South Asia Talks ‘Water Commons’

We no longer want to see further desertification of our rivers
Photo: ActionAid Bangladesh
Bangladesh team
Country Director

For positive change, I believe in the power of people

The multi country initiative on Water Commons to strengthen people’s perspective just concluded in Kathmandu on 31st. It was looking for the rights of the river and humans, the stories of people living in and around the river basin. We aspire to bring the human touch and make the reality understood by ourselves and all those around us. It was an attempt to perhaps re-imagine rivers beyond industrial development and growth lenses and view it from the social, cultural, political dimension along with the economic growth.

The coming together of knowledge leaders such as Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed, Ajay Dixit, Anuradha Chenoy and Arshad H Abbas from the 4 countries of South Asia – Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan – talking across boundaries was another attempt towards taking the sharing of understanding further.

Professor Dr Imtiaz, an expert on International Relations, said:

It is important to be a South Asian. It is challenging and takes time as we have to deconstruct because of, I guess, what we have learnt as an individual in a particular national context and rise beyond that instead of just confirming to the popular sentiments.

What I like to think is, we make the road by travelling down the path – in this case the path of the river in our mind if not in reality, and the meandering river probably knows no boundaries. It allows us to reflect within and also search beyond for solutions collective. This initiative in Nepal has contributed towards that in a small manner; it is the beginning.

It was an encouraging and interesting meeting of the researchers and ActionAid colleagues as the 18 months invested in the process is an example of platform building at the regional level. This is a process undertaken in a time when our societies are in transition and acknowledging the challenge of transparency and accountability in the backdrop of larger politics and sustaining the critical rationality.

The outcome reminds us of the long way we have come and of how important the process is for ensuring the outcomes. There will be a publication of the Oral History at national levels; there will be policy briefs to work with; also there will be a book published as a contribution towards knowledge generation. Of course we hope to collectively continue to walk together for months, years to come and we will invite perspectives and contributions for critical inputs from partners and movements so as to make a dent!

I am excited by the prospect of learning and the opening up of the spaces to bring people’s perspective to the forefront.

Jai Manush! (for people power!)

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