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Understanding the emergence and functioning of river committees in a catchment of the Pangani basin, Tanzania

Hans C. Komakech
UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands; and Department of Water Resources, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands;
Pieter van der Zaag
UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands; and Department of Water Resources, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: In this paper we explore the emergence and functioning of river committees (RCs) in Tanzania, which are local water management structures that allocate and solve water conflict between different water users (smallholder irrigators, large commercial farmers, municipalities, etc) along one river. The paper is based on empirical research of three committees in the Themi sub-catchment. The committees mostly emerged in response to drought-induced competition and conflict over water, rapid urbanisation around Arusha town, and the presence of markets for agricultural produce. The RCs are mainly active during dry seasons when water is scarce. We find that the emergence of the RCs can be understood by using the concept of institutional bricolage. We then assess their effective functioning with the help of the eight design principles proposed by Ostrom and find that the best performing RC largely complied with five of them, which indicates that not all principles are necessary for a water institution to be effective and to endure over time. The other two studied RCs complied with only three of these principles. All RCs leave the resource boundary open to negotiation, which lowers the transaction cost of controlling the boundaries and also allows future demands to be met in the face of increasing resource variability. All RCs do not fully comply with the principle that all affected must take part in rule creation and modification. In all three cases, finally, the 'nesting' of lower-level institutional arrangements within higher-level ones is inconsistent. To explain the difference in the performance of the three RCs we need to consider factors related to heterogeneity. We find that the functioning of RCs is strongly influenced by group size, spatial distance, heterogeneity of users and uses, and market forces.

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Is individual metering socially sustainable? The case of multifamily housing in France

Bernard Barraqué
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Agroparistech -€“ CIRED, Paris, France ;

ABSTRACT: Before generalising water metering and billing at the apartment level for consumer equity reasons, and alleviating the burden of water bills for poor families through increasing block tariffs (IBTs), Paris Council asked for some expert advice. The pros and cons of two separate issues -€“ IBTs efficiency and justice; and individual household metering -€“ were mixed. Our research first summarises various studies of the redistributive effects of tariff changes, first from flat rates to metering, and then from uniform prices to IBTs. We address the particular case of multifamily housing, where it is possible to retain collective billing, while relying on sub-metering to allocate the bill. The limitations of classical econometric surveys on large samples (in terms of understanding households' strategies with tap water) support the need for supplementary detailed sociological surveys at neighbourhood or building levels, if only to check the unexpected redistributive effects of tariff changes in practice. We review the specific French situation, peculiarly in Paris, to show that individual apartment billing is more costly and tends to have regressive effects. Like other cities in France, Paris abandoned the implementation of Art. 93 of the 2000 law, which encouraged individual billing; and we explain why.

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Reaching the limits of water resources mobilisation: Irrigation development in the Segura river basin, Spain

Carles Sanchis Ibor
Centro Valenciano de Estudios del Riego, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain;
Marta García Mollá
Centro Valenciano de Estudios del Riego, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain;
Llorenç Avellà Reus
Centro Valenciano de Estudios del Riego, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain;
José Carles Genovés
Centro Valenciano de Estudios del Riego, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain;

ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to analyse the policy of water resources development implemented in the semiarid watershed of the Segura river during the last century, consisting of irrigation development promotion by means of the provision of new resources. The way in which this policy was implemented generated important conflicts among users, severely damaged riverine ecosystems and, paradoxically, created new water demands, perpetuating an outdated model of management.

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A decade of implementing water services reform in Zambia: Review of outcomes, challenges and opportunities

Horman Chitonge
National Research Foundation, Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town, South Africa;

ABSTRACT: Zambia has been implementing water sector reforms for the past two decades. These reforms initiated major changes in the organisation and management of water supply services starting from the 1990s culminating in the full-scale commercialisation of water services in major cities and towns. This paper reviews the outcomes of implementing these reforms, focusing on the results of the commercialisation of water services in the last 10 years. Data presented in this paper show that there have been positive developments, but many serious challenges as well. Evidence from the review of the past 10 years suggests that much progress has been made in areas related to management and operation performance, while little success has been recorded in core areas such as expanding the network, service coverage, hours of service, and reducing the affordability burden, especially among lower-income households. The key challenge for the water services sector is to find a workable infrastructural development funding formula that will make it possible to sustain and build on the foundation laid over the past decade.

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Editorial: Discursive framing: Debates over small reservoirs in the rural South

Jean-Philippe Venot and Jyothi Krishnan

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Water institutions and the 'revival' of tanks in south India: What is at stake locally?

Olivia Aubriot
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France; at the time of the research (2005-2008), the French Institute of Pondicherry, India;
P. Ignatius Prabhakar
SEEDS-India; at the time of the research, the French Institute of Pondicherry, India;

ABSTRACT: In India, the 'revival' of seasonal lake-reservoirs (tanks) is part of decentralisation and participatory management reforms regarding surface water, whereby programmes to rehabilitate these centuries-old infrastructures have made mandatory the creation of formal water users associations (WUAs). In Tamil Nadu, South India, WUAs are created without even taking into account the existence of customary institutions'€™ ways of managing tanks, and thus the WUAs either run parallel to the latter, lead to their decline or ensure continuity with them. Conversely, in Puducherry'€™s tank rehabilitation project, customary institutions are purposely neglected in order to empower marginalised sections of the population. The aim of this article is to compare the impact of creating such a formal association on the decision-making process, taking as an example four formal associations. Whatever the project, its success or otherwise lies in the hands of the local elite -€“ either socio-economic or the new political elite -€“ while all committee members are affiliated to political parties. In such a context, we question the stakes behind being a member of a formal user association and, more specifically, how these associations impact water management, how knowledge about water is acquired -€“ especially with regard to groundwater recharge -€“ and how this vital resource is controlled.

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Demystifying 'tradition': The politics of rainwater harvesting in rural Rajasthan, India

Saurabh Gupta
Institute for Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Sub-Tropics, University of Hohenheim, Germany;

ABSTRACT: The debate on traditional rainwater harvesting has largely cast the issue in terms of 'for-or-against'. Much intellectual energy has been spent on demonstrating whether traditional rainwater harvesting works or not. Yet, we know very little about how it works in specific localities. This paper seeks to address this analytical question. Taking the case of a Gandhian activist organisation, Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), which has received international recognition for promoting traditional rainwater harvesting by means of small earthen dams (locally known as johads) in Rajasthani villages, this paper explains how a grassroots organisation, while advocating the cause of people'€™s control of their local natural resources, uses and manipulates the concept of 'traditional' for creating a niche for itself in the arena of soil and water conservation. The paper problematises 'traditional' rainwater harvesting and the various positive connotations associated with it in the narrative of the TBS, and highlights the lack of attention given to issues of equity in its interventions. It is suggested that deliberate efforts on the part of grassroots organisations are required to address the issues of equity if the goals of sustainable ecological practices are to be achieved in any meaningful sense.

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Local water management of small reservoirs: Lessons from two case studies in Burkina Faso

Hilmy Sally
International Water Management Institute, Ouagadougou Burkina Faso;
Hervé Lévite
International Water Management Institute, Ouagadougou Burkina Faso;
Julien Cour
Independent consultant, Toulouse, France;

ABSTRACT: Burkina Faso is actively pursuing the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in its development plans. Several policy and institutional mechanisms have been put in place, including the adoption of a national IWRM action plan (PAGIRE) and the establishment so far of 30 local water management committees (Comités Locaux de l'€™Eau, or CLE). The stated purpose of the CLE is to take responsibility for managing water at sub-basin level. The two case studies discussed in this paper illustrate gaps between the policy objective of promoting IWRM on one hand, and the realities associated with its practical on-the-ground implementation on the other. A significant adjustment that occurred in practice is the fact that the two CLE studied have been set up as entities focused on reservoir management, whereas it is envisioned that a CLE would constitute a platform for sub-basin management. This reflects a concern to minimise conflict and optimally manage the country'€™s primary water resource and illustrates the type of pragmatic actions that have to be taken to make IWRM a reality. It is also observed that the local water management committees have not been able to satisfactorily address questions regarding access to and allocation of water though they are crucial for the satisfactory functioning of the reservoirs. Water resources in the reservoirs appear to be controlled by the dominant user. In order to correct this trend, measures to build mutual trust and confidence among water users 'condemned' to work together to manage their common resource are suggested, foremost of which is the need to collect and share reliable data. Awareness of power relationships among water-user groups and building on functioning, already existing formal or informal arrangements for water sharing are key determinants for successful implementation of the water reform process underway.

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The politics, development and problems of small irrigation dams in Malawi: Experiences from Mzuzu ADD

Bryson Gwiyani Nkhoma
Mzuzu University, Mzuzu, Malawi;

ABSTRACT: The paper examines the progress made regarding the development of small irrigation dams in Malawi with the view of establishing their significance in improving rural livelihoods in the country. The paper adopts a political economy theory and a qualitative research approach. Evidence from Mzuzu ADD, where small reservoirs acquire specific relevance, shows that despite the efforts made, the development of small dams is making little progress. The paper highlights that problems of top-down planning, high investment costs, negligence of national and local interests, over-dependency on donors, and conflicts over the use of dams -€“ which made large-scale dams unpopular in the 1990s continue to affect the development of small irrigation dams in Malawi. The paper argues that small irrigation dams should not be simplistically seen as a panacea to the problems of large-scale irrigation dams. Like any other projects, small dams are historically and socially constructed through interests of different actors in the local settings, and can only succeed if actors, especially those from formal institutions, develop adaptive learning towards apparent conflicting relations that develop among them in the process of implementation. In the case of Mzuzu ADD, it was the failure of the government to develop this adaptive learning to the contestations and conflicts among these actors that undermined successful implementation of small irrigation dams. The paper recommends the need to consider local circumstances, politics, interests, rights and institutions when investing in small irrigation dams.

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Planning and corrupting water resources development: The case of small reservoirs in Ghana

Jean-Philippe Venot
International Water Management Institute, Burkina Faso;
Marc Andreini
International Water Management Institute, Washington, DC;
Crossley Beth Pinkstaff
Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, New York University, NY;

ABSTRACT: Agricultural (water) development is once again at the fore of the development agenda of sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, corruption is seen as a major obstacle to the sustainability of future investments in the sector but there is still little empirical evidence on the ways corruption pervades development projects. This paper documents the planning and implementation processes of two specific small reservoir programmes in the north of Ghana. We specifically delve into the dynamics of corruption and interrogate the ways they add to the inherent unpredictability of development planning. We argue that operational limitations of small reservoirs such as poor infrastructure, lack of managerial and organisational capacity at the community level and weak market integration and public support are the symptoms -€“ rather than inherent problems €- of wider lapses in the planning processes that govern the development of small reservoirs in Ghana and worldwide. A suite of petty misconduct and corrupt practices during the planning, tendering, supervision, and administration of contracts for the rehabilitation and construction of small reservoirs results in delays in implementation, poor construction, escalating costs, and ultimately failures of small reservoirs vis-à-vis their intended goals and a widely shared frustration among donor agencies, civil servants, contractors, and communities. Such practices hang on and can only be addressed through a better understanding of the complex web of formal decisions and informal rules that shape the understanding and actions of the state.

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Bridging divides for water? Dialogue and access at the 5th World Water Forum

Nícola Ulibarrí
Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University, CA;

ABSTRACT: The 5th World Water Forum was officially presented as a deliberative democracy where diverse stakeholders could gather to talk about water. However, the conference was marred by significant conflict, ranging from audience complaints to protests, and to alternative political declarations. This paper explores why a Forum designed to 'Bridge Divides for Water' (the official theme) was so contentious that participants were unable to reach any sort of consensus. I explore four hypothesised mechanisms by which the Forum itself counteracted the possibility of Bridging Divides and creating constructive dialogue. First, I argue that, because of cost, security and size, the Forum made many participants feel unable to fully access the Forum and share their opinions. Second, I suggest that the programmatic structure of the Forum promoted simplified ways of talking about water that made translation between perspectives difficult. Third, I contend that the physical space where Forum deliberations occurred institutionalised unequal social arrangements, making certain viewpoints more audible than others. Fourth, I demonstrate that the Turkish host government actively masked contestation to present a 'civilised' Forum to the world.

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Fostering institutional creativity at multiple levels: Towards facilitated institutional bricolage

Douglas J. Merrey
Independent Consultant, 905 Fearrington Post, Pittsboro, NC 27312, USA;
Simon Cook
Centre for Water Resources, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia;

ABSTRACT: Problems occur when institutional arrangements for collective management of food and water systems fail to meet demands. Many of the problems characterising river basins and other collectively managed water resource systems can be ascribed largely to the failure of institutions to enable problems beyond the individual to be managed collectively. The nature of these demands, and the institutional responses to them, vary widely and are not amenable to simple definitions and prescriptions. We begin with a brief review of conventional approaches to analysing institutions and organisations, focused largely, but not exclusively, on river basins. We observe that attempts to reduce the institutional landscape of river basins to over-simplistic formulas introduces more problems than solutions, because the reality is that institutions evolve through complex creative processes that adopt and adapt diverse ingredients - rather like making a stew. Despite such intricacies, institutions are clearly non-random, so we continue a search for a means of describing them. We adopt the concept of bricolage, as proposed by Cleaver and others, and use it to show the value of promoting and facilitating an organic creative approach to building and strengthening river basin and other water management institutions.

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Parcelling out the watershed: The recurring consequences of organising Columbia river management within a basin-based territory

Eve Vogel
Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, US;

ABSTRACT: This article examines a 75-year history of North America'€™s Columbia river to answer the question: what difference does a river basin territory actually make? Advocates reason that river basins and watersheds are natural and holistic water management spaces, and can avoid the fragmentations and conflicts endemic to water management within traditional political territories. However, on the Columbia, this reasoning has not played out in practice. Instead, basin management has been shaped by challenges from and negotiations with more traditional jurisdictional spaces and political districts. The recurring result has been 'parcelling out the watershed': coordinating river management to produce a few spreadable benefits, and distributing these benefits, as well as other responsibilities and policy-making influence, to jurisdictional parts and political districts. To provide generous spreadable benefits, river management has unevenly emphasised hydropower, resulting in considerable environmental losses. However, benefits have been widely spread and shared - and over time challengers have forced management to diversify. Thus a river basin territory over time produced patterns of both positive and negative environmental, social, economic, and democratic outcomes. To improve the outcomes of watershed-based water management, we need more interactive and longer-term models attentive to dynamic politics and geographies.

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Strategies of the poorest in local water conflict and cooperation -€“ Evidence from Vietnam, Bolivia and Zambia

Mikkel Funder
Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark;
Rocio Bustamante
Centro Agua, Universidad Mayor de San Simon, Cochabamba, Bolivia;
Vladimir Cossio
Centro Agua, Universidad Mayor de San Simon, Cochabamba, Bolivia;
Pham Thi Mai Huong
Hanoi University of Agriculture, Hanoi, Vietnam;
Barbara van Koppen
International Water Management Institute, Pretoria, South Africa;
Carol Mweemba
Integrated Water Resources Management Center, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia;
Imasiku Nyambe
Integrated Water Resources Management Center, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia;
Le ThiThan Phuong
Hanoi University of Agriculture, Hanoi, Vietnam;
Thomas Skielboe
Nordic Agency for Development & Ecology, Copenhagen, Denmark;

ABSTRACT: Media stories often speak of a future dominated by large-scale water wars. Rather less attention has been paid to the way water conflicts already play out at local levels and form part of people'€™s everyday lives. Based on case study studies from Vietnam, Bolivia and Zambia, this paper examines the strategies of poor households in local water conflicts. It is shown how such households may not only engage actively in collaborative water management but may also apply risk aversion strategies when faced with powerful adversaries in conflict situations. It is further shown how dependency relations between poor and wealthy households can reduce the scope of action for the poor in water conflicts. As a result, poor households can be forced to abstain from defending their water resources in order to maintain socio-economic and political ties with the very same households that oppose them in water conflicts. The paper concludes by briefly discussing how the poorest can be supported in local water conflicts. This includes ensuring that alternative spaces for expressing grievances exist and are accessible; facilitating that water sharing agreements and rights are clearly stipulated and monitored; and working beyond water governance to reduce the socio-economic dependency-relations of poor households.

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Project politics, priorities and participation in rural water schemes

Barbara van Koppen
International Water Management Institute, Pretoria, South Africa;
Vladimir Cossio Rojas
Centro AGUA, Universidad Mayor de San Simon, Cochabamba, Bolivia;
Thomas Skielboe
International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Copenhagen, Denmark;

ABSTRACT: Governments, NGOs and financers invest considerable resources in rural domestic water supplies and irrigation development. However, elite capture and underuse, if not complete abandonment, are frequent. While the blame is often put on 'corrupt, lazy and indisciplined' communities, this article explores the question of how the public water sector itself contributes to this state of affairs. Four case studies, which are part of the research project Cooperation and Conflict in Local Water Governance, are examined: two domestic water supply projects (Mali, Vietnam); one participatory multiple use project (Zambia); and one large-scale irrigation project (Bolivia). It was found that accountability of water projects was upward and tended to lie in construction targets for single uses with already allocated funding. This rendered project implementers dependent upon the village elite for timely spending. Yet, the elite appeared hardly motivated to maintain communal schemes, unless they themselves benefited. The dependency of projects on the elite can be reduced by ensuring participatory and inclusive planning that meets the project'€™s conditions before budget allocation. Although such approaches are common outside the water sector, a barrier in the water sector is that central public funds are negotiated by each sector by profiling unique expertise and single livelihood goals, which trickle down as single use silos. The article concludes with reflections on plausible benefits of participatory multiple use services for equity and sustainability.

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Introduction to the Themed Section: Water governance and the politics of scale

Emma S. Norman
Native Environmental Science Program, Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, WA, USA;
Karen Bakker
Department of Geography and Program on Water Governance, Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada;
Christina Cook
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada;

ABSTRACT: This introductory article of the themed section introduces a series of papers that engage with water governance and the politics of scale. The paper situates the ongoing 'politics of scale' debates, and links them to discussions germane to water governance. We call for closer attention to the inter-relationships between power and social networks in studies of water governance, with particular reference to both institutional dynamics and scalar constructions. Framed in this way, we suggest that the engagement at the intersection of politics of scale and water governance moves the concept of scale beyond the 'fixity' of territory. The paper reflects on the ways in which the recognition of scale as socially constructed and contingent on political struggle might inform analyses of water governance and advance our understanding of hydrosocial networks.

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The politics of scaling water governance and adjudication in New Mexico

Eric P. Perramond
Environmental Science and Southwest Studies Programs, The Colorado College;

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses the scalar politics of the water rights adjudication process in New Mexico (US). Over the past 150 years, water governance in New Mexico has gradually shifted away from communal management towards more individualised 'water rights'. This paper addresses the consequences of this shift for water users while also addressing the literature on the politics of scale and scalar politics. Actors engaged in water governance mobilise scale, and scalar politics operate in different settings, depending on the priorities of the stakeholders. Using interviews, archival research, and institutional ethnography, I illustrate how scale of various kinds is fundamental to the process of water rights adjudication and water governance in the state of New Mexico. Although the academic sense of the politics of scale remains contested, these debates seem largely abstract to most water users, even if they materially and rhetorically engage in multiple levels of scalar politics. The framing of scale arguments ranges from the biopolitics of individual water rights holders, to the new regionalisation of ditches due to adjudication, to considerations at the larger watershed level.

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Toward post-sovereign environmental governance? Politics, scale, and EU Water Framework Directive

Corey Johnson
Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC, USA;

ABSTRACT: The EU Water Framework Directive (EUWFD) of 2000 requires that all EU member states "protect, enhance and restore" rivers to attain good surface water quality by 2015. To achieve this mandate, member states divide themselves into watershed basins (River Basin Districts) for the purposes of monitoring and remediation, even if those districts cross international borders. This paper examines three key elements of the rescaling of governance along watershed lines. First, I draw on a cross section of literatures on territoriality of the state and the changing regulation of nature to argue that analyses of the EU tend to privilege the nation-state as an ontological starting point. Second, the EUWFD as a rescaling of environmental gvernance is explored. The third element of the paper considers the relationship between the de- and re-territorialisation of environmental governance on the one hand, and the changing character of sovereignty in the EU on the other. On this basis, the paper argues that the EUWFD represents a hybrid form of territoriality that is changing the political geography of the European Union and that the redrawing of political-administrative scales along physical geographical lines provides evidence of the emergence of a new, non-nested scalar politics of governance in Europe.

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State development and the rescaling of agricultural hydrosocial governance in semi-arid Northwest China

Afton Clarke-Sather
Department of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA;

ABSTRACT: Over the past 20 years, agriculture in the semi-arid Zuli river valley in Northwest China has been transformed from subsistence to commercial production. Instead of spring wheat and millet, peasants now grow maize, potatoes, and cabbage for national markets. This transformation has been facilitated by a series of interventions that have rescaled agricultural hydrosocial relations in the valley. Many of these interventions, such as alternative cash crops, do not fall under what is traditionally considered water governance, but have altered peasants'€™ relationship with agricultural water nonetheless. This article (1) calls for a broadening of our understanding of scale in hydrosocial relations that gives more attention to the socioeconomic interactions that facilitate human relationships with water in the absence of the biophysical resource of water; (2) illustrates that state-backed rescaling of hydrosocial relations comprises contingent processes, which may or may not be planned; and (3) examines how water governance can mean examining what people do without water, as well as what people do with water. This article illustrates that a diverse set of state actors govern farmers'€™ relationships with agricultural water in often conflicting ways by rescaling both the biophysical resource of water, and socioeconomic institutions that affect agricultural water use.

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Restructuring and rescaling water governance in mining contexts: The co-production of waterscapes in Peru

Jessica Budds
Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading, UK;
Leonith Hinojosa
Geography Department, The Open University, UK;

ABSTRACT: The governance of water resources is prominent in both water policy agendas and academic scholarship. Political ecologists have made important advances in reconceptualising the relationship between water and society. Yet while they have stressed both the scalar dimensions and the politicised nature of water governance, analyses of its scalar politics are relatively nascent. In this paper, we consider how the increased demand for water resources by the growing mining industry in Peru reconfigures and rescales water governance. In Peru, the mining industry'€™s thirst for water draws in and reshapes social relations, technologies, institutions, and discourses that operate over varying spatial and temporal scales. We develop the concept of waterscape to examine these multiple ways in which water is co-produced through mining, often beyond the watershed scale. We argue that an examination of waterscapes avoids the limitations of thinking about water in purely material terms, structuring analysis of water issues according to traditional spatial scales and institutional hierarchies, and taking these scales and structures for granted.

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Cultural politics and transboundary resource governance in the Salish sea

Emma S. Norman
Native Environmental Science Program, Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, WA, USA;

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the cultural politics of water governance through the analysis of a new governing body created by indigenous leaders in the Pacific Northwest of North America: The Coast Salish Aboriginal Council. This paper investigates how the administrative structures and physical boundaries of water governance are both socially constructed and politically mobilised. The key moments explored in this article are closely linked to the power dynamics constituted through postcolonial constructions of space. Inclusion of cultural politics of scale will, arguably, provide a more nuanced approach to the study of transboundary environmental governance. This has important implications for the study of natural resource management for indigenous communities, whose traditional homelands are often bifurcated by contemporary border constructions.

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Introduction to the Special Issue: Water grabbing? Focus on the (re)appropriation of finite water resources

Lyla Mehta
Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK and Noragric, Norway;
Gert Jan Veldwisch
Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands;
Jennifer Franco
Transnational Institute, Amsterdam and China Agricultural University, Beijing;

ABSTRACT: Recent large-scale land acquisitions for agricultural production (including biofuels), popularly known as 'land grabbing', have attracted headline attention. Water as both a target and driver of this phenomenon has been largely ignored despite the interconnectedness of water and land. This special issue aims to fill this gap and to widen and deepen the lens beyond the confines of the literature'€™s still limited focus on agriculture-driven resource grabbing. The articles in this collection demonstrate that the fluid nature of water and its hydrologic complexity often obscure how water grabbing takes place and what the associated impacts on the environment and diverse social groups are. The fluid properties of water interact with the 'slippery' nature of the grabbing processes: unequal power relations; fuzziness between legality and illegality and formal and informal rights; unclear administrative boundaries and jurisdictions, and fragmented negotiation processes. All these factors combined with the powerful material, discursive and symbolic characteristics of water make 'water grabbing' a site for conflict with potential drastic impacts on the current and future uses and benefits of water, rights as well as changes in tenure relations.

KEYWORDS: Water grabbing, land grabbing, resource conflicts, power relations, water rights, hydrologic complexity, reallocation, neoliberalism

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Exploring the politics of water grabbing: The case of large mining operations in the Peruvian Andes

Milagros Sosa
Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands;
Margreet Zwarteveen
Irrigation and Water Engineering Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: The operations of the large mining company Yanacocha in Cajamarca (Peru) provoke and require a fundamental reshuffling of how rights to water are allocated, resulting in changes in the distribution of the benefits and burdens of accessing water. We use this paper to argue that these changes in water use and tenure can be understood as a form of water grabbing, since they result in a transfer of water control from farmers' collectives and government agencies to the mining company, with the company also assuming de facto responsibility over executing water allocation and safeguarding certain water-quality levels. We illustrate - by using two cases: La Ramada canal and the San José reservoir -€“ the company'€™s overt and covert strategies to achieve control over water, showing how these are often backed up by neo-liberal government policies and by permissive local water authorities. Next to active attempts to obtain water rights, these strategies also include skilfully bending and breaking the resistance of (some) farmers through negotiation and offering compensation. The de facto handing over of water governance powers to a multinational mining company raises troubling questions about longer-term water management, such as who controls the mining company, to whom are they accountable, and what will happen after mining operations stop.

KEYWORDS: Water grabbing, water rights, water governance, mining, Peru

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Privatised hydropower development in Turkey: A case of water grabbing?

Mine Islar
Center of Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS) and Centre of Excellence for Integration of Social and Natural Dimensions of Sustainability (LUCID), Lund University;

ABSTRACT: This paper investigates how river privatisation in Turkey is deployed to expand renewable energy production and the implications this has for issues of ownership, rights to water and community life. Recent neoliberal reforms in Turkey have enabled the private sector to lease the rights to rivers for 49 years for the sole purpose of electricity production. The paper focuses on the re-scaling and reallocation of control over rivers through technical-legal redefinition of productive use, access and rights; and on discursive practices that marginalise rural communities and undermine alternative framings of nature. In order to actuate hydropower projects, what previously constituted legitimate water use and access is being contested and redefined. This process involves redefining what is legal (and therefore also what is illegal) such that state regulatory mechanisms favour private-sector interests by the easement of rights on property, government incentives and regulation of use rights to water. Through this lens, in some cases this particular privatisation in Turkey can be understood as an instance of 'water grabbing', where powerful actors gain control over use and increase their own benefits by diverting water and profit away from local communities living along these rivers despite their resistance. The analysis is based on empirical evidence derived from semi-structured interviews, newspapers, governmental and NGO reports, and observations during 3 months of fieldwork in Ankara and several villages in North and South Anatolia.

KEYWORDS: Hydropower, water use rights, neoliberalism, privatisation, Turkey

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Water grabbing in the Mekong basin -€“ An analysis of the winners and losers of Thailand'€™s hydropower development in Lao PDR

Nathanial Matthews
King's College London, London, UK;

ABSTRACT: There are currently over 60 tributary and mainstream dams planned or under construction in Lao PDR with 95% of the electricity from these dams slated to be exported to neighbouring countries. In the Mekong basin, the structure of the Thai energy sector -€“ the country's lack of domestic hydropower development and the current and planned power purchase agreements between Thailand and Laos -€“ differentiates Thailand from other regional investors. Using a political ecology approach, this paper examines how powerful state and private actors from within Thailand and Lao PDR mobilise power to control the benefits from hydropower while the social and environmental impacts are largely ignored, thereby constituting a form of water grabbing. The analysis shows that the structure and politics of the Thai electricity sector, private-sector profiteering and a strong domestic civil society are driving Thailand'€™s hydropower investment in neighbouring Laos. Thai investments are enabled by Laos'€™ weak enforcement of laws, a lack of capacity to regulate development, the existence of corruption and a tightly controlled state. These drivers and enabling factors combine with short-term economic focused regional development to create opportunities for water grabbing. The winners of this water grabbing are the powerful actors who control the benefits, while the losers, local livelihoods and the environment, are negatively impacted.

KEYWORDS: Hydropower, water grabbing, energy development, political ecology, water-energy nexus, Lao PDR, Thailand, Mekong

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Exploiting policy obscurity for legalising water grabbing in the era of economic reform: The case of Maharashtra, India

Subodh Wagle
School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Science, Deonar, Mumbai, India;
Sachin Warghade
PRAYAS, Kothrud, Pune, India; and TISS, Deonar, Mumbai, India;
Mandar Sathe
PRAYAS, Kothrud, Pune, India;

ABSTRACT: Since the last two decades, economic reform in India is exerting pressure on limited land and water resources. This article argues that sectoral reforms underway in different areas such as water, electricity, and the export sector are giving rise to a new form of water grabbing in the state of Maharashtra, India. This water grabbing is legitimised by the use, application and redefinition of reform instruments such as the sectoral policy statements and laws. Maharashtra, like many other Indian states, has been a theatre for the play of power among different interest groups over control and access to water resources developed through state funding. Dams were built at the cost of depriving the upland riparian communities of their land, water and other resources. The water provided by the dams - which strengthened the political power of the leaders representing the irrigated plains - is now at the core of a shift in regional power equations. Based on case studies of three dams the paper presents these contemporary developments around water allocation and re-appropriation. These developments pertain to the shift from the erstwhile focus on securing water for irrigation to the new focus of securing water to facilitate international and domestic private investments. The paper concludes by arguing that the state is able to legitimise this form of water grabbing due the emergence of a new and grand political coalition and nexus that has emerged at the behest of the ongoing economic reforms.

KEYWORDS: Water grabbing, entitlements, reforms, independent regulatory authority, India

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Water grabbing in the Cauca basin: The capitalist exploitation of water and dispossession of afro-descendant communities

Irene Vélez Torres
Department of Human Geography, University of Copenhagen; and the Centre for Social Studies, National University of Colombia, Bogota, Colombia;,

ABSTRACT: This article examines water grabbing in the Alto Cauca in Colombia as a form of accumulation through ethnicised and racialised environmental dispossession in the capitalist system. Characterised by privatisation and historical trends of exclusion, this violent accumulation model has shaped a particular form of environmental racism leading to negative impacts experienced in historically marginalised Afro-descendant local communities. Analyzing two development projects in the upper watershed of the Cauca river - the Agua Blanca Irrigation District Project and a Project for Diverting the River Cauca - the article concludes that many actors are responsible for the negative effects of the regional development model. These include the state, national and foreign private companies, and powerful international economic stakeholders.

KEYWORDS: Water grabbing, dispossession, Afro-descendants, environmental racism, socio-environmental conflicts, Colombia

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Water grabbing in colonial perspective: Land and water in Israel/Palestine

Stephen Gasteyer
Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, MI, USA;
Jad Isaac
Applied Research Institute Jerusalem, Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine;
Jane Hillal
Applied Research Institute Jerusalem, Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine;
Sean Walsh
Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, MI, USA;

ABSTRACT: 'Water grabbing' and 'land grabbing' have been referred to as a new colonialism, dispossessing small farmers and indigenous people of land and water for the sake of investors. The current 'grabbing' is driven by perceived scarcity of food and sustainable energy, and is enabled by global financial instruments and commodity speculation. In this paper, we argue that while in many ways different, the 'new colonialism' of land/water grabbing may be better understood through analysis of old colonialism. We use actor network and place modernisation theories to analyse the history and practice of Zionist land/water grabbing in Israel/Palestine as an ongoing remnant of old colonialism. While there are clearly unique aspects to this case, there are similarities in processes, such as the narrative of modernising 'barren', 'infertile', and 'undeveloped' land. The ongoing power imbalance in water management and access, the disproportionate burden on Palestinians of growing water scarcity, and the inability of technical fixes to address the problems of relative deprivation may be seen as cautionary tales for current 'water grabbing'.

KEYWORDS: Colonisation, place modernisation, Zionism, actor network theory, water grabbing, Israel/Palestine

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How the Second Delta Committee set the agenda for climate adaptation policy: A Dutch case study on framing strategies for policy change

Simon H. Verduijn
Radboud University Nijmegen, Institute for Management Research;
Sander V. Meijerink
Radboud University Nijmegen, Institute for Management Research;
Pieter Leroy
Radboud University Nijmegen, Institute for Management Research;

ABSTRACT: In 2008, the Second State Delta Committee, commissioned by the Dutch Secretary of Public Works and Water Management, provided suggestions on how to defend the Netherlands against the expected impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, longer periods of drought, more intense periods of rainfall and additional land subsidence over the coming two hundred years (Veerman, 2008). In this paper we show that even though no crisis actually occurred, the Second Delta Committee succeeded in three areas. First, the committee managed to create awareness and set the agenda for climate adaptation policy and the issue of safety in Dutch water management. Second, the committee succeeded to a large extent in getting the media, the public and politics to accept its frame and framing of the problems, causes, moral judgments and suggested remedies. Third, the committee has to a certain degree already succeeded in having its recommendations translated into policy programmes. It will be argued that framing strategies were key to the committee'€™s success and that the committee used various framing strategies to convince the Cabinet, citizens and others of the urgency and necessity of implementing adaptation measures. The most important framing strategies identified were adherence to the climate adaptation narrative, using the story of our delta identity, creating a sense of urgency and collectiveness, and creating a crisis narrative.

KEYWORDS: Framing strategies, agenda setting, policy change, crises, climate change, the Netherlands

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Environmental injustice in the Onondaga lake waterscape, New York State, USA

Tom Perreault
Department of Geography, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA;
Sarah Wraight
Onondaga Environmental Institute, Syracuse, New York, USA;
Meredith Perreault
Onondaga Environmental Institute, Syracuse, New York, USA;

ABSTRACT: This paper examines two interrelated cases of environmental injustice and social mobilisation in the Onondaga lake watershed in Central New York State, USA: (1) the case of the Onondaga Nation, an indigenous people whose rights to, and uses of, water and other resources have been severely reduced through historical processes of Euro-American settlement and industrial development; and (2) the case of the city of Syracuse, New York's Southside neighbourhood, a low-income community of colour, where a sewage treatment facility was constructed as part of a broader effort to remediate the effects of pollution in Onondaga lake. The Onondaga Nation and the Southside neighbourhood are connected by Onondaga creek, which flows through each before joining Onondaga lake. These communities are also linked by shared histories of marginalisation and environmental injustice. Taken together, the cases demonstrate the temporal and spatial continuities of social relations of power, and their embodiment in water resources. Conceptually, the paper brings together the literatures of environmental justice and the political ecology of water resources. In doing so, we employ the concept of waterscape as an analytical lens to examine processes of marginalisation and social exclusion in the Onondaga lake watershed. The waterscape concept, and the political ecology of water resources literature more generally, have much to contribute to the study of water-related environmental (in)justice.

KEYWORDS: Environmental justice, waterscape, water pollution, Onondaga lake, New York State

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Seeing like a subaltern - Historical ethnography of pre-modern and modern tank irrigation technology in Karnataka, India

Esha Shah
Department of Technology and Society Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: In various avatars the images of pre-modern knowledge and social organisations, also differently described as pre-colonial or traditional, are projected as alternative to the modern technologies and forms of governance not only in India but also elsewhere. I first review a few such representations of the idea of pre-modern invoked from politically diverse positions in order to demonstrate a unifying characteristic among them that form a 'view from the above'. I show how a situated position - seeing like a subaltern - can provide a way forward from the mutually opposing binary categorizations of the pre-modern and modern. Extensively referring to folk literature, I discuss here the historical ethnography of tank irrigation technology in Karnataka that covers both medieval and modern periods. I show how the technical designs of this thousand years old technology significantly transformed from the pre-modern to the modern times and how in each epoch the reproduction of the technology implied the reproduction of radically different social and cultural spaces and, most significantly, social and power relations.

KEYWORDS: Tank irrigation technology, pre-modern Knowledge, anthropology of technology, Karnataka, India

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Large dams and changes in an agrarian society: Gendering the impacts of Damodar Valley Corporation in eastern India

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt
Resource Management in Asia Pacific Program, Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia;

ABSTRACT: This paper traces the gendered changes in agrarian livelihoods in the lower Damodar valley of eastern India and connects these changes to the large dam project of the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). The DVC, established in 1948, was one of the earliest dam projects in India. Although it was not fully completed, the DVC project has initiated unforeseen changes in the farming economy. The floods for which the Damodar river was notorious were not fully controlled, and the suffering of people living in the lower reaches of the valley never really diminished. This paper gives a brief description of the river and its history of water management practices and the roles of women and men in these practices. It traces the resultant impacts on gender roles, and outlines the new kinds of water management that emerged in response to the DVC's failure to provide irrigation water when demanded. More specifically, the paper explores the changes in floods, changes in the farming economy, and the impacts of temporary sand dams or boro bandhs on the livelihoods of women and men from farming families in the Lower Damodar Valley. It observes that even over a longer temporal scale, the changes unleashed by large water control projects have significant and gendered impacts on agrarian societies.

KEYWORDS: Gender impacts, canal irrigation, Damodar Valley Corporation, floods, large dams, West Bengal, India

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Foreign agricultural land acquisition and the visibility of water resource impacts in sub-Saharan Africa

Philip Woodhouse
University of Manchester, UK;

ABSTRACT: The many headlines focusing on 'land grabbing' have distracted attention from the role that access to water plays in underpinning the projected productivity of foreign direct investment in acquisition of agricultural land in developing countries. This paper identifies questions that arise about the explicit and implicit water requirements for irrigation in agricultural projects on land that is subject to such foreign investment deals. It focuses particularly on land acquisition in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where, for savanna ecosystems that cover some two thirds of the region, rainfall uncertainty is the principal constraint to increased agricultural productivity. The paper argues that, even where land acquisition deals do not specify irrigation, choice of location and/or crop type indicates this is invariably an implicit requirement of projects. It is arguable that private investment in water infrastructure (e.g. for water storage) could provide wider benefits to neighbouring small-scale producers, thus reducing the risk inherent in much of African agriculture. However, it is also possible that foreign investment may compete with existing water use, and some land deals have included provisions for priority access to water in cases of scarcity. Empirical studies are used to identify the mechanisms through which large-scale land investments influence water availability for smaller-scale land users. The paper concludes that, although effects on water resources may constitute one of the main impacts of land deals, this is likely to be obscured by the lack of transparency over water requirements of agricultural projects and the invisibility of much existing local agricultural water management to government planning agencies.

KEYWORDS: Agriculture, land tenure, irrigation, Africa

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Water implications of foreign direct investment in Ethiopia'€™s agricultural sector

Deborah Bossio
International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Nairobi, Kenya;
Teklu Erkossa
International Water Management Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
Yihun Dile
Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm, Sweden;
Matthew McCartney
International Water Management Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
Franziska Killiches
Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany;
Holger Hoff
Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany;

ABSTRACT: Ethiopia is often highlighted as a country in which a lot of foreign land acquisition is occurring. The extent to which these investments also constitute significant acquisitions of water is the subject of this paper. It is apparent that water availability is a strong driver of the recent surge of investments in agricultural land globally, and in general the investments occur in countries with significant 'untapped' water resources. Ethiopia is no exception. We propose that the perception of unused and abundant water resources, as captured in dominant narratives, that drives and justifies both foreign and domestic investments, fails to reflect the more complex reality on the ground. Based on new collections of lease information and crop modelling, we estimate the potential additional water use associated with foreign investments at various scales. As a consequence of data limitations our analyses provide only crude estimates of consumptive water use and indicate a wide range of possible water consumption depending on exactly how foreign direct investment (FDI) development scenarios unfold. However, they do suggest that if all planned FDI schemes are implemented and expanded in the near future, additional water consumption is likely to be comparable with existing water use in non-FDI irrigation schemes, and a non-trivial proportion of the country's water resources will be effectively utilised by foreign entities. Hence, additional water use as well as local water scarcity ought to be strong considerations in regulating or pricing land leases. If new investments are to increase local food and water security without compromising local and downstream water availability they should be designed to improve often very low agricultural water productivity, and to safeguard access of local populations to water.

KEYWORDS: Large-scale land acquisitions, biofuels, water, institutions, livelihoods, Ghana

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Water implications of large-scale land acquisitions in Ghana

Timothy Olalekan Williams
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Accra, Ghana;
Benjamin Gyampoh
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Accra, Ghana;
Fred Kizito
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Accra, Ghana;
Regassa Namara
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Accra, Ghana;

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the water dimensions of recent large-scale land acquisitions for biofuel production in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Northern regions of Ghana. Using secondary sources of data complemented by individual and group interviews, the paper reveals an almost universal lack of consideration of the implications of large-scale land deals for crop water requirements, the ecological functions of freshwater ecosystems and water rights of local smallholder farmers and other users. It documents the factors responsible for this apparent oversight including the multiplicity of land and water governance systems, sharp sectoral boundaries between land and water policies, property rights and institutions, outdated statutes, poorly resourced and ineffective regulatory agencies, and unequal power relations in land acquisition deals.The paper shows that due to a lack of an approach that jointly considers land and water management policies and institutions in acceding to large-scale land deals, the benefits derived by local people were insufficient to cover the involuntary permanent loss of their water rights and livelihoods and the risks posed to ecosystem services.Options for establishing alternative institutional arrangements that will allow water availability, use and management as well as social and environmental standards to be factored, ex ante, into large-scale land deals are explored.The paper offers recommendations which can help the government to achieve its stated objective of developing a "policy framework and guidelines for large-scale land acquisitions by both local and foreign investors for biofuels that will protect the interests of investors and the welfare of Ghanaian farmers and landowners".

KEYWORDS: Large-scale land acquisitions, biofuels, water, institutions, livelihoods, Ghana

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Water grabbing and the role of power: Shifting water governance in the light of agricultural foreign direct investment

Andrea Bues
Humboldt Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany;
Insa Theesfeld
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO), Halle (Saale), Germany;

ABSTRACT: In recent years, the trend for foreign actors to secure land for agricultural production in low-income countries has increased substantially. The concurrent acquisition of water resources changes the institutional arrangement for water management in the investment areas. The consequences of 'land-grabbing' on the local water governance systems have not so far been adequately examined. This paper presents an institutional analysis of a small-scale irrigation scheme in Ethiopia, where foreign and national horticultural farms started to use water from an irrigation canal that was formerly managed as a user-group common-pool resource by local smallholders. The study follows a qualitative case-study approach with semi-structured interviews as the main source of data. For the analysis we employed the Common-pool Resource Theory and the Distributional Theory of Institutional Change. We found that the former management regime changed in that most of the farmers' water rights shifted to the investment farms. We found three key characteristics responsible for the different bargaining power of the two actor groups: dependency on natural resources, education and knowledge, and dependency on government support. We conclude that not only the struggle for land but also the directly linked struggle for water is led by diverging interests, which are determined by diverging power resources.

KEYWORDS: Water grabbing, power resources, water rights, agricultural foreign direct investment, Ethiopia

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The water connection: Irrigation, water grabbing and politics in southern Morocco

Annabelle Houdret
Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)/German Development Institute, Bonn, Germany;

ABSTRACT: Water and land grabbing is often an indication of growing control by an elite group over natural resources for agricultural production, marginalising their previous users. It may drive and exacerbate social, economic and political disparities and so increase the potential for conflict. In Southern Morocco's Souss valley, the overuse of water resources is causing aquifer levels to sink and agricultural land to be abandoned. At the same time, irrigated agriculture is still expanding, often permitting the lucrative growing of citrus fruits. This export-oriented agriculture mostly benefits the economic elite, increasing their political influence. Small farmers, on the other hand, face growing threats to their livelihoods. A public-private partnership (PPP) project reallocating water through a 90 km pipeline from a mountain region to plantations in the valley has been implemented to enhance water supply and save dying citrus plantations. However, it is accentuating disparities between farmers. We trace the dynamics of marginalisation linked to this PPP and use emerging water conflicts as a lens to analyse the appropriation of water resources and the underlying political and economic relationships and strategies. On the basis of the case study, we show that water conflicts are as much struggles over political influence as over the resource itself and, consequently, that the related phenomenon of 'water grabbing' is not only driven by economic interests but also determined by a political agenda of regime stability and economic control. However, we also point to the opportunities presented by recent social and political changes in Morocco, including the influence of the 'Arab Spring', and argue that such processes as increasing transparency, decentralisation and the empowerment of local civil society support the re-appropriation of water, livelihoods and power. We conclude by examining the limits of this PPP model, which has been internationally praised by financial institutions, and calling for a careful evaluation of its ecological and social impacts before such experience is replicated elsewhere.

KEYWORDS: Water conflict, water management, water grabbing, rural development, irrigated agriculture, public-private partnership (PPP), El Guerdane, Arab Spring, Morocco

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Ostrich-like strategies in Sahelian sands? Land and water grabbing in the Office du Niger, Mali

Thomas Hertzog
Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement, Montpellier, France;
Amandine Adamczewski
Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement, Montpellier, France;
François Molle
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France ; and International Water Management Institute, Cairo, Egypt;
Jean-Christophe Poussin
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France;
Jean-Yves Jamin
Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement, Montpellier, France;

ABSTRACT: In recent years, large-scale agricultural investment projects have increased in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of the growing appetites of local and international investors for land resources. Research has so far mainly focused on land issues, but the water implications of these land deals are starting to surface. Taking the Office du Niger (ON), in Mali, as a case study, we show that while around 100,000 ha is currently being cultivated, mostly by smallholders, a total of 600,000 ha of land has been allocated in the past ten years to investors in large-scale farming. This process has largely bypassed the official procedure established by the ON at regional level. The allocation of new lands has shifted to the national level, with an attempt to recentralize the management of land deals and associated benefits at the highest level, despite contrary efforts by foreign donors to strengthen the ON. This article describes the complex allocation process based on 'behind-closed-doors' negotiations. It then analyses the implications of the land deals on water issues by focusing on the strategies of actors to limit the risk of future water shortages, the current and expected difficulties in water management and allocation, and the emerging spatial and social redistribution of benefits and risk that signals a process of water grabbing.

KEYWORDS: Land grabbing, water management, irrigation scheme, Office du Niger, Mali

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Land and water grabbing in an east African coastal wetland: The case of the Tana delta

Stéphanie Duvail
UMR 208 'Patrimoines Locaux', Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France ; and National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya;
Claire Médard
UMR 205 'Migrations et Sociétés', Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, France ; and Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda;
Olivier Hamerlynck
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, OX, UK;
Dorothy Wanja Nyingi
National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya;

ABSTRACT: The delta of the Tana river in Kenya, an important wetland in Eastern Africa, is at a major turning point. Key decisions regarding its future are on the verge of being made, some of which may dramatically alter its characteristics. At present, in a landscape that is a mosaic of floodplains and forests of high biodiversity, small-scale farming, fishing and livestock keeping are the main activities practised by the local communities, all relying on the occurrence of floods in November and May. Private investors with the backing of governmental bodies or parastatals, including the river basin authority, have planned the conversion of the lower Tana into irrigated sugar cane and Jatropha curcas plantations for biofuel production. In this paper, we discuss the land and water grabbing aspect of this new biofuel production trend, 'grabbing' being defined as cases of land acquisition or water abstraction where established user-rights and public interests are disregarded. We focus on two case studies: a planned large-scale sugar cane plantation in the central floodplain and a large-scale Jatropha curcas plantation on the floodplain terraces. We demonstrate through a water budget analysis that their potential impacts on the water balance and quality, on the environment of the Tana delta and therefore on the flood-dependent livelihoods have been not been adequately addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment documents.

KEYWORDS: Land grabbing, water grabbing, sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya, biofuels, floodplains, ecosystem services, water balance, Environmental Impact Assessment

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Contamination of community potable water from land grabbing: A case study from rural Tanzania

Serena Arduino
ACRA (Cooperazione Rurale in Africa e America Latina), Milan, Italy;
Giorgio Colombo
ACRA (Cooperazione Rurale in Africa e America Latina), Njombe, Iringa Region, Tanzania;
Ofelia Maria Ocampo
ACRA (Cooperazione Rurale in Africa e America Latina), Milan, Italy;
Luca Panzeri
ACRA (Cooperazione Rurale in Africa e America Latina), Njombe, Iringa Region, Tanzania;

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses a large-scale land deal which resulted in the contamination of water sources in the Iringa region of Tanzania, and the negotiation process which followed. An area of 1400 ha was rented to investors for agriculture and livestock-keeping. These activities caused contamination of the water sources which feed a water supply scheme managed by a downstream local community and serving a population of 45,000. While there are mechanisms within Tanzanian law to limit potentially polluting activities, establish protected zones around water sources and empower water user organisations to exercise control over activities that damage the quality of water, in practice, in the Iringa region, these were not effective as many procedures were not followed. This paper examines the cause of this, the effect that these failures had on downstream access to safe drinking water and the subsequent (largely successful) process of correcting the damage done.

The paper discusses the direct causes of water contamination (the use of fertilisers and pesticides and the presence of cattle) and the indirect causes (unclear administrative boundaries, lack of participation and transparency, procedures not followed and limited resources). The negotiation process and its outcomes are described. From this study we conclude that stakeholder communication and transparency are key elements in anticipating and preventing the arising of such situations. Often, these are in short supply when large land deals occur. In this case, ex-post solutions were arrived at. Finally, the paper looks at the broader dimensions of land deals that pollute the water feeding a water supply scheme. Such situations are a clear violation of the human rights to safe drinking water -€“ an issue that has not yet been sufficiently documented in the literature and which merits further attention.

KEYWORDS: Water contamination, water source protection, land deals, transparency, conflict resolution, Tanzania

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Open for business or opening Pandora’s box? A constructive critique of corporate engagement in water policy: An introduction

Nick Hepworth
Water Witness International and University of East Anglia, UK;

ABSTRACT: The corporate world is waking to the realisation that improved water management is fundamental for future prosperity and human well-being. This special issue explores aspects of its response: from the application of an array of analytical tools such as water footprint accounting, risk filters and standards; water use efficiencies; derivatives and insurance mechanisms; to collaborative infrastructure and watershed projects; stakeholder engagement and attempts to influence water governance at all scales. Drawing on the papers in this issue the motivations for this new agenda are traced and its potential in helping to unlock some of our most intractable water challenges, or to open a Pandora’s box of controversies are considered. Key concerns include the potential for diverging corporate and public interests; policy and regulatory capture; privileging of economic over social perspectives; process inequities; displacement of existing water management priorities, and the risks of misguided interventions which undermine institutional and hydrological sustainability. Reflecting on these and the state of research on the topic eight priorities for a constructive response are discussed: closing the legitimacy gap; evaluating outcomes; reviewing evaluative tools; representation and inclusiveness; conceptual and methodological groundwork; outreach; and involvement and mobilisation. In conclusion, corporate engagement on water has great potential as both a progressive or reactionary force. Debate, research, scrutiny and action are urged to differentiate the 'good', the 'bad' and the 'ugly' and to pose fundamental questions about sustainability and equity.

KEYWORDS: Corporate water engagement, water stewardship, water risk, legitimacy

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Water footprint: Help or hindrance?

Ashok Kumar Chapagain
Freshwater Programmes, WWF-UK, Godalming, Surrey, UK;
David Tickner
Freshwater Programmes, WWF-UK, Godalming, Surrey, UK;

ABSTRACT: In response to increasing concerns about pressures on global water resources, researchers have developed a range of water footprint concepts and tools. These have been deployed for a variety of purposes by businesses, governments and NGOs. A debate has now emerged about the value, and the shortcomings of using water footprint tools to support better water resources management. This paper tracks the evolution of the water footprint concept from its inception in the 1990s and reviews major applications of water footprint tools, including those by the private sector. The review suggests that water footprint assessments have been an effective means of raising awareness of global water challenges among audiences 'outside the water box' including decision makers in industry and government. Water footprint applications have also proved to be useful for the assessment of strategic corporate risks relating to water scarcity and pollution. There is evidence that these applications may help to motivate economically important stakeholders to contribute to joint efforts to mitigate shared water-related risks, although there have been few examples to date of such approaches leading to tangible improvements in water resources management at the local and river basin scales. Water footprint assessments have so far had limited influence on the development or implementation of improved public policy for water resources management and there is reason to believe that water footprint approaches may be a distraction in this context. Suggestions that international trade and economic development frameworks might be amended in light of global water footprint assessments have not yet been articulated coherently. Nevertheless, if used carefully, water footprint tools could contribute to better understanding of the connections between water use, economic development, business practice and social and environmental risks. In light of the review, a set of 'golden rules' is suggested for using water footprint tools in the broader context of awareness-raising, management of shared water-related risks and public policy development.

KEYWORDS: Water footprint, corporate water risk, water scarcity, public policy, freshwater management

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Mitigating corporate water risk: Financial market tools and supply management strategies

Wendy M. Larson
LimnoTech, Ann Arbor, MI, US;
Paul L. Freedman
LimnoTech, Ann Arbor, MI, US;
Viktor Passinsky
Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise Programme; Ross School of Business; School of Natural Resources and Environment, The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, MI, US;
Edward Grubb
Ross School of Business, The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, MI, US;
Peter Adriaens
Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies; Ross School of Business; Civil and Environmental Engineering; School of Natural Resources and Environment, The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, MI, US;

ABSTRACT: A decision framework for business water-risk response is proposed that considers financial instruments and supply management strategies. Based on available and emergent programmes, companies in the agricultural, commodities, and energy sectors may choose to hedge against financial risks by purchasing futures contracts or insurance products. These strategies address financial impacts such as revenue protection due to scarcity and disruption of direct operations or in the supply chain, but they do not directly serve to maintain available supplies to continue production. In contrast, companies can undertake actions in the watershed to enhance supply reliability and/or they can reduce demand to mitigate risk. Intermediate strategies such as purchasing of water rights or water trading involving financial transactions change the allocation of water but do not reduce overall watershed demand or increase water supply. The financial services industry is playing an increasingly important role, by considering how water risks impact decision making on corporate growth and market valuation, corporate creditworthiness, and bond rating. Risk assessment informed by Conditional Value-at-Risk (CVaR) measures is described, and the role of the financial services industry is characterised. A corporate decision framework is discussed in the context of water resources management strategies under complex uncertainties.

KEYWORDS: Water-risk management, water scarcity, decision framework, water trading, water derivatives

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The private sector'€™s contribution to water management: Re-examining corporate purposes and company roles

Peter Newborne
Research Associate, Overseas Development Institute, London, UK;
Nathaniel Mason
Research Officer, Overseas Development Institute, London, UK;

ABSTRACT: Corporate water policies are evolving and practices developing, raising issues of what are appropriate private-sector roles in water management. Leaders of multinational companies have pledged to increase water use efficiencies in company plants/premises and down supply chains, while promoting partnerships in water management with a range of actors, public and private, including local communities. A set of questions is, here, posed for consideration by governments and communities, on the extent, limits and implications of private-sector involvement, particularly in contexts of water scarcity. While water specialists are accustomed to analysis of mandates of public institutions, many are much less familiar with the internal workings of corporations. Companies are legal and social constructs, operating within frameworks of company law and codes of stock exchanges. These set the normative parameters of what each company is for, and for whom, and help explain the underlying motivations and priorities of each. To illustrate corporate purposes and degrees of responsiveness to different stakeholders, example company models are cited. Company statements mixing commercial and philanthropic messages risk confusing company roles. Corporate actions need to match companies' internal characteristics to 'do what it says on the inside of the corporate tin'. Partnerships can, potentially, offer an alternative normative framework for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth.

KEYWORDS: Corporate purposes, company laws, water scarcities, stakeholders, partnerships

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Investigating food and agribusiness corporations as global water security, management and governance agents: The case of Nestlé, Bunge and Cargill

Suvi Sojamo
Water and Development Research Group, Aalto University, Aalto, Finland;
Elizabeth Archer Larson
London Water Research Group, King'€™s College London, UK;

ABSTRACT: This article investigates the agency of the world'™s largest food and agribusiness corporations in global water security via case studies of Nestlé, Bunge and Cargill by analysing their position in the political economy of the world agro-food system and the ways they intentionally and non-intentionally manage and govern water in their value chains and wider networks of influence. The concentrated power of a few corporations in global agro-food value chains and their ability to influence the agro-food market dynamics and networks throughout the world pose asymmetric conditions for reaching not only global food security but also water security. The article will analyse the different forms of power exercised by the corporations in focus in relation to global water security and the emerging transnational water governance regime, and the extent to which their value chain position and stakeholder interaction reflect or drive their actions. Due to their vast infrastructural and technological capacity and major role in the global agro-food political economy, food and agribusiness corporations cannot avoid increasingly engaging, for endogenous and exogenous reasons, in multi-stakeholder initiatives and partnerships to devise methods of managing the agro-food value chains and markets to promote global water security. However, their asymmetric position in relation to their stakeholders demands continuous scrutiny.

KEYWORDS: Global water security, food and agribusiness corporations, agro-food value chains, water management, transnational water governance

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From risks to shared value? Corporate strategies in building a global water accounting and disclosure regime

Marco A. Daniel
Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Oxford, UK;
Suvi Sojamo
Water and Development Research Group, Aalto University, Aalto, Finland;

ABSTRACT: The current debate on water accounting and accountability among transnational actors such as corporations and NGOs is likely to contribute to the emergence of a global water governance regime. Corporations within the food and beverage sector (F&B) are especially vulnerable to water risks; therefore, in this article we analyse motivations and strategies of the major F&B corporations participating in the debate and developing different water accounting, disclosure and risk-assessment tools. Neo-institutionalism and neo-Gramscian regime theory provide the basis for our framework to analyse the discursive, material and organisational corporate water strategies. Findings based on an analysis of the chosen F&B corporations'€™ sustainability reports and interviews with key informants suggest that the corporations share similar goals and values with regard to the emerging regime. They seek a standardisation that is practical and supportive in improving their water efficiency and communication with stakeholders. This indicates that some harmonisation has taken place over time and new actors have been pursuing the path of the pioneering companies, but the lead corporations are also differentiating their strategies, thus engaging in hegemonic positioning. However, so far the plethora of NGO-driven accountability initiatives and tools has fragmented the field more than 'war of position' amongst the corporations. Furthermore, several companies claim to have proceeded from internal water-risk management to reducing risks throughout their value chains and watersheds. As a result they are 'creating shared value' with stakeholders, and potentially manifesting an emergent paradigm that goes beyond a private regime framework. Nevertheless, in the absence of verification schemes, questions of sustainability and legitimacy of such actions on the ground prevail and remain a topic for further research.

KEYWORDS: Water-risk accounting and disclosure, food and beverage sector, global environmental governance, private regime, transnational actors

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The role of productive water use in women'€™s livelihoods: Evidence from rural Senegal

Emily van Houweling
School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA;
Ralph P. Hall
School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA;
Aissatou Sakho Diop
iDEV-ic, Dakar Yoff, Senegal;
Jennifer Davis
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA;
Mark Seiss
Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA;

ABSTRACT: Enhancing livelihoods and promoting gender equity are primary goals of rural development programmes in Africa. This article explores the role of productive water use in relation to these goals based on 1860 household surveys and 15 women'€™s focus groups conducted in four regions of Senegal with small-scale piped water systems. The piped systems can be considered 'domestic plus' systems because they were designed primarily for domestic use, and also to accommodate small-scale productive uses including livestock-raising and community-gardening. This research focuses on the significance of productive water use in the livelihood diversification strategies of rural women. In Senegal, we find that access to water for productive purposes is a critical asset for expanding and diversifying rural livelihoods. The time savings associated with small piped systems and the increased water available allowed women to enhance existing activities and initiate new enterprises. Women's livelihoods were found to depend on productive use activities, namely livestock-raising and gardening, and it is estimated that one half of women'€™s incomes is linked to productive water use. While these findings are largely positive, we find that water service and affordability constraints limit the potential benefits of productive water use for women and the poorest groups. Implications for targeting women and the poorest groups within the domestic plus approach are discussed.

KEYWORDS: Water supply, women, multiple-use water services, domestic plus, Senegal

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Digging, damming or diverting? Small-scale irrigation in the Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia

Irit Eguavoen
Center for Development Research, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany;
Sisay Demeku Derib
Center for Development Research, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany;
Tilaye Teklewold Deneke
Agricultural Economics, Extension and Gender Research Directorate, Amhara Region Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), Bahir-Dar, Ethiopia;
Matthew McCartney
International Water Management Institute, Vientiane, Lao PDR;
Ben Adol Otto
Advocates for Research in Development (ARiD), Pader District, Uganda;
Saeed Seidu Billa
Independent scientist, Germany;

ABSTRACT: The diversity of small-scale irrigation in the Ethiopian Blue Nile basin comprises small dams, wells, ponds and river diversion. The diversity of irrigation infrastructure is partly a consequence of the topographic heterogeneity of the Fogera plains. Despite similar social-political conditions and the same administrative framework, irrigation facilities are built, used and managed differently, ranging from informal arrangements of households and 'water fathers' to water user associations, as well as from open access to scheduled irrigation. Fogera belongs to Ethiopian landscapes that will soon transform as a consequence of large dams and huge irrigation schemes. Property rights to land and water are negotiated among a variety of old and new actors. This study, based on ethnographic, hydrological and survey data, synthesises four case studies to analyse the current state of small-scale irrigation. It argues that all water storage options have not only certain comparative advantages but also social constraints, and supports a policy of extending water storage 'systems' that combine and build on complementarities of different storage types instead of fully replacing diversity by large dams.

KEYWORDS: Water storage, water rights, land rights, Amhara, Fogera, Ethiopia

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The last will be first: Water transfers from agriculture to cities in the Pangani River basin, Tanzania

Hans C. Komakech
Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, Arusha, Tanzania; UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands; Department of Water Resources, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands;
Pieter van der Zaag
UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands; Department of Water Resources, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands;
Barbara van Koppen
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Southern Africa Regional Program, Pretoria, South Africa;

ABSTRACT: Water transfers to growing cities in sub-Sahara Africa, as elsewhere, seem inevitable. But absolute water entitlements in basins with variable supply may seriously affect many water users in times of water scarcity. This paper is based on research conducted in the Pangani river basin, Tanzania. Using a framework drawing from a theory of water right administration and transfer, the paper describes and analyses the appropriation of water from smallholder irrigators by cities. Here, farmers have over time created flexible allocation rules that are negotiated on a seasonal basis. More recently the basin water authority has been issuing formal water use rights that are based on average water availability. But actual flows are more often than not less than average. The issuing of state-based water use rights has been motivated on grounds of achieving economic efficiency and social equity. The emerging water conflicts between farmers and cities described in this paper have been driven by the fact that domestic use by city residents has, by law, priority over other types of use. The two cities described in this paper take the lion'€™s share of the available water during the low-flow season, and at times over and above the permitted amounts, creating extreme water stress among the farmers. Rural communities try to defend their prior use claims through involving local leaders, prominent politicians and district and regional commissioners. Power inequality between the different actors (city authorities, basin water office, and smallholder farmers) played a critical role in the reallocation and hence the dynamics of water conflict. The paper proposes proportional allocation, whereby permitted abstractions are reduced in proportion to the expected shortfall in river flow, as an alternative by which limited water resources can be fairly allocated. The exact amounts (quantity or duration of use) by which individual user allocations are reduced would be negotiated by the users at the river level.

KEYWORDS: Inter-sectoral allocation, irrigation, priority allocation, urban water demand, water conflict, water right, water scarcity

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Cooperation, domination and colonisation: The Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee

Jan Selby
Department of International Relations, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK;

ABSTRACT: Do there exist instances of international (water) policy coordination which are so unequal that they should not even be considered 'cooperation'? This article argues, on both theoretical and empirical grounds, that this is indeed so. Theoretically, it posits that 'cooperation' should be distinguished from 'policy coordination', and that situations of policy coordination without mutual adjustments or joint gains should instead be considered instances of 'domination'. And empirically, it illustrates the existence of such relations of domination through an analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee (JWC), using new evidence from JWC negotiation files, plus interviews with leading Israeli and Palestinian participants. Most startlingly, the article finds that under the constraints of JWC 'cooperation', the Palestinian Authority has been compelled to lend its formal approval to the large-scale expansion of Israeli settlement water infrastructures, activity which is both illegal under international law and one of the major impediments to Palestinian statehood. The article suggests the need for both the complete restructuring of Israeli-Palestinian water 'cooperation', and for further research on relations of domination, and the ideology of cooperation, within international (water) politics.

KEYWORDS: Cooperation; domination; Israel-Palestine; transboundary water politics

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The power to resist: Irrigation management transfer in Indonesia

Diana Suhardiman
International Water Management Institute, Vientiane, Lao PDR;

ABSTRACT: In the last two decades, international donors have promoted Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) as an international remedy to management problems in government irrigation systems in many developing countries. This article analyses the political processes that shape IMT policy formulation and implementation in Indonesia. It links IMT with the issue of bureaucratic reform and argues that its potential to address current problems in government irrigation systems cannot be achieved if the irrigation agency is not convinced about the need for management transfer. IMT's significance cannot be measured only through IMT outcomes and impacts, without linking these with how the irrigation agency perceives the idea of management transfer in the first place, how this perception (re)defines the agency'€™s position in IMT, and how it shapes the agency'€™s action and strategy in the policy formulation and implementation. I illustrate how the irrigation agency contested the idea of management transfer by referring to IMT policy adoption in 1987 and its renewal in 1999. The article concludes that for management transfer to be meaningful it is pertinent that the issue of bureaucratic reform is incorporated into current policy discussions.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation development, irrigation bureaucracy, policy reform, power struggles, Indonesia

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Evaluating knowledge production in collaborative water governance

Brent Taylor
Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada;
Rob C. de Loë
Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada;
Henning Bjornlund
Department of Economics, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada; and School of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia;

ABSTRACT: Despite the crucial role of knowledge production in environmental decision-making, previous research provides limited practical insight into the knowledge-related outcomes that can be achieved through collaboration, or the associated determinants of success. In this multiple case study, knowledge production is analysed in a collaborative water allocation planning process in South Australia. A theoretical framework was developed and used to systematically evaluate and compare knowledge-related processes and outcome criteria across four planning catchments. Data sources included 62 semi-structured interviews, documents and personal observations. Most of the theorised outcomes were achieved across the cases; however, only one case had generated widespread acceptance among participants of the knowledge that was used to develop the water allocation plan. Comparing processes across the cases revealed key factors that influenced their outcomes. Ultimately, community participants across the cases had limited involvement in technical investigations, suggesting the need to re-examine expectations about the potential for joint fact-finding within collaborative processes that are limited in scope and duration and nested within broader state-driven processes.

KEYWORDS: Collaborative governance, knowledge production, water allocation planning, South Australia

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Remaking waste as water: The governance of recycled effluent for potable water supply

Katharine Meehan
Department of Geography, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA;
Kerri Jean Ormerod
School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA;
Sarah A. Moore
Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA;

ABSTRACT: Water managers increasingly rely on the indirect potable reuse (IPR) of recycled effluent to augment potable water supplies in rapidly growing cities. At the same time, the presence of waste -€“ as abject material -€“ clearly remains an object of concern in IPR projects, spawning debate and opposition among the public. In this article, we identify the key governance factors of IPR schemes to examine how waste disrupts and stabilises existing practices and ideologies of water resources management. Specifically, we analyse and compare four prominent IPR projects from the United States and Australia, and identify the techno-scientific, legal, and socio-economic components necessary for successful implementation of IPR projects. This analysis demonstrates that successful IPR projects are characterised by large-scale, centralised infrastructure, state and techno-scientific control, and a political economy of water marked by supply augmentation and unchecked expansion. We argue that -€“ despite advanced treatment -€“ recycled effluent is a parallax object: a material force that disrupts the power geometries embedded in municipal water management. Consequently, successful IPR schemes must stabilise a particular mode of water governance, one in which recycled effluent is highly regulated and heavily policed. We conclude with insights about the future role of public participation in IPR projects.

KEYWORDS: Water reuse, indirect potable reuse, waste, power, governance

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Hydro-hegemony in the upper Jordan waterscape: Control and use of the flows

Mark Zeitoun
School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK;
Karim Eid-Sabbagh
School of Oriental and African Studies, Houghton Square, London;
Michael Talhami
Independent researcher, Amman, Jordan;
Muna Dajani
Independent researcher, Jerusalem;

ABSTRACT: This paper blends the analytical framework of hydro-hegemony with a waterscape reading to explore the use and methods of control of the Upper Jordan River flows. Seen as a sub-component of the broader Lebanon-Israel-Syria political conflict, the struggles over water are interpreted through evidence from the colonial archives, key informant interviews, media pieces, and policy and academic literature. Extreme asymmetry in the use and control of the basin is found to be influenced by a number of issues that also shape the concept of 'international waterscapes': political borders, domestic pressures and competition, perceptions of water security, and other non-material factors active at multiple spatial scales. Israeli hydro-hegemony is found to be independent of its riparian position, and due in part to its greater capacity to exploit the flows. More significant are the repeated Israeli expressions of hard power which have supported a degree of (soft) 'reputational' power, and enable control over the flows without direct physical control of the territory they run through -€“ which is referred to here as 'remote' control. The 2002 Lebanese challenge of the hegemony established shows that full consent has never been achieved, however, and suggests the maintenance of hydro-hegemony in this international waterscape relies on the reconstitution of reputational power.

KEYWORDS: Hydro-hegemony, waterscape, hydropolitics, water security, Jordan River, Lebanon, Syria, Israel

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Maintaining a river's healthy life? An inquiry on water ethics and water praxis in the upstream region of China's Yellow River

Lilin Kerschbaumer
Philosophisches Seminar, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany;
Konrad Ott
Philosophisches Seminar, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany;

ABSTRACT: Sustainability of freshwater has become one of the most prominent issues in Chinese river basins. Recently, the Yellow River Conservancy Commission adopted the approach of 'Maintaining the Healthy Life of the Yellow River' (HLR) as the top principle in its management scheme. We locate arguments by HLR advocates in an ecocentric line of reasoning within Environmental Ethics. In view of crucial problems of ecocentrism, we conclude that HLR might be better grounded in the paradigm of Strong Sustainability (StS). With the case of the Hetao Irrigation Area at the upstream of the Yellow River, we recommend a StS-scenario with suggestions for policy reforms.

KEYWORDS: The Yellow River, ecocentrism, water ethics, sustainability, Hetao irrigation area

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Smallholder irrigators, water rights and investments in agriculture: Three cases from rural Mozambique

Gert Jan Veldwisch
Irrigation and Water Engineering Group of Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands;
Wouter Beekman
Resilience BV, Wageningen, the Netherlands;
Alex Bolding
Irrigation and Water Engineering Group of Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: In the context of the prevalent neo-liberal discourse on rural development through improved markets, involvement of companies and a strong reliance on foreign investors this article examines the vulnerable position of smallholder irrigators and their water rights. Through the parallel analysis of three contrasting cases of smallholder irrigation in Mozambique and a comparison with formal Mozambican law, it is shown that a big gap exists between formal water rights and water rights in practice. For each case, it is shown how land and water rights are connected and how a successful defence of land rights provides a good basis for a defence of smallholder water rights. Furthermore, as productivity and efficiency arguments are prominent and influential, those smallholders who are able to turn their use into the production of economic value manage best to materialise their claims on both land and water. The paper concludes with recommendations to strengthen the position of smallholders in response to increasing threats of land and water grabbing.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation, smallholder production, water rights, land and water grabbing, Mozambique

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Voices of water professionals: Shedding light on hidden dynamics in the water sector – An introduction

Gil Levine, Miguel Solanes and Mercy Dikito-Wachtmeister

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Viewpoint - The search for understanding irrigation - Fifty years of learning

Gilbert Levine
Professor Emeritus, Biological and Environmental Engineering Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA;

ABSTRACT: For those involved in international irrigation development activities there often are feelings of frustration. This note is an effort to identify underlying sources of the frustrations that come from external limits that are placed on thinking, from fads that often dominate, and from the influence of power that can overwhelm one'€™s best efforts. Problems of ignorance, wilful and otherwise, the existence of unspoken objectives, and the one-size-fits-all approach are addressed from the perspective of personal experience including research, consulting, and grant-making. Basic to many of the problems are the personal motivations of those with decision-making authority. Examples from the Philippines, India and Pakistan illustrate the problems.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation, development, constraints, misfeasance

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Viewpoint -€“ Rent-seeking in agricultural water management: An intentionally neglected core dimension?

Walter Huppert
Independent Consultant, Former Senior Technical Adviser, GIZ (former GTZ), Germany;

ABSTRACT: In the early and mid-1980s, two seminal papers on agricultural water management came as a shock to the international professional community. They drew attention to the fact that public irrigation is particularly prone to rent-seeking and corruption. Both papers -€“ one by Robert Wade in 1982 and the other by Robert Repetto in 1986 -€“ described hidden interests of the involved stakeholders in irrigation development and management that open doors to opportunistic behaviour -€“ thus perpetuating technical and economical inefficiencies.
About twenty-five years later, Transparency International (TI) in its often cited Global Corruption Report 2008 -€“ dedicated to the issue of corruption in the water sector -€“ made the following statement: "corruption remains one of the least analysed and recognised problems in the water sector. This report provides a first step in filling this gap" (TI, 2008: 1069).
The question arises as to why, through twenty-five years following the publications of Wade and Repetto, the topics of corruption and rent-seeking in agricultural water management seldom gained serious attention in international research and development. And why, strangely enough, the critical topic of rent-seeking is hardly dealt with in the above-mentioned report and even in recent publications of the Water Integrity Network (WIN).
The author, drawing on thirty-five years of experience in the field of agricultural water management and on cases from research and from development cooperation, puts forward his personal viewpoint on this matter. He contends that local as well as international professionals on different levels in the water sector are caught in multifaceted conflicts between formal objectives and hidden interests - and often tend to resort to rent-seeking behaviour themselves.

KEYWORDS: rent-seeking, corruption, water management, irrigation development, irrigation maintenance

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Viewpoint - Swimming against the current: Questioning development policy and practice

Kurt Mørck Jensen
Senior Analyst, Danish Institute for International Studies and Senior Adviser, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Danida),

ABSTRACT: The water world is dominated by normative policies prescribing what "good development" is all about. It is a universe of its own where policies live their own lives and feed in and out of each other. As new buzzwords continue to be invented or reinvented, policies continue to maintain their shiny images of how water resources or water supply should be managed. There are many water professionals acting as missionaries in the service of policies but probably less professionals acting up against blindfolded policy promotion. It is when water policies are being implemented in the real world that the trouble starts. In spite of their well-intended mission, water policies often suffer shipwreck on the socio-economic and political realities in developing countries. Through cases from India and the Mekong, the author demonstrates what happens when normative water polices are forced out of their comfort zone and into social and political realities. Although policies are made of stubborn material they need to be questioned through continuous analytical insight into developing country realities. But undertaking critical analysis and questioning the wisdom of water policies is easier said than done. It takes a lot of effort to swim against the policy current.

KEYWORDS: Water policies, water resources, water supply, Integrated Water Resources Management, river basin management, India, the Mekong, politics

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Viewpoint - Development or disbursement - Vested interests and the gulf between theory and practice

Phil Riddell
International Agricultural Water Policy Adviser, Crozet, France;

ABSTRACT: In almost 40 years of working in irrigation development and water resources management, I have noted a considerable inconsistency between development theory and the overwhelming need to disburse on the part of typical international financial institutions and development partners. In addition, the symptoms are apparent at every stage of a typical investment cycle. This essay cites first-hand examples to support my hypothesis.

KEYWORDS: Planning, identification, feasibility, appraisal, evaluation, disbursement, development bank

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Tapping fresh currents: Fostering early-career researchers in transdisciplinary water governance research

James J. Patterson
University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia;
Anna Lukasiewicz
Charles Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales, Australia;
Philip J. Wallis
Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia;
Naomi Rubenstein
Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia;
Brian Coffey
Deakin University, Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia;
Elizabeth Gachenga
University of Western Sydney, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia;
A. Jasmyn J. Lynch
University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia;

ABSTRACT: Water governance is an important, yet complex and contested field. A central challenge for researchers is to engage with multiple understandings and perspectives that can shape water governance, and to move towards more transdisciplinary approaches. These challenges are magnified for early-career researchers (ECRs), and while the need for transdisciplinary approaches and better support for ECRs is increasingly recognised, there remains a lack of understanding of how to achieve this within the wider research community. Thus, this paper investigates through an auto-ethnographic inquiry the practical experiences and challenges faced by a diverse group of ECRs engaging in water governance research. Reflecting on our own endeavours and relevant literature, we identify a range of path-finding experiences and challenges, and explore strategies employed by ECRs to navigate the 'uncharted waters' of evolving career pathways in water governance research. 'Communities of Practice' are identified as a promising opportunity to support ECRs by enhancing opportunities for reflection and learning. Overall, we argue that there is significant merit in enhancing the way in which water governance research is understood, and improving the means by which ECRs are supported to build capability and contribute in this field.

KEYWORDS: Research practice, auto-ethnography, pathways, community of practice, interdisciplinary, water governance

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Viewpoint -€“ Decision making on Amazon dams: Politics trumps uncertainty in the Madeira river sediments controversy

Philip M. Fearnside
National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA), Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil;

ABSTRACT: The Madeira River, an Amazon tributary draining parts of Bolivia, Peru and Brazil, has one of the highest sediment loads in the world. The questions of how these sediments would affect the Santo Antônio and Jirau hydroelectric dams, now under construction in Brazil, and how the dams would affect sediment flows, have been the subject of an extended controversy associated with the environmental licensing of the dams. Shortly before licensing the dams, the official scenario changed completely from one in which sediments would accumulate rapidly but could be contained without damage to dam operation, to one in which there would be no accumulation of sediments at all. The uncertainty of this scenario is very high. Under political pressure, the technical staff of the licensing department was overridden and the dams were licensed and built without resolving a variety of controversies, including the question of sediments. Valuable lessons from the Madeira River sediment controversy could contribute to improving decision making on dams and other major development projects in Brazil and in many other countries.

KEYWORDS: Hydropower, hydroelectric dams, environmental impact, Santo Antônio Dam, Jirau Dam, Brazil

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Viewpoint - Ignorance, error and myth in south Asian irrigation: Critical reflections on experience

Robert Chambers
Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, Sussex, UK;

ABSTRACT: As a researcher in South Asia in the early 1970s, I was allowed to be seduced by the (then) neglected topic of water management and small-scale irrigation, which opened the door to a whole orchard of low-hanging fruit, much of it to be plucked simply by wandering around. This led later to time working on canal and other irrigation with the Ford Foundation in Delhi. There I was bemused by the close agreement of the World Bank and the Indian Government, dishonest research, and absurdly impractical policies, until I began to understand the relationships and interests at play, my earlier naiveté justifying a consultant saying "you have to understand, this is India". This was an India I did not wish to recognise. With hindsight, I regret my reticence and timidity: whistleblowers are needed.

KEYWORDS: canal irrigation, critical reflection, error, ignorance, myth, research, water management, World Bank, India, Sri Lanka

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Viewpoint - The story of a troubled relationship

Ramaswamy R. Iyer
Independent consultant, New Delhi, India;

ABSTRACT: This is the story of my changing relationship with the Indian Ministry of Water Resources and the Central Water Commission. When, in 1985, as a civil servant of the Government of India, I became Secretary, Water Resources, I brought to the assignment fairly conventional views on big dam projects as symbols of development and demonstrations of the application of science and technology to interventions in nature for human purposes. That widely prevalent view began to change as the environmental impacts of big dam projects, and the displacement of people by such projects, became clearer, and my thinking also underwent a change towards the end of my civil service days and later after my retirement. This subjected my old cordial relationship with the Ministry and the official engineering community to considerable strain. Over a period of time, that broken relationship was partially mended, but some embers of the old uneasiness still remain and can ignite easily. The Establishment'€™s disapproval of me got intertwined with their strong defensiveness on dams, their anger against popular movements against big projects, in particular the Narmada project, and their bitter and implacable hostility to the World Commission on Dams. Thus, this personal story goes beyond the personal, and is the reflection of changing attitudes towards engineering interventions in nature and ecological and other concerns, and towards ideas of development.

KEYWORDS: Dams, development, environmental impacts, displacement of people, changing climate of opinion, World Commission on Dams

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Viewpoint - Reflecting on the chasm between water punditry and water politics

Dipak Gyawali
Pragya (Academician), Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, Chairman, Nepal Water Conservation Foundation, and former Minister of Water Resources;

ABSTRACT: When water academia meets real-time water politics, the latter does not necessarily bow deferentially and listen respectfully. When the former attempts to bring what may be thought of as rational reforms, powerful vested interests, their public façade and stated positions notwithstanding, rise in reaction and are able to scuttle such efforts. Since all politics is both local and short-term, entrenched vested interests are often able to distort the public discourse by appealing to 'development', the new theology of our times, even if it is mal-development they are really advocating. This is a personal account of an academic activist and his almost three decades of battling what could be called demons or windmills, depending on which side of the fence one views these events from. It has lessons for academics in general who long for 'policy relevance' for their work ('enter the kitchen only if you can handle the political heat') and for vested interests that have any semblance of social conscience and sense of legacy left in them ('you can't have lasting good politics with short-term bad science').

KEYWORDS: Hydropower, irrigation, water policy and politics, transboundary water, foreign aid, development agencies

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Viewpoint - Fifty years of hydroelectric development in Chile: A history of unlearned lessons

Michael Nelson
Consultant, formerly World Bank and UN Economic Commission for Latin America, Wanaka, New Zealand;

ABSTRACT: The development of hydroelectricity in Chile illustrates a situation where water resources can be both well and badly managed when a private or public utility company, in this case ENDESA, is powerful enough to operate largely outside standard policy and bureaucratic processes. It successfully increased hydroelectric capacity more than fourfold over three decades characterised by periods of significant political instability. This was done without noticeable conflict due to its recognised efficiency and absence of environmental concerns in Chilean policy until the late 1980s. Since that time there has been increasing pressure from international agencies and NGOs to place more emphasis on environmental dimensions in development. The interplay among the diversity of agendas and tactics adopted by the interest groups attempting to influence decision on hydroelectric projects has, in some cases, been counterproductive. ENDESA chose to withhold information and modify EIA procedures as tactics to reduce costs. The NGOs'single-minded dedication to preclusion of dam proposals tended to distort public debate. The government, presumably due to risk aversion, proved unwilling to take a proactive stance by not specifying and implementing requirements for approval of a dam project, providing a comprehensive policy framework for debate or facilitating dialogue on the issues.

KEYWORDS: Chile, river basin development, hydroelectric dams, environment, vested interests

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Viewpoint - The Washington Consensus, Chilean water monopolization and the Peruvian draft water law of the 1990s

Miguel Solanes
Former Water Law Advisor to the United Nations and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; Senior Researcher, Imdea Water, Madrid, Spain;

ABSTRACT: The 1990s were an ideological period whose paradigm was the Washington Consensus. The principles of the Consensus were the guidelines for the privatisation of public utilities, and the dismantling of public service. Dogma and ideology replaced experience and science. The process of the 90s to amend the Peruvian Water Law under the aegis of the Washington Consensus is a good example of this approach. Comparative water law, water economics and anti-trust legislation and economics were ignored.The Draft Law, sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture of Peru, was based on the Chilean Water Law of 1981, which resulted in the monopolisation of water resources by a few electrical companies and also in negative externalities associated with the structure of water rights and the poor regulation of water marketing. The Draft Law was part of the proposals, and conditions, of a World Bank loan. At the time it was submitted, the Chilean Government was already aware of, and worried about, the monopolisation of water rights in Chile. However, loan officers insisted on the proposal.The managers of two public agencies in Peru were concerned about the impact that the Draft Law was to have on Peruvian public interests, such as agriculture, energy, and water supply and sanitation. They spearheaded a coalition, including United States universities (New Mexico, Colorado at Boulder, California at Davis) the Water Directorate of Chile, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, agricultural water communities in Peru, and the technical offices dealing with water at the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, to have a critical discussion of the Draft Law. The discussion took several years, at the end of which the Draft was rejected.

KEYWORDS: Water, rights, economics, markets, externalities, monopolies

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Viewpoint - Happy like a clam in French water

Pierre-Frédéric Ténière-Buchot
Former CEO, Agence de l'Eau Seine-Normandie (Paris, France), Vice-President 'Programme Solidarité Eau', Member of the Académie de l'Eau and of the World Water Council;

ABSTRACT: After a few lines about his personal history, the author presents the legal context for water in France in the last century, and describes the hesitant first steps of the French Agences de l'Eau during the 1970s. While the financial system of French water policy is presented in detail, the role of economic transfers between various categories of water users is underlined. Then, the general socio-political aspects of French water governance are explained. A diagram illustrating the financial decision-making procedure for water (the 'water wheel') is given. Simple advice is drawn from the experience of a CEO of a water agency: the most useful skill for a water professional is to know how to swim.

KEYWORDS: Agences de l'eau, river basin management, river basin organisation, water management

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Viewpoint - Why has the south African national water act been so difficult to implement?

Barbara Schreiner
Consultant, Pegasys Strategy and Development, Pretoria, South Africa;

ABSTRACT: The South African National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) was hailed by the international water community as one of the most progressive pieces of water legislation in the world, and a major step forward in the translation of the concept of integrated water resources management (IWRM) into legislation. It has been widely quoted and referred to, and a number of countries ranging from China to Zambia have used it as an example in the revision of their own water legislation. And yet, 15 years down the line, implementation of the act has been only partially successful. In a number of critical aspects, implementation has, in fact, been weak. This paper sets out some personal reflections on the challenges facing the implementation of this remarkable piece of legislation and on the failure to achieve the initial high ambitions within the South African water sector. Through this process, it may be that there are lessons for other countries and for South Africa itself as it continues to face the challenge of implementation of the National Water Act (NWA).

KEYWORDS: Integrated Water Resources Management, institutional capacity, implementation challenges, accountability, water law, South Africa

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Viewpoint -€“ Responding to context: Some lessons from experience in the water sector

Jeremy Berkoff
Independent consultant, London, UK;

ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on an important lesson arising from long experience in Asia: the importance of adapting interventions in the water sector to their context. Water is pervasive and failure to appreciate how water programmes fit within a broader economic, environmental and social context can incur large costs. Too often we outsiders, not to mention local politicians and bureaucrats, have been driven by our own thinking and interests, imposing approaches and solutions that may be appropriate in wealthier and more manageable situations but which fail to take into account the complexities of the vast regions of Asia and their huge populations, widespread poverty and traditional practices.
The argument is illustrated in two ways. First by a brief review of programmes in five widely differing river basins: the Aral Sea Basin in Central Asia; the Mahaweli Basin in Sri Lanka; the Ponniar Basin in South India; hydro-power development in Nepal and Bhutan; and the massive 3-H (Hai-Huang-Huai) basins of the North China Plain. This review illustrates how basin interventions can have profound implications for the development of whole regions, even countries, and that politicians and water professionals have too readily driven priorities that are insensitive to the real interests of the areas concerned, whether they involve action (as in the Aral Sea, Mahaweli and Ponniar cases) or inaction (as in Nepal). A measured approach (as in Bhutan and North China) within a broad understanding of the interests of the country or region concerned can have major benefits.
Second, by an assessment of the irrigation sector. Irrigation is by far the largest water user and has played a central role in Asia'€™s agricultural development, yet there has been surprisingly little progress in understanding how the prevailing context and associated incentives impact on farmer and official behaviour. This has, in my view, resulted in misjudgments concerning irrigation potential and returns. The issues are discussed under four headings: water use, crop output, institutional performance and irrigation modernisation. They may need modification in a warming world, but as they stand the paper'€™s conclusions suggest that within its context Asian irrigation is more productive -€“ and, dare I say it, efficient -€“ than is commonly supposed. Failure to recognise this fact has led to unrealistic expectations from irrigation interventions and hence to wasted resources and effort.

KEYWORDS: Water, experience, context, river basins, irrigation

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Trends in rural water supply: Towards a service delivery approach

Patrick Moriarty
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, The Hague, the Netherlands;
Stef Smits
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, The Hague, the Netherlands;
John Butterworth
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, The Hague, the Netherlands;
Richard Franceys
Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK;

ABSTRACT: Behind headline successes in providing first-time access to water lie a number of pressing challenges to the dominant approach to rural water supply in developing countries, namely community management following a demand-responsive approach. These challenges manifest themselves in poor performance of service providers, high rates of hardware failure, and very low levels of service.

The papers in this special issue argue that tackling these challenges requires a shift in emphasis in rural water supply in developing countries: away from a de-facto focus on the provision of hardware for first-time access towards the proper use of installed hardware as the basis for universal access to rural water services. The outline of the main actions required to achieve this shift are becoming clearer. Chief amongst these are the professionalisation of community management and/or provision of direct support to community service providers; adoption of a wider range of service delivery models than community management alone; and addressing the sustainable financing of all costs with a particular focus on financing capital maintenance (asset management) and direct support costs. This introductory paper provides an overview of these issues and a guide to the other articles, which demonstrate these points.

KEYWORDS: Water service delivery, life-cycle costing, asset management, community management

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How can INGOs help promote sustainable rural water services? An analysis of WaterAid’s approach to supporting local governments in Mali 

Stephen Jones 
Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK;

ABSTRACT: This paper examines how the international NGO WaterAid supports decentralised local governments in Mali to fulfil their role of service authorities within a service delivery approach for rural water services. WaterAid provides capacity support to local governments by creating and financing municipal WASH Technical Units that, in turn, provide direct support to community management of rural water supply. The paper compares this model to another approach for supporting rural water service providers in Mali in terms of the activities, scale and costs of direct support provided through each model.

The paper finds that the model of WASH Technical Units promoted by WaterAid provides a more comprehensive set of support activities than the alternative approach suggested in national policy. The costs of the Technical Units are within international benchmarks for the expenditure on direct support suggested to be necessary for basic sustainable rural water services, but it is not yet clear how local governments in Mali can finance the costs of such an approach in the long term. Therefore, greater debate is needed in the national water sector about which aspects of support to rural water service providers are most important and what combination of actors can provide and finance this support.

KEYWORDS: Rural water supply, service delivery, direct support, life-cycle costs approach, WaterAid , Mali


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From adopt-a-project to permanent services: The evolution of Water For People’s approach to rural water supply in Bolivia 

Kate Fogelberg 
Water For People, Arequipa, Peru;

ABSTRACT: The dominant paradigm in rural water provision in Bolivia has focused on the provision of infrastructure, whether by government agencies or international cooperation groups. However, the investment in infrastructure has led neither to universal access for all Bolivians nor to consistently high levels of services for those who do have access to a water system. This paper will describe the transition of one international non-profit organisation, Water For People, from supporting dispersed water projects throughout the country towards targeted support of water services at the municipal level, aiming to support permanent universal services. The institutional evolution – including changes in governance, implementation strategy, donor base, and indicators of success – that allowed field programmes to shift from projects to services provides the context for the change of approach in Bolivia. A discussion of the various aspects that have changed in the organisation’s operations in seven municipalities in Bolivia, from the scale of intervention, to municipal-wide planning information and tools, to support to service providers and service authorities, and an increased focus on post-construction monitoring, demonstrates how the Everyone, Forever approach is resulting in a more service- delivery-oriented approach in Bolivia.

KEYWORDS: Rural water supply, non-governmental organisation, service delivery, sustainability, Bolivia


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The impact of support to community-based rural water service providers: Evidence from Colombia 

Stef Smits 
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, The Hague, the Netherlands; 
Johnny Rojas 
Instituto Cinara, Universidad del Valle, Colombia; 
Paola Tamayo 
Instituto Cinara, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia;

ABSTRACT: There is widespread recognition of the importance of support to community-based water service providers for sustainability of rural water supplies. However, there is little quantitative evidence to back this claim and a very limited understanding about the characteristics of support agents that are most significant in providing effective support.This paper presents the results of a study on support to service providers in Colombia, including a quantitative analysis of the impact of different support agents on service levels, performance of service providers and functionality of infrastructure assets. The methodology included: 1) characterisation of seven different support agents and their performance, 2) analysis of service levels, performance of service providers and functionality of infrastructure for 29 service providers that received structured support, and 3) analysis of the same factors for 11 service providers that did not receive structured support.Nearly all service providers in this study were found to receive some type of support, but sometimes this was unstructured and irregular. The providers receiving support in a structured and frequent manner performed better against a list of expected functions than the ones receiving ad hoc support. However, there was no clear effect found between support and the level of service that users received or the asset status. The paper also concludes that there is scope to improve the effectiveness of support agents, with key factors identified which explain that effectiveness; these key factors are the frequency of support, the institutional capacity of the support agent and the targeting of support to different types of communities.

KEYWORDS: Rural water supply, recurrent support, community-based management, service providers, support agents


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Self-supply as a complementary water services delivery model in Ethiopia 

John Butterworth 
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, The Hague, the Netherlands; 
Sally Sutton 
SWL Consultants, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom; 
Lemessa Mekonta 
SRS Consultants PLC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;

ABSTRACT: Self-supply, where households invest to develop their own easily-accessible water supplies, is identified as an alternative service delivery model that is potentially complementary to more highly subsidised community-level provision. The approach is widespread in Ethiopia with family wells bringing additional benefits that are in line with wider government objectives, such as supporting small-scale irrigation. However, two recent studies show the current performance of traditional or family wells to be far below potential with most sources providing unsafe water in the absence of adequate protection. Wider formal recognition of Self-supply in policy and the development of the government-led Self-supply Acceleration Programme (SSAP) aim to extend access and improve aspects of performance including water quality. However, a key finding of the paper is that successful uptake of this programme requires a transformation in the attitudes of donor agencies and the roles of government regional- and woreda-level staff, amongst others. Necessary shifts in mindsets and revision of planning mechanisms, as well as the day-to-day operational support requirements, represent a challenge for an under-resourced sector. Other household-focused development interventions such as Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and Household Water Treatment and Storage (HWTS) face some similar challenges, so the processes for the development of one approach could help in the scaling up of all.

KEYWORDS: Self-supply, groundwater, water supply, water quality, Ethiopia


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Unsubsidised self-supply in eastern Madagascar 

Michael F. MacCarthy 
Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA; 
Jonathan E. Annis 
WASHplus, CARE International, Washington, DC, USA; 
James R. Mihelcic 
Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA;

ABSTRACT: Self-supply is widely reported across various contexts, filling gaps left by other forms of water supply provision. This study assesses mature and unsubsidised Self-supply markets in an urban context in Madagascar. Locally manufactured drilling and pumping technologies are widely provided by the local private sector, enabling households to access shallow groundwater. The market for Pitcher Pump systems (suction pumps fitted onto hand-driven boreholes) has developed over several decades, reaching a level of maturity and scale. In the eastern port city of Tamatave, 9000 of these systems are estimated to be in use and Self-supply constitutes a primary domestic water source for the majority of the city’s 280,000 inhabitants. The market is supplied by more than 50 small businesses that manufacture and install the systems at lower cost (US$35-100) than a connection to the piped water supply system. Mixed methods are used to assess the performance of the Pitcher Pump system and the characteristics of the market. Discussion includes a description of the manufacturing process and sales network that supply Pitcher Pump systems, environmental health concerns related to water quality, pump performance, and system management. In a context where urban piped water supplies are unlikely to be accessible to all anytime soon, recommendations are made for further research and potential technology developments to improve the performance of Self-supply.

KEYWORDS: Low-cost technologies, sub-Saharan Africa, handpump, manual drilling, groundwater, lead (Pb), water supply, private sector


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A qualitative analysis of rural water sector policy documents 

Anna Le Gouais 
Aguaconsult, Wivenhoe, Essex, UK; 
Elise Wach 
Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, Sussex, UK;

ABSTRACT: This paper summarises the findings of a review of policy and strategy documents published circa 2008 by a diverse set of eleven development partners in the rural water sector. It was carried out as part of the Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale) Initiative using a Qualitative Document Analysis (QDA) approach to assess the extent to which the reviewed documents align with a set of ‘building blocks’ identified by Triple-S as integral to ensuring sustainable service delivery in the rural water sector. Based on the reviewed documents, the policies of the development partners included in this analysis demonstrate a clear commitment towards a number of important elements believed to be necessary for sustainable service delivery including learning and adaptive management, coordination and collaboration, capacity support for local government, and harmonisation and alignment. However, the analysis of the policy documents results in low scores for planning for asset management (i.e. renewals) and recognition and promotion of alternative service delivery options to community management (e.g. self- supply of, or delegated management to, the private sector). Thus, this study indicates that these areas, considered by Triple-S to be crucial for improving sustainability, are relatively neglected and merit more attention in the policies of organisations.

KEYWORDS: Rural water, sustainability, policy, qualitative document analysis


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Rethinking existing approaches to water security in remote communities: An analysis of two drinking water systems in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Canada 

Christina Goldhar 
Nain Research Centre, Nunatsiavut Government, Nain, NL, Canada; 
Trevor Bell 
Memorial University, St. John’s, NL, Canada; 
Johanna Wolf 
Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC, Canada;

ABSTRACT: This paper introduces an approach to understanding water security in remote communities that emphasises drinking water access, availability, quality, and preference, presenting exploratory findings from Rigolet and Nain, located within the Inuit Settlement Region of Nunatsiavut, eastern Subarctic Canada. Individual and household interviews numbering 121 and 13 key informant interviews were conducted in 2009 and 2010. Interview findings were analysed with results from participant observation, a review of municipal water system records and secondary sources. Results reveal restricted access to a sufficient quantity of desirable, clean, drinking water for some residents, despite the existence of municipal water systems in both communities. Drinking water sources available to residents include tap water, store-bought water and water gathered from running streams, lakes and ice melt. Drinking water preferences and risk perceptions indicate these sources are regarded as distinct by study participants. 81% of respondents prefer water gathered from the land over other alternatives and 22% primarily consume this source while in the community. These findings must be understood within the context of drinking water system attributes and the geographies of people and place characterising the region.

KEYWORDS: Inuit, community drinking water system, perceptions of drinking water, drinking water preferences, water security, Arctic


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Perspectives of complexity in water governance: Local experiences of global trends 

Michele-Lee Moore 
Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada;

ABSTRACT: Those responsible for water governance face great complexity. However, the conceptualisations of what comprises that complexity have been broad and inconsistent. When efforts are made to address the complexity in water governance, it is unclear whether the problems and the related solutions will be understood across the actors and institutions involved. This paper provides a review of the literature focused on global water governance to discern core themes that commonly characterise discussions of complexity. It then considers how the consequences of these issues are manifested at the local scale through an examination of empirical research of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the Prachinburi River Basin Committee. The results demonstrate that a history of a technical, depoliticised discourse is often perceived to contribute to complexity. The consequence is that when a severe ecological disturbance occurs within a river basin with poorly understood causes, few tools are available to support river basin organisations to address the political nature of these challenges. Additionally, a lack of clear authority structures has been recognised globally, but locally this can contribute to conflict amongst the 'governors' of water. Finally, a range of contested definitions and governance frameworks exists that contributes to complexity, but confronting the diversity of perspectives can lead to ethical dilemmas given that the decisions will affect the health and livelihoods of basin communities.

KEYWORDS: Global, local, water governance, Murray-Darling, Prachinburi, complexity

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The practices and politics of making policy: Irrigation management transfer in Mexico;

Edwin Rap
International Water Management Institute, Cairo, Egypt;
Philippus Wester
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal;, and Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: This article argues that policy making is an interactive and ongoing process that transcends the spatio-temporal boundaries drawn by a linear, rational or instrumental model of policy. We construct this argument by analysing the making of the Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) policy in Mexico in the early 1990s, focusing on different episodes of its re-emergence, standardisation, and acceleration. During this period a standardised policy package was developed, consisting of a set of specific policy technologies to effect the transfer to Water Users’ Associations (WUAs). These technologies were assembled in response to geographically dispersed trials of strength: experiments, consultations and clashes in the field, and negotiations at the national and international level. A newly installed public water authority increasingly succeeded in coordinating the convergence and accumulation of dispersed experiences and ideas on how to make the transfer work. Our analysis shows how this composite package of policy technologies worked to include a network of support and to exclude opposition at different levels, while at the same time stabilising an interpretation of policy-related events. In this way the policy gathered momentum and was 'made to succeed'.

KEYWORDS: Policy making, Irrigation Management Transfer, politics, bureaucracy, Water Users’ Associations, Mexico

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Informal space in the urban waterscape: Disaggregation and co-production of water services

Rhodante Ahlers
Independent Researcher;

Frances Cleaver
Department of Geography, Kingʼs College London, UK;

Maria Rusca
Department of Integrated Water Systems and Governance, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education; and Governance and Inclusive Development, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam;

Klaas Schwartz
Department of Integrated Water Systems and Governance, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education; and Governance and Inclusive Development, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam;

ABSTRACT: This special issue explores the realities of water provision in 'informal' urban spaces located in different parts of the world through eight empirical, case-based papers. The collection of articles shows that formality and informality are fluid concepts that say more about the authority to legitimate certain practices than describe the condition of that particular practice. In this introductory article we provide a historical overview that links the academic discussion on informality to urban water supply practices. Subsequently, we propose the concepts of disaggregation and co-production to describe how informality works, and how ideas about (in)formality are mobilised to label particular practices and service modalities. Disaggregation reveals that a single service delivery mechanism may incorporate activities, varying according to the degree to which they are formal or informal. Co-production describes a process where hybrid service provision modalities are produced as a result of the articulation of socio-political, economic, biophysical and infrastructural drivers. The article concludes by identifying a series of research directions that emerged as a result of producing this special issue.

KEYWORDS: Informality, co-production, water service modalities, urban waterscapes, governance

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Community-driven multiple use water services: Lessons learned by the Rural Village Water Resources Management Project in Nepal

Sanna-Leena Rautanen
Rural Village Water Resources Management Project, Kailali District, Nepal;

Barbara van Koppen
International Water Management Institute, Pretoria, South Africa;

Narayan Wagle
Rural Village Water Resources Management Project, Kailali District, Nepal;

ABSTRACT: This article examines community-driven multiple use water services (MUS) as pioneered by the Rural Village Water Resources Management Project (RVWRMP) in the Far and Mid-Western development regions of Nepal. These regions are characterised by poverty, remoteness, rugged terrain, food insecurity, water scarcity, and post-conflict legacy. Water provision for domestic and productive uses provides opportunities to address poverty and livelihoods in environments with highly decentralised governance. This study explores the first-hand lessons learned in the RVWRMP in Nepal since 2006. This project is embedded within the local government. Key project entry points are decentralisation, participation and empowerment. This article reflects how the community-managed systems are used for multiple uses whether they were designed for it or not. It focuses on household- and community-level changes and related institution building and participatory planning through Water Use Master Plans and a Step-by-Step approach. Recommendations are made for scaling up multiple use services.

KEYWORDS: Multiple-use water services, local governance, Nepal

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Finding structure in diversity: A stepwise small-n/medium-n qualitative comparative analysis approach for water resources management research

Peter P. Mollinga
Department of Development Studies, SOAS University of London, London, UK;

Daphne Gondhalekar
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany;

ABSTRACT: Drawing particularly on recent debates on, and development of, comparative methods in the field of comparative politics, the paper argues that stepwise small-N/medium-N qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) is a particularly suitable methodological approach for water resources studies because it can make use of the rich but fragmented water resources studies literature for accumulation of knowledge and development of theory. It is suggested that taking an explicit critical realist ontological and epistemological stance allows expansion of the scope of stepwise small-N/medium-N QCA beyond what is claimed for it in Ragin’s 'configurational comparative methods (CCM)' perspective for analysing the complexity of causality as 'multiple conjunctural causation'. In addition to explanation of certain sets of 'outcomes' as in CCM’s combinatorial, set-theoretic approach, embedding stepwise small-N/medium-N QCA in a critical realist ontology allows the method to contribute to development of theory on (qualitative differences between) the structures in society that shape water resources use, management and governance.

KEYWORDS: water resources, comparative method, critical realism

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Searching for comparative international water research: urban and rural water conservation research in India and the United States

James L. Wescoat Jr.
Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA, USA;

ABSTRACT: Comparison is common in water management research: every table, map, and graph invites comparisons of different places and variables. Detailed international comparisons, however, seem infrequent in water resources research. To assess this perceived gap, this paper searched for examples of comparative research between two water sub-sectors in two countries using systematic bibliographic mapping procedures. It focused on rural and urban water conservation research in India and the United States. Search methods built upon procedures initially developed for the FAO Investment Centre and more advanced systematic review methods. The search generally confirmed that there have been few detailed comparative international studies on the subject of this review. Not surprisingly, there are a greater number of comparative studies between rural and urban water conservation within each country. The search also identified different conservation emphases in the two countries, e.g., rainwater harvesting in India compared with stormwater quality management in the United States. It identified unanticipated publications and l¬ines of comparative water conservation (e.g. comparative physiology). Some transnational research goes beyond comparison to address the diffusion of innovations, i.e. research linkages as well as comparisons, although these studies are also few. The more prevalent pattern involves parallel literatures, which indicate substantial opportunities for future comparative and transnational research. This review also identified diffusion of international knowledge paths that are not the product of formal comparative research. The final section focuses on the prospects and priorities for future international and inter-sectoral research, e.g. paired multi-objective river basin research, linkages between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, diffusion of water conservation innovations, and synthesis of research on urban and rural rainwater harvesting in different countries.

KEYWORDS: comparative research, water conservation, bibliographic mapping, India, United States

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Historicising the hydrosocial cycle

Jeremy J. Schmidt
Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA;

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the historical claims made in support of the hydrosocial cycle. In particular, it considers how arguments advancing the hydrosocial cycle make historical claims regarding modernist conceptions of what water is (i.e. H2O) and its fit with society. The paper gives special emphasis to the society/nature dualism and to the notion of agency as key sites of contest in arguments regarding the hydrosocial cycle. It finds that, while several versions of the hydrosocial cycle seek to advance a political ecology more sensitive to non-human actions, these same accounts often do not address the robust account of non-human agency in the historical record. Evidence is presented regarding water’s agency amongst late 19th and early 20th century architects of key water management norms in the United States. This evidence troubles accounts of the hydrosocial cycle that critique the US experience and suggests new directions for rethinking the role of historical and institutional norms in water policy.

KEYWORDS: Hydrosocial cycle, agency, modernity, W.J. McGee, vitalism, United States

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Can mobile-enabled payment methods reduce petty corruption in urban water provision?

Aaron Krolikowski
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK;

ABSTRACT: Corruption in the urban water sector constrains economic growth and human development in low-income countries. This paper empirically evaluates the ability of novel mobile-enabled payment methods to reduce information asymmetries and mitigate petty corruption in the urban water sector’s billing and payment processes. Overcoming these barriers may promote improved governance and water service delivery. The case of Dar es Salaam is used to explore the role of mobile-enabled payment instruments through the use of a stratified random sample of 1097 water utility customers and 42 interviews with representatives from the water sector, the telecommunications industry, civil society, and banking institutions. Results show that mobile-enabled payment methods can reduce information asymmetries and the incidence of petty corruption to promote improved financial management by making payment data more transparent and limiting the availability of economic rents in the billing and payment process. Implications for African urban water services include wider availability and more effective use of human and financial resources. These can be used to enhance water service delivery and citizen participation in the production of urban water supplies. The use of mobile-enabled payment methods in the urban water sector represents an application of mobile communication technologies in a low-income country with proven potential for scalability that simultaneously supports the achievement of development objectives.

KEYWORDS: Urban water services, corruption, mobile money, Africa, Tanzania

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Viewpoint – Brazil’s Madeira River dams: A setback for environmental policy in Amazonian development

Philip Martin Fearnside
National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA), Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil;

ABSTRACT: Decisions on hydroelectric dam construction will be critical in shaping the future of Amazonia, where planned dams would convert most tributaries into chains of reservoirs. The Santo Antônio and Jirau dams, now nearing completion on the Madeira River, have created dangerous precedents in a trend towards weakening environmental protection in Brazil. Political appointees have overruled the technical staff of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), which is responsible for evaluating the environmental impact study (EIA) and for licensing dams. Installation licences were granted without satisfying many of the 'conditions' that had been established as prerequisites. This feature and several others of the licensing process for the Madeira River dams have now been repeated in licensing the controversial Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River. Brazil plans to build 30 large dams in its Amazon region in a decade, and others are to be financed and built by Brazil in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Guyana. These plans affect virtually all water resources in an area larger than Western Europe. The Madeira River dams indicate the need to reform the decision-making process in Brazil.

KEYWORDS: Hydropower, hydroelectric dams, environmental impact, energy policy, Amazonia

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From formal-informal to emergent formalisation: Fluidities in the production of urban waterscapes

Kajri Misra
Xavier Institute of Management (XIMB), Bhubaneswar, India;

ABSTRACT: Urban waterscapes are understood to be a tapestry of formality-informality, but this categorical scheme needs closer interrogation. Its conceptual integrity, theoretical relevance and empirical viability have been questioned in its application to other phenomena, such as the organisation of economic activity, labour, land and housing. Is its use in characterising systems of water provision any less marked by similar issues? Do alternative understandings of the formal-informal, such as in respect of the functioning of organisations, display greater conceptual strength and empirical fit? We address these questions, using the conceptual and theoretical challenges to the categorisation raised in the economic literature, and the realities of formal and informal water provision in two areas in Bhubaneswar, India. Significant limitations are revealed in the way the frame is currently used for organised systems of water supply in the urban South. Organisational-institutional understandings of the formal and informal, as elements that exist simultaneously in all organisations and interact to produce emergent formalisations, are found to be both conceptually stronger and a better fit with the observed realities. We therefore suggest using this alternative conceptualisation, for its descriptive power and greater theoretical and practical potential. Formality is then a dynamic condition that emerges from the interplay of the formal and informal in all kinds of organised systems for water provision in developing locations.

KEYWORDS: Formal-informal, water governance, institutions, India

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Developing informality: The production of Jakartaʼs urban waterscape

Michelle Kooy
UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands; and the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam;

ABSTRACT: This paper argues the need for new conceptualisations of the relationship between water and development to better reflect the reality of cities in the Global South. Using a case study of Jakarta, Indonesia, it traces how the development narrative for urban water supply contributed to the understanding of informality as a binary opposite of the urban infrastructural ideal (undeveloped, temporary, transitional). The paper explores the implications of this framing as they emerged through the outcomes of the largest international development intervention in Jakartaʼs water supply in the 1990s, which culminated in the current private-sector concession contracts. The case illustrates how informality in Jakartaʼs water supply should be understood not as a failure of the state, technology, or development to achieve the urban infrastructural ideal, but rather as a particular mode of urbanisation that was reliant on, and productive of, a range of informal practices. Given the current heterogeneity in water supply strategies in many cities of the Global South, we need to accept the so-called informal as an enduringly dominant, rather than a remnant, mode of supply, and attend to ways in which the codification of informal practices reveal a more nuanced politics of access that reflect complex realities of southern urban waterscapes.

KEYWORDS: Urban water, informality, governmentality, development narratives, World Bank, Indonesia

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The persistence of informality: Small-scale water providers in Manila’s post-privatisation era

Deborah Cheng
Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, USA;

ABSTRACT: This article troubles the notion of a formal-informal dichotomy in urban water provision. Whereas expansion of a water utility typically involves the replacement of informal providers, the experience in Manila demonstrates that the rapid connection of low-income areas actually hinges, in part, on the selective inclusion and exclusion of these smaller actors. In this sense, privatisation has not eliminated small-scale water provision, but has led to the reconfiguration of its usage, blurring the boundaries between formal and informal. By examining the spatial and temporal evolution of small-scale water provision in Manila’s post-privatisation era, I show how certain spaces are seen as less serviceable than others. Critically, small providers working in partnership with the utilities are sanctioned because they supplement the utilities’ operations. The areas in which they work are considered served, factoring into aggregate coverage statistics, even though their terms of service are often less desirable than those of households directly connected to the utilities. In contrast, small providers that operate outside of the utilities’ zones of coverage are considered inferior, to be replaced. The result is a differentiation in informality – one in which the private utilities largely determine modes of access and thus the spatialisation of informal water provision.

KEYWORDS: Urban water utilities, informality, privatisation, small-scale water providers, Manila

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The scale of informality: Community-run water systems in peri-urban Cochabamba, Bolivia

Andrea J. Marston
University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA;

ABSTRACT: The production of the urban waterscape is an ongoing process. In this paper, I examine the strategies used by members of 'water committees' in peri-urban Cochabamba, Bolivia in their attempts to ensure the long-term integration of their community-run water systems into municipal water plans. My analysis underscores two points. First, the water committees and their advocates have engaged a range of scalar strategies in an effort to transform their water systems from informal to quasi-formal (and therefore more temporally stable) structures. Second, I contend that the literature on politics of scale can potentially enrich theories of urban informality. Interpreting the political strategies of informal collectives through a scalar lens highlights the fact that 'inter-institutional' alliances are usually also – and importantly – multi-scalar. The literature on politics of scale, moreover, offers an important reminder about the role of history in urban waterscapes. Scales of governance are not politically neutral, and scalar interventions can engage historical legacies that are not necessarily compatible with contemporary aspirations.

KEYWORDS: Scale, informality, urban, water governance, Bolivia

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'Mafias' in the waterscape: Urban informality and everyday public authority in Bangalore

Malini Ranganathan
Global Environmental Politics Program, School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC, USA;

ABSTRACT: This article investigates the phenomenon of Bangaloreʼs urban 'water mafias', operators who extract and deliver groundwater to scores of informal residential areas in Indian cities. The term 'mafia' here is treated as a semantic area of situated meanings and cultural interpretations that needs to be historicised and prised open in order to better understand how the urban waterscape is produced and inhabited. It situates the provenance and workings of mafias within wider debates on urban informality, state formation, and urban infrastructure and space. Rather than seeing mafias as filling a gap where government water supply has failed, as mainstream narratives suggest, the paper argues that mafias must be seen as formative of the post-colonial state. It further suggests that the specific form of public authority exercised by water mafias explains the production of informality in Bangaloreʼs waterscape. Based on ethnographic research in 2007-2009, the paper characterises the everyday authority wielded by mafias along three main registers: (i) the ability of mafias to make and break discursive and material boundaries between the formal and informal, public and private, and state and society, (ii) the varied nature of mafiasʼ political practices, ranging from exploitation to electoral lobbying to social protection to the provision of welfare, and iii) mafiasʼ complicity in both water and land regimes in a neo-liberalised urban political economy.

KEYWORDS: Post-colonial cities, informal sovereigns, state formation, municipal water politics, urban periphery, India

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Storage and non-payment: Persistent informalities within the formal water supply of Hubli-Dharwad, India

Zachary Burt
Energy and Resources Group, University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA;

Isha Ray
Energy and Resources Group, University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA;

ABSTRACT: Urban water systems in Asia and Africa mostly provide intermittent rather than continuous water supplies; such systems compromise water quality and inconvenience the user. Starting in 2008, an upgrade to continuous (24/7) water services was provided for 10% of the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad, India, through a process of privatisation and formalisation. The goals were to improve water quality, free consumers from collecting and storing water, and reduce non-revenue (i.e. unpaid for) water. Drawing on household surveys (n = 1986) conducted in 2010-2011 in the 24/7 zones, as well as on a range of interviews, we find that, even with 'formal' 24/7 water service, most consumers continue the supposedly 'informal' practices of in-home storage and water use without payment of bills. We argue that multiple unaccounted-for factors – including a history of distrust between the consumer and the utility, seemingly small infrastructural details, resistance to higher tariffs, and valuing convenience above water quality – have kept these informal practices embedded within the formalised delivery system. Our research contributes to understanding why formalisation may only partially supplant informal practices even when the formal system is functional and reliable.

KEYWORDS: Informality, water supply, drinking water storage, non-payment, quiet encroachment, continuous water supply, 24/7 water

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'Chasing for water': Everyday practices of water access in peri-urban Ashaiman, Ghana

Megan Peloso
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada;

Cynthia Morinville
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada;

ABSTRACT: Despite recent reports suggesting that access to improved sources of drinking water is rising in Ghana, water access remains a daily concern for many of those living in the capital region. Throughout the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), the urban poor manage uncertainty and establish themselves in the city by leveraging a patchwork system of basic services that draws importantly from informal systems and supplies. This paper takes a case study approach, using evidence gathered from two-months of fieldwork in a peri-urban informal settlement on the fringe of Accra, to explore everyday practices involved in procuring water for daily needs that routinely lead residents outside of the official water supply system. Findings from this case study demonstrate that respondents make use of informal water services to supplement or 'patch up' gaps left by the sporadic water flow of the official service provider, currently Ghana Water Company Ltd. (GWCL). Basic water access is thus constructed through an assemblage of coping strategies and infrastructures. This analysis contributes to understandings of heterogeneity in water access by attending to the everyday practices by which informality is operationalised to meet the needs of the urban poor, in ways that may have previously been overshadowed. This research suggests, for example, that although water priced outside of the official service provider is generally higher per unit, greater security may be obtained from smaller repetitive transactions as well as having the flexibility to pursue multiple sources of water on a day-to-day basis.

KEYWORDS: Water supply, urbanisation, informality, everyday practice, urban poor, Ghana

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The gift of water. Social redistribution of water among neighbours in Khartoum

Sebastian Zug
Department of Geosciences, Fribourg University, Fribourg, Switzerland;

Olivier Graefe
Department of Geosciences, Fribourg University, Fribourg, Switzerland;

ABSTRACT: Water gifts are a common strategy to satisfy water needs in the absence of sufficiently performing water networks in Khartoum, but a widely ignored topic in urban political ecology of water. This article questions the exclusive focus of political ecologists on the capitalist waterscape of the city and argues for supplementing the perspective with an in-depth analysis of the neighbourly waterscape, where water gifts are carried out. Through the analysis of interconnected waterscapes on different scales a more holistic understanding of the social construction of water supply in the city can be achieved.The emergence of the gift of water in a city depends on heterogeneity of neighbours’ water access, the cost of the water to be gift, the relationship between donor and recipient, as well as the local social and moral framework. This article uses the example of Khartoum to explore and conceptualize the gift of water in the framework of political ecology.

KEYWORDS: Water gifts, water solidarity, neighbourly waterscape, scale, political ecology of water, moral geography, Khartoum, Sudan

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The environmental history of water (P.S. Jutti, T.S. Katko and H.S.Vuorinen (Eds). 2008. IWA Publishing, London, UK).
Gabor Laszlo Szanto

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International water security: Domestic threats and opportunities (Nevelina I. Pachova, Mikiyasu Nakayama and Libor Jansky. 2008. United Nations University Press, Tokyo, Japan)
Mark Giordano

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Gender and natural resource management: Livelihoods, mobility and interventions (B. Resurreccion, and R. Elmhirst (Eds). 2008).
Louis Lebel and Santita Ganjanapan

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Water and peace for the people: Possible solutions to water disputes in the Middle East (J.M. Trondalen. 2008).
Mark Zeitoun