18 Aug Suparana Katyaini
Suparana Katyaini, India.
Presentation Title: Deliberations on gender inclusive transboundary water governance: Women’s Voices from Brahmaputra River
Women’s participation in decision-making is an important element of sustainable water governance of transboundary rivers as it makes governance inclusive and effective. To advance women’s participation in water and river management, International RiverFoundation, has supported the research on women’s voices from Brahmaputra River through the inaugural Vera Thiess Fellowship. Through the fellowship, voices of women who have lived with the river were collected; their perceived challenges and opportunities of interacting with the river; their priorities for better governance of the river; and traditional knowledge and practices developed through experiential learning.
Key insights from interactions with women from indigenous communities of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, India reflect their perceptions of more challenges than opportunities of staying in close proximity to the river. They expressed living close to the river is synonymous to living with floods and associated challenges of erosion, and siltation. Continuous exposure to changing river course has a long term impact on their lives and livelihoods. These impacts are in terms of loss of agriculture land and resources, migration and weakening of social networks, and a constant fear of uncertainty for future generations. They also acknowledged the resourcefulness of the river and floods in sustaining their lives and livelihoods (agriculture and allied activities).
Women voiced that containing erosion, building their capabilities and skills, and bridging the communication gap between various stakeholders are their priorities for better governance of the river. Traditional knowledge and practices have contributed significantly in building their resilience to floods. This knowledge is both structural and non-structural which is passed on from generation to generation. In conclusion, considering these unique perceptions, priorities and practices of women from indigenous communities living close to the river would be a step forward in making governance and management of Brahmaputra River Basin inclusive, effective and sustainable.