Fluid Entitlements: Constructing and Contesting Water Allocations in Burkina Faso, West Africa
Posted: 19 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 18, 2015
The Upper Comoé watershed in Burkina Faso, West Africa, is characterized by a number of different groups, which use water from a system of reservoirs and canals, including a large sugar cane plantation, small-scale agricultural and pastoral producers, and a medium-sized city. Two different political and administrative systems govern their relations and their access to water — a long-established set of personal clientelistic relations, and a newer participatory form, Integrated Water Resource Management. In the last decade, relations among the groups have broken down three times into conflict, in which physical violence was feared or threatened. A review of these three incidents shows that the disagreements were not only over the quantities of water, but over the social processes of negotiation and the cultural modes of assessing and describing water. These issues, in turn, suggest ways that the study of water raises broader issues in discussions of entitlements and citizenship.
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