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Integrated water resources management is advancing in Brazil as decentralized and participatory governance gains more prominence. However, local actions need to be better understood since several public policies are effectively implemented at this level. The present article aims to present the current debate about the local dimension in water resources governance. The paper analyzes empirical cases of water resources management in semi-arid Brazil, based on the performance of inter-municipal consortia and São Francisco’s River Basin Committee. Research shows that municipalities do not ignore the need to adopt new management models in response to their known financial and technical limitations. Cases of inter-municipal consortia and river basin committees have proven to be opportunities for greater visibility and action of local participants. Inter-municipal consortia assist in sanitation management, because they increase the access of municipalities to the services provided. On the other hand, dynamics of the river basin committee expanded the possibilities of participation of local actors, allowing the debate and shared decision-making. Nevertheless, identifying factors and strategies for the successful organization of local participation and cooperation in these new governance arrangements is needed.
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