How Do Central Control Mechanisms Impact Local Water Governance in China? The Case of Yunnan Province
The China Quarterly, Forthcoming
19 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2017
Despite being known as ‘Asia’s water tower’, Yunnan frequently faces severe droughts, which puts pressure on local communities and state actors alike. This article examines the institutional arrangements that guide water governance strategies employed by local cadres in Yunnan Province, showing how central control mechanisms in the Chinese administrative system undermine effective water governance at the local level. Findings obtained from field research in two counties in Yunnan with different levels of economic development and water resource access show that current institutional arrangements – including those regulating local cadre performance and the procedures to apply for project funding from higher level governments – hinder the efficient use of infrastructure investment. Instead, provincial and prefectural water bureau officials use their authority to channel funding to those regions with an already positive track record of project applications.
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