How do you implement Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)? Through learning by doing, WANI has developed and demonstrated practical approaches to IWRM. Based on an analysis of WANI's projects, a set of implementation principles was identified that can guide the application of IWRM in the field.

Implementation Principle 1: People

If stakeholders set the goals, projects are sure to address their top priorities. Project beneficiaries who are involved in decision making throughout the project are likely to take responsibility for sustaining and expanding change after the project finishes. Communities, municipalities, and governments, through democratic participatory planning and management, can best identify what is wrong with their water management and how to fix it.

Implementation Principle 2: Delivering results

Projects must solve real problems in communities. Faced with resource shortages, people will first address their own needs: their fields, their farms, their livelihoods, their families and villages. Initial projects must show results in the short term. Only then will they consider broader watershed issues.

Implementation Principle 3: Working across scales

The interdependencies between land, water and human society, the pressure of increasing water demand and resulting conflicts, and the greater uncertainty in global environmental and hydro-climatological conditions, underline the urgency of establishing a participatory ecosystem-based catchment management approach.

Implementation Principle 4: Learn and Innovate

It is tempting to envision a colorful complex basin planning map as the end product of years of technical planning. But, in fact, things change over time and institutions that manage a basin plan need to be flexible enough to respond while keeping their principles and goal clear.

Implementation Principle 7: Rights and Responsabilities

Cooperation on water management reform requires that all parties share a common understanding of their values and goals, of what is expected of them and what they can expect from others.

Implementation Principle 5: Field Focus

Institutions and projects provide support services. Relentlessly focussing organisational energy on delivering help to actors in the field is paramount – for they are the ones who implement and empower real and lasting change.

Implementation Principle 8: Water as Politics

The involvement of all stakeholders in a political process ensures representation and better decision making based on more complete information. Even though multi-stakeholder processes are inevitably messy and confusing, in the end they provide a stronger platform for success.

Implementation Principle 6: Economic Investments

Investments that ensure continuing or renewed water security and watershed services sustain local livelihoods, create opportunities and underpin local and national economy.