Lessons learned: The process of the development of the Irrigation Law in Bolivia

“The board was set, now we had to play…”

LESSON 1 - Process that continues being a process…
This is a process that continues being a process, within this framework the story continues, and many results of these actions will be seen in the near future.

LESSON 2 - Favourable juncture: Convergence of sector strength and State weakness.
A conclusive characteristic in the process, that will most likely not occur again, or at least not in the same extent, is the convergence of interests and social demand (with an uprising, dispute and proposal capacity); also, with a favourable general political juncture (with a strong weakness on the part of the government, and even on the part of the State).

LESSON 3 - Not an improvisation, rather high flexibility levels and reaction capacity
This process was not improvised; it rose from clear objectives and a shared vision, in addition to sound planning. However, one of its features was that it was very flexible and manageable in terms of the context changes and the juncture. Many times it has also been reactive, especially to confront the excluding initiatives in the decision-making process of the State and the international cooperation.

LESSON 4 - An adequate discourse to support the process
A remarkable feature of the process is that it is intended to unite and convince people, it shows a sensible element as well as one that the people can relate to (uses and customs, and water for irrigation), as well as potential threats or fear that the people can relate to (their rights are affected, uses and customs are not respected). This discourse has been very appropriate as the basis to promote the changes desired and as a support to a long, dynamic and complex process.

LESSON 5 - Adequate, timely and well informed participation as the vital axis for the process
The sector’s social participation is a remarkable characteristic of the whole process, similar to a driving thread throughout the process; however, it is necessary to bear in mind the need for the process to make sure that participation ensures adequate, timely and enough information, for only information and knowledge will guarantee a real-effective participation, thus preventing this from just being a discourse instead of a real fact. Although participation can not be homogeneous in processes that are so long, complex and dynamic, and bearing in mind that resources –of all types- are always scarce, a high and effective participation is essential, at least when initially defining the main problems and when selecting the main actions to be taken.

LESSON 6 - From a general regulation to a sector regulation, from merely being a regulation to a Law of the Republic. Juncture, opportunity, risks and potentiality.
The process to develop regulations for the irrigation sector began after the failed attempt to develop general water regulations, which in the end only produced irrigation regulations and that due to the juncture and the opportunities resulted in a Law.

LESSON 7- Legal engineering as a strategy for demands and dispute
The neoliberal agenda ruling during the time when the law was developed had a strong legal component for its implementation, which lead to the awareness of the need to take advantage of those same elements to favour the social actors. Because of the above, the legal strategy was ranked as the main element to achieve the legal security to support and recognize their rights. Within this framework the whole process followed for the Irrigation Law was supported in the legal engineering as the transformation axis of the social reality, through the development of laws.


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