Panel 11: Water governance and justice

Prathiwi Putri, University of Copenhagen, (chair)

Abstract: Segregated Water Landscape and Differentiated Citizenship: Struggles over recognition to human rights to water in Jakarta’s

The social-ecological dimensions of water vary, with which diverse array of cultures and community livelihoods embody. With a diversity of water worlds, there exist different water infrastructure needs and varying natures of water management systems, but these have been socially and spatially disregarded. Disparities in water knowledge, narratives and practices become problematic when they reflect and/or create some forms of urban segregation and social unjust. This article concerns unequal access to water related services, but in a way that it dissents the singular, standardized domain of water infrastructural practices. It discusses on-going transformation of community water environments and hybrid infrastructures, in the face of drought, flooding and the state’s technical-fixity approach to development. Based on a 10-year documentation of disrupted water narratives and practices of women and youth, the author reveals multiple dimensions of neighbourhood water metabolism systems in Jakarta. She contrasts the homogenizing, yet disjointing, state technocratic institutions with the community fluid mechanisms that link different ontological aspects of water. Fundamentally, the article revisits the concept of human rights to water within the contested site of ‘democratic state’. While this concept of rights has been long abused by (transnational) corporations, i.e. water companies, many Global Water Justice activists persist to argue that ‘human rights to water’ can be powerfully deployed to hold local governments accountable to rights-holder over corporate stakeholders. Indeed, the encompassing concept of rights promotes a more universal citizenship. Nevertheless, the heterogeneity of social contracts and water practices in Jakarta – as documented in its kampungs and social housing blocks – demands a grounded definition of human rights mechanisms and a production of alternative water authorities.

Burag Gurden, Durham University,

Abstract: Governing the Energy-Water-Food Nexus: Sustainable resource governance for development in Turkey

In recent years, the water-energy-food nexus became central for understanding complex interactions and interrelations among the three core resource systems, as a global research agenda as well as an emerging development paradigm. Attempts developing mostly within a resource security framing, the reflections on policy and practice have been marginal so far. Multiple models emerged operationalising the nexus, designed to analyse resource system interactions and to address interrelated development challenges, which after all, could not reach beyond the basic premise of the approach to recognise resource system interlinkages. Meanwhile, the questions of power, social equity and justice in resource governance stood unaddressed. If resource nexus is viewed through an environmental justice lens, trade-off decisions in resource systems can draw on concepts of justice; exposing different narratives and associated power asymmetries and their manifestations, for example, in the politics of knowledge and scale. Different narratives frame systems in particular ways towards attaining particular goals. The construction of frames involves subjective (normative) judgements and choice of elements. Recognition of the nexus relationship between water- energy-food has the potential to add significant value towards resource-management policy and practice, as well as advancing resource governance closer to sustainability. However, there is a standing need to acknowledge the existence and legitimacy of a range of narratives and frames in pursuing nexus approaches; which is nothing else than a political process. In this paper, I contest the common understanding of the water-energy-food nexus through the exclusive lens of green growth economics, by proposing an alternative framing of the resource nexus within the scope of environmental justice; and hence, I challenge the disconnection of reductionist resource nexus understandings from core resource nexus goals and development processes, such as conservation, livelihoods and sustainability.

Rinchen Lama, University of Reading,

Abstract: Territory, politics and unruly spaces: exclusionary hydropower governance in the Eastern Himalayan margins

In India, a national drive for energy security has prompted a rapid expansion of hydropower development into isolated and marginalised parts of the Himalayas. This large-scale regional socio-ecological transformation has been marked by deep contestations, mainly around issues of top-down governance, poor inclusion, and critical environmental concerns. In this paper, I scrutinize the governance practices of hydropower projectsin the Teesta River in Darjeeling, a politically sensitive and environmentally vulnerable region in India where construction of two hydropower projects was met with practically no resistance. To do this, I use the notion of ‘unruly space’. I use the notion of ‘unruly spaces’ to examine how exclusionary governance (which is at the intersection of identity politics, resource control and extraction, and land rights deprivation) has inequality and injustice outcomes for people living in Darjeeling region in general and hydropower affected areas in particular. I discuss how these ‘unruly spaces’ have been produced through trajectories of colonial and postcolonial territorialisation that facilitate easy and often covert politicisation and depoliticisation of hydropower development, forest and water resources. Based on a qualitative methodology involving interviews with project authorities, state department officials, environmental experts, historical document reviews, hydropower-affected communities, and field observations; this paper demonstrates that hydropower projects and their instruments of exclusionary governance have side-lined subsistence local livelihoods, accelerated environmental and ecological degradation, and created local conflict rationalized through national development priorities. This paper argues that hydropower projects perpetuate vulnerability and precarity in the region as theyare enforced through historically rooted dependencies and unequal power relations. Instead of ameliorating the skewed outcomes of historical (non) development politics, hydropower projects continue to be implemented in a decontextualized and de historicised manner to address neoliberal economic concerns. 

Jesus Martin Marañon Eguivar, Universidad Mayor de San Simon,

Abstract: Human Hydric Needs Satisfying System: A multidimensionally problematic situation 

Multitude of actors compete to construct institutions, to define and enforce rights to resources and political identity. Over the basis of their power, class, identity as many other factors defined by the social, environmental, economic and institutional elements of where people live, human hydric needs are fulfilled with the satisfiers of its system. Several field work (interviews, workshops and surveying) was made as part of a Master program in Water Management, Habitat and Environment developed at UMSS in Cochabamba, Bolivia; city where the war of water happen almost 20 years ago. The research involved the application of qualitative and quantitative multivariate analysis tools to study the relationships between the components of the supply and demand of drinking water. Generalized Canonical Correlation Analysis (GCCA) was developed in base of a 665 household’s data. The model was constituted of 4 sets of variables which include the hydric needs satisfying system, the material living conditions, the socioeconomic and spatial system. The construction of the analysis considered the results of participatory workshops with representatives (users and leaders) of self-managed piped water supply systems applying the CATWOE analysis, which also helped to elucidate its main socio-technical and economic characteristics. The environmental factors that influence the water supply are relevant in the analysis, highlighting symmetries in blocks where the analyzed households were located. The results show [co] relationships that exist between the elements that conform the supply and demand of water, where marketed differences of socioeconomic conditions and resources access are identified at multidimensional level.