AKSIBRANTAS ECOTON at WWF10 : The 10th World Water Forum Discusses AKSIBRANTAS As An Innovative Model To Increase Community, Women And Children’s Participation In River Water Quality Restoration.

Community involvement in water resources management has not received sufficient space and is limited to formal coordination institutions that do not provide access to information and participation to the wider community. The composition of coordination forum members from the community elements of women and children is often not represented. Water resources management is still dominated by corporate interests and the development of irrigation infrastructure that often ignores community involvement in all stages of implementing water resources management programmes, thus triggering injustice and human rights violations as well as the impact of environmental damage that harms local communities.

One of the themes that discussed the full involvement of all stakeholders was the thematic session T1E2 on Handling Water Pollution with science-based planning and full involvement of all stakeholders. ECOTON Director Dr. Daru Setyorini was one of the panellists who explained the importance of increasing the community capacity of environmentally concerned communities to be able to actively participate in water resources management, restore water quality and river damage and develop local solutions that effectively reduce the threat of river damage in their area. According to Daru, women and children are vulnerable groups affected by environmental pollution but have not had access to information and participation in water resources management. To improve integrated and participatory water resources management, ECOTON collaborated with 5 institutions in the Netherlands and Indonesia to initiate the Brantas River water quality recovery project. ‘One of the goals of this project is to increase community participation in the Brantas River, especially women and children by providing training in monitoring pollution and river damage through the Citizen Science programme and establishing coordination and collaboration to implement solution actions with the government, educational institutions and communities,’ said Daru.

Besides Daru, other panellists who delivered their reports were Emily Kroft, a lake water quality researcher from Canada and Liu Yang, director of the International Cooperation Department of the Chinese Hydraulic Engineering Society. This forum is a place to build a global network in collaboration to tackle the global water crisis.

‘The AKSIBRANTAS programme is a very good model and we got inspiration for actions that can increase community participation in water quality restoration,’ said You Jinjun from the Global Water Partnership China at the Kintamani 5 hall of the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center.

Tamara Grujic, a researcher from IHE Delft Netherlands, expressed her appreciation for the AKSIBRANTAS programme as a programme that has succeeded in mobilising more river communities to contribute to river protection.

The AKSIBRANTAS programme is implemented for 6 years from 2018 – 2024. The project has strengthened 15 Brantas River care community groups consisting of women’s groups, students and students. The Tulungagung Aliansi Lereng Wilis (ALWI) community and Hijau Daun Kediri conduct routine actions of reforestation and tree care, as well as cleaning up garbage on Mount Wilis and encouraging government policies to limit the use of single-use plastics in Tulungagung and Kediri districts. Students and university students formed river monitoring groups such as the Water Police group of SMPN 1 Wonosalam Jombang, Trash Control Community UINSA and Envigreen UIN Malang. Women’s groups were also equipped with the skills to develop green businesses to reduce plastic waste generation, with Refill Shops and reuse products for shopping bags, nappies and sanitary napkins made from cotton cloth, as well as developing ecotourism for forest conservation at KTH Kepuh Jombang and Sekarmulya Fishermen Group Megaluh Jombang.

The AKSIBRANTAS programme has resulted in collaboration with government agencies related to river management, including BBWS Brantas, the Environmental Agency, the Women and Children Empowerment Agency, the Education Agency, the Tourism Agency, the Fisheries and Marine Agency and the Health Agency. Such collaboration needs to be developed and replicated so that the community can actively participate in protecting the river in their area and the government can achieve its water resources management targets with the support of an empowered community that cares about the preservation of its river.

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