On October 24, 2016, project launch meeting on “Expanding tradable benefit of transboundary inland waters” was held at Guwahati, Assam, India. The meeting was attended by around 30 regional representative from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN), and numerous participants from IUCN, ICIMOD, Saci Water, local press and various international organizations and government offices of Assam.

The meeting was organized by Consumer Unity & Trust Society international (CUTS), an Indian based NGO which is a consumer protection organization with its head office in Jaipur, India. The one year project funded by The Asia Foundation (TAF) under the Civil Society Fund of the South Asia Water Governance Program project will be implemented by CUTS international in partnership with Unnayan Shamannay, Bangladesh; Royal Society for Protection of Nature, RSPN, Bhutan; and south Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), Nepal.

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The goal of the project is to ‘contribute to improving institutions (i.e, policies, laws, and regulations) for the governance of inland waterways in the BBIN region from the point of view of transport connectivity and livelihood of those directly connected to identified inland waterways’. To achieve this goal, the project objectives will be to create an alternative policy discourse for enabling reform measures between policy makers, civil society and communities as well as to share knowledge on policies, laws, and regulations enabling or impeding the governance of inland waterways in the Ganges and Brahmaputra basins.

The activity under the project will include diagnostic study for Bhutan, which will be through compilation of literature review on existing governing policy, acts and rule on inland waters and field research. The research publication will be followed by national reference group meeting with relevant members with policy-makers, representatives of governmental and inter-governmental bodies, representatives of civil society organizations and community-based organizations and media. It will then be followed by sub national dialogue, national level advocacy meeting and interaction with media as medium for information dissemination, basin level dialogue, synthesis report and finally regional dissemination meeting.

For Bhutan, the project will generate awareness on future prospects of using river for trade and connectivity. The subject on inland water is very new for Bhutan and RSPN as a project implementer for Bhutan will facilitate awareness and advocacy on using trans-boundary water for future prospects for trade and connectivity. The synthesis report for the project will reflect pros and cons of such trade in our region.

Reported by:Narayan Ghalley