Community-Based Development Approach forA Transformative Water Resource Management

The realm of water supply and environmental sanitation development has witnessed a pivotal shift from a regional to a community-based approach (CBD). In Indonesia, this paradigm change is highlighted in progressive policies formulated by government authorities since 2003.

In the context of community-based development, the concept of empowerment has emerged as a new paradigm to address Water Supply Systems (SPAM) development. Empowering communities ensures prosperity and effective organization of development initiatives within their localities.

Water Access Challenges

The urgency to implement community-based approaches stems from pressing water access issues that have the potential to significantly impact global progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Firstly, burgeoning population growth increasingly burdens the environmental carrying capacity. With the world population reaching 8 billion by 2022, billions of individuals deserve access to clean and safe water. The United Nations reports that approximately 2 billion people still lack access to clean drinking water, highlighting the Earth's finite capacity to meet humanity's needs.

Secondly, water scarcity and poverty are inseparable. Impoverished communities face the highest risk of inadequate access to clean water, negatively affecting their health, food security, and livelihoods. In the Asia-Pacific region, home to nearly 900 million of the world's poorest individuals, one in three people lacks access to safe drinking water.

Thirdly, effective government and community partnerships in water supply remain underdeveloped. Conventional top-down approaches have restricted community participation in water management, thus hindering the opportunities for community institutions to be involved in water supply initiatives.

Fourthly, limited understanding of the importance of  water conservation and the urgency of a prudent and economic use of water. Many communities still rely on self-supply and assume that water-related issues are the government's responsibility.

A Revolutionary Approach

Community-Based Development (CBD) emerges as a revolutionary approach, capable of fostering inclusive water access through the following key strategies:

1. Placing the community at the center

CBD prioritizes community engagement and participation, replacing prescribed solutions with collaborative endeavors that embrace local wisdom in managing water resources. By involving communities in decision-making, CBD ensures water solutions are not only practical but also culturally and socially appropriate.

2. Sustainable and targeted solutions

CBD embraces the uniqueness of each region's resources and challenges, advocating for water solutions tailored to the specific needs and environmental contexts of communities. Rainwater harvesting, water conservation, and watershed management are among the projects aligned with community needs to ensure long-term sustainability.

3. Ownership and responsibility

Active community participation instills a sense of ownership and responsibility towards water resources. By empowering communities in planning and implementation, accountability is heightened, ensuring maintenance and continuity of water systems even when external support wanes.

4. Knowledge transfer and capacity building:

CBD's emphasis on knowledge transfer and capacity building to empower local communities in operating and maintaining water infrastructure. Not only providing operational skills to confront future challenges, this approach is also fostering a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Community-Based Development heralds the transformative potential to revolutionize global water access. Empowering communities becomes instrumental in effectively addressing water supply challenges. 

As we embark on the 10th World Water Forum in Bali in May 2024, meaningful global participation remains paramount in formulating sustainable water solutions. Register now to be a driving force for change, as we strive to ensure water access for all, a vital component of humanity's collective well-being and progress.

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