About Us

The ecosystem services provided by Asia’s transboundary river basins boosts the economic wellbeing of the people and their nations. These rivers are at the heart of culture and religion, and their waters and rich sediment load support fisheries and agricultural production of national and global significance. The waters connect nations and provide the means for trade and dialogue. Yet, hundreds of millions of people in Asia do not have secure access to water due to growing competition over natural resources, caused by infrastructure development, agricultural, urban and industrial expansion, and the effects of climate change. Fair and secure access to water for local communities is becoming increasingly challenging, as these marginalised voices often remain unheard and ignored.

Water Governance Collective Action Network (WG-CAN) is a network of grass root civil society organisations, practitioners, youth and women leaders, and citizen science volunteers, committed to inclusive and risk informed transboundary water governance in South Asia.

WG-CAN aims to promote civil society’s collective action for:

a) Inclusive Water Governance Policies recognising the rights of riparian communities

b) Responsible practices of private sector and other stakeholders respecting the rights of riparian communities

c) Improved capacities of Women and CSOs to participate in water resource management

The interplay of the complexities of issues within Water Governance is such that it requires efforts beyond a single entity or institution and therefore, multi-stakeholder engagement through collective action is very crucial for sustainable results.

The idea of establishing the WG-CAN sprouted during the 1st Brahmaputra Multi-Stakeholders’ Dialogue organised in consultation with IIT-Guwahati on 22nd April, 2018.  At the 2nd consultation organised in June 2018, the civil society organisations affirmed their commitment as this Network was formalised. Later, the scope of this Network had further been expanded across Brahmaputra and Mahakali for a comprehensive river basin outreach. Series of Consultations in Upper Brahmaputra and Arunachal Pradesh with participants from Arunachal and Upper Assam, central Brahmaputra and South Assam has resulted in coverage of fairly widespread voices from Brahmaputra. South Assam already has an influential outreach in the 165 kms stretching from Indo-Bhutan Border at Saralbhanga to Mankachar at Indo-Bangladesh borders. In Sharda river basin, the scope of the Network was expanded from Banbasa to Mahisi, in 7 clusters including Mahisi, Mihinpurwa, Dhaurahra, Nighasan, Palia Kalan, Madhavtanda and Banbasa. The Network takes a river basin approach for water governance and brings together a network of NGOs, youth groups and village volunteers in the focus river basins of Saralbhanga, Lower Brahmaputra and Sharda in Assam and Uttar Pradesh. There are rare precedents in these regions where civil society has united to engage with Governments and private sectors for the rights of riparian community from transboundary perspectives.

WG-CAN emphasises on strengthening last mile structures at the village and community level. Sharda Nadi Nagrik Manch and Mahabahu Brahmaputra Federation are the two citizen forums established under the initiative which is proactively engaging with local officials on issues including water governance. A network of 348 volunteers from 79 most vulnerable villages in these river basins are engaged as citizen scientists, water volunteers and early warning volunteers.


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The initiative is supported by Oxfam India under Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA 2017 -2021) program. TROSA is a regional water governance program supporting poverty reduction initiatives in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) and Salween basins.The program is implemented in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanamar and is supported by the Government of Sweden.
Views expressed in this website are those of the individual contributors and network members and do not represent that of Oxfam, its implementing partners or Government of Sweden.