IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Power, inequality, and water governance: The role of third party involvement in water-related conflict and cooperation


  • Gomez, Helle
  • Ravnborg, Munk


Water governance reforms are underway in many parts of the developing world. They address the principles, institutions, and legal and administrative practices through which decisions are made on the development, allocation, and conditions of use of water resources at all levels of society. As such, water governance and efforts to reform it is shaped by and helps to shape the way in which decisions are taken and authority is exercised in fields that extent well beyond water. Based upon research conducted in Condega district, Nicaragua, this paper argues that community-specific power constellations may lead to the existence of radically different water governance regimes among neighboring communities, despite these communities sharing the same national and district-level water policy and associated legal and administrative framework. Moreover, the involvement of community-external third parties to mediate in situations where peoples legitimate access to water is challenged provides a promising avenue towards ensuring more equitable water governance. However, institutions potentially serving as such community-external third parties are often too poorly staffed or their staff too poorly supported technically, economically, and institutionally to attend to calls for support. Furthermore, in contexts characterized by economic, social, and political inequality, the community-specific power constellations may limit opportunities available to different segments of the rural population for calling upon community-external third parties in cases when their legitimate access to water is hampered by the locally powerful. Ensuring that all rural citizens enjoy equal opportunities for calling upon third party institutions constitutes a challenge to local water governance

Suggested Citation

  • Gomez, Helle & Ravnborg, Munk, 2011. "Power, inequality, and water governance: The role of third party involvement in water-related conflict and cooperation," CAPRi working papers 101, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:worpps:101

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Krister Andersson & Elinor Ostrom, 2008. "Analyzing decentralized resource regimes from a polycentric perspective," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 41(1), pages 71-93, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    water management; conflict; power; competition; mediation;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fpr:worpps:101. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.