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Elements for a Political Ecology of River Basins Development: The Case of the Chao Phraya River Basin, Thailand

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Molle, François
Conference: Fourth Conference of the International Water History Association
Location: Paris, France
Conf. Date: December 1-4
Date: 2005
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5035
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): river basins
governance and politics
water management
water resources
Abstract: "Like other natural resources, water can be mobilized for wealth generation. The spatial expression of land resources and of the natural water regime, in terms of quantity, quality, timing, variability and availability (or easiness to divert or abstract), coupled with the distribution of power in society, defines and underpins the early development of river basins and the pattern of control over water. As societies grow and more water is diverted, users located in different parts of a river basin find themselves increasingly in interaction through the hydrological cycle. In addition, this cycle is constantly redefined by interventions and infrastructures (dams, dikes, irrigation and drainage schemes, etc.,) and by the different uses themselves (change in timing, alteration of water quality, change in groundwater flows due to abstraction, etc.,). The water regime is thus increasingly man-made or artificial and the resulting interconnectedness partly amenable to management. The paper argues that the consumption of space, the control over water, and the way costs and benefits are shifted across scales and social groups can be addressed through a political ecology framework. Water use incurs costs and generates externalities that tend to be imposed on third parties. River Basin Organizations—in all their diversity—are an attempt to manage resulting conflicts and to craft patterns of governance that are more inclusive and conducive to a more equitable and environmentally sustainable share of resources. The Chao Phraya river basin, in Thailand, is used as an example."

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