Collaboration framework: get the system going

This case study is referred to in the report, Collaboration: Preserving water through partnering that works. There is one for each step of the Collaboration Framework. Click on the step you would like to find out more about to read the supporting case study.

  1. Start off on the right foot
  2. Get the system going
  3. Strengthen the glue
  4. Maintain momentum

A branch of a global beverage company operates at numerous sites in a number of states across India. These sites are in both rural and urban locations which present varied technical constraints and requirements for any watershed programme.

The Problem

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Find out how to ‘get the system going’

At these sites the company sources water from both surface and groundwater supplies. The company found it difficult to choose from an inventory of 130 watershed interventions that are used globally.

Each Indian state has its own water regulations, so the company had to deal with over 50 different regulations for its operations in India. The company found it difficult to communicate the results of its water replenishment programmes to local authorities as there was no commonly agreed means of quantifying the results.

Being a beverage manufacturing company, the company also had to manage its reputation amongst the local communities and protect itself from controversy from activist groups.

The stakeholders

Employees at the company plant locations and external subject matter experts (Hydrology, GIS) were involved to undertake technical and social assessment and led watershed engagements in their local area.

As the integrated watershed management programme was rolled out across the different sites:

  • Local NGOs were engaged as implementation partners for the identified interventions.
  • Local communities were involved in joint ownership and sharing of resources required to undertake interventions outside the company’s plant boundary.
  • Critical Government Departments / Agencies (related to land and water resources) shared technical studies and their organisational capabilities in the local watershed for joint activities.

How did they collaborate to address the challenge?

Engaging various stakeholders on a common platform was a major challenge. So the company developed a water management programme which was built on three building blocks:

(a) A programmatic approach based on sound technical / social assessments and regulatory review: This allowed the company a standardization of process in areas with different technical / social
and regulatory requirements. It provided a consistent message to engage various stakeholders (e.g. government and local communities).

(b) Preference to partnerships in implementation: A preference to partner with government led watershed management initiatives helped to communicate a commitment on the part of the company towards its local watershed and removed any skepticism that might have existed.

(c) Wide stakeholder engagements: This ensured that interventions were made only after wide consultation with local communities.

Impacts and Outcomes

The company’s framework is currently being piloted at two sites where the water levels have being declared “critical”. The framework activities have for the first time received proactive
support from the regulatory authorities. State watershed management authorities have expressed eagerness to partner as per the recommendations stated in the framework. On successful completion of the pilot the company is expected to achieve:

  • Identification of site specific replenishment targets with related regulatory requirements.
  • Identified intervention with buy-in from concerned stakeholders, to safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equivalent to what they use in all their beverages and their production.
  • Complete stakeholder mapping and engagement during development and implementation of the Projects and communication of the results after project implementation.

The common framework captures the diversity of issues related to stakeholders, geography and regulators will help align their activities across all its sites. Their detailed process mapping of proposed activities and assignment of responsibilities is expected to provide the much needed coordination in between the geographically dispersed teams managing watershed interventions. They have also created a detailed process mapping of government programmes along with the related organisational structures. This is helping to develop a better appreciation of government activities in each of the states where it is present and also helping identify the concerned stakeholders to engage for partnership opportunities.

Enablers: What helped the collaboration work well?

  • Ambitious internal water conservation targets for each operating site.
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Perception management leading to sustained good relations with stakeholders.