From Conflict to Co-production: A Grassroots-Led Model of Polycentric Water Governance in the Postcolonial South

Section of International Agricultural Policy and Environmental Governance, Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, Universität Kassel

A Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Project (October 2021-September 2024)

Supervisor: Prof. Andreas Thiel

CO-Water aims to conceptualise a grassroots-led model of polycentric water governance in which the initiatives and aspirations of social movements are fruitfully integrated into co-production in the water sector. Four objectives have been defined: to comprehend the specific conflicts through which social movements come into being; to understand the potentialities and limitations of social movements in catalysing new forms of co-production; to evaluate existing state-led water governance and institutions, in regards to their transformational potentialities; and to envision a model of grassroots-led polycentric water governance by engaging with concerned groups. The empirical research consists of case studies of three social movements in the Jakarta metropolitan delta, as well as complementary case studies from Europe and Latin America. We look at the experiences of social movements in regards to these objectives, to advance key features of co-production and polycentric governance theories. Four bodies of literature are mobilised and cross-fertilised: the key works of Elinor Ostrom and selected reviews, developments, and critiques of these works by others; collective action literature within spatial planning and development studies, public administrative and management studies; literature on water governance in the Postcolonial South; and literature on urban social movements. Training during the Fellowship will focus on systematically expanding the researcher’s theoretical horizon with an advanced comprehension of theories, improving her research and teaching methodology, extending her professional networks, and learning the management aspects of scientific co-operation and research development. Fuelled by an interdisciplinary approach to environmental conflicts, the Fellowship will link her research to development practices and add value for the coherent implementation of several SDGs, particularly SDG#6 on water and sanitation and SDG#11 on cities and communities.

Sören Köpke on the political ecology of dryland regions and a methodological approach to research on water conflict CO-Water Voice. Turning Water Conflicts into Co-productions

In the second season of CO-Water Voice, in summer 2022, I invite you to understand conflicts over water resources and water ecosystems in a critical manner.As our guest on this episode, we have Sören Köpke, my colleague at the Department of International Agricultural Policy and Environmental Governance, at the University of Kassel. He currently works for the Aurora Project, which is a research cooperation among four universities in Lebanon, Marocco, Tunisia and Germany. In his works, he has been focusing on the social-ecological dynamics of food systems and international policy of environmental change. He has conducted an intensive field research in Sri Lanka for a long period, among his other international field works. His PhD thesis was defended at the Technische Universität Braunschweig in 2018, on drought, development and environmental conflicts in eight regions: Southern Madagascar, Inner Mongolia, Southern Malawi, Northerneast Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, India. On this episode, we have a conversation about the political ecology of dryland regions and a methodological approach to research on water (and water conflicts).—CO-Water Theme Music: Solidas by Marjinal from Jakarta. The music was created during the solidarity action in Berlin, which was organized by the vocalist of the band on 18 February 2022. The solidarity evening was especially dedicated for the farming community in Wadas, a village that was destroyed by stone mining. The mining supplies the material to build a new large dam that had been long planned by the national government, to supply water and energy for the new international airport in Java.Opening Music: Biru Beriak by Lair from Jatiwangi, West Java. The music is dedicated to fisherfolk communities.Interview-opening music: Mahalnya Keadilan by Mardika (Revolt Music) from Jakarta.Closing music and song: Selamat Pagi by Sanggar Ciliwung Merdeka. The song was recorded by Prathiwi in Jakarta during their rehearsal on 18 March 2017. The children were still actively singing after their riverside workshop had been demolished in 2016, during a forced eviction. In 2016 alone, there were 193 cases of forced evictions with direct victims of 5.726 households and 5.379 informal business units in the kampungs of Jakarta, or the so-called slums, in the name of the Ciliwung river normalization program.
  1. Sören Köpke on the political ecology of dryland regions and a methodological approach to research on water conflict
  2. Prof. Leila Harris on equity, diversity and state-citizenship relations in water governance
  3. Ahmed Soliman on collective actions in the vernacular and modern irrigation systems in Egypt
  4. Arvind Lakshmisha on the lake-systems of Bangalore and the bridging organizations in Socio-ecological Systems (SES)
  5. Nora Schütze on Spanish river basins and participation in water governance

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