Sub-theme 10. Local institution building and radical futures for the commons
Crafting futures in irrigation commons
Commoners working together in shared irrigation systems face multiple challenges in efforts to define and move toward the futures they want. Local institutions offer valuable capabilities, but come from histories that are often deeply problematic in terms of inclusion, equity, justice, and other values. Governments typically seek to enable or impose new forms of organization, such as formal water user associations and standardized rules. These offer opportunities and threats, including wasted efforts or disruption of existing patterns of trust and cooperation. Communities often want to sustain and and build on familiar forms of collective action that fit with their knowledges, values, and social-ecological conditions. However, they face shifting conditions, including changes in climate, ecosystems, demography, economics, and politics. Pathways for navigating change are shaped by multiple forms of power. Participants in this panel will draw on local cases and broader analysis to look at difficulties and successes in defending local values and moving toward shared aspirations.
The panel invites proposals for additional participants, in addition to presentations already planned based on cases in South America and South Asia. The panel format will emphasize exchange and discussion directed at the key question of enhancing the capabilities of local actors to craft institutions for the futures they want.
Panel 10.17. A — Exploring factors for collective action in irrigation commons
1. Can the Indonesian collective action norm of Gotong-Royong be strengthened with economic incentives? Comparing the implementation of an aquaculture irrigation policy program
1Leibniz ZMT Bremen, Germany, 2Universitas Mataram, Indonesia
The Indonesian multi-level governmental program (PITAP) is a participatory pond irrigation management policy established by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. It aims to catalyze the rehabilitation of irrigation canals to improve water access for small-scale aquaculture farmers. In PITAP, traditional aquaculture farmers are incentivized with government funding to create POKLINA, a community-based co-management group, to maintain the self-governance of their irrigation canals. The logic of PITAP is to encourage POKLINA farmers to rehabilitate their own irrigation canals through subsidized labor payments that are coupled with strengthening the strong cultural norm of mutual assistance (i.e., collective action) within Indonesian society called Gotong-Royong. In this study, we compare and analyze four villages who participated in PITAP 2020 and 2021 on Lombok, Indonesia. We collect empirical data using mixed qualitative methods – interviews, participant observations, and policy analysis – using the Social-Ecological System Framework (SESF) as a diagnostic tool to structure data collection and analysis. Our analysis identifies the factors hindering and enabling collective action across villages, which are influenced by the village contexts and policy design. We discuss how the policy program and others like it can better enable sustained and empowered collective action by allowing for contextual adaptations, creating incentives, and enhancing capacity-building opportunities that provide aquaculture farmer groups with the knowledge needed to better help themselves after government funding is over.
2. A polycentric framework to understand small-scale irrigation in Andhra Pradesh, India
Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, Hyderabad Campus, India
The water governance of small-scale irrigation projects in India have many nested structures in terms of institutions and resources. The need for community owned and governed small scale irrigation has become even more pronounced due to climate change and environmental degradation. For people living at the margins of society, community-governed irrigation systems act as an adaptive strategy when large scale irrigation systems fail during droughts and as a means of collectivisation and representation. However, such community-led systems also lend themselves to the marginalisation of those who are vulnerable based on existing social stratifications of caste, class, and gender. Therefore, understanding polycentric systems in the context of the operations of different kinds of power is important. In this project, I am studying a traditional and community owned small-scale irrigation system called Gonchi in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh, one of India’s most water stress regions. The methodology I use is a case study, informed by qualitative tools. I have engaged in a discourse analysis to understand the mainstream discourses on large-scale irrigation and contrast it with the narrative of small-scale irrigation systems. To bring together the ecological, institutional and political aspects of this action situation, I would like to use the polycentric framework and problematise it through the lens of intersectionality.
3. Climate Change and Incentives to Cooperate
University of Bristo, United Kingdom
This paper analyzes incentives to cooperate in maintenance and improvement of local commons, such as irrigation systems. In a repeated game framework, climate change — modelled as a reduction in agricultural productivity — has two distinct effects on the incentives to cooperate. First, the value of the relationship is reduced, weakening the incentives to cooperate. However, also the temptation to freeride is reduced. Lower temptation has the opposite effect, improving the incentives to cooperate. We show that lower temptation is the dominant effect and climate change improves the overall incentives to cooperate. Therefore, the negative effect of climate change is mitigated by higher degree of cooperation — but only if agricultural productivity was initially so high that full cooperation was not possible. While climate change results in full reduction of surplus if agricultural productivity was initially relatively low and cooperation at the first best level was already sustainable. The caveat of this analysis that we focus on the intermediate effects of climate change, but do not consider potential dramatic reduction in the stock of the resource.
4. Collaboration context and adaptation in water users’ organizations in Chile
1Universidad de Chile, Chile, 2Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile
Water users in central Chile have been facing over 10 years of drought in unequal conditions and very different levels of preparation. Beyond monitoring and shares distribution, Surveillance boards (Juntas de Vigilancia), the group that brings together representatives of smaller water users’ organizations formed by legal water shareholders, have been implementing mitigation and adaptation strategies to less water availability. However, to foster future sustainable collaborative adaptation efforts in Water Users’ Organizations (WOUs) it is necessary to understand the contextual factors that may have supported or hindered collective action. To identify, categorize and organize contextual variables and processes linked to adaptation with a collaborative management focus, the Combined IAD and SESF (CIS framework) was applied to information gathered for the Surveillance Boards of the Rio Grande and Limari River, and River Cachapoal Second Section. The approach allowed us to link social-ecological contextual variables with the changes in adaptive capacity elements identified before and after the driest year of the last 10 years of drought. With this comparison, we found key elements in these two water users’ organizations that may have been influenced their more or less collaborative approach to drought management. Analysis found that history of past droughts influenced adaptive capacity elements like “learning memory” “financial capacity” and “leadership”. At the same time land appropriation history has negatively influenced “financial capacity”, “active participation” and “organization enforcement”. These results show why water management policies must be tailored to each community contextual reality, beyond hydrological or administrative boundaries.
Panel 10.17. B — Intentional actions for crafting futures in irrigation commons
1. Participatory modeling of past, current and future groundwater governance, an experiment in Aousja Ghar El Melh, Tunisia
1CIRAD, UMR G-EAU, Univ. Montpellier, National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia, Tunisia, 2Higher School of Engineers of Medjez El Bab (ESIM), University of Jendouba, Tunisia
This contribution focuses on how to enhance the capacities of stakeholders in a territory to govern their groundwater resources in the present to adapt to or shape uncertain futures, while taking into account past groundwater governance. This contribution is rooted in research on socio-environmental systems, retrospective governance and anticipatory governance. Anticipatory approaches are increasingly used to guide decision-making on environmental issues. A number of these approaches promote the participation of users in anticipatory thinking. Various tools are already used for this purpose. Nevertheless, most of these tools focus on the present and the future, rarely on the past. This contribution introduces a tool for modeling past, current and future groundwater governance in a territory. This tool was coupled with the Futures Triangle to foster dialogue among the actors of Aousja Ghar El Melh (AGM) in Tunisia. AGM is a coastal aquifer located in northern Tunisia. The aquifer being shallow, farmers resort to the joint use of (i) groundwater through surface wells at the beginning and end of the irrigation season and (ii) surface water through irrigation networks within public irrigated perimeters in summer. There, groundwater is increasingly degraded and overexploited. Future perspectives are likely to increase this trend (revision of water rates for irrigation, tourism development, etc.). The modelling tool allowed opening up dialogue on what stakeholders in AGM wanted to keep or change in past and current groundwater governance, and what future they envisioned for their territory. We will present the results and lessons learned of this experiment.
2. Experiential learning and the power of women
1IFPRI, Germany, 2University of Marburg, Germany, 3Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, Germany,4ICRISAT, India
Games as experiential learning interventions receive increasing attention. Experiential learning games are thereby structured spaces to play where players can acquire knowledge by experiencing, reflecting, and experimenting. While games have become a more common intervention tool, measuring impacts on individual and collective real-life behavioral change are still rare. In response, we evaluate whether playing an experiential learning game with users of a local public good can create lasting real-life impacts for the community. We conducted learning games with 784 participants around the management of a local public good in 56 randomly selected communities in Madhya Pradesh in central India where rainwater is harvested in small dams for complementary irrigation. We find a significant positive impact on sustainable water management two years after the intervention compared to a control group of 27 communities. Additional analysis indicates that achieving impact was more likely if more women were participating in the games and if an NGO was implementing additional interventions at the site. The results highlight the potential of experiential learning as sustainability intervention, especially when including women in the process.
3. Co-creating heterarchy, hierarchy, and co-management: History and futures for water user associations and collective action in irrigation and drainage
Independent Researcher and Consultant, USA
The long history of collective action in irrigation and drainage shows continuing patterns of heterarchy as well as co-production and co-management, with various distributions of power and other relationships between communities and larger-scale governments. This presentation looks at past and present patterns and what they may mean for crafting futures in water commons.
Recent research in archeology has highlighted the extent to which even without domesticated crops, humans have acted collectively at multiple scales in reshaping their environment to create and forage from favorable niches for plants and animals in wetlands, floodplains, and other waterscapes. Comparative analysis of pre-industrial societies has examined how differences in good governance and the provision of collective goods such as water infrastructure may relate to controlling rulers and their agents through institutions such as moral codes, bureaucracies with salaried officials and open recruitment, land registries, accountable procedures, and appeal mechanisms. Efforts by governments, including colonial and post-colonial governments, to promote water user organizations for irrigation and drainage show limitations of top-down and bottom-up organization, continuing synergies and tensions, and institutional choices involved in co-management. Climate change, pursuit of sustainability, and other contemporary challenges highlight opportunities for indigenous and local communities and governments in co-creating good lives and livelihoods and dwelling well in co-created ecosystems.
Keywords: ancient good governance, capturing elites, quasi-voluntary cooperation, collective action, co-management, indigenous and local communities, water commons