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Cultural political economy of irrigation management in northeastern Ethiopia: The case of the Kobo-Girana Valley Development Programme

Million Gebreyes
Development Geography, Institute of Geography, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany; milliongeb@gmail.com

Detlef Müller-Mahn
Institute of Geography, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany; mueller-mahn@uni-bonn.de

ABSTRACT: This paper aims to extend a 'politicised' understanding of irrigation management using theoretical perspectives in political ecology and cultural political economy. The paper is based on a case study of the Kobo-Girana Valley Development Program in Amhara Region, Ethiopia. Data was collected in the course of 20 in-depth interviews, 10 expert interviews, seven focus group discussions, and field observations. The findings of the study show that irrigation management in the Ethiopian context is a highly political enterprise involving heterogeneous state-sector offices, local irrigation users, and other actors. The state uses the hegemony of its developmental state political ideology and various governmentality mechanisms to contain the irrigation management process. Irrigation users react with a variety of counter-hegemonic strategies to resist the state’s containment measures. Such an understanding of irrigation management could help us to refocus our attention away from the conventional technologies and institutions that dominate irrigation management studies, and towards the dimensions of power and politics.

KEYWORDS: Cultural political economy, irrigation, state-society, politics, coordination, Ethiopia

 

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Reform and regression: Discourses of water reallocation in Mpumalanga, South Africa

Rebecca Peters
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; rebecca.peters@ouce.ox.ac.uk

Philip Woodhouse
The Global Development Institute, School of Environment, Education and Development, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; phil.woodhouse@manchester.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: This paper traces the implementation of reforms in water resource management in the Inkomati catchment, South Africa, since the National Water Act of 1998. It focuses on the ways that the predominant water users – white commercial farmers – have negotiated competing demands for water, particularly from black farmers and from growing urban water supply systems. The paper argues that existing commercial agricultural interests have largely succeeded in maintaining their access to water. We investigate this outcome using a cultural political economy perspective which focuses on an analysis of discourses of water allocation and explores how different discourses are reinforced by social practice and through their adoption by, and diffusion through, institutions of water governance. The research has identified three principle narratives that underpin discourse: scarcity, participation, and rights. It focuses on the ways in which calculative techniques for quantifying water use and economic value have been used to reinforce discourses rooted in narratives of water scarcity, and how these narratives ultimately structure water reallocation by agencies of water governance. The paper also identifies the wider political and economic dynamics at play, and the processes that may shift the current discourse of water reallocation.

KEYWORDS: Water reform, South Africa, cultural political economy, discourse, water re-allocation


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Policy discretion, adaptation pressure and reloading implementation experiences in EU water governance: The case of the Netherlands

Marjolein M.C.J. van Eerd
Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; c.dieperink@uu.nl

Mark M.A. Wiering
Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; mailxx

Carel C. Dieperink
Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; mailxx

ABSTRACT: European water governance is characterised by processes of interplay and interaction. Member states present and discuss their preferences and expertise in the EU policy arena and implement EU policies at the domestic level. These processes of 'uploading' and 'downloading' are regularly studied. However, a knowledge gap exists concerning the 'reloading' of implementation experiences, i.e. the renewed uploading of information on how policies actually work domestically and how possible implementation problems are solved. Certain characteristics of EU policies are expected to affect processes of reloading. In this paper we study how adaptation pressures and the levels of policy discretion affect the reloading of implementation experiences. We empirically assess reloading processes in the EU Water Framework Directive and the EU Floods Directive. It was expected that a low level of policy discretion leads to clear reloading incentives, in order to either change the policy (if fit is low and adaptation pressure is high) or maintain stability (if fit is high and adaptation pressure is low). A high degree of policy discretion, on the other hand, leads to no incentive at all for reloading. The relatively specific Water Framework Directive indeed shows cases of reloading in which implementing agents discuss their rather technical implementation experiences in order to adjust policy or to maintain the status quo in line with their interests. However, it is notable that reloading also takes place in the relatively discretionary policy process of the Floods Directive. Reloading in this case is driven by social learning, and is triggered by the idealistic aim of improving flood risk management practices instead of changing or maintaining the policy on the basis of self-interest. The paper concludes that policy discretion and adaptation pressure do influence reloading processes, but that other factors also must be taken into account.

KEYWORDS: Policy implementation, policy feedback, EU Water Framework Directive, EU Floods Directive, policy characteristics, reloading, EU water governance, EU policy process, European Union