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Decentralisation and Water Resources Management in the Indian Himalayas: The Contribution of New Institutional Theories

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Saravanan, V. S.
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 7
Page(s): 176-191
Date: 2009
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6102
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): institutional analysis
water management
Abstract: "The current debate on decentralisation offers a polarised view on the dynamic power relations involved in water resources management. Drawing New Institutionalism as applied in the social and ecological sciences, the paper argues that decentralisation represents a complex adaptive process that involves a combination of natural and a political endeavour by actors and agents to draw on existing structures to negotiate and renegotiate the existing unequal power relations to (mis)manage water. Examining a Village in the Indian Himalayas as a case study, the paper demonstrates the significance of New Institutionalism for a comprehensive understanding of the decentralisation as a process, with an intention to identify the opportunities and barriers presented by institutional factors on water resources management. The paper reveals the contemporary top-down decentralised reforms though has helped actors to voice their concern and empowered the agents to remain adaptive, these have not ensured resource use efficiency, addressed poverty and promoted greater participation of the actors. Facilitating these will require a strengthening the role of statutory public organisations to regulate water distribution, build capacity of actors and offer diverse forums to facilitate informed water-related decisions for a sustainable future."

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