Activists call for citizens' participation in water resources management

Activists call for citizens' participation in water resources management

"Community participation in the management of Azerbaijan's water resources" was the topic of the public hearings organized by the NGO "Article 54" on February 27. The founder of this public association, Abulfaz Gurbanli, noted the importance of involving citizens in solving problems with water supply and water resources management.

There is a serious problem with water scarcity in Azerbaijan and in many rural areas citizens suffer from a shortage of it. At the same time, Azerbaijan ranks low in the ratings of international organizations on water quality. "Public participation is important to solve these problems, which increases the accountability and responsibility of government agencies," Gurbanli said.  Despite the invitation to the hearings of representatives of government agencies and members of parliament, they did not show up.

The water problem is related to climate change and urbanization, Tukezban Huseynova, member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Ecology,  the head of the Public Association for Support of Environmental Initiatives “Eco Hub” noted. The most important problem in Azerbaijan is the pollution of drinking water.

"In Baku and other regions of the country with access to the Caspian Sea, the sea is polluted by sewage and household waters. The reason for this is the indifference of citizens," Huseynova said.

The head of the municipal council of the village of Geyali in the Agsu region, Fariz Khalili, said that the Clean Village project was implemented in three villages of the district. Within its framework, wastewater treatment works were carried out.  At the same time, household garbage is collected and sorted from villagers, which is then handed over to service centers.

Kenan Gaibov, co-founder of the “Article 54,” lawyer, said that Azerbaijan has adopted various state programs related to the efficient use of water resources. 

"One of the main obligations of the state should be openness and transparency of information and that every citizen has access to it. However, there are big problems in this regard. When adopting state programs, civil participation is not ensured, and after their implementation, reporting is not provided," Gaibov said.

Lawyer Tural Agayev spoke about the right to water, established by the UN, and adopted in order to prevent water scarcity and equal access to it.  In Azerbaijan, and especially in arid and remote areas, there are problems with the implementation of this right.

According to economist Farid Mehralizade, the water problem in Azerbaijan is so deep that only the government will not be able to solve it. According to him, international organizations have been warning for many years that if measures are not taken in Azerbaijan, the country may face serious problems.

"Unfortunately, the Government of Azerbaijan does not show an adequate and prompt response. According to the State Statistics Committee, 1/3 of water is lost in Azerbaijan due to poor infrastructure conditions. Another reason is the poor irrigation system of agriculture. Today, only 5 percent of this system is modern," the economist said.

Representatives of local communities from Ganja, Goychay, Sheki, Imishli, Bilasuvar  regions shared their experience of contacts with government agencies regarding water scarcity and quality.  Following the discussions, Article 54 will send proposals to government agencies. 

In particular, thee talk is about regular purification of polluted waters, consideration of climatic factors, and prevention of soil salinization.

It is also proposed to develop irrigation infrastructure and ensure equal access to water, upgrade drinking water infrastructure, take measures to reduce losses, use conservation technologies in irrigation, create storages and collectors for collecting rainwater.

In addition, it is proposed to introduce standards for the integration of water resources (IWRM) in water resources management, the use of alternative energy sources, considering the negative impact on the drying of the Kura River, the power plants operating on it, as well as involving the general public in monitoring the implementation of projects in this area.


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