Applying Cultural Analysis to Water, Delhi University, 24 March 2011


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Discussion of the cultural values underpinning agriculture in the state of Chhattisgarh, India

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Applying Cultural Analysis to Water, Delhi University, 24 March 2011

  1. 1. Applying Cultural Analysis to Water Policies: Lessons from the United States and India. David Groenfeldt Water-Culture Institute Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA University of Delhi 24 March 2011
  2. 2. Contents • • • Introduction (Why this topic?) How culture drives water policies Examples  New Mexico (USA)  Chhattisgarh (India) • • Discussion of the (cultural) values Conclusions
  3. 3. Introduction • Water crisis due to: – Increasing population – Growing / polluting economies • River ecosystems already under severe stress from past bad management – Straightening and constricting river channels – Dams and diversions – Pollution • Climate Change will increase stress
  4. 4. Introduction (cont.) • Conventional paradigm – Not equitable socially – Not sustainable environmentally – Not [appropriate] culturally • New Water Vision: – Participatory governance – Peaceful co-existence with Nature – Culturally enhancing (functionalism)
  5. 5. 2. Culture and Water Policies • • Policies are expressions of values. Values “serve as standards or criteria to guide not only • Values can be shared by a society or “culture”, or by a sub-group, family, or individual. Policies are negotiated within society, and constitute (widely) shared understandings and “values” Values, and policies, are dynamic; they change. • • action but also judgment, choice, attitude, evaluation, argument, exhortation, rationalization, and, one might add, attribution of causality” [Rokeach, M. 2000 . Understanding Human Values, 2nd edn. New York: Simon and Schuster].
  6. 6. Western water values are changing from “command and control”
  7. 7. …to a greater emphasis on ecosystem function
  8. 8. Values about water are complicated and hidden • Same outcomes can result from different values and behaviors – Valuing Ecosystem Services => E-Flow – Nature worship => E-Flow • Values need to be “unpacked” and identified before they can be analyzed.
  9. 9. Case Study: Santa Fe River
  10. 10. Santa Fe River Watershed
  11. 11. Santa Fe River “Facts” • Municipal Water Authority owns rights to most of the river’s flow. • State water law requires “economic use” • Dams for municipal water supply keep river dry (no environmental flow) • Groundwater provides ~50% water supply • Pipeline will allow minimum e-flows
  12. 12. Water Governance • State water law protects property (water) rights holders. • River is legally unprotected • Municipal Water Utility advocates responsible use (self-identifies as “green”) • Local politics are democratic and effective • Corruption not a major factor
  13. 13. Santa Fe Water Policies • What’s Included: – Prior Appropriation water rights – Beneficial Use • What not included: – Rights of the River – Rights of future generations
  14. 14. History of River Values • Ancestral Pueblo • Spanish • American
  15. 15. Pueblo River Values • River is a living being • Inherent right and duty to flow • Essential to natural cycle of rain, flow, evaporation, clouds, rain, etc. • Seamless connection with the land and soil.
  16. 16. Spanish “River Values” • Oriented around acequia (small canal) agriculture • Water is for growing, and sharing – “…water is always shared….The tacit, underlying premise is that all living creatures have a right to water.” (Rodriguez, p. 115) – “The principle of water sharing belongs to a larger moral economy that promotes cooperative economic behavior through inculcating the core value of respecto and gendered norms of personal comportment.” (p. 116)
  17. 17. Diffusion of American Values • American annexation - 1848 • Railroad built - 1880 • First water company formed - 1880 – Privatization – Commodification • First dam built - 1881 (small) • Second dam - 1893 (15x bigger)
  18. 18. American Water Era • Majority of acequia agriculture abandoned after WW-II (1945) – water rights lost – River flow interrupted – Channel downcutting precluded surface diversions • 1970s policy to encourage downcutting for flood control
  19. 19. Santa Fe’s River Values • Water should support economic “beneficial use” (state law) • Water can also support any other municipal uses excluding the river • River is a water “consumer”; Flow should be “offset” through new supplies • The river has no inherent right to exist.
  20. 20. River Voices (Values) • City water staff: “The river has to live within its means” • Homebuilders Association: Green building can save water for the river • Environmental groups (A): Flowing river is fundamental to sustainability • Environmental groups (B): River should flow more often (but not all the time) • Churches: River is heart of community • Tourism industry: river flow is a valuable amenity; • Individual religious leaders: River flow expresses respect for nature; river should have the first right to water
  21. 21. Case Study #2 - Chhattisgarh
  22. 22. Chhattisgarh Irrigation Development Project (CDIP) Project Goals “The overall project goal is to improve rural livelihoods and reduce rural poverty through improved irrigation service delivery, enhanced agricultural practices, and strengthened water resources management to increase the productivity of irrigated agriculture in Chhattisgarh” - Report of the President 2005
  23. 23. Water Values in the CIDP • Economic value of water through Agriculture – Value of agriculture is income – Value of income is “development” • Social value of water – Gender equity, livelihoods
  24. 24. Missing from the Calculations • Cultural reinforcement from agriculture – Traditionally meaningful crops and diet – Local sources of inputs – Strengthen ties to local landscape • Watershed management • Local ecological and Agric. Knowledge • Social empowerment from irrigation mgmt. – Not identified as an objective • Environmental stewardship and spirituality
  25. 25. Implicit Nature of Values • Values, like culture, are too obvious to be easily seen by the value-holders • Water projects blindly adopt conventional values from the water sector, which reflect an essentially materialist agenda. • Anthropologists are trained in identifying values and bringing them into awareness and discourse
  26. 26. Cultural Values, Environmental Ethics, Anthropology, and Water Policy… • What can we do to bring clarity about values in water (and other) policies? • How can we help represent the interests (cultural and otherwise) of traditional cultures and especially Indigenous Peoples? • What can we say, to whom, and how?
  27. 27. From Values to Ethics “All ethics…rest upon a single premise that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete…but his ethics prompt him also to cooperate….The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.” - Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic, 1949
  28. 28. Thank-you !