Climate Resilience through community-based policy reform
WaterLex has worked on safe drinking water in India and Nepal for the last three years with the Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA), a network of 400 NGOs in the region. After undertaking a process of national legal and policy mapping for India, it has become clear that the most promising way to enact reform will be to work at state level, where decision making has been devolved, and to work on practical solutions with local communities to identify and test policy changes through the local community decision-making Panchayat system.
In Odisha, India, challenges of access to safe water are exacerbated by climate change, water scarcity and flooding, resulting highly contaminated water supplies, unhygienic conditions and consequently migration. Inevitably, the children and elderly are dying from water borne diseases. The scale of the problem leaves the state government short of resources to help those outside the main cities.
This programme sets out to measure the economic and social benefits of community supported reforms, that can then be relayed to state and national policy.
This model village approach is also being considered for a range of our other regional programmes, as an evidence-based approach to capture policy reform, starting at the community level with a human rights-based approach, and monitoring human rights sensitive indicators to capture the benefits. WaterLex has the expertise to translate these policies into national and state level governance frameworks through our parliamentarian and NHRI Water initiatives.Local knowledge is built through strong relationships with a group of NGOs that work at village level in Odisha, and with the state human rights commissions with whom we are developing training workshops this year. The long-term plan pulls together a consortium of expertise that will develop optimal solutions for these climate-affected rural communities and monitor the results such that socio-economic and health benefits can be measured. WaterLex brings expertise on how to introduce a human rights-based approach, and what aspects of human rights to water and sanitation need to be included. Importantly, we have the legal expertise and engagement with senior officials to enable these policy changes to be translated into policy, and have far-reaching benefits, not just for the local villages.