begin planning for the impacts of climate change on water security in Indore, get access to new information from household and water market research, understand the perspectives of other sectors, and develop solutions to work together to improve water management in Indore,” said Meena Palaniappan, director of the Pacific Institute’s International Water and Communities Initiative.

Meena Palaniappan developed a presentation of  the results from our household water survey and informal water survey which was presented in Hindi during the first part of the meeting. All the participants then divided into small groups to discuss and provide feedback on the survey results and identify any changes to water supply conditions. After feedback was collected, all the participants then divided into smaller groups with representatives from each sector and asked the following questions:

We are all powerful water managers that can improve water management in Indore. How can we move from coping tomanagement?

  1. What do we (community, informal, government) need from others to be more effective?
  2. What can we (community, informal, government) provide in terms of resources, information, and communication to make water management more effective?

There were compelling ideas coming out of the small group discussions, including many participants identifying the need for more community management – some indicating that if governments could bring water to the community, community management could distribute and manage water more efficiently from this point. Many residents also wanted to know more about the quality of water and ideas to improve it. The informal, or private, sector proposed conducting presentations in communities on water quality and methods to improve it.  Community residents also provided a lot of feedback to informal water participants stating it was important for water tankers to arrive as scheduled in communities, as the failure of water tankers to arrive presents a hardship to residents.

The Climate Change and Urbanisation report recommends policy and tool solutions to ensure that the systems and the infrastructure for the provision of basic services are managed in a more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable manner:
- diversify water supply (Indore, for example, relies on one primary and energy-intensive source: the Narmada River);
- increase access to municipal supply/improve infrastructure;
- increase water storage at all levels (municipal and household);
- promote water-use efficiency and reuse;
- implement equitable water rates;
- improve water quality;
- reduce energy dependence; and
- improve connections among all stakeholders in the sector.

Download the full report.
Download the Executive Summary
Download the Press Release.