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    Trans Path: Water Transformation Pathways for Inland Water Navigation in the Brahmaputra Basin

    JJS, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India, and IEC Delft, the Netherlands, is spearheading the project titled “Trans Path: Water Transformation Pathways for Inland Water Navigation in the Brahmaputra Basin” across Bangladesh and India. Key Theme of the Project:How can science- based tools help in participatory, pro- active, and transformative pathways for better water futures in Brahmaputra River Basin How to navigate a diverse agenda to bring about equitable, just and sustainability-based transformations How can water policymaking in the Brahmaputra River Basin be more inclusive, transparent, and participatory (leave no one behind) and how can we include water users and water stewards in policy-making, planning, and management (voicing concerns, hearing each other, reaching an agreement and taking responsibility for realization) for inclusivity How can we make water institutions accountable, transparent and effective to ensure that transformations are inclusive (across gender, class and region) and sustainable, through appropriate policies.

    The governments of India and Bangladesh have agreed to use their waterways for the passage of goods and other commercial services. Inland water navigation is connected to the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030, because it is the cheapest mode of transportation from an economic point of view and the least disruptive from an environmental point of view. It has a lower environmental / carbon footprint and potential to generate employment for river basin communities. Hence, among many water-related interventions in Brahmaputra River Basin (BRB), inland water navigation can lead to transformational change on the ground by reshaping the economy, environment and society relationship. But like any other intervention, inland water navigation also has its socio- economic and policy challenges, and as such the regular top-down approach may be inadequate in addressing these challenges. While dealing with complex transformational processes of socio-technical systems, like inland water navigation, we are not only confronted with technical or political issues but also with questions of inclusivity, participation and equity. It requires an understanding of the political, sociological, anthropological, historical, literary, and economic circumstances, context and needs of the communities that are directly dependent upon the basin. The imperative is to fundamentally shift the trajectory or development path from a top-down approach to an inclusive process. To begin with, it necessitates an understanding of who (government agencies, individual community residents, or leaders) might trigger a transformational shift and how these steps can be designed. Through this case study, we aim to showcase the process that leads to the transformation of conflicts to cooperation in a transboundary basin.

    Expected Outcomes

    Fostering learning about, and supporting the further development of, policy analysis tools and planning approaches and concepts to support a pro-active, adaptive, joint management of transformation pathways for Brahmaputra River Basin and between India and Bangladesh.