INTEGRATED WATERSHED MANAGEMENT(Hot Topic for the 8th Assembly of Watersheds)




President Jemuel Perino of the Philippine Watershed Management Coalition (PWMC) invited watershed managers and stakeholders all over the country for a discussion of what is Integrated Watershed Management, how is it implemented, where it is going, who implements it and why.

Many terms have been used to describe how may a watershed be managed.  The Global Water Partnership is encouraging Integrated Water Resource Management or IWRM.  At the PWMC, where watersheds are the focus of attention, current terms used are “localized watershed management” popularized by the Governance in Local Development Project.  Another one was “integrated watershed management” first introduced during the 4th watershed management coalition in Iligan City.  At the 8th Coalition Assembly, Dr. Thomas Hofer of FAO will give another definition and discuss the differences of past ways and new ways of doing watershed management.  FAO is a functionary of the United Nations dedicated to food and agriculture.  This will be the highlight of the 8th Assembly to be held in Davao City on November 27 and 28, 2008.

A preview of the  FAO document with a title “The New Generation of Watershed Management Programs and Projects” (FAO Forestry Paper 150) showed interesting comparisons.  For example, the “old” way was to focus on communities in the forest while the new way is to engage multi stakeholder groups to collaborate in the protecting and repairing a watershed.  The old way of doing watershed management was to implement a program of central government, but experiences from many countries have show its weakness and many countries have adjusted such rule into linking with the processes of local governments.  Another trend is to move from “heavy institutions” acting on program mandates and bilateral agreements to implementation schemes of “light institutions” like councils, for local boards, consortium, boards, and the like.  Central authorities perform a supporting role.

Past generation watershed management used to focus on specific sites such as the mountain, the area, a lake and that, impacts on these areas are monitored and targeted.  This scheme seems not to work when viewing the whole watershed.  Other stakeholders are excluded.  The practice of many watersheds has evolved to a focus on upstream-downstream linkages and long-term impacts on the whole basin.  In addition, because of the wide perspective of the total watershed, scientific knowledge is used as input to decisions of a multi-stakeholder body.  The process is long-term.    Sound technical intervention is not the key to successful management, as was seen in the past, rather it is the awareness of the roots of conflicts – social, political, and otherwise – which need continuous and long-term negotiation.

Cases from all over the world contributed to the synthesis of the new generation of watershed management.

At the Philippine Watershed Management Coalition, Dr. Jessica C. Salas and Mr. Eduardo Queblatin initiated an analysis of at least 20 watershed management cases in order to examine the trend of the practice and the problems met.  Observations from the field showed that several watershed groups are already moving towards change. Obstacles experienced and lessons learned will enable policy changes towards the next generation of watershed management.  (J.C. Salas)