Contemporary Water Governance in the Global South: Scarcity, Marketization and Participation

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The litany of alarming observations about water use and misuse is now familiar—over a billion people without access to safe drinking water; almost every major river dammed and diverted; increasing conflicts over the delivery of water in urban areas; continuing threats to water quality from agricultural inputs and industrial wastes; and the increasing variability of climate, including threats of severe droughts and flooding across locales and regions. These issues present tremendous challenges for water governance.

This book focuses on three major concepts and approaches that have gained currency in policy and governance circles, both globally and regionally—scarcity and crisis, marketization and privatization, and participation. It provides a historical and contextual overview of each of these ideas as they have emerged in global and regional policy and governance circles and pairs these with in-depth case studies that examine manifestations and contestations of water governance internationally.

The book interrogates ideas of water crisis and scarcity in the context of bio-physical, political, social and environmental landscapes to better understand how ideas and practices linked to scarcity and crisis take hold, and become entrenched in policy and practice. The book also investigates ideas of marketization and privatization, increasingly prominent features of water governance throughout the global South, with particular attention to the varied implementation and effects of these governance practices. The final section of the volume analyzes participatory water governance, querying the disconnects between global discourses and local realities, particularly as they intersect with the other themes of interest to the volume.

Promoting a view of changing water governance that links across these themes and in relation to contemporary realities, the book is invaluable for students, researchers, advocates, and policy makers interested in water governance challenges facing the developing world.

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About the author

Leila M. Harris is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and in the Institute for Gender, Race and Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. She is also Co-Director of the Program on Water Governance (PoWG). Her work focuses on nature-society questions including inequality and environment and political ecology, particularly through investigation of water politics, access, and governance in the Global South.

Jacqueline Goldin is the SADC WaterNet Chair for Water and Society and Associate Professor at the Institute for Water Studies, University of the Western Cape where she heads the Anthropology of Water (AoW) Research Group. The research group focuses on food and water security and the interface between human and ecosystem well-being, with attention to institutional settings as mediators between people and nature.

Chris Sneddon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College. His research and teaching focus on conflicts over water at multiple spatial scales, with a primary regional focus on the Mekong River basin of Southeast Asia.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Mar 24, 2015
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9781135125042
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Development / Economic Development
Business & Economics / Development / Sustainable Development
Business & Economics / Environmental Economics
Political Science / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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There is not enough water globally for all the things humans need and want water to do for us. Water supply bubbles are bursting in China, the Middle East and India with potentially serious implications for the global economy and for political stability. Even the United States is depleting groundwater on average 25% faster than it is being replenished. Our thirst for water grows with our population, but the amount of fresh water available on Earth is fixed. If we assume "business as usual" by 2050 about 40% of the projected global population of 9.4 billion is expected to be facing water stress or scarcity. With increasing climate variability being predicted by global climate models, we are likely also to have more people without adequate water more of the time, even in water-rich regions.

Irrigation productivity rose dramatically over the past 40 years as a result of the Green Revolution. However, even if we disregard the environmental impacts caused by that revolution, we are no nearer to achieving global food security than we were 40 years ago, as every time we come close to filling the food production gap population growth and ecosystem decline associated with water diversions to human purposes set us back. Our natural and agricultural ecosystems are trying to tell us something.

This book pursues these overarching themes connecting to water and food production at global and regional scales. The collection offers a comprehensive discussion of all relevant issues, and offers a wide-ranging discussion with the aim of contributing to the global debate about water and food crises.

Water may seem innocuous, but as a universal necessity, it inevitably intersects with politics when it comes to acquisition, control, and associated technologies. While we know a great deal about the socioecological costs and benefits of modern dams, we know far less about their political origins and ramifications. In Concrete Revolution, Christopher Sneddon offers a corrective: a compelling historical account of the US Bureau of Reclamation’s contributions to dam technology, Cold War politics, and the social and environmental adversity perpetuated by the US government in its pursuit of economic growth and geopolitical power.

Founded in 1902, the Bureau became enmeshed in the US State Department’s push for geopolitical power following World War II, a response to the Soviet Union’s increasing global sway. By offering technical and water resource management advice to the world’s underdeveloped regions, the Bureau found that it could not only provide them with economic assistance and the United States with investment opportunities, but also forge alliances and shore up a country’s global standing in the face of burgeoning communist influence. Drawing on a number of international case studies—from the Bureau’s early forays into overseas development and the launch of its Foreign Activities Office in 1950 to the Blue Nile investigation in Ethiopia—Concrete Revolution offers insights into this historic damming boom, with vital implications for the present. If, Sneddon argues, we can understand dams as both technical and political objects rather than instruments of impartial science, we can better participate in current debates about large dams and river basin planning.
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