C4 SOCIAL CHANGE INSTRUMENTS – Encouraging a water-oriented society
Changing water practices to achieve IWRM requires changes in the deeply held attitudes of individuals, institutions, professionals and social organisations within civil society. By definition, social change instruments are not neutral, one person’s positive change is often seen as destructive by others. Therefore it is important to ask, ‘change from what to what?’ as well as ‘how can changes take place?’ The key to encouraging an IWRM oriented civil society lies in the creation of shared visions, through joint diagnosis, joint creation of options, joint implementation, and joint monitoring. This itself requires broad stakeholder participation in water planning and operating decisions, and is another strong tool for encouraging such new civil orientation.
Participatory approaches in IWRM are powerful instruments for social change. At all levels – national, regional and local – it is often the most deprived social groups that need to be involved in the participatory process (B1.9 and C4.2). However, it should be remembered that participation is costly in terms of time and money, and may postpone important investments. Participation does not do away with conflicts of interest, although is can clarify the real issues and open the door for conflict resolution (C5). Most importantly, participation can marginalise the poor or vulnerable still further if the mechanisms or fora are captured by the wealthy or more articulate, or a narrow advocacy group. Gender and poverty are two of the main causes of social exclusion and should not be overlooked.
Social change can be brought about through instruments that emerge from participatory experiences and offer people the chance both to claim rights and also to take on the consequent responsibilities. Participation needs to be supported by people with well-informed attitudes who can respond to the need for changing patterns of water management. Hence education, training, and awareness raising are important tools for social change.
Tool C4.1 focuses on the role of education curricula in building water knowledge for social change. C4.2 describes techniques for better communication with stakeholders. The level of knowledge in itself is crucial – knowledge asymmetry, where one group is much more aware of issues and data than another, breeds lack of trust. Knowledge can empower groups and strengthen good governance (C4.3).