San Francisco, June 17, 2013 — Effective management of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, three of the world’s most densely-populated river basins, is key for long-term peace, stability, and economic development in South Asia. To strengthen access to information on transboundary water governance in the region, The Asia Foundation recently announced an expansion of its partnership with the Skoll Global Threats Fund. The new grant from the Skoll Global Threats Fund will support the expansion of The Asia Foundation’s ongoing efforts to foster a regional dialogue between stakeholders on the critical issue of international water sharing, a growing concern for the 700 million people that depend on clean, safe water from the region’s three largest river basins every day. It will help The Asia Foundation assess the availability of data and information relating to transboundary rivers in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, while building the capacity of civil society and the media to utilize transparency tools and mechanisms to push for greater access to data and information on water and climate issues.
As the demand for water for household consumption, agriculture, industries, and hydropower generation in South Asia grows, water is increasingly a driver of tension and potential conflict in the region. Despite numerous bilateral agreements and treaties, a lack of quality data and data sharing has resulted in poor decision making with limited consideration of social, ecological, or stakeholder perspectives from across the region.
This project builds on a grant made by the Skoll Global Threats Fund to The Asia Foundation in 2012, under which the Foundation conducted a political economy analysis of the Teesta River Basin, one of South Asia’s most contested sub-basins straddling the border of India and Bangladesh. In collaboration with its local partners, The Asia Foundation identified and mapped key actors and stakeholders in the Teesta Basin, their incentives, relative interests, and their ability to influence water governance decisions in the basin. Based on field work on either side of the India-Bangladesh border, the analysis identified the drivers of change for reforming state-centered approaches to water governance in the Teesta Basin, and provided recommendations to inform future actions of the governments of India and Bangladesh, civil society actors in both countries, and donors.
A greater exchange of information among co-riparian countries related to the use and management of transboundary rivers is critical to long-term cooperation and effective management of shared resources. The Asia Foundation is grateful to the Skoll Global Threats Fund for providing this generous support. The Skoll Global Threats Fund was created in 2009 by Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Jeff Skoll to confront global threats imperiling humanity by seeking solution, strengthening alliances, and spurring actions needed to safeguard the future. For details, visit Skoll Global Threats Fund online.