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Distributing the Ability to Solve

Water | Societal Thinking | Sep 29, 2020

Water is the key sector when it comes to climate change related challenges. It is ever changing and complex, with equity, quality and quantity issues rising routinely. Usually, water issues have to be dealt with locally, in context. For example, even if you planned to bring water from a faraway river to a city, it is the city planners who need to engage with how equitably that new water will be used; they will have to design to carry away excess flow and sewage and so on.

For that, you need local talent. You need communities to come together along with trained professionals and local leaders to understand how THEIR water behaves, both above and below the ground. They must be able to find granular solutions that accommodate upstream and downstream solutions created by others. For example, to manage groundwater sustainably in one panchayat, you need to find out if you are sharing an aquifer with another panchayat, and co-create an equitable system.

This means that we cannot push for one size fits all solutions. Instead, we must design capacity building in order to distribute the ability to solve. A technology backbone, which is unified but not uniform, which allows local, contextual problem solving at scale is the need of the hour. Our teams at Societal Platform.org and Arghyam are beginning to build just such an open, digital, shared public infrastructure.

Nurturing community capacity and resilience in the face of climate change is critical. In the water sector, for life and livelihoods, it is especially so.

[Written for the September 2020 issue of the ICC Newsletter]

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