Political ecology of water

Our water governance research group specialises in understanding  water challenges through political ecology. Political ecology (PE) explores power relations with a focus on how people, society and the environment interact with each other over time.  We use mixed methodologies (specialising in ethnography) to explore the complex power dynamics inherent in water governance. Some of our research areas include India, Ghana, Tanzania and Indonesia.

In Ghana, Alesia Ofori is working closely with gold mining villages to understand how political dynamics (across all levels) shape the nexus between water governance and gold mining. Vice versa, how this nexus influences political and resource struggles in these villages. By unpacking this complex interaction, stakeholders can understand the capability traps within government institutions, power struggles among stakeholders and how such complicated relationships overwhelms government’s effort to regulate pollution caused by gold mining.

In India, Shivani Singhal is using a feminist political ecology approach to understand why efforts to clean up the Yamuna River in Delhi, India have so far failed.   You can read about her work here.

In Tanzania, Anna Mdee, applied a political ecology approach to understand the politics of irrigation in the Wami-Ruvu River basin and has now published extensively on this building on a DFID-ESRC research project on the politics and moralities of small scale irrigation, Malawi, Tanzania and Bangladesh.