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November 2003:
IRCSA Joins First South East Asia Water Forum as Session Convener

The First Southeast Asia Water Forum (SEAWF) was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand on 17-21 November 2003. The core theme was "Strengthening Regional Capacity through Best Practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)"

Southeast Asia is one of the water-rich areas of the world, and also one of the most populated (522 million in 2002, and a population growth of 2.1%). Nearly one third of the population live in urban areas, but over 90% of freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture, and the remainder used in households and industry.

Given the tremendous importance of water resources in the region, and the current inadequacy in identifying, consolidating and integrating water resource issues within a regional scale, IWRM is a valuable approach to address these water management issues. The goal of the forum was to "build regional capacity of IWRM practitioners with emphasis on putting policy into practice" this aimed to prevent the successes of the current practitioners and stakeholders being compromised.

Focusing on best practices in IWRM as derived from various programs, projects and cases that are being or have been conducted in the region, the objectives of the forum were as follows:

  • Define, validate and integrate water resources management issues in the Southeast Asia region; 
  • Present case studies and experiences on actual water management at various levels (e.g. basin, country, region) focusing on lessons learned and best practices; 
  • Formulate frameworks and proposals for action for national and regional cooperation on integrated water resources management following the outcomes of the Third World Water Forum; 
  • Establish a regional platform for future dialogues and coordination.

The following session themes formed the structure of the SEAWF;

  • Water and Sanitation Services for Health 
  • Conflict Resolution and Basin Organisations 
  • Community and Local Management of Water Resources 
  • Water, Environment and Ecosystems 
  • Integrated Coastal Area and River Basin Management 
  • Water and Food 
  • Climates, Floods and Droughts

Each session-theme was coordinated by an organization with extensive experience in that area, and this organizational involvement demonstrated the extent of the partnerships that have evolved in the region. IRCSA or the International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association was invited by the Chair of the forum, Dr. Apitchar to co-convene the session on Community and Local Management of Water Resources with the SEATAC or South East Asia Technical Advisory Committee of the Global Water Partnership.

The outputs from the SEAWF included case studies, the identification and discussion of important IWRM issues and actions, regional and national proposals for IWRM action, strengthened cooperation with existing professional networks and ministerial declaration.

Overall the forum was a great success and with over 200 participants it is hoped that the results will be seen in action and implementation in the region.

For more information and the session results please visit

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