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TitleWater rights arenas in the Andes : networks to strengthen local water control
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsBoelens, R
Paginationp. 48 - 65;
Date Published2008-06-01
PublisherWater Alternatives Network
Place PublishedS.l.
Keywordsaccess to water, bolivia central andean region, communities, cultural aspects, ecuador andean region, social mobilization, use of facilities, water use

The threats that Andean water user collectives face are ever‐growing in a globalising society. Water is power and engenders social struggle. In the Andean region, water rights struggles involve not only disputes over the access to water, infrastructure and related resources, but also over the contents of water rules and rights, the recognition of legitimate authority, and the discourses that are mobilised to sustain water governance structures and rights orders. While open and large‐scale water battles such as Bolivia’s 'Water Wars' or nationwide mobilisations in Ecuador get the most public attention, low‐profile and more localised water rights encounters, ingrained in local territories, are far more widespread and have an enormous impact on the Andean waterscapes. This paper highlights both water arenas and the ways they operate between the legal and the extralegal. It shows how local collectives build on their own water rights foundations to manage internal water affairs but which simultaneously offer an important home‐base for strategising wider water defence manoeuvres. Hand‐in‐hand with inwardly reinforcing their rights bases, water user groups aim for horizontal and vertical linkages thereby creating strategic alliances. Sheltering an internal school for rights and identity development, reflection and organisation, these local community foundations, through open and subsurface linkages and fluxes, provide the groundwork for upscaling their water rights defence networks to national and transnational arenas. [authors abstract]

NotesBibliography on p. 63 - 65
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