Collective Action in the Management of Water Sources in the Highlands of Eastern Africa

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"Participatory constraints and opportunities analysis conducted in three watersheds in Tanzania and Ethiopia established that water quantity and quality were the major constraints to adopting integrated natural resource management (INRM) practices. The African Highlands Initiative (AHI) working with communities in the three watersheds considered management of water sources as an important entry point for enhanced INRM. Focus group discussion, key informants interviews and historical trend analysis were used to obtain information on the status of water sources in the target watersheds, reasons why most of them have deteriorated, the impact of this on NRM and available opportunities for reversing this trend. The study established that rehabilitation of water sources was possible through collective action, which in this paper refers to direct actions carried out by groups of people working toward common goals. Further, appropriate policies and realistic by-laws, planting of water friendly tree species and putting in place an effective management structure were necessary for the long term survival of the water sources. Through AHI interventions, 32 water sources have been rehabilitated in Baga Watershed in Tanzania where target communities indicated a reduction on the time spent in collecting water from 5 hours to 5 minutes. A health centre in one village in this watershed reported a 55 % reduction in the incidences of waterborne diseases. In Ginchi (Ethiopia) three springs have been rehabilitated and are being used to protect the catchments around through enacting of local rules and regulations for their management. In Areka (Ethiopia) a total of 300 households have benefitted from rehabilitated water sources while reduction in the time for collecting water has increased the time available to attending to other developmental activities. It is concluded that collective action in managing water sources is an effective way of addressing issues that are beyond the capability of individual households, and through this, save time that can be directed to other activities including NRM, apart from having a healthier community."



collective action, water resources, resource management, IASC