Water resources management reform in developing countries has tended to overlook community-based water laws, which govern self-help water development and management by large proportions, if not the majority, of citizens: rural, small-scale water users, including poor women and men. In an attempt to fill this gap, global
experts on community-based water law and its interface with public sector intervention present a varied collection
of empirical research findings in this volume. The present chapter introduces the rationale for the volume
and its contents. It further identifies key messages emerging from the chapters on, first, the strengths and weaknesses of community-based water law and, second, the impact of water resources management reform on informal water users' access to water and its beneficial uses. Impacts vary from outright weakening of community-based arrangements and poverty aggravation or missing significant opportunities to better water resource management and improved well-being, also among poor women and men. The latter interventions combine the strengths of community-based water law with the strengths of the public sector. Together, these messages contribute to a new vision on the role of the state inwater resources management that better matches the needs and potentials of water users in the informal water economies in developing countries.