Topic: Community engagement, gender and leadership - International Riversymposium | Brisbane | September 2017
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Topic: Community engagement, gender and leadership

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Water Museum; for River and Water Democracy
Imtiaz Ahmed and Farah Kabir
Dhaka University, Bangladesh

Women’s involment in the river restoration movement Indonesia
Surani Hasanati and Prof Suratman
Universitas Gadjah Mada Indonesia

Monitoring the world’s rivers through citizen science; results and case studies from major Asian Pacific cities
Jonathan Ho
Earthwatch Institute, Hong Kong

Academic Documentation to Restore River: A Success Story on Boral River, Bangladesh
Nusrat Khan, Sheikh Rokon, Azaz Mohammad, Ireen Sultana, Toriqul Islam and Shariful Islam
Riverine People, Bangladesh

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Monday 12 September
10:30 – 12:00

Srikandi Sungai Indonesia: Women’s involvement in Indonesia’s River Restoration Movement

Surani Hasanati and Prof Suratman
Universitas Gadjah Mada Indonesia

Indonesian River Restoration Movement is a first river restoration movement in Indonesia that  has been declared in  March 22nd, 2015. This movement further encouraging Riverbanks community to restorate their river. Penta Helix partnership with the universities as one part of it, led many universities in Special Region of Yogyakarta to united and support this movement, where Universitas Gadjah Mada was elected as a Universities coordinator in Yogyakarta. Then, After the first Indonesia River Congress in August 2015, in a quick response, Indonesia Women in River/Srikandi Sungai Indonesia was formed and consisting of various level of women. It works directly under the supervision of Vice Rector of Research and Community Services of Universitas Gadjah Mada – as the inisiator- and the head of Women Studies Centre of Universitas Gadjah Mada also in collaboration with Indonesia Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection with a mandate River Restoration Movement. The roles of Indonesia Women in River/Srikandi Sungai Indonesia are divided into symbolic and non-symbolic actions. Symbolic actions includes some direct activities, such as a River Cleaning Action. While the non-symbolic actions in the form of education and empowerment of women riverbanks communities  and research synergies in relation with waste management.

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About the author

Surani Hasanati, S.Si., M.Sc became a river field guide of Joint Scientific Program of Geography UGM – IBK Austria. She is active in international forum of Rural Research Planning Group (RRPG). She was a speaker at the Public Lecture in Planning and Architecture Faculty, KMITL, Thailand in 2013. She is active in the national forum of Planning Schools Association of Indonesia (ASPI) since 2013. She is the lecturer at the Faculty of Geography Universitas Gadjah Mada and Researcher in Women Studies Centre Universitas Gadjah Mada, also secretary of Local River Working Group in Yogyakarta River Restoration. From 2016 up to present, she is the chair person in Srikandi Sungai Indonesia/ Indonesia Women In River.

Monitoring the world’s rivers through citizen science; results and case studies from major Asian Pacific cities

Jonathan Ho
Earthwatch Institute, Hong Kong

There is no doubt that rivers are a vitally important resource that provide fundamental services for local communities and regional populations. However, many freshwater ecosystems are being over-exploited and significantly degraded. The first step to solving any environmental issue is to understand the problem – and that requires new approaches to acquiring and analyzing key data about ecosystem dynamics. Freshwater Watch is a global research project that investigates the health of freshwater ecosystems and supports researchers to develop new approaches to river and catchment management, with the support of the local community. Unlike conventional research efforts, participating scientific institutions and monitoring agencies take advantage of a citizen science approach to increase their access to information about the dynamics of their study rivers and catchments. This is achieved by mobilizing, training, and empowering participants to make robust and consistent measurements of river and lake ecosystems. The benefits of this global citizen science program are twofold: to increase the amount of environmental data available for model development and catchment monitoring, and secondly to create environmentally-conscious communities of environmental stewards.

Freshwater Watch, a program of Earthwatch Institute is a multi-language platform with transdisciplinary infrastructure that is supporting one of the largest freshwater research efforts in the world. Since 2012, it has been supporting more than 30 research institutions, training more than 8,000 citizen scientist leaders in a consistent and robust method of data acquisition, and investigating more than 1,500 waterbodies in 5 continents.

Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta are among the study locations where Freshwater Watch has been established. Results from these cities show important differences in river dynamics, largely linked to the catchment conditions and climate.

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About the author

Jonathan Ho is the Research Coordinator of Earthwatch Institute’s Hong Kong office. He has experience in environmental research and data analysis with academic institutions including the University of California, Los Angeles and New York University. He also has worked for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the American Museum of Natural History. He holds a BS in Environmental Science and Engineering, and a MA in Environmental Conservation Education.

Academic Documentation to Restore River: A Success Story on Boral River, Bangladesh

Nusrat Khan, Sheikh Rokon, Azaz Mohammad, Ireen Sultana, Toriqul Islam and Shariful Islam
Riverine People, Bangladesh

Though criss-Crossed rivers are Bangladesh’s identity; they are dying and drying out due to diversion on upper riparian countries as well as internal pollution, encroachment and notably the unplanned ‘development’ structure from govt. agencies. Boral, the 220 kilometer long and one of the largest rivers of Rajshahi and Pabna region of northwestern Bangladesh, is the worst victim of sluice gate and earthen cross dam by government agencies. ‘Riverine People’ which is a national initiative composed and run by a collective of young professional, had been forging and implementing a module conceptualize as ‘Academic Documentation’ to restore Boral River. As the living link between the community people and the decision makers regarding river conservation, Riverine People has contributed to make a success story by the restoring process of Boral River jointly with ‘Boral Rakkha Andolon’, a river committee. Riverine People have been providing the support of academic documentation and advocacy assistance to ‘Boral Rokkha Andolon’. The outcome of the joint effort is government agencies have removed the earthen cross roads; implemented a dredging project; and decommissioning the sluice gates under process. Riverine People will form River Committee on every river of Bangladesh. The committees will play a role of river observer of respected area. Restoring the affected rivers and protect the main rivers would be their major responsibilities. In addition, an apex named University Committee will conduct ‘academic documentation’ in the respective river area and hand it over to River Committee. Riverine People have been implementing the same model ‘Academic Documentation to Restore River’ to some other rivers of the Bangladesh. We present Boral case study as a model in the first step to understand the integrated impact of community movement for rivers.

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About the author

The author is a passionate environment practitioner. Environment communications and campaign are her areas of interest. Being a river concerned person, through writing and youth campaigns she raises her voice for river protection. Soon after connecting with Riverine People, she met thousands of river passionate youth and now she is very ambitious to work towards this goal. To save the rivers, she believes in community engagement through working in different platforms. Right now, she is working for that dream of hers. She used to work as journalist in national TV, radio and online media. She enjoys her work as documentary filmmaker and freelancer environment journalist as always.

Monday 12 September
13:30 – 15:00

Water Museum; for River and Water Democracy

Imtiaz Ahmed and Farah Kabir
Dhaka University, Bangladesh

Bangladesh has 800 plus rivers and tributaries that crisscross it giving a shape to its economy, culture and heritage. But this bounty of nature is now at risk. To reverse the risk a realization and initiative that goes beyond nation-state boundaries is needed. Land-centric development approach so far has adversely affected this natural resource governance and management. Natural disasters, man-made disturbances, climate change, extreme weather, increased desertification, intrusion of salinity, inconsistent rainfall and biodegradation wide spread is impacting negatively. We can see the effect in marine diversity, coastal ecology, decreased surface water levels, turning lives and the livelihoods of people vulnerable. The establishment of a ‘Water Museum’ 2014 December 29th, in Patuakhali district south of Bangladesh, was an effort to focus the light and build critical awareness on water commons, inspire policy shifts and harness efforts of cross border water sharing. Concept of ‘Water Museum’ may appear a disconnected effort but it shifts the power to the citizens in Bangladesh for Water Democracy. The purpose of the water museum is both to preserve the objects related to river and water coupled with the aims to develop deeper understanding of river, its culture, water governance and management in Bangladesh. ‘Water-Commons’ is a platform of local voices in South Asia. ActionAid Bangladesh asks that we re-imagine river from a humane and ecological point of view. ‘Water Museum’ is a call to action.

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About the authors

Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed is a Senior Professor for International Relation Department in Dhaka University. Now he is working as Executive Director for Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), Sri Lanka. He has participated in last river symposium as a speaker. Please see this link for details. Ms. Farah Kabir, working in ActionAid Bangladesh as Country Director, she is an activist and lobbyist. She is member of Global Network for Disaster Reduction and many international forums. For details please click here.