Cooperating with local communities on water supply Supporting local initiatives for integrated water resources management
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends promoting local initiatives for the integrated development and management of water resources.
The inability of governments to provide adequate water-quality monitoring and feedback to isolated communities is a very common problem in the developing world because of the cost of conventional methods. Since 1983, a network of researchers in-Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Singapore, and Thailand have been experimenting with simpler and cheaper tests. With the assistance of the National Water Research Institute (NWRI), part of Canada's Ministry of the Environment, researchers in these various countries have been developing and testing a number of simple, reliable, and inexpensive water quality tests that can be performed in the field by members of the local community.
Any attempt to regenerate the community's relation to water must aim at enlarging the basis of citizen action and citizen control of water sources. Communities must regain some direct forms of control over the water now withdrawn from their sources for agricultural and industrial purposes. The illusions generated by decades of water development have led us to forget that a region's sources of water are by right the commons of the communities cohabiting in that region. Water withdrawn from local sources for distant agro-industrial purposes is in fact a type of state legitimated theft. Water development be with the consent and to the benefit of the community where it is located.
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