This year, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) mounted a campaign called #WaterWomen to raise awareness about the actions of women working on water issues. Photos and stories were gathered to illustrate the vital role women play in water management.
One of the six winning entries portrayed local leader Yudy Espinal from the Goascorán river basin, a BRIDGE project location. According to SIWI contest organizers, the jury gave the following reasons: “Not only is Yudy a leader in her community, she is also working to connect all stakeholders. What we also love is that this image reminds us that water can’t just be managed with pipes and pumps, but that stakeholder mapping is a very important part of solving our water challenges”.
The photo was taken during a February 2017 event entitled “Nature-based Solutions & Governance in Adaptation to Climate Change,” organized by IUCN through its projects in the Goascorán basin and regional partners. Stakeholders present in this binational watershed shared views on important themes for good management of water and nature within a transboundary context and climate uncertainty.
“I was chosen group leader and had to summarize the members’ opinions, take note of the main ideas and then present them to a larger public attending the workshop. I felt comfortable and empowered while I facilitated this group,” says Yudy.
Through BRIDGE (Building River Dialogue and Governance), support is provided to strengthen and consolidate recently created Central American river basin entities, so that institutions and civil society drive actions to improve integrated management of watersheds, particularly in the following that are transboundary.
- Goascorán river basin, shared by Honduras and El Salvador
“Coordination involves different forums and levels, very important given that the greatest coordination is community-based. Community organization is vital; it transcends municipal governments, governorates and governments at the central level,” Everardo Chicas, Ministry of Foreign Relations, El Salvador.
In Goascorán, BRIDGE and partner Fundación Vida have served as promoter and facilitator for capacity building in water governance focused on key stakeholders from microbasin to transboundary level: microbasin councils, municipalities, associations of municipalities, and the ministries of environmental and foreign affairs. Currently, BRIDGE supports the Goascorán basin council in Honduras and the Technical Environmental Boards of La Unión, El Salvador, promoting opportunities to share experiences and coordinate actions for integrated management of the Goascorán watershed.
- Sixaola river basin, shared by Costa Rica and Panama
“The IUCN’s contribution has been valuable from every standpoint- institutionally, logistically, operationally and internationally. The support has moved forward processes for maintaining activity and consolidating the CBCRS and its objectives,” Georgina Osorio, Costa Rica-Panama Transboundary Cooperation Agreement.
Transboundary cooperation in Sixaola has been promoted and facilitated by strengthening the Binational Commission of the Sixaola River Basin (CBCRS, for its name in Spanish), created in 2009. The BRIDGE project has primarily focused on fostering the integration of multiple actors and sectors in decision making by building the theoretical, practical and institutional capacities of key local, national and transboundary stakeholders. The CBCRS’s Strategic Plan for Binational Development, formulated in participatory manner, focuses on rural territorial development and defines work priorities for the coming years.
- Sumpul river basin, shared by El Salvador and Honduras
Because of the disorder from not having regulations or good use, there isn’t enough water for human consumption or agriculture,” Agustín Díaz, Sampul River Community Committee.
The BRIDGE project began working in Sumpul at the end of 2016 to support the Sumpul River Community Committee, a local initiative created to solve conflicts among water users. With support from the Trifinio Plan, BRIDGE will strengthen the committee’s governance capacities, promote communication and cooperation between the main actors in the basin, and collaborate to seek tools for the committee’s sustainability with an eye to water preservation.
Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, BRIDGE has been active since 2011 in the Mesoamerica, Andes and Mekong regions, and since 2014 in East, South, Central and West Africa. BRIDGE supports demonstration actions to improve water governance in transboundary watersheds in each of these areas. Its current phase finalizes in December 2018.