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Politics, Plurality and Problemsheds: A Strategic Approach for Reform of Agricultural Water Resources Management


  • Peter P. Mollinga
  • Ruth S. Meinzen-Dick
  • Douglas J. Merrey


Starting from the assessment that past efforts at reform in agricultural water management in developing countries have achieved very little, this article argues that a fundamental change is required in the approach to policy and institutional transformation if the present deadlock in the internalisation of ecological sustainability, human development/poverty alleviation and democratic governance into the 'core business' of water bureaucracies is to be overcome. 'Social engineering' approaches need to be replaced by 'strategic action' approaches that acknowledge the inherently political character and the plurality of actors, institutions and objectives of water management - a perspective operationalised here around the notions of 'problemshed' and 'issue network'. Copyright 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter P. Mollinga & Ruth S. Meinzen-Dick & Douglas J. Merrey, 2007. "Politics, Plurality and Problemsheds: A Strategic Approach for Reform of Agricultural Water Resources Management," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 25(6), pages 699-719, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:devpol:v:25:y:2007:i:6:p:699-719

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    Cited by:

    1. Woodhouse, P. & Muller, M., 2017. "Water Governance—An Historical Perspective on Current Debates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 225-241.
    2. Thiel, Andreas, 2014. "Developing an analytical framework for reconstructing the scalar reorganization of water governance as institutional change: The case of Southern Spain," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 378-391.
    3. Mustafa, Daanish & Altz-Stamm, Amelia & Scott, Laura Mapstone, 2016. "Water User Associations and the Politics of Water in Jordan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 164-176.
    4. Philip Woodhouse, 2012. "Reforming Land and Water Rights in South Africa," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 43(4), pages 847-868, July.
    5. Thiel, Andreas, 2012. "The politics of problem solving: A co-evolutionary perspective on the recent scalar reorganisation of water governance in Germany," UFZ Discussion Papers 09/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).

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