In the edited collection Water and Development: Good Governance After Neoliberalism, editors Ronaldo Munck, Narathius Asingwire, G. Honor Fagan and Consolata Kabonesa approach water as an essential public necessity. The book examines global, national and local initiatives of water governance, focusing particularly on issues of gender, technology and climate change through studies of Sub-Saharan Africa. This volume is a well-structured introduction to the topic of water and development that shows the necessity of harnessing global initiatives through deep understanding of local contexts, writes Kathleen Chiappetta.

This book review has been translated into Mandarin by S.H. Thomas Yau (Mandarin LN821, teacher Hongyi Xin as part of the LSE Reviews in Translation project, a collaboration between LSE Language Centre and LSE Review of Books. Please scroll down to read this translation or click here.

Water and Development: Good Governance After Neoliberalism. Ronaldo Munck, Narathius Asingwire, G. Honor Fagan and Consolata Kabonesa (eds). Zed Books. 2015.

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Water and DevelopmentWhat is the water crisis? Is it not having enough water to support our growing world population? Is it failing to adequately manage our water supply and ensure all have access to this resource? In Water and Development: Good Governance After Neoliberalism, edited by Ronaldo Munck et al., twenty authors scrutinise the current situation, development standards and global, national and local initiatives of water governance. The book is usefully divided into two parts: the first highlighting theoretical debates on power, equity and politics, and the second engaging with localised issues in Africa, particularly those relating to gender, climate change and technology. The unifying argument is the need for ‘a participatory and sustainable approach to water which recognises it as an essential public necessity’ (back cover).

One of the main reasons that this book is an excellent introductory text to the issue of water and development is the clarity with which the authors begin their discussions. They do not assume that the reader has an understanding of the topic or knowledge of the differing perspectives. Chapter One gives the reader a historical overview of development paradigms, highlighting how each one has impacted water and development. From the late nineteenth century to the 1980s, the main approach to water and development was rooted in the ‘hydraulic mission’ – the notion that water is a technical issue, based on science and enlightenment, and not a political one (14). By the 1990s the neoliberalist agenda had seeped into water development projects. This perspective made water a commodity: ‘an economic good […] with its price set by free market mechanisms’ (18). Within the current hybrid models, the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) paradigm has redefined how agencies, countries and organisations are trying to improve water governance. IWRM is ‘a move away from traditional large-scale and capital-intensive solutions towards a more sustainable, low-tech approach which also emphasizes the gender dimension’ (11-12). It is this paradigm that provides the springboard for the discussions that follow.

Building on the reader’s knowledge of development models, in Chapter Two the authors argue for a more holistic approach to tackling the water crisis by paying particular attention to the social, ecological and technological dynamics at play. Water is a politicised issue and policy debates need to address the reality of those who live in poverty. In Chapters Three and Four, issues of governance in Sub-Saharan Africa are highlighted. One of the most notable chapters of Part One is Larry A. Swatuk’s exploration of whether IWRM can actually work to alleviate poverty in this underdeveloped region. He concludes that ‘an absent state can never build the type of social capital necessary for either good water governance or IWRM to thrive’ (79).

US_Navy_110311-N-SN160-227_Ethiopian_children_play_in_the_water_of_a_well_built_by_Seabees_assigned_to_Naval_Mobile_ConstructioImage Credit: Children at a Newly-Installed Hand Pump in the Village of Jedane, Ethiopia (Wikipedia Public Domain).

Overall Part One provides the groundwork upon which Part Two builds. Through explaining key terminology and overarching theories, it leaves few questions unanswered and it supports the ensuing discussions. Part Two delves deeper, looking at the major power dynamics that impact access to water, particularly in Uganda. This section begins by giving an account of the situation in this country. Using information obtained through surveys, the authors provide a comparative snapshot of the people who reside in rural Uganda, highlighting information on gender, age, income, etc. This information is well depicted through figures and the chapter is also filled with maps indicating both working and non-working improved water sources within the surveyed area. The following chapter uses this demographic information to hone in on the plethora of actors involved in water governance in Uganda. The authors look at the relationship between, and roles of, central governments, districts, development partners, communities and NGOs in supporting Uganda’s institutional framework for improving rural water supplies.

Another aspect to IWRM is its emphasis on gender equality. The next two chapters of Water and Development focus on women and their daily interactions with water. Despite women traditionally being  ‘domestic water keepers’ (168), they do not typically play an active part in building or maintaining improved water sources and/or participating in community-level water governance due to pre-existing socially acceptable gender constructs. This is simply another example of the disconnection between policies and reality, a distinction made in Chapter Seven. Richard Bagonza Asaba and Fagan write that ‘a façade of opportunity is presented in these policy arrangements wherein women’s empowerment is conceptualized as an outcome […] At best it presents an impression of opportunity that the women have little or no way of seizing’ (169).

The next chapter showcases another group of people who are affected by changing water policies. Agro-pastoralists are nomads that move their livestock across rural Uganda. While they have been able to adapt to the impact of climate change on water resources, they are struggling to deal with agrarian policies and newer types of businesses such as cultivating eucalyptus trees and brick-making: activities that both require water. Another aspect discussed is technology and the need to ensure that local communities can properly maintain the water equipment that is built. The main point that emerges from this chapter is the need to invest in technology that ensures functionality and meets communities’ needs while keeping in mind their social makeup.

One unique aspect to Water and Development is the various methods that the researchers use to shed light on localised situations. With regards to understanding the movements of agro-pastoralists, the author uses GPS data to trace where they travelled throughout the study period. In addition, surveys, interviews and demographic statistics all contribute to instilling in the reader a comprehensive understanding of IWRM. This book is properly structured so that each chapter builds upon previous ones. Definitions, concepts and terminology such as the ‘nexus approach’ that are introduced in one chapter are used and enforced in the following chapter. It is for this reason that this book is an excellent introductory source on water and development. One of the only drawbacks is that while the authors strive to present clear arguments that refer to topics discussed in the preceding chapters, sometimes it becomes repetitive, such as in constantly referring and defining Millennium Development Goal 7.C: namely, ‘halving the proportion of the people without sustainable access to safe drinking water’ (30).

Despite this, Water and Development: Good Governance After Neoliberalism is a worthwhile read in highlighting different perspectives on IWRM. It gives a realistic view of the problems that exist when investing in global initiatives without realising the particular social, environmental and economic situations of local communities.


Kathleen Chiappetta has a Bachelor of Journalism Degree from Ryerson University in Toronto and a Master of Science Degree in Global Politics from the LSE. Over the years she has written and produced pieces on national and international issues such as agricultural and maritime trade, engineering education and Irish migration. She has worked for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Geneva, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris and the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom. Read more reviews by Kathleen Chiappetta.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


书评:《饮用水与发展 :新自由主义下的良好管理》 Ronaldo Munck, Narathius Asingwire, G. Honor Fagan and Consolata Kabonesa. Zed Books. 2015.

Review translated by S.H. Thomas Yau (Mandarin LN821, teacher Hongyi Xin).

什么是水资源危机?是缺乏足够的饮用水以应付日益庞大的世界人口吗?是未能足够有效地管理我们的饮用水供应和确保每个人均能享用此资源?在由Ronaldo Munck编辑的《饮用水与发展 :新自由主义下的良好管理》一书中,二十名专家审视了饮用水管理的现况、发展标准以及地区性和全球化的倡议。此书有效地分为两大部分:第一部分强调了对于权利、平等和政治理论的争议,而第二部分糅合了在非洲的当地议题,其中以涉及性别、气候改变和科技有关的议题尤甚。此书的总论点为“鉴于饮用水为不可或缺的公共必须品,我们需要一个具合作性和可持续的方法来处理饮用水的问题”。(书本背面)

本书是对于饮用水和发展议题的极佳导论,其中一个原因是作者们开展讨论的清晰度。他们并不假定读者对于议题有任何认知或对不同角度有任何瞭解。第一章回顾历史上不同发展范例,强调了它们每一个对于饮用水和发展的影响。由十九世纪后期至一九八零年代,对于饮用水和发展的主要方法扎根于“水利使命”,把饮用水界定为基于科技和启蒙运动的一个技术议题、而非政治议题的概念。至九十年代,新自由主义的工作已渗入水利发展工程。这个观点促使水资源商品化:成为价钱由自由市场机制决定的经济货品。在目前混合的模型中,“综合水资源管理”( IWRM ) 范例改进了不同专门机构、国家和组织正在尝试改善饮用水管理的方法。IWRM 是一种远离传统式大型和资金密集的解决方案,趋向愈加低科技、可持续和重视性别层面的方法。这是一个有弹性的讨论范例。

在读者增加了对不同发展模型的认知后,在第二章中作者们倡议更全面的、透过更留意社会、生态和科技的动态方法以应付水资源危机。饮用水是一个政治化的议题,而政策的辩论需要顾及生活在贫穷中的人民的现状。第三和第四章突出了撒哈拉以南的非洲水资源管理议题。其中一个最值得关注的章节是Larry A. Swatuk探讨IWRM模型能否缓解当地落后地区的贫穷问题。他的结论是一个心不在焉、不对症下药的国家永不可能建构出足以使饮用水管理或IWRM蓬勃的社会资本。

Image Credit: Children at a Newly-Installed Hand Pump in the Village of Jedane, Ethiopia (Wikipedia Public Domain).

总括而言,第一部分为第二部分提供了重要的基石。透过解释重要术语和统一理论,它为几个尚未定案的问题留下了往后讨论的空间。 第二部分深入分析了( 尤其在乌干达 )各种主要影响饮用水享用的权力动态。这部分以解释该国家的现况作为开端。透过利用由不同调查而来的资料,作者们比较了身处乌干达郊区、不同性年龄、收入等因素的人民。这些资料由充分数据支持,而这部分亦充满了地图,以标示调查区内正在运行或已休止的改良后的供水源头。接下来的章节运用了人口统计学资料,聚焦在林林总总牵涉在乌干达饮用水管理者。作者们探讨了中央政地区、发展伙伴、社区和非政府组织在支持乌干达改善郊区供水的机构性框架中的身份和关系。

另一方面,IWRM强调性别平等。接下来两个关于《饮用水与发展》的章节聚焦在女性以及其与水资源在日常生活中的相互影响。虽然传统上女性为家庭中的“饮用水监护人”,鉴于社会上既有的性别定型,她们通常不会积极参与有关建设或维修已改善的水源的工作和/或参与社区层面的饮用水管理。这正是第七章节展示的另一个政策与现实脱钩的例子。Richard Bagonza Asaba 和 Fagan写道,“一个概念化、以授权女性参与‘社区事务’的假象在这些政策的安排中可见一斑”。这最有力地呈现出女性缺乏掌握“个人权利”。

下一章节展示了另一群受到正在变更的水资源政策影响的人。农畜牧业者乃是把牲畜转移至乌干达郊区的游牧民族。纵使他们能适应气候变化为水资源带来的转变,他们仍然在应付农业政策和须要用水的新型商业( 如,种植尤加利树和造砖 )上挣扎求存。另一个讨论的方面为科技与确保当地社区能保养已建构的水资源设备的需要。在此章节浮现的重点为如何可以在当代社会结构中投资在能够确保正常运作和符合社区需求的科技。

一个《饮用水与发展》的独特方面可见于研究人员使用的不同方法以论述当地情况。关于的农畜牧业者的移动的影响,作者使用了全球卫星定位数据( GPS )以追踪参与者在研究中途的外游记录。此外,调查、访问和人口统计学数据均在帮助读者建筑一个全面、关于IWRM的了解作出了贡献。此书具有恰当的结构——每个章节以前一个章节为基石。在第一章节中介绍过的定义、概念和专门词汇如“联系性方案”,在接下来的章节中被使用和强化。这正是此书为饮用水和发展的极佳导论的原因。其中一个瑕疵在于当作者们极力厘清在先前章节讨论过的论点时,有时内容显得重复,例如经常提及和定义千禧年发展目标中的 “7C”点——把未能可持续地享用安全饮用水的人口减半。

尽管如此,《饮用水与发展:新自由主义下的良好管理》依然值得一读——它强调了IWRM的不同角度。它给予读者一个切实的视野,揭示了只投资在全球性策略而不体察当地社区个别的社会、环境和经济现况的弊端。

 

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