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Message in the bottle | Civic Europe
Community development

Message in the bottle

Strengthen the democratic participation of local communities in decision-making on water as a common good


Who is behind this?

Fabiola Podda

Organismo Sardo di Volontariato Internazionale Cristiano O.S.V.I.C.


Who is joining forces?

Università di Cagliari


Scuola della Terra



Idea pitch

In a bottle... It tastes better! In Sardinia it seems so. Even though the management authority states that water distributed by the public network is of good quality, citizens say that it tastes and smells bad. Therefore, most people decide to solve the problem privately and to buy water in plastic bottles, instead of claiming collectively their right to have good public water. We will invite people to consider the ecological consequences of their actions and to identify viable alternatives, the

Where will your project idea take place?

Sardinia Region, Province of Oristano, Planargia : Bosa, Flussio, Modolo, Magomadas, Tresnuraghes

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Although the public authority declares that the quality of water is good, it is considered unsatisfying by the majority of Planargia users, who prefer to buy bottled water. The area, rich in springs and springs, used to have public fountains in all the villages. Today the fountains are dismissed and the only way to access the water is... the supermarket! This translates into thousands of plastic bottles purchased, especially in summer due to the strong tourist influx, attracted by the beautiful beaches in the area. The habit of being deprived of a right has boosted a culture of commodification. The challenge of the project will be to spread a ethic of responsibility in consumers and to promote the idea that water is a precious good to be safeguard, to be made public and accessible to all

Who are you doing it for?

The action involves the rural territory of the Province of Oristano where we will work with 100 young people; 100 elderly people; 9 associations; 30 professionals; 3 producers organisations (craftsmen, farmers, traders); 5 local administrations; 2 public/private water management bodies: Enas (public) and Abbanoa (private); 2 High school (first and second degree).
All these subjects will be encouraged to express views on local issues related to water, to make requests and to form a Permanent Assembly.
The action of the project then widens to involve all the citizens of the territory with awareness raising and research activities; the final part of the project is the interaction of the permanent assembly with the representatives of local administrations and water management bodies.

How do you plan to get there?

Four steps identified:

1. Emotional: perception of bottled water consumption problem. Actions: Focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, collection of historical photos and shows of them, mapping sources/fountains.
2.Cognitive: water as a right and Common Good.
Actions: Public Conferences with EU networks of Water Common good
3.Identitary: recovery of the historical, social, and cultural value of water. Actions: Mapping sources, rehabilitation of 5 water sites (one per country/village).
4. Operational. Water as a fundamental right, subject of a new participatory practice. Actions: Constitution of an assembly.
5. Dissemination. Similar experiences from Europe . Actions: Exchange of practices between citizen assemblies and Water committees.

What are the expected results?

The Project has strengthened the awareness about the environmental impact caused by the use of bottled water and broadened the knowledge about the relationship between water-sustainability and public health. It has recovered the historical identity function of water and old fountains for the communities of the Planargia sub-region. It has produced the mapping of the abandoned "water places" and elaborated a proposal of their requalification to return accessible to the community. Citizens have been organized in a permanent Water Assembly, able to mobilize and assert the right to water. Has produced a civil society able to understand problems, formulate demands and translate them into political claims for administrators; has strengthened the sense of belonging to a wider European community.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

We intend to strengthen participatory democracy through an integrated approach, both emotional (problem perception) and cognitive (knowledge development) aimed at:
1) Mapping the perception of water as a public/private good, through focus groups by categories (students, teachers, public administrators, economic operators).
2) Rediscover by the communities the function of water as an element of identity, traceable in a set of architectural remains (public fountains) and cultural (myths and popular rituals).
3) Promoting a reconsideration about bottled water consumption inside families, schools and public places.
4) Creating a permanent assembly that collects and represents demands from the communities on the topic of water and turns them into conscious exercise of active citizenship.

Why is this idea important to you?

Osvic over the years has collected solicitations from different entities of the territory, which were worried about the abandonment of villages, the lack of a surveillance of the territory, the dismantling of dislocated basic services, the protection of historical heritage and natural resources, including water. We think the project is important because it strengthens participatory democracy by an integrated, emotional, and cognitive approach with and methodologies. The Project has a value of historical memory as it allows to rediscover the water importance for the identity of communities involved, memory found in a set of architectural and cultural remnants. Moreover, the project promotes a rethinking about bottled water consumption and claims the right to water as primary public good.

€ 60,-

Total budget

€ 50,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel 26000
Interviews ,self-narrative;,Questionnaires, focus groups; forum,photographic reportage 6000
Conferences with representatives of European water networks common good 5000
Map of springs and sources, technical projects for rehabilitation of 5 water sites (one per country/village 4000
Constitution of a Water Assembly 2000
Exchanges of good practice between other public water committees. 8000
Dissemination 3000
Office expences 3000
Travel and accomodation 3000

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We are interested in receiving information about public water good practices in Europe, so that we can mutually exchange specific experiences and different approaches.



Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 26, 2020

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