Water Journal : Water Journal September 2011
small systems water SEPTEMBER 2011 73 Abstract The Community Water Planner Field Guide is a package to assist people working in and for Australian Indigenous communities to develop a local water management plan. The principles within the Field Guide are consistent with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and apply the risk management approach to water supplies outlined in the Guidelines' Framework for the Management of Drinking Water Quality. Australian Indigenous communities are generally remote, have diverse populations and have poor access to services. The Field Guide endorses a shared management approach, whereby residents can manage everyday hazards and risks and are able to access support when required. It was extensively tested during development using an iterative case study approach. The development process highlighted the need to integrate capacity building in the management planning process at all scales. The integration of the package into water management programs throughout Indigenous communities in Australia is now underway. This paper highlights the principles underpinning the package, lessons from the development of the package, and challenges encountered during the adoption process. Keywords: Australian Indigenous water management; remote and rural water management; water risk communication; water planning tools. Introduction In Australia, there has been substantial work in previous years to develop appropriate processes and linkages between water service providers and managers of small water supplies, in order to improve management of rural and remote water supplies. Worldwide, it is acknowledged that small water supplies comprise the greatest opportunity to reduce health-related disease (WHO 2010) and improve livelihood outcomes (Nichol, 2000). The key to change is to create an enabling environment for shared responsibility between local water managers and service providers that is supported by policy and practice. The Community Water Planner Field Guide is a package that can assist people living in and working with Indigenous communities to develop a drinking water management plan (Australian Government 2009). The product is the initiative of the National Water Commission and was developed by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) for Water Quality Research Australia (WQRA). The package comprises largely paper-based graphic materials that are designed for use by a specialist facilitator to assist remote Indigenous communities to develop a plan of action that optimises local self- management. The process involves: • Engaging remote communities in mapping and understanding their existing water supply system; • Identifying water supply risks that can be managed locally; • Identifying potential need for upgrades or enhancement to their existing supply; • Developing a recurrent action plan for proactive management of their supplies. Many of the materials are designed to be used as an ongoing information resource in the community to support regular system checking and maintenance activities, and provide contacts for specialist support in case of elevated hazards. The package is accompanied by 'train-the-trainer' course materials, incorporating an emphasis on skills transfer to communities that is embedded in the broader livelihood and community development aspirations. The package was launched in 2009 and has now been distributed to core health agencies and water service providers to integrate into small community water programs. Indigenous communities have received substantial investment over the last 30 years, primarily in infrastructure (HREOC 2001; Willis et al., 2009). The greatest opportunity to capitalise on this investment is to improve reliability and security through enhanced water supply management. Providing reliable and safe water supplies in remote Indigenous communities now requires a focus in building the capacity of water managers at the local, state and national level to build pathways to recognise and respond quickly to water supply problems. It is acknowledged that the risk- based framework for the Management of Drinking Water Quality inherent in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) (NHMRC 2004) has dramatically improved water management systems and processes throughout the major utilities and large water supplies in Australia. In effect, the Field Guide is a tool to bring this risk management approach in a practical way to the regional and remote Indigenous communities. This requires strategic and persistent campaigning at all levels to focus attention on 'what people do' rather than hardware. Background to Indigenous Communities in Australia Indigenous communities have particular challenges associated with water supply management (FRDC 1994; HREOC 2001; AHRC 2009). There are numerous Indigenous cultures that represent R Grey-Gardner, R Elvin, P Taylor, M Akeroyd A package to assist Indigenous communities THE COMMUNITY WATER PLANNER FIELD GUIDE The Community Water Planner Field Guide instruction book.
Water Journal November 2011
Water Journal August 2011