Folder Issue2

June 2012



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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