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Viewpoint – Sustainable and equitable growth in farmer-led irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa: What will it take?

Nicole Lefore
Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, USA;

Meredith Giordano
International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka;

Claudia Ringler
International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC;

Jennie Barron
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden;

ABSTRACT: The rapid development of farmer-led irrigation is increasing agricultural productivity, incomes, employment and nutrition, but it might well not achieve its full potential. Small-scale irrigators tend to be younger, male and better-off. Women and resource-poor farmers – the majority of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – are disadvantaged and often excluded from the numerous benefits to be gained from irrigation. Equity in access to water management technologies and practices is constrained by numerous factors, including high investment costs, absence of financial services, poor market integration, inadequate information services, and labour constraints. Lack of institutions for collective management of natural resources, such as water, further restricts access for resource-poor farmers, increasing inequity. In the absence of sustainable natural resources management approaches to agricultural intensification, this situation may become more acute as natural resources become increasingly valuable, and therefore contested. Realising the full potential of farmer-led irrigation requires contextualised policies, institutions and practices to improve equity, markets and sustainability and help ensure that sector growth is inclusive and beneficial.

KEYWORDS: Farmer-led irrigation, agricultural water management, equity, sustainability, sub-Saharan Africa


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Gender, water, and nutrition in India: An intersectional perspective

Amit Mitra
Independent Researcher, New Delhi, India;

Nitya Rao
School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK;

ABSTRACT: Despite the global recognition of women’s central role in the provision, management, and utilisation of water for production and domestic use, and despite the close links between production choices, the security of water for consumption, and gendered social relations, the implications of these interlinkages for health and nutrition are under-explored. This paper seeks to fill this gap. It unpacks the gendered pathways mediating the links between water security in all its dimensions and nutritional outcomes, based on research in 12 villages across two Indian states. The findings point to the importance of the dynamic links between natural (land and water) systems and gendered human activities, across the domains of production and reproduction, and across seasons. These links have implications for women’s work and time burdens. They impact equally on physical and emotional experiences of well-being, especially in contexts constrained by the availability, access, quality, and stability of water.

KEYWORDS: Gender, water, agriculture, nutrition, food security, India

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Gender in development discourses of civil society organisations and Mekong hydropower dams

Louis Lebel
Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Science and Technology Research Institute, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand; Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore;

Phimphakan Lebel
Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Science and Technology Research Institute, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand;

Kanokwan Manorom
Mekong Sub-region Social Research Center (MSSRC), Faculty of Liberal Arts, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand;

Zhou Yishu
Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore;

ABSTRACT: 'Gender in development' discourses are used to justify interventions into, or opposition to, projects and policies; they may also influence perceptions, practices, or key decisions. Four discursive threads are globally prominent: livelihoods and poverty; natural resources and the environment; rights-based; and managerial. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have been vocal in raising awareness about the adverse impacts of large-scale hydropower developments on the environment, on local livelihoods, and on vulnerable groups including women. This discourse analysis first examines how CSOs engaging in hydropower processes in the Mekong Region frame and use gender in development discourses, and then evaluates the potential of these discourses to empower both women and men. Documents authored by CSOs are examined in detail for how gender is represented, as are media reports on CSO activities, interview transcripts, and images. The findings underline how CSOs depend on discursive legitimacy for influence. Their discursive strategies depend on three factors: the organizations’ goals with respect to development, gender, and the environment; whether the situation is pre- or post-construction; and, on their relationships with the state, project developers and dam-affected communities. The implications of these strategies for empowerment are often not straightforward; inadvertent and indirect effects, positive and negative, are common. The findings of this study are of practical value to CSOs wishing to be more reflexive in their work and more responsive to how it is talked about, as it shows the ways that language and images may enhance or inadvertently work against efforts to empower women.

KEYWORDS: Civil society organisations, gender in development, discourse, representation, hydropower

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Breaking out of the governance trap in rural Mexico

Antonio Cáñez-Cota
Catedrático CONACYT-CIESAS-CIDIGLO, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México;

Nicolás Pineda-Pablos
El Colegio de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, México;

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to explain the governance trap afflicting water agencies of rural municipalities in the Mexican state of Sonora. This trap is based on hierarchical governance arrangements of low complexity that produce a short-term vision. Organisations are isolated from one another, governance mechanisms are closed, and an atmosphere of distrust prevails among stakeholders, resulting in a lack of coordination and the loss of resources, including water. We show how a multiple-use water services scheme can become a governance trap when it allows the over-exploitation of a single source of drinking water by users who do not pay for the service, in locations where the majority of water users have the ability to pay. The study reviews the evidence of two rural regions in Sonora, Mexico. It explains how a past intermunicipal experience failed, and also suggests how a new scheme of intermunicipal authorities could break such governance traps. Specifically, it provides evidence that in small communities, collaborative large-scale arrangements for water governance are more effective than they are in a single municipality. Building governance capacities within and between water agencies and users would thus be advantageous. Although intermunicipal bodies are more complex than traditional arrangements, requiring additional time and resources for decision-making, they result in more sustainable decisions.

KEYWORDS: Governance trap, intermunicipal water authorities, capacity building, water governance, rural regions, Mexico

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Decentring watersheds and decolonising watershed governance: Towards an ecocultural politics of scale in the Klamath Basin

Daniel Sarna-Wojcicki
University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA;

Jennifer Sowerwine
University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA;

Lisa Hillman
Píkyav Field Institute, Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources, Orleans, CA, USA;

Leaf Hillman
Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources, Orleans, CA, USA;

Bill Tripp
Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources, Orleans, CA; USA;

ABSTRACT: The watershed has long captured political and scientific imaginations and served as a primary socio-spatial unit of water governance and ecosystem restoration. However, uncritically deploying watersheds for collaborative environmental governance in indigenous territories may inappropriately frame sociocultural, political-economic, and ecological processes, and overlook questions related to power and scale. We analyse how members of the Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources have leveraged and critiqued collaborative watershed governance initiatives to push for 'ecocultural revitalisation' – the linked processes of ecosystem repair and cultural revitalisation – in Karuk Aboriginal Territory in the Klamath River Basin. We argue for decentring watersheds in relation to other socio-spatial formations that are generated through indigenous-led processes and grounded in indigenous knowledge and values. We explore two scalar frameworks – firesheds and foodsheds – that are emerging as alternatives to the watershed for collaborative natural resources management, and consider their implications for Karuk ecocultural revitalisation. We attempt to bring watersheds, firesheds, and foodsheds together through an ecocultural approach to scale in which water is one among many cultural and natural resources that are interconnected and managed across multiple socio-spatial formations and temporal ranges. We emphasise 'decolonising scale' to foreground indigenous knowledge and to support indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.

KEYWORDS: Watershed governance, Integrated Water Resources Management, politics of scale, tribal sovereignty, Klamath River Basin, California

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Hydrosocial territories in dispute: Flows of water and power in an interbasin transfer project in Bolivia

Rígel Rocha Lopez
Andean Centre for Water Management and Use, San Simon University, Cochabamba, Bolivia;

Rutgerd Boelens
Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands;

Jeroen Vos
Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands;

Edwin Rap
Integrated Water Systems & Governance Department, IHE-Delft, The Netherlands;

ABSTRACT: This study of the historical development of the Interbasin Irrigation Water Transfer Project Yungas de Vandiola (Proyecto de Riego Trasvase Yungas de Vandiola, PRTYV) analyses the dynamics of hydrosocial territorialisation pursued by rural communities that aim to strategically claim and create water rights. Starting with the project’s initial design proposal, this article describes the subsequent configurations of alternative hydrosocial territories at three key moments in the project’s development. During this process, groups of communities that were initially not included in the project, changed their hydro-territorial imaginaries and forged multi-scalar alliances in response to wider political and cultural developments at the national level. This altered the dominant imaginary of the legitimate hydrosocial territory for the Yungas de Vandiola irrigation project. The article concludes that interbasin water transfer projects (for irrigation) are arenas of profound hydrosocial territorialisation, as they incorporate new water sources and stakeholders with divergent territorial imaginaries and changing multi-scalar alliances.

KEYWORDS: Irrigation project, hydrosocial territories, territorial imaginaries, water rights, interbasin water transfer, power strategies, Bolivia

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Not built to last: Improving legal and institutional arrangements for community-based water and sanitation service delivery in Indonesia

Mohamad Mova Al’Afghani
Center for Regulation, Policy and Governance, Universitas Ibn Khaldun Bogor, Bogor, Indonesia;

Jeremy Kohlitz
Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia;

Juliet Willetts
Institute for Sustainable Futures – University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, Australia;

ABSTRACT: The community-based water and sanitation provision model has been widely used since the 1990s, proliferating in Indonesia since 2003. Recently, Indonesia has made plans to achieve universal access to water and sanitation by 2019, primarily by using the community-based model. The model, however, has been criticised with respect to sustainability challenges, the excessive burden it potentially places on communities, and for inadvertently undermining local government engagement in supporting services. This paper analyses the legal and institutional arrangements for community-based water and sanitation delivery in Indonesia, and finds four key issues: (i) absence of legal personality, (ii) lack of asset security, (iii) lack of financial security, and (iv) lack of a service standard. These shortcomings could have implications not only in the long-term use of the infrastructure, but also in terms of human rights. This paper explains that such issues are caused by the prevalent “community empowerment” norm. Instead of a hands-off, post-construction government approach where communities are “left alone”, we propose legal reforms relating to these four areas which are in line with a co-management approach, one in which both the government and the community have responsibilities to support and manage service delivery.

KEYWORDS: Community, institutions, water supply, sanitation, sustainability, Indonesia

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The critical geopolitics of water conflicts in school textbooks: The case of Germany

Tobias Ide
Georg Eckert Institute, Braunschweig, Germany; and Department of Geography, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel;

Anna-Katharina Thiel
Chair of International Relations, University of Braunschweig, Germany;

Itay Fischhendler
Department of Geography, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel;

ABSTRACT: A considerable body of critical literature has analysed how scientific discussions on water-conflict links are picked up in the political, academic, economic, civil society and media domains. By contrast, there are almost no such studies for the domain of education. This void is crucial as school attendance rates and the prevalence of environmental education are on the rise, while school education has privileged access to young people during their political socialisation. We address this void by analysing the depiction of water conflicts in school textbooks from a critical geopolitics perspective. More specifically, we use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse the visual and textual content of German geography textbooks published between 2000 and 2017. Our findings reveal that the analysed school textbooks securitise water and overstate the risk of water conflicts, which could yield a range of negative societal effects. The textbooks further reproduce Orientalist stereotypes about the Global South, and about the Middle East in particular, and often promote an uncritical green economy stance towards the privatisation of water. Water conflicts are hence discussed in the context of a crisis discourse and reproduce powerful knowledge that privileges certain political interests at the expense of others.

KEYWORDS: Conflict, education, geopolitics, textbooks, water, Germany

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