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Institutional Change In Amazon Water Governance: A Comparative Study Of Awajun Indigenous People In The Alto Mayo Valley.

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Gisselle Vila (Lima, Peru), Gisselle Vila
Pontifical Catholic University of Peru1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 10: Management of water resources,
AbstractThe aim of this presentation is to analyze the merging of institutional logics from the awajun indigenous people and the state water authority for local water governance of the Naranjillo Sub Basin in the Alto Mayo Valley, peruvian amazon. The research is framed under the institutional bricolage perspective (Cleaver 2012, Sehring 2009), which focuses cultural borrowing and identity display, to detail two processes of institutional logics borrowing (Thornton and Ocasio 2008): the creation of water users associations and the water pricing scheme. To reconstruct both processes a historical review was implemented, using statistical and policy data from the state, as well as narratives from indigenous people evocated through photo elicitation. This was complemented with participatory observation, which lasted two months. The presentation is divided in four sections. First, a review of the state's changing institutional logics from agricultural to environmental in San Martin is provided, under which the awajun action is framed. Second, the organizational architecture and field-grounded functions of the irrigation association are presented to analyze the historical trajectories of its formation. Here two trajectories are defined: the one of the Bajo Naranjillo Community and the other of the Alto Naranjillo Community. Comunal governance institutional logic, the State's changing developing visions, soil-use capacities and ethnic identities are the key variables that define diferent outcomes for water governance. In the third section we discuss the findings. In the Bajo Naranjillo case, the borrowing of the awajun's native comunity governance regime for the irrigation comission, strongly rooted in the agricultural institutional logic of the State, reinforces the awajun decision - making authority over their natural resources; nevertheless it also reproduces and amplifies pre-existing land rights problems over water rights due to sub-arrending of comunal land and the payment of water rights by crop (rice) buyers. New organizational architectures provided by the State for local water management do not necessarily provide sustainable arrangements for water governance, even if it claims to follow IWM principles. The apropiation of IWM under the light of this case is, therefore, discussed. In the Alto Naranjillo case, the local government institutional logic based on sustainable development and strongly funded by international cooperation agencies deeply influences the crop selection apropiated for "ceja de selva" soils. Coffee and cacao are the key crops in this community and intensive irrigation schemes are not needed for them as the community is located in the upper basin. Still, communitary arrangements are defined to manage the waters. So, even when they do not follow the organizational structure of the State, the local comunal government arranges for water allocation based on respect and trust principles, priorizing elders and wise counsels for the first water turns. Water is not priced but is under common vigilance, keeping water payment conflicts at bay. A key conclusion of the study is that indigenous people water governance arragments are highly permeable and are prone to adapt new organizational shcemes considering environmental resources, such as soil quality, and sociocultural features, like ehtnic identities. A disbalancing variable is development discourses, which changes governance historical trajectory. We further discuss the posibilities for integrated water management practices that consider institutional bricolage processes as an input for agreement making. Cleaver, F. (2012). Development through bricolage: Rethinking institutions for natural resource management. London: Earthscan/ Routledge. Sehring, J. (2009). The Politics of Water Institutional Reform in Neopatrimonial States. A Comparative Analysis of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. La Haya: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Thornton, P. H. & Ocasio, W. (2008). Institutional Logics. En Greenwood, R., Oliver, C., Sahlin, K. & Suddaby, R. (eds.), Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. CA: Sage.
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