Paula Pacheco Mollinedo [La Paz, Bolivia], Juan Carlos Sanchez
Effective water management at the national and transboundary levels requires credible and reliable data and information mechanisms regarding the status of the resource, including its dynamic interaction and distribution for different uses, and taking into considerations uncertainty and changing factors, such as those induced by climate change (Gerlak, 2013).
In the absence of such data and information mechanisms, transboundary basin states and institutions are hindered in their efforts to soundly manage shared waters, formulate policies, or respond effectively to new and evolving threats and challenges. The collection and sharing of data is an important basis for transboundary water cooperation; considering that without data sharing countries part of a basin are unable to define the reasonable distribution and use of water resources. On the technical side, shared information can also increase the amount of resources and data from which future trends of flow variability can be predicted, potentially more quickly and accurately than when each state undertakes the necessary data collection unilaterally (Eckstein, G.,2013). This paper showcases the Mauri-Maure case study as a best practice of transboundary data sharing for improved decision-making in the context of shared waters. The case study highlights two key conclusions regarding information management and exchange. First, it provides evidence of the benefits of including non-traditional stakeholders in decision-making, an evolving feature of multi-level governance within the established international legal framework. A second proposition that the case study supports is that decision makers should take into account all possible available information, including local and traditional knowledge.
The Case of the Mauri -- Maure River Basin
The Mauri River is the main tributary of the Desaguadero River, part of the TDPS system (Titicaca, Desaguadero, Poopo and Salt Lakes). In Bolivia, the basins of Mauri and Desaguadero are located in the extreme south-west of the department of La Paz and to the north east of the department of Oruro. In PerÃº, the Mauri basin occupies a part of the department of Tacna and Puno while in Chile it is within the Parinacota province. The total area of the basin is 49, 069.07 kmÂ² and is shared by 500,282 inhabitants among 38 municipalities in Bolivia (INE, 2001).
Water transfer in the Mauri Basin
The proposal of bringing water from the Altiplano to the coastal desert is not recent; it dates back to 1856 (Glasner, 1970). In 1994, the Peruvian government completed the Kovire Tunnel, located in the headwaters of the Mauri River to Laguna Aricota, located in the Locumba basin in the area near Tacna (Molina, 2012).
One of the most important projects in recent years is a new canal with a length of 45 km connecting the Chuapalca with Uchusuma. It will capture 2,3m3/s from the Mauri River before entering Bolivian Territory. Up to date, 40 km of the channel have been completed, and the remaining section of the waterway will cross one of the most important wetland ecosystems in the region.
Public participation The "Comite de Usuarios de las Cuencas Mauri-Desaguadero" CUADEMA (Users Committee of the watersheds Mauri-Desaguadero) was founded with the objective of protecting users of the watershed and furthering sustainable management within the watershed. Water rights study It was done using a methodology called "water rights", created by the NGO Agua Sustentable (Villarroel, 2007), to obtain information on the water allocations at the local level, which combines field work with interviews and workshops and desktop consistency analysis. The outcomes of the study served as factual data and information for supporting public participation within the broader discussions and decisions being taken at the sub-catchment level.
III. Results and Discussion
As the case of the Mauri shows, effective water governance not only requires the willingness of parties to cooperate, but also a comprehensive system of information management, exchange, and communication.
The principle is that information and the knowledge generated serve decision makers and negotiators to reach practical agreements on transboundary basins. Participation of stakeholders and users is essential to reach comprehensive and holistic agreements, but also for assuring their implementation. The case shows that a broad interpretation of international law should recognize the importance of multilevel governance and embrace non-state actors as vital to this development. Undoubtedly, the effective governance of transboundary water resources requires a complex mechanism of communication, a two dimensional process shared by a multitude of actors across a variety of different scales and levels. The horizontal dimension is the communication between parties that operate on the same level. This builds a holistic understanding of the basin on multiple levels: within the existing regional governance mechanisms, at the national level, within local governments and local communities. The vertical dimensions are the inter-linkages across multi governance in three systems: capacity building, institutions, and Law and public policy.
Given the complexity of information management, it is important that international water law recognizes and adapts to the new reality of multilevel governance. The Mauri case provides a descriptive example of how the existing legal frameworks concerning information and data sharing may integrate the on-the-ground practices of water governance. This complementary approach focused on non-state actors and mechanisms to develop relevant information systems, is not in opposition to more technocratic approaches. On the contrary, it aims to support data and information gaps at the local level, if any.
The Mauri case study further demonstrates that the collection and exchange of reliable and relevant data and information as well as defined communication channels are key for accurately assessing the current state of transboundary water resources. In essence, information exchange builds a shared awareness. In a transboundary water context, this mutual understanding fosters cooperation between actors, in turn building capacity (UN Water,2014) to better negotiate over, recognize, and respond to dynamic environments and development challenges. Simply, a more informed perspective allows actors to make more suitable decisions. The case study reinforces the ideal that decision makers should strive to reach their decisions upon all available information.
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