Kenya: Community Network for a healthy Athi river
Through pollution and water scarcity, communities along the Kenyan Athi River have learnt the hard way that upstream and downstream communities are inevitably connected. In response to indiscriminate impacts on the environment and people's livelihoods, civil society organisations within the Athi River Basin formed the Athi River Community Network (ARCN).
"The Athi River Basin is degrading rapidly. We need to re-establish our connection to water, and get a sense of responsibility to our rivers. That's why it's a community network; it is people who directly interact with the river. We must manage the river sustainably for our benefit." – Violet Matiru, Millennium Community Development Initiatives (MCDI)
Through the ARCN, civil society organisations and community members have a platform to network, discuss their challenges, and explore opportunities for collaboration. These contribute to mutual capacity development and in creating a sense of solidarity among the people of a shared river basin.
Thanks to interactions among the members of the Athi River Community Network, the ARCN has come to a better understanding of how different localised problems are oftentimes related to overarching institutional problems. Problems on the ground vary from one location to another – including pollution, encroachment of riparian land, and erosion – which may require different types of interventions. Yet, in order to make local interventions possible and fit the needs specific to the context, (local) institutions need to enable communities to actively participate in decision-making processes. Moreover, as local interventions should be in harmony with the carrying capacity of the entire river basin, members of the ARCN underscore that communities' local perspectives and needs should be incorporated in a governance plan for the entire river basin.
Dialogue with government authorities
The ARCN also engages in dialogue with government authorities, who actively participated in ARCN's workshops. During one of the workshops, government officials welcomed contributions by the ARCN for the implementation of the Water Act, which speaks of a decentralised and participatory approach, assisted by Water Resources Users Associations and Basin Water Resources Committees (to be established). Hence, Both ENDS' support to ARCN's endeavour to design and pursue a development path of their own, comes at an opportune moment.
Both ENDS support to ARCN's efforts toward an inclusive river basin approach for the Athi River also includes South-South exchange. Recently, we facilitated such an exchange between the network and Professor Vijay Paranjpye from India, who shared his experiences of using a Negotiated Approach to a river basin in India. Vijay Paranjpye has also been a key contributor to the development of a Negotiated Approach on the basis of already existing local initiatives, which is nicely captured in the book 'Involving Communities'.
For more information
Read more about this subject
A Negotiated Approach envisages the meaningful and long-term participation of communities in all aspects of managing the water and other natural resources on which their lives depend. It seeks to achieve healthy ecosystems and equitable sharing of benefits among all stakeholders within a river basin. This inclusive way of working is an essential precondition for the Transformative Practices that are promoted by Both ENDS and partners.
Video / 8 November 2019
The Athi River Community Network is made up of communities who live along the Athi River watershed. Members of the Athi River Community Network promised to join forces with the Friends of Ondiri Wetland to ensure that this critical wetland is restored and conserved for the sake of current and future generations.
News / 19 August 2021
After many years of advocating for strong environmental policies at international platforms such as the UN, Kenyan Violet Matiru asked herself: "How does all this lobbying trickle down to our communities? How does this help our mothers who are still struggling with fetching water and cooking on wood stoves?" This is when she and her colleagues founded MCDI Kenya (Millennium Community Development Initiatives) and started to work with local communities. We talked to her about the historical and current power imbalance in water governance and her efforts to improve water governance in the Athi River basin, that runs all the way from upstream of Nairobi, through the city, into the Indian Ocean.
Event / 23 August 2021, 13:00 - 14:00
What do we mean when we say the 'politics of water'? How are the distribution of water and the access to water influenced by political-economic interests? And who has the power to reverse the flow and change tides?
Publication / 21 March 2023
News / 21 March 2023
Water is literally life, the lifeblood of ecosystems, of nature, of humans. However, in many places the distribution and use of water is unjust and unsustainable. Water management is generally focused on short-term economic interests, on maximizing the profit of a well-connected few at the expense of people and nature. This dominant view of water and water management has its origins in the European industrial revolution, which became the global norm through colonialism and globalization. But according to Melvin van der Veen and Murtah Shannon, water experts at Both ENDS, this view will have to give way to equitable, sustainable and inclusive water management. Both ENDS cooperates with and supports communities and organisations worldwide who are working to this end.
News / 13 August 2021
The situation in the southwest delta of Bangladesh is critical. Because of sea level rise, floods are increasing and the area is about to become uninhabitable, despite Dutch-style dikes and polders built in the previous century. Partner organisation Uttaran works with local communities on climate-friendly solutions that restore the living environment and give the inhabitants a say about their future and food production.
News / 4 July 2019
Tidal rivers in the southwest coastal area of Bangladesh have been dying since flood plains were replaced by Dutch-style polders in the 70s. Rivers are silted up, and during monsoon season water gets trapped within embankments. Every year, this situation of waterlogging inflicts adverse consequences particularly on women, as they take care of the household in waterlogged conditions in the absence of men who travel to the city in search of temporary work. NGO Uttaran is advocating for a change in policy and practice.
News / 2 July 2019
The water quality of East Java's largest river, the Brantas River, is increasingly deteriorating due to a combination of industrial and household waste. This environmental pollution has a disproportionate impact on women. Yet, their participation in decision-making remains lacking. ECOTON is working to improve the situation.
External link / 19 June 2020
Tidal River Management (TRM) is based on age-old community practices. In 2019, Uttaran helped ensure that TRM was seen by policymakers as a solution to waterlogging in the delta of Bangladesh, and that the voices of women and youth were being taken into account.
External link / 28 November 2017
Event / 23 March 2023, 09:00 - 11:00
Online side event at the UN Water conference in New York
This event will present The Transformative Water Pact (TWP), an innovative framework for water governance that has been developed by environmental justice experts from around the world. The TWP will serve as a starting point for dialogue between representatives of the government of Colombia, academia, regional and international NGOs in relation to Colombia's current ambitions in multi-scalar water governance.
News / 22 March 2012
Halls filled with booths, stands, professionally set up corners, wifi-spots. Big rooms where lectures, interactive sessions and workshops are held. People from all corners of the world and from different kinds of sectors (companies, government, and social organisations) are gathering here for five days. They have one thing in common: they are talking about water. The sixth World Water Forum in Marseille is about 'solutions'. For water issues, that is. Almost a billion people worldwide have to cope without clean drinking water.
Press release / 20 March 2023
Academics and civil society representatives from around the world came together to articulate an alternative vision and framework for water governance, in the run-up to the UN Water Conference 2023 in New York. The Transformative Water Pact was developed in response to the continued exploitation of nature, neglect of human rights and the extreme power-imbalances that characterize contemporary water governance throughout the world. It details an alternative vision of water governance based on the tenets of environmental justice, equality and care.
Publication / 31 August 2005
Publication / 25 November 2011
Publication / 16 March 2011
External link / 3 December 2014
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.
Video / 1 July 2013
In this short movie we follow Indian professor Vijay Paranjpye, who has dedicated his life and work to finding ways of involving local communities in the management of natural resources such as water. What is the Negotiated Approach and what has been achieved so far? This film takes us to India and to Benin to show both results and possibilities.
Blog / 5 October 2018
From the first moment I arrive in Surabaya, I enter the rollercoaster called ECOTON. I'm visiting them to get to know the work of this long-time Both ENDS partner, and have only three days for this. But ECOTON does a lot, and all of it at the same time. Tirelessly, they work on the protection of the Brantas River.