The Indonesia Water Community of Practice (IndoWater CoP) was declared on December 3, 2014 by a group of Indonesian NGOs whose members felt very concerned about the poor management of Indonesia’s water resources due to a lack of integrated planning on river basin management, community participation and law enforcement. Poor management leads to all sorts of problems, most importantly water pollution, water shortage, increased damage from disasters, excessive forest conversion and river bank degradation, biodiversity extinction and uncontrolled mining.
IndoWater CoP started from the belief that the above mentioned problems can be addressed by increasing community participation as part of formal government decision making processes that should take place at the level of river basins instead of administrative units.
Our recent policy and basin analysis revealed that water pollution is the most burning issue within failing integrated water management. The quality of Indonesian water resources is deteriorating at an alarming rate and has become unacceptable. Water pollution has major economic impacts and has started to affect the wellbeing of the people to such an extent that it has attracted international attention. The severe impact on the environment will be felt by future generations. Water pollution in Indonesia is a human induced problem that should be solved by human interventions. The Indonesian government seems both unable and unwilling to take and implement adequate measures to protect people and the environment and to create basic conditions for a sound, healthy and sustainable socio-economic development.
Therefore, in addition to promoting improved community participation in IWRM, IndoWater CoP focuses on addressing the issue of water pollution in national policies.
The NGOs that together make up IndoWater CoP work on manifold water resources issues in Indonesia. They have extensive experience in working with communities and have each developed models for community participation in water resources management. Our aim is to improve these models through networking and shared learning, so they can contribute to participatory integrated river basin management in Indonesia and help address the hardship that communities face due to a lack of access to clean water.
To support government agencies at different levels to improve performance in river basin management through practicing community participation at all stages of integrated water resources management at river basin level.
Based on our experience with inclusion of local understandings and practices, we intend to:
- further develop and implement models for community participation and create platforms for discussion and interaction among all relevant stakeholders using the negotiated approach
- increase the knowledge and capacity of communities to participate on an equal basis in multi-stakeholder dialogues
- develop cooperative networks with government agencies and other stakeholders to share experiences and practices, and further development of models
- advance NGO actions at local level to national policy level through joint lobby and advocacy, with water pollution as the key issue for the coming years
NGOs are uniquely positioned in between civil society (which suffers from inadequate government management practices) and formal government institutions (which are often willing but incapable to apply participatory management approaches). NGOs should therefore have an independent role in awareness raising and in addressing the public opinion. Our challenge is to become a credible partner for all stakeholders.
To achieve this, IndoWater CoP aims to operate in three different complementary roles:
- Participate in formal coordination and integration mechanisms such as water councils and try to improve their functioning by adding the voice of the people.
- Organise civil society groups at local level around problems that can be managed at the local level with or without additional support from national and regional government. Help people take control of their ‘own’ resources, organise their management structure and interact with governments for approval and contributions.
- Address urgent issues by organising protests, media campaigns and legal action.
IndoWater CoP’s ambition is to critically monitor government performance in the implementation of water related policies and to propose tangible models and platforms for improved community participation in water resources management. A strong focus on water pollution as an urgent niche issue will help us gain visibility and build up credibility in the above-mentioned roles. Moreover, we envision IndoWater Cop as a shared learning place where member NGOs are encouraged to look beyond their individual activities and develop joint, evidence-based strategies to influence national policies.