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; a.l.mdee@leeds.ac.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