Sub-theme 6. The drama of the grabbed commons
Managing the commons in a highly dynamic highland-lowland system: Why harmony in institutional arrangements for water Governance across scale matter
Institutional arrangement for water resources governance and management in Kenya is organised across three levels from the grassroots (local), regional (county/basin) and national aimed at fostering equity, peace and sustainability among various water users across river basins. These institutions are charged with various responsibilities such as policy formulation (at national and county levels), regulation and planning (regional/county), and service provision and management (grassroots level). However, these institutions are faced with socio-political challenges, overlap of mandate and internal conflicts that curtail their functions and hence unable to discharge their duties as expected.
Often times, conflicting institutional mandates coupled with socio-ecological factors such as dwindling water resources, rapid land use transformation, high population pressure and climate change lead to water use conflicts in various river basins. These water use conflicts which result to stiff confrontations and loss of life and property continue to intensify despite water sector reforms completed two decades ago.
Highlands are endowed with rich resources such as water, forests, and pasture which benefit a wide range/array of users especially in the lowlands. Thus, highlands are seen as producers of resources while the lowlands are deemed as consumers. The highland-lowland systems in the MT Kenya region are rapidly changing and continuously under pressure from the broad range of claims on the natural assets that require complex negotiation process to forestall the attendant stiff competition and expressed and non-expressed conflicts among the users. Therefore it is important to ensure cohesion of water governance institutions that have the capacity and competence to provide inclusive leadership towards sustainable management of water and other land resources in the region.
1. Enhancing Capacity of Grassroot Institutions for Peace, Equity and Sustainability
Centre for Training and Integrated Research in ASAL Development (CETRAD), Kenya
Water scarcity has been evident in Ewaso Ngi’ro North river basin where river flows have decreased tremendously due to destruction of water catchments; incompatible land use systems which necessitate river water abstraction; and increased water demand for domestic, livestock, irrigation and ecosystem health. These challenges resulted into water use conflicts evidenced by stiff confrontations, loss of life and property in the basin which is a highly dynamic highland-lowland system.
In order to address these problems, this study established socioecological monitoring network in order to understand water resource base dynamics while considering various water needs. Furthermore, local communities were empowered through intensive capacity building and awareness creation campaigns where sustainable water resource use initiatives were discussed.
The monitoring network helped create a strong database that was used to inform various stakeholders on the situation of river water flows and prevailing conditions. The community empowerment initiative strengthened the capacity of grassroots institutions (Water Resource Users Associations) enabling them to negotiate water distribution and allocation schedules consequently ensuring equitable water sharing and reduction of water use conflicts. Furthermore, there was formation of a basin wide WRUA forum which provides both horizontal and vertical platform for negotiation of water use by-laws among other issues across the Basin.
In line with global sustainable development goal number six (SDG 6), community participation in water resources management has ensured ecological, sociocultural and economic sustainability in the basin. This approach is most effective, promising and sustainable though it requires sustained long-term investment.
2. Influence of relational factors on community compliance with government rules in the management of rural water supply in Punjab Pakistan
1University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan, 2University of Management and Technology, Pakistan
Community-based organizations (CBOs) adopt face-to-face communication as an enforcement and monitoring mechanism to ensure community compliance with government-produced institutions, for the rural water supply (RWS) system’s sustainability in Punjab Pakistan. The research integrated community development, collaborative governance, and compliance literature to understand cooperative behavior. Four RWS systems were selected from the different regions of the province to study compliance with rules by rural communities. Four focus group interviews were conducted with CBOs, which lasted 2-3 hours each. A survey of the households from the same villages was carried out later. Using convergent mixed method design, focus-group data was transformed to develop the survey instrument for data collection. Using the partial least square structural equation model (PLS-SEM) mediating influence of frequent communication, the commitment of users, and shared meaning on community compliance with institutions was analyzed. The integrated results from the two methods show that trained CBOs better self-organize, and they frequently communicate with the community members, however, government support for CBOs underscores the collaborative sustainability of collective resources.
3. Water-Energy-Food interlinkages in the Domasi River Basin, Malawi: Challenges and options for collaborative governance
German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), Germany
Strategies for achieving water, energy and food (WEF) securities in a particular context generate interdependencies as they utilize or affect the same land, water and forest resources. In Malawi, the interdependencies are more pronounced due to high dependence on biomass energy, which limits the water available for food production as well as drinking and domestic use. Using the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework and the concept of Network of Action Situations, we analyse the conflicts and coordination among actors at different levels in designing and implementing strategies to achieve the WEF securities in Malawi, focusing on the case of Domasi River Basin. Qualitative data from 54 interviews with key informants and 4 focus group discussions with water users were analysed to identify key challenges to coordination within and across levels and sectors.
Gaps in implementing key legislations on governance of water and biomass resources along with the predominant dependence on biomass for energy and livelihood, are leading to unsustainable charcoal production driving deforestation in the catchment areas. This is further leading to siltation and reduction in the availability of water for drinking and food production. Lack of representation of key sectors and agencies at the basin and district levels is affecting coordination and conflict resolution. Efforts to foster collaborative governance for resolving the WEF conflicts and achieving synergies need to focus beyond the national level by strengthening capacities of actors at lower levels for effective and coherent implementation of different sectoral strategies.
4. Amorphous Infrastructure in the Salween River Basin: Contesting the Yuam River water diversion project in Northwest Thailand
School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia and Rachel Carson Centre, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
While there is extensive geographic research on the ‘after lives’ of water infrastructure projects, such as the ex-post impacts of hydropower dams, there is less research on the ‘before lives’ of water diversion projects, and how they are contested. As yet unbuilt, the Yuam River water diversion project in Northwest Thailand, near the Thai-Myanmar border in the Salween River Basin, is characterised by anticipation and speculation, and is (re)shaping the lives and livelihoods for would-be impacted communities. Based on 80 in-depth interviews with affected communities, civil society and state actors, I propose the framing of ‘amorphous infrastructure’ to examine the contested material and temporal boundaries of the project, and the actors and financial networks involved.
State-led narratives and anticipation about the project’s benefits collide with claims over the project’s uneven impacts on resource-dependent communities and ecologies. Iterations of the Yuam diversion have been (re)proposed over four decades in the Salween Basin, and how the project is interconnected with other infrastructures over time and across borders is contested. Due to this longue durée, project proponents change over time, with speculation of China’s involvement under the Belt and Road Initiative. Resistance movements against dams and diversions are necessarily protracted and seek to (re)shape the conditions of development, as communities and civil society are often excluded from meaningful participation. This research highlights the overlooked connections between water infrastructure projects, actors and resistance movements, over time and across borders, in the Salween Basin, and contributes to critical discussions on the anticipatory politics of infrastructure in geography.
5. Experimenting with underground commons: Artisanal “underground dams” for better management of water resources in the Chadian Sahel
CIRAD, Rémy Courcier (IRAM), Moukthar Ben Yaya (IRED), Koussou Mian-Oudanang (IRED), Adoum Attor (BAPE), France
In the village of Korlongo located in the Sahelian province of Guera in Chad, the inhabitants are looking for solutions to the recurring lack of water when, at the end of the dry season, their traditional wells on the banks of the wadi (temporary stream) dry up. One of these innovations consists since 2019 of a new technique for developing alluvial deposits by setting up an underground dam consisting of a plastic sheet that is buried to block the alluvial deposits over their entire width and their depth. The weekly measurement, by a member designated by the community, of the quantities of water withdrawn by the families from the well placed upstream and of the water levels in two piezometers, one upstream and one downstream of the underground dam, allowed to monitor and quantify the impact of water storage by the underground dam. By interrupting the underground gravity flow of water, without requiring heavy investments and complex techniques, the community saw that it could store and manage water better. The advantages for the ecological transition of this development technique are among others low cost and simple manual implementation and adaptation to climate change because as droughts tend to be more frequent, underground dams, by stopping underground flows. Since the first experiment carried out in 2019 by the village community of Korlongo, it has installed a second underground dam 200 meters downstream to improve the water supply of an already existing artisanal well. This development by successive underground dams, “in a chain”, suggests the realization of similar community developments in the many wadis of the same type. Demand from local communities is growing rapidly since. The paper explores lessons to learn from creating and governing groundwater commons.
6. Polycentric governance of collective rangelands in southern Tunisia: paving the way for cooperation
1Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management of Sfax, University of Sfax, Tunisia, 2Laboratory of economy and rural communities, Arid Regions Institute, University of Gabes, Tunisia
The governance system of collective rangelands in southern Tunisia (i.e. tribal grazing lands covering 1.5 million ha) entails several governmental and non-governmental actors. Enabling cooperation between the different decision-making centers within this system becomes thus essential to guarantee its functioning. During 2003-2020, a pilot land-use scheme has been implemented to experiment with a set of new rangeland management rules alongside an alternative polycentric design. While the institutional change induced by such a policy experiment seems to be sufficiently debated by scholarship, little interest is devoted to exploring the effectiveness of its simultaneous organizational prescriptions. Among these prescriptions are the introduction of new community-based organizations and the promotion of new rangeland management contracts to ensure a sustainable harvest of pastoral resources. The present communication aims at assessing the effectiveness of this pilot organizational design around the concept of polycentric governance. To do so, we perform a two-steps diagnostic research. We apply first to the analytic tool of Networks of Adjacent Action Situations (NAAS; McGinnis, 2011) to visualize institutional interactions between the different subcomponents of the governance system. Next, we refer to the output and process performance criteria suggested by Koontz et al. (2018) to assess the performance of polycentric design embedded within the under-consideration pilot scheme. Results show an interesting fit between the pilot organizational content and requirements of efficacy and coherence. By contrast, our investigation highlights multiple concerns about the suggested organizational configuration’s resiliency and accountability.
Keywords: polycentric governance, collective rangelands, networks of adjacent action situations, Tunisia.