Feature Story

New Public Water Partnerships towards Meeting Climate Challenge

By Reclaiming Public Water

The Centre of Excellence for Change (CEC) brought together water related ministries and high level public officials to launch the Water Organisations Partnerships platform of India. This partnership is formed mainly by public institutions and organisations at national and state levels (engineers and state bureaucrats) but will also include other non-state/government actors and community groups. The very rich sharing sessions brought together for the first time officials of water services and water resource management, thus creating an important confluence of ideas.

It is with great pleasure that we today share a brief immediate report from Chennai, where RPW partners have successfully launched the Water Organisations Platform of India. A number of international delegates have participated in the international conference on “Water Partnerships towards meeting climate challenge” at Chennai on 6th and 7th January 2011.

Vibhu Nayar, ISA, founding mentor of The Centre of Excellence for Change (CEC) and his team successfully brought together water related ministries and high level public officials. During the first day of the conference, the proposal for Public-Public Partnerships (PUP) was discussed at length by the audience, which importantly consisted of high level public officials from central government, state-level water departments and mainly rural water operators. The very rich knowledge and experience sharing sessions brought together for the first time officials of water services and water resource management, thus creating an important confluence of ideas.

On the second day, the Water Organisations Partnerships platform India was successfully launched. This partnership platform is formed mainly by public institutions and organisations at national and state levels (engineers and state bureaucrats) but will also include other non-state/government actors and community groups.

In a demonstration of political support, the government of India, UNICEF and UNDP's delivered messages of supports to this new WOP platform in India. The last session was intensive and impressive. The participants divided themselves into three groups and discussed 1, objectives and outcomes of the WOP platform, 2. structure and 3. action plans. The CEC was proposed to be a secretariat of the platform. One of success of the platform is that it combines the drinking water sector, water resource and irrigation sectors. Actors of both (rural) water services and resource management are involved on how to operationalize this integrated platform. The leadership taken by CEC, whose experience is based in change management in Tamil Nadu, in the creation of the platform was discussed at length since the character of the platform is national.

International delegates have supported this agenda in an effective manner. David Boys, PSI was connected by video link and gave a powerful speech on how important India's leadership is in mainstreaming PuPs and WOPs, not only at the national level but also at the global scale. David Hall, director of PSIRU, contributed tremendously to the understanding of why PuP is the way forward to tackle water crisis in India and elsewhere. Mr. Nestor P. Villasin's presence, President of the Philippine Association of Water Districts was another highlight. He brought his experience as a general manager of water district (public water utility in the Philippines) to improve water services delivery through partnerships with trade unions and civil society and also between and among utilities. Buenaventura Dargantes (Doc Buboy) of the Visayas University and Mary Ann from Focus presented their research findings on non- commercial alternatives in Asia. Philipp Terhorst as a co-coordinator of the the Platform for Public-Community Partnerships of the Americas emphasized the significance of public authorities' and water professionals' engagement in the WOP platform in India, at the same time addressed clearly important challenges in Latin America to design social movement and civil society driven platform.

We are sure that CEC friends will share with us more in-depth stories, press coverage and documents. Taking this opportunity, we want to thank all CEC members for hosting us very warmly. We are also thankful that Suresh Saila arranged a meeting with local activists, academics, and students to have exchanges on water issues in Chennai and globally.

Outside Author
Outside Author: 
Reclaiming Public Water