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Travelling Models of Participation: Global Ideas and Local Translations of Water Management in Namibia

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Schnegg, Michael; Linke, Theresa
Journal: International Journal of the Commons
Volume: 10
Page(s): 800-820
Date: 2016
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10175
Sector: Social Organization
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Africa
Subject(s): gender
water resources
Abstract: "In recent decades, water management in Namibia has profoundly changed. Beginning in the 1990s the Namibian state has incrementally turned ownership of and the responsibility for its rural water supply to local user groups. While the state withdrew from managing resources directly, it continued to circumscribe the ways in which local communities should govern them. In so doing, a 'new commons' was created. Inclusive participation became the leitmotif of the new management scheme and in particular the participation of women was a major political and societal goal. In this article, we use the notion of travelling models as a theoretical guide to explore how the idea of participation emerged in international development discourses and how it was then translated through national legislation into the local context. The results of the analysis show that more than 20 years after the formulation of international conventions the average participation of women in local water committees remains low. However, older women do manage the funds associated with water and thus occupy one of the most important functions. Our explanation takes the wider social and cultural field into account and shows that gender and generational roles provide elder women with autonomy and authority which prepare their ways into these new official roles. We conclude by considering whether and how the travelling model of participation has been changing local social structures in general and the role of elder women in particular."

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