Strategies of the poorest in local water conflict and cooperation - evidence from Vietnam, Bolivia and Zambia
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Funder, M.; Bustamante, R.; Cossio, V.; Huong, P. T. M.; van Koppen, Barbara; Mweemba, C.; Nyambe, I.; Phuong, L. T. T.; Skielboe, T. 2012. Strategies of the poorest in local water conflict and cooperation ? evidence from Vietnam, Bolivia and Zambia. Water Alternatives, 5(1): 20-36.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/40232
Media stories often speak of a future dominated by large-scale water wars. Rather less attention has been paid to the way water conflicts play out at local levels and form part of people's everyday lives. Based on case study studies from Vietnam, Bolivia and Zambia, this paper examines the strategies of poor households in local water conflicts. It is shown how such households may not only engage actively in collaborative water management but may also apply risk aversion strategies when faced with powerful adversaries in conflict situations. It is further shown how dependency relations between poor and wealthy households can reduce the scope of action for the poor in water conflicts. As a result, poor households can be forced to abstain from defending their water resources in order to maintain socio-economic and political ties with the very same households that oppose them in water conflicts. The paper concludes by briefly discussing how the poorest can be supported in local water conflicts. This includes ensuring that alternative spaces for expressing grievances exist and are accessible; facilitating that water sharing agreements and rights are clearly stipulated and monitored; and working beyond water governance to reduce the socio-economic dependency-relations of poor households.