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logo     WATER GOVERNANCE-COLLECTIVE ACTION NETWORK

Essay Competition - World Rivers Week

Author : Oxfam India, IRBF and RWUA

Date : 18/09/2020 - 04/10/2020

Competition has been closed on 27th September. But entries are currently open to all who want to share their experiences and ideas.

We invite young minds of South Asia to write an essay  on either of the two topics. 

Topic 1 – Visible River and (In)visible Gender in South Asia
Topic 2 – The future of Transboundary Rivers in a post COVID era

General Guidelines:

  1. The essay must be in English and Hindi
  2. Word Limit - Not exceeding 500 words
  3. The Age limit is between 18-30 years 

Please add your essay as a comment on the forum. You can do so by registering on the website using this link (or clicking the register button on the top right corner of the website page). Fill in your details and login using your ID and password. After login, click on “Go to Website” on the dashboard page that opens. From there click on “Discussion Forum”, and open the discussion. There you can comment on the discussion using the input box provided. (Tip – type out your response in a MS Word/ Notepad or other document editing software, and paste it in the box. In case there is a glitch with the website, your content will not be lost.)

 

Please add your name, designation and email ID at the end of your essay.

 

For any queries contact – Shobhit Chepe (shobhit.consultant@oxfamindia.org)

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Total Comments : 4

RG
Date : 24/09/2020 | 11:46PM

The future of Transboundary Rivers in a post COVID era

The Transboundary Rivers are the source of energy as well as livelihood to various stakeholders involved. Post COVID era uncertainities and disputes would increase manifold for the resource sharing patterns of such rivers as the burden on governments and business would be immense. Dealing with these challenges would require actions as well as solutions from a multi-dimensional approach.

The Mekong- Brahmaputra river basin is one such which is less explored by the civil society, the 7 sister states of Northeast  falls in this natural geographic area and can be explored as part of the “Act East Policy”.  It provides avenues to engage and if properly channelized can yield results for the sustainable growth and development of the Northeastern region of India as well as rest of the countries of Southeast Asia. With climate change being an important part of discussions and actions an increase in awareness can be seen. The Mekong Regional Cooperation (MRC) has regional cooperation among member states, it helps address the problems by taking up sub regional projects in various sectors like agriculture, energy, environment, tourism etc. The India - Myanmar - Thailand Trilateral highway is one such visionary project for regional cooperation and it is expected to improve trade relations between India and ASEAN. Similarly the Mekong- Brahmaputra river basin can yield long term results if properly planned and implemented.

The Transboundary rivers give the communities and stakeholders the chance to engage with each other and become natural allies. Proper Action Plans, and conservation to protect natural resources, local cultures and historical proximity provide the chance to engage and encourage the regional cooperation. Post COVID the engagement becomes all the more important, a regional organization dealing with only development of Mekong- Brahmaputra will not only achieve the purpose of collaboration between India and ASEAN but also provide stability and greater inter-dependence on both stakeholders.

As the saying goes, “the best way to predict future is to create it” it fits perfectly to the future of Transboundary Rivers post COVID era. The burden on rivers as engines of development, cooperation and engagement has to yield results as well as benefits to the partners and the communities only then can regional cooperation yield results. The Post COVID world will be multilateral and for stability the focus will be to focus on regional cooperation more than international cooperation. Allies and friends can be chosen, but neighbours cannot be chosen. The geographical river systems and basins can be used as a tool to engage more proactively Post COVID and a strong regional setup in all the major regions of the world can be achieved starting with Transboundary Rivers. Water sharing, conservation practices, interdependence in livelihoods will make the stakeholders bound to hold dialogues in the long run and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will be easier.

Name- Rupam Ghosh

Email id- rupamghosh1996@gmail.com

AS
Date : 24/09/2020 | 5:28PM

VISIBLE RIVERS AND INVISIBLE GENDER IN SOUTH ASIA

As a child, I grew up listening to the folklore narrated by my grandparents that talked about the love between two rivers, Teesta (Rongkyu) and Rangeet in the hills of Darjeeling and Sikkim.  The story which has survived generations, told the history of rivers who were in love with each other but decided to hide their affection and take separate routes through Mayal Lyang (Dzonghu, Sikkim), promising to meet with each other near a place called Pozok. The rivers were gendered according to their flow by the indigenous people, the river Rangeet was considered a male, because it took a relatively straight course to their meeting place as he was guided by an eagle, while Teesta represented the female gender, as she was guided by a snake and therefore took a meandering route. The place near Kalimpong where the two rivers meet is still called as ‘Lover’s point’. 

I recount this story, as a tribute to the fact that various rivers throughout India have been gendered by the people living near them, with a disproportionately large number of rivers being celebrated as female. The gender dynamics are however reversed when we look at the people involved in water governance, conservation and management which is traditionally dominated by men. Various studies throughout India have found that the interaction of women with rivers is comparatively higher than men with a large number of women involved in work that conventionally require utilization of water resources.

An interesting intersection between gender and river is seen for communities living in and around Brahmaputra as it flows from Bhutan to Bangladesh, a study which looked at these gender and social variation, found that in the valleys and downstream reaches (i.e. Assam and Bangladesh) due to better land quality, male participation in the workforce increased, leading to their control over the local economy, which ultimately resulted in decreased working capacity of female, therefore invisibilising their existence outside their homes. This prompted the shaping of male centric societies, estranging women from social, economic and political control. However in the slopes or the upstream reaches (I.e. Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh), where land is relatively less fertile the male members of the family would in general move somewhere else for work, and female members of household enjoyed increased participation in the workforce. This had made them more noticeable in work spaces, which has led to a wider scope for female participation in the society at a large and thereby creating a relatively equal society, with equal property status for women. This shows that the role played by the river in creation of gender based social order cannot be denied.

Globally, only around 7% of the leaders who make decisions pertaining to rivers and water bodies are female. This underrepresentation has resulted in a lack of women voices during creation of policies which have been driven by profit making incentives rather than water conservation. It is therefore high time to turn things around and improve women’s participation in decision making.

 

Name: Abhinaw Sharma

Email ID: M2019PHSE001@tiss.edu

AS
Date : 24/09/2020 | 5:23PM

VISIBLE RIVERS, INVISIBLE GENDER

As a child, I grew up listening to the folklore narrated by my grandparents that talked about the love between two rivers, Teesta (Rongkyu) and Rangeet in the hills of Darjeeling and Sikkim.  The story which has survived generations, told the history of rivers who were in love with each other but decided to hide their affection and take separate routes through Mayal Lyang (Dzonghu, Sikkim), promising to meet with each other near a place called Pozok. The rivers were gendered according to their flow by the indigenous people, the river Rangeet was considered a male, because it took a relatively straight course to their meeting place as he was guided by an eagle, while Teesta represented the female gender, as she was guided by a snake and therefore took a meandering route. The place near Kalimpong where the two rivers meet is still called as ‘Lover’s point’. 

I recount this story, as a tribute to the fact that various rivers throughout India have been gendered by the people living near them, with a disproportionately large number of rivers being celebrated as female. The gender dynamics are however reversed when we look at the people involved in water governance, conservation and management which is traditionally dominated by men. Various studies throughout India have found that the interaction of women with rivers is comparatively higher than men with a large number of women involved in work that conventionally require utilization of water resources.

An interesting intersection between gender and river is seen for communities living in and around Brahmaputra as it flows from Bhutan to Bangladesh, a study which looked at these gender and social variation, found that in the valleys and downstream reaches (i.e. Assam and Bangladesh) due to better land quality, male participation in the workforce increased, leading to their control over the local economy, which ultimately resulted in decreased working capacity of female, therefore invisibilising their existence outside their homes. This prompted the shaping of male centric societies, estranging women from social, economic and political control. However in the slopes or the upstream reaches (I.e. Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh), where land is relatively less fertile the male members of the family would in general move somewhere else for work, and female members of household enjoyed increased participation in the workforce. This had made them more noticeable in work spaces, which has led to a wider scope for female participation in the society at a large and thereby creating a relatively equal society, with equal property status for women. This shows that the role played by the river in creation of gender based social order cannot be denied.

Globally, only around 7% of the leaders who make decisions pertaining to rivers and water bodies are female. This underrepresentation has resulted in a lack of women voices during creation of policies which have been driven by profit making incentives rather than water conservation. It is therefore high time to turn things around and improve women’s participation in decision making.

DB
Date : 23/09/2020 | 9:22PM

The future of Transboundary river in a post COVID era

 

The breakout of COVID19 is a wakeup call for all of us. Due to this pandemic the whole world has come to standstill. It is affecting everyone. The spread of this virus is closely related to water and sanitation. Washing hands is the first line of defence to prevent the spread of COVID19. This disease is giving a clear warning that the world needs to work aggressively to achieve the sustainable development goals especially on water and sanitation. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to clean water.  At Present over two billion of people do not have adequate access to water.

Transboundary rivers are the rivers shared by two or more countries or states. These rivers play a vital role in the socio-economical development of the connected countries or regions as a large number of people depend on these rivers. The water quality of these rivers has a considerable significance as the water resources are generally used for multiple matter like drinking, agriculture, hydroelectric power plants, tourism, recreation, transportation and infrastructure etc. However, it is a bitter truth that we humans pollute these water resources just for some temporary capital gains.

The pandemic has shaken us all from within and we can see that most of countries have closed their borders and there is also a rise in nationalistic sentiments. But we cannot stop the rivers from flowing and here come the issues relating to transboundary rivers. These rivers flow through different countries and have their fair share in the overall development of the countries. Hence, it is high time that we the humans should come together to save our lifelines our rivers. We should believe in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (The world is a family) and work making this world a better place.

The current crisis has taught us that there is a need for more holistic approaches which can link the transboundary rivers with solutions to climate change, energy, global health, water and political stability. This crisis can be turned into an opportunity for societal transformation to make the future more sustainable. We all know that depleted and degraded transboundary water supply is an important cause behind the social unrest and conflict within and between countries. For example, if a country builds a dam on a transboundary river then it can reduce the river’s flow downstream in another country.  How the transboundary waters are being managed have a great effect on the sustainable development of the concerned countries. To shape the future of the world and transboundary rivers all countries need to cooperate each other on a supranational level. All the world’s transboundary rivers should have a cooperative management framework as this can create benefits for everyone in international trade, food security, climate change adoption, economic growth, political stability and improved governance.  

 

Name: DEEPTA BEHERA

email ID: deeptabehera@gmail.com

The initiative is supported by Oxfam India under Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA 2017 -2021) program. TROSA is a regional water governance program supporting poverty reduction initiatives in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) and Salween basins.The program is implemented in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanamar and is supported by the Government of Sweden.
Views expressed in this website are those of the individual contributors and network members and do not represent that of Oxfam, its implementing partners or Government of Sweden.