Wednesday, July 11, 2007


between international relationships…

“Hydropolitics is the systematic study of conflict and cooperation between states over water resources that transcend international borders”(Elhance, 2002:3)

The authors show the different dimensions about the water, like concept, but also like a multifaceted resource. The first article reviews the ways that scholars and investigators have worked with the term.
Water and conflict, like an unit of analysis that challenge the notion of state centrism: about scarcity, power and economic affections.
Water and the environment, the discussion provides evidence of the physical, territorial and, of course, environmental changes.
Water and security, the third main focal area of hydropolitical writing point out the crisis about the resource and the polarization between the management of water (in a secure way) and free access to the people.
Water, society and culture, is the last category that examine the resource in a more abstract sense, for the symbolisms and imaginaries that support the resources uses and social practices.

The central points of the readings were the conflict and cooperation that involve states as the main actors in an international scenario, the river frontiers, but also affect to the non state-actors. In this way “…hydropolitics is an investigation about the authoritative allocation or use of water, and with the water in question potentially being both international and national in its origin, thereby implying some kind of sovereignty over this water. ”(Turton, 2000:16)

Hydropolitics for Elhance, is an issue of scale and it’s centered in the “third world”, in this case in South Africa and its water scarcity. The author says that there are many intervening variables (geographic, political, economic, cultural) “although states are inherently inclined to unilaterally exploit the rivers flowing across or along their borders, the hydrologically induced interdependencies in international basins gradually compel states to entertain least the possibility of cooperation with their neighbors.”( Elhance, 2002:6)

However, there is no arrangement about obligations and rights about the hydric resource for the states and for the common people, neither a “global” investigation that claims the large scale economic development programs: irrigation systems, large dams and other water-related infrastructure projects that have been implemented for the World Bank and the United Nations.

Finally, hydropolitics like geopolitics are unfinished analysis for understand and change the reality, but both are tools to make questions and propose new forms to see, study and take decisions about territory, resources, and the interactions between people, lands and states.

Tlhance Arun, Hydripolitics in the third world, conflict and cooperation in international river basins, United States Institute of Peace Press, Washington.

Turton A. y Henwood R. Hydropolitics in the developing world. A southern African perspective, University of Pretoria, 2002, South Africa.


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