Folder Issue1



The science-policy interface: perceptions and strategies of the Iberian 'new water culture' expert community

Jeanie J. Bukowski
Institute of International Studies, Bradley University, IL, USA;

ABSTRACT: There is a normative consensus that science should contribute to decision-making in environmental policy, given that science provides a means of understanding natural systems, human impacts upon them, and the consequences of those impacts for human systems. Despite this general agreement, however, the means through which science is transmitted into policy is contested. This paper envisions several of the competing characterisations of the science-policy interface as a continuum with the endpoints of 'fortress science' and 'co-production', and applies this continuum in an empirical analysis of the transboundary expert community promoting a 'new water culture' on the Iberian Peninsula. In engaging directly with members of this community, the paper finds that these characterisations are better seen as strategies among which scientists and their communities may choose and over which they may disagree. These trade-offs and disagreements in turn have implications for policy impact.

KEYWORDS: Water resources management, science-policy interface, New Water Culture, Spain, Portugal


A paradigm confronting reality: The river basin approach and local water management spaces in the Pucara Basin, Bolivia

Vladimir Cossío
Centro AGUA, Universidad Mayor de San Simon (UMSS), Cochabamba, Bolivia; CSPR and Environmental Change Division, Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping University;

Julie Wilk
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Environmental Change Division, Linköping, Sweden;

ABSTRACT: The current Bolivian water policy incorporates the IWRM paradigm adopting the river basin as the space for water management in the country. The linkage of water management with communal territories in the Andes challenges the application of the river basin approach, bringing water spaces into the discussion. Considering the example of the Pucara River Basin, the article uses space theory to identify characteristics of local spaces for water management and to contrast them with the river basin concept. The river basin concept is applied by water professionals, mostly taking the perceived dimension of this space into consideration and sometimes in abstract terms. In contrast, the lived dimension of space is more important in local water management spaces and it is not represented in abstract terms. Local water spaces are flexible and strongly related to local organisations, which allows them to respond appropriately to the needs and demands of peasant society in the area, characteristics that cannot be found in the river basin space.

KEYWORDS: Space, water management, river basin, IWRM, Cochabamba, Bolivia


Viewpoint – Another well-intentioned bad investment in irrigation: The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s 'compact' with the Republic of Niger

Douglas J. Merrey
Independent Consultant, Gainesville, Florida, USA;

Hilmy Sally
Independent Consultant, Colombo, Sri Lanka;

ABSTRACT: This commentary argues that the recently approved contract under which the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is investing US$437 million dollars in Niger over the next five years, most of it on large-scale irrigation, is not a good investment. The paper explains why the programme is not likely to achieve the benefits anticipated. MCC had commissioned a detailed feasibility study, carried out by the authors of this paper, which strongly argued against investing in large-scale irrigation, in part because there is a poor track record for these investments in Niger, and in part because MCC has no comparative advantage in such investments. Instead, the feasibility study presented a strong case for investing in small-scale rainwater harvesting for agriculture and livestock at farm and watershed levels; and individualised small-scale irrigation for high-value nutritious crops and other water uses. The commentary concludes with suggestions on how the funds allocated for large-scale irrigation infrastructure (about US$250 million) could be reallocated to benefit a far larger number of people; and a recommendation that investors in African agricultural water management projects carry out an assessment of the performance and impacts of investment experiences over the past decade to identify lessons that could inform the next decade of investments in agricultural water management.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation investment, large-scale irrigation, Millennium Challenge Corporation, agricultural water management, Niger


Sociospatial understanding of water politics: tracing the multidimensionality of water reuse

Ross Beveridge
Urban Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK;

Timothy Moss
Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys), Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany;

Matthias Naumann
Institute of Geographical Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany;

ABSTRACT: Much social science literature on water reuse focuses on problems of acceptance and economic problems, while the spatial and political dimensions remain under-researched. This paper addresses this deficit by reformulating the issue in terms of sociospatial politics of water reuse. It does this by drawing on the work of Mollinga (2008) and the Territory Place Scale Network (TPSN) framework (Jessop et al., 2008) to develop an analytical approach to the sociospatial politics of water in general, and water reuse in particular. The paper argues that Mollinga’s understanding of water politics as contested technical/physical, organisational/ managerial and regulatory/socioeconomic planes of human interventions can be deepened through further reflection on their implications for the four sociospatial dimensions of the TPSN framework. Such a comprehensive, multidimensional approach re-imagines the politics of water reuse, providing researchers with a heuristic device to trace the interventions through which water reuse plans disrupt existing arrangements, and avoid a concern for individual preferences and simplified notions of barriers and enablers. The potential of the analytical framework is explored using an empirical illustration of water reuse politics in the Berlin-Brandenburg region in Germany.

KEYWORDS: Water reuse, TPSN, governance, sociospatial politics of water, Germany



Social networks for management of water scarcity: Evidence from the San Miguel Watershed, Sonora, Mexico

Luis Alan Navarro-Navarro
CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología), El Colegio de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico;

Jose Luis Moreno-Vazquez
El Colegio de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico;

Christopher A. Scott
Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, and School of Geography & Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA;

ABSTRACT: Pervasive social and ecological water crises in Mexico remain, despite over two decades of legal and institutional backing for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) as a policy tenet. In this article we apply a socialshed analysis to uncover and understand the geographical and jurisdictional forces influencing the social construction and simultaneous fragmentation of the San Miguel Watershed (SMW) in the state of Sonora, in Mexico’s water-scarcity bulls-eye. Specific insights derived from an empirical analysis include that water management (WM) is socially embedded in dense networks of family and friends, farmers and ranchers, citizens and local government – all to varying degrees sharing information about local water crises. Irrigation water user representatives (WUR) are connected across communities and within their own municipalities, but inter-watershed social links with other WUR are virtually nonexistent, despite high levels of awareness of cross-municipality WM problems. Implementation of IWRM as a federal policy by a single agency and the creation of basin councils and subsidiary technical committees for groundwater management have not been sufficient for technical – much less social – integration at the watershed level. This study shows that the SMW socialshed remains fragmented by local jurisdictions; without coordinated agency-jurisdiction-local action fomenting social connections, a socialshed will not emerge.

KEYWORDS: Socialshed, IWRM, watershed management, social networks, Sonora, Mexico


Water for survival, water for pleasure – A biopolitical perspective on the social sustainability of the basic water agenda

Sofie Hellberg
School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; and School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa;

ABSTRACT: This article explores the social sustainability of the basic water agenda. It does so through a biopolitical analysis of water narratives from eThekwini municipality, South Africa, where a policy of Free Basic Water (FBW) has been implemented. The article addresses the question of what water 'is' and 'does' and shows that water and water governance are productive of lifestyles, people’s self-understanding and how they view their place in the social hierarchy. The analysis brings to light that a differentiated management system, that provides different levels of water services to different populations and individuals, becomes part of (re)producing social hierarchies and deepens divisions between communities. Based on these findings, the article argues that while the basic water agenda has brought successful results globally and remains important in terms of guaranteeing health and survival for the most vulnerable, it should not be confused with efforts of social sustainability. Social sustainability would not only involve a situation where basic needs are met but would also have to address effects of water systems on the relationships between individuals and populations in society.

KEYWORDS: Social sustainability, water, basic needs, biopolitics, South Africa


Transformations accompanying a shift from surface to drip Irrigation in the Cànyoles Watershed, Valencia, Spain

Saioa Sese-Minguez
Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands;

Harm Boesveld
Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands;

Sabina Asins-Velis
Department of Environmental Planning, Centro de Investigaciones sobre Desertificación-CIDE, Universitat de València, Valencia, Spain;

Saskia van der Kooij
Water Resources Management Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands;

Jerry Maroulis
Soil Physics and Land Management, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands; and International Centre for Applied Climate Science, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia;

ABSTRACT: Drip irrigation is widely promoted in Spain to increase agricultural production and to save water. In the Cànyoles watershed, Valencia, we analysed the consequences of change from surface irrigation to drip irrigation over the past 25 years. There were a number of transformations resulting from, or accelerated by, this change including the 1) intensification of well construction causing a redistribution in access to groundwater, water shortages and a lowering of the groundwater table; 2) expansion of irrigation into former rain-dependent uphill areas resulting in increased water use; 3) shift to higher- value monoculture fruit crops, but with associated higher crop water requirements; 4) increased electrical energy consumption and higher costs due to groundwater pumping; and 5) loss of cultural heritage as wells have replaced traditional surface irrigation infrastructure that originated in the Middle Ages. Consequently, the authors argue that transitioning from surface irrigation to drip irrigation should critically look beyond the obvious short-term benefits that are intended by the introduction of the technology, and consider possible unforeseen side effects, that may have serious long-term impacts on the environment and the community.

KEYWORDS: Drip irrigation, water saving, energy consumption, agricultural land use/expansion, cultural heritage loss, Cànyoles watershed, Spain


Disaggregating orders of water scarcity - The politics of nexus in the Wami-Ruvu River Basin, Tanzania

Anna Mdee
Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Leeds, UK;

ABSTRACT: This article considers the dilemma of managing competing uses of surface water in ways that respond to social, ecological and economic needs. Current approaches to managing competing water use, such as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and the concept of the water-energy-food nexus do not adequately disaggregate the political nature of water allocations. This is analysed using Mehta’s (2014) framework on orders of scarcity to disaggregate narratives of water scarcity in two ethnographic case studies in the Wami-Ruvu River Basin in Tanzania: one of a mountain river that provides water to urban Morogoro, and another of a large donor-supported irrigation scheme on the Wami River. These case studies allow us to explore different interfaces in the food-water-energy nexus. The article makes two points: that disaggregating water scarcity is essential for analysing the nexus; and that current institutional frameworks (such as IWRM) mask the political nature of the nexus, and therefore do not provide an adequate platform for adjudicating the interfaces of competing water use.

KEYWORDS: Nexus, politics, water scarcity, Tanzania, IWRM


Women and rural water management: Token representatives or paving the way to power?

Christina Geoffrey Mandara
Environmental Planning Department, Institute of Rural Development Planning, Dodoma, Tanzania;

Anke Niehof
Sociology of Consumption and Households Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands;

Hilje van der Horst
Sociology of Consumption and Households Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses how informal structures intersect with women’s participation in formally created decision-making spaces for managing domestic water at the village level in Tanzania. The results reveal the influence of the informal context on women’s access to and performance in the formal decision-making spaces. Overall, there is low community involvement in local governance structures, and in most village assemblies that of women is even less. Only in the Social Welfare Committee women are fairly well represented, presumably because of its linkage with the traditional division of labour and women’s practical gender needs. In the Village Water Committees, women’s representation is regulated by a quota system but women rarely occupy leadership positions. Even when husbands are supportive, patriarchal culture, scepticism and negative stereotypical assumptions on female leadership frustrate the government’s effort to enlarge women’s representation in the local decision-making spaces. Three entry points for change were identified: successful women leaders as role models; women’s passive participation in village meetings that could develop into active participation; and women’s membership of social and economic groups which strengthens their skills and bargaining position.

KEYWORDS: Women participation, domestic water management, Tanzania


Barriers and opportunities for the involvement of indigenous knowledge in water resources management in the Gam River Basin in north-east Vietnam

Thi Hieu Nguyen
Research Centre for Resources and Rural Development, Hanoi, Vietnam;

Anne Ross
School of Social Science/School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia;

ABSTRACT: Water resources management today has shifted from a purely technical response to one that involves multiple stakeholders to allow for cross-cultural and cross-issue discussion and cooperative management. However, the integration of indigenous knowledge and local people into mainstream natural resources management is still restricted due to epistemological and institutional obstacles. This research explores the differences in perceptions of the nature of water resources, and their consequent management, existing between local people and the government in the Gam River Basin of Vietnam, concentrating on the views of the majority Tay and Dao peoples. We focus on how knowledge differences can be communicated and how water management can integrate different ways of knowing. We identify barriers to, and opportunities for, the involvement of indigenous knowledge and local people in water resources management at the research site. We argue that local needs and aspirations in relation to the use and management of water resources do indeed have a role in the modern world, contrary to the views of many scientists and government officers. Therefore, indigenous knowledge needs to be considered in water resources management schemes, to achieve the effective and sustainable use of water in areas such as the Gam River Basin.

KEYWORDS: Indigenous knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, water management, ethnic people, Gam River Basin, Vietnam


Cultivating innovation and equity in co-production of commercialized spring water in peri-urban Bandung, Indonesia

Anindrya Nastiti
Environmental Management Technology Research Group, The Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia;

Sander V. Meijerink
Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen;

Mark Oelmann
Hochschule Ruhr West, University of Applied Science, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany;

A.J.M. Smits
Institute for Science, Innovation, and Society, Radboud University, Nijmegen; and Delta Areas and Resources Applied Research Centre, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science, Velp, the Netherlands;

Barti Setiani Muntalif
Environmental Management Technology Research Group, The Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Bandung, West Java Indonesia;

Arief Sudradjat
Environmental Management Technology Research Group, The Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia;

Dwina Roosmini
Environmental Management Technology Research Group, The Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia;

ABSTRACT: This paper examines a co-production arrangement between private actors, households, and community actors occurring within the framework of scheme of commercialised spring water in peri-urban Bandung, Indonesia. We argue that the provision of spring water in Ujungberung District is a form of co-production, characterised by: (1) any one, or the elements, of the service production process being shared; (2) the presence of a fundamental shift in the balance of power between the primary producers and users/communities, and (3) the existence of mutual support and relationship networks, rather than a clearly defined delineation between providers and clients. Actor contributions defined as inputs along the value chain of spring water production were examined. We describe interactions between local private actors and community members in planning, service delivery, and conflict management with respect to disruption of water supplies, free-riding behaviour, and the geographical distribution of services. This paper identifies several institutional innovations that may yield a safer and more affordable water supply and nurture equity in the sense of: (1) improved access to water for the previously unserved people by piped water and boreholes; (2) the opportunity to negotiate from below; and (3) transparency and accountability.

KEYWORDS: Co-production, equity, innovation, water commercialisation, Indonesia