International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

Federating and Defending: Water, Territory and Extraction in the Andes

Document Type

Book Chapter

Abstract

Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador have each seen a significant increase in extractive industry activity over the last decade and a half. This raises many questions for communities that live in the areas in which mining and hydrocarbon activity is occurring. Among these, the implications for water resources and indigenous resource governance are among the most significant. Water questions are also of much concern for populations living downstream of that activity. Extractive industries place pressure on, and introduce new risks for, the quantity and quality of water available to rural communities and urban centres. It also poses threats to the de jure and de facto rights that communities have historically exercised in order to access and control these water resources and to govern the territory in which these reside. These perceived and actual threats have catalysed organized responses as populations have sought to protect their territory and their ability to govern the natural resources within it. At times these responses have led to conflict and violence. The anatomy of these responses varies from case to case: in some instances, responses are led by federations of communities, in others they involve much wider alliances of actors who are rural and urban, indigenous and not, national and international. There is also much variability in the relative resilience and effectiveness of these responses, though whatever the case, these different patterns of mobilization around extraction have transformed the social and political landscape for water resource management in the region.

In this context, we seek to do the following in this chapter. First, we give an overview of recent patterns in the extractive economy in the region and document certain features of its expansion. Second, through a combination of maps and specific examples, we draw attention to some of the implications that this growth in extraction has for water resources and indigenous territory. Third we discuss the socio-political responses that have resulted, paying particular attention to the diversity in the ways in which populations have organized themselves to confront these new pressures. Fourth we deal with one case in some detail in order to explore the alliances and tensions that exist within these supra-communal mobilizations, the ways in which water and resource governance are argued over and the difficulty of finding ways forward that might guarantee rights and avoid violence. The following sections address each of these purposes in turn. The conclusions then elaborate larger issues of governance that are raised by these patterns of expansion in the extractive economy and the ways in which these interact with processes of grassroots organization, alliance building and conflict.

Publication Title

Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Politics and Identity

Publication Date

10-11-2011

First Page

307

Last Page

327

ISBN

9781849714556

Keywords

Andes, Bolivia, conflict, Ecuador, extractive industries, hydrocarbons, Latin America, Peru, water

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