Water and Sustainable Development

State – community relations and the integrated water management in Northern Thailand
Water is an important resource for economic and social development, as well as for sustainable livelihood and environment. In general, state gets mandate and has authority to allocate water among users, regulate water rights and use in the public interest, ensure maintenance of water quality, and support users and institutions with research and knowledge. However, water-use right believed, promoted, and practiced at the local level, which is critical for local living, sometimes has different meaning. As noted by FAO, at the local level, livelihood and ecosystem compatibility will determine patterns of water use while at the regional level, consideration of land and water planning and environmental regulation are also included as factors for agricultural development and water-use management. For the macro picture of national level, policy objectives of economic development, food security, poverty reduction, and conservation of nature will be important drivers. (FAO, 2011) Based on these different perspectives, then, the discrepancy between national, regional, and community’s policy and direction regarding development and water use is always found. And due to this discrepancy, water allocation is the most controversial and highly affected issue among users, which, in many cases, has led to critical conflicts not only among stakeholders, but also between state and communities.
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