Water Security, Justice and the Politics of Water Rights in Peru and Bolivia

  • Miriam Seemann

Part of the Environment, Politics and Social Change book series (EPSC)

About this book


The author scrutinizes the claim of policy-makers and experts that legal recognition of local water rights would reduce water conflict and increase water security and equality for peasant and indigenous water users. She analyzes two distinct 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' formalization policies in Peru and Bolivia - neoliberal the former, indigenist-socialist the latter. The policies have intended and unintended consequences and impact on marginalized peasants and the complex inter-legal systems for providing water security on the ground. This study seeks to debunk the official myth of the need to create state-centric, top-down legal security in complex, pluralistic water realities. The engagement between formal and alternative 'water securities' and controversial notions of 'rightness' is interwoven and contested; a complex setting is unveiled that forbids one-size-fits-all solutions. Peru's and Bolivia's case studies demonstrate how formalization policies, while aiming to enhance inclusion, in practice actually reinforce exclusion of the marginalized. Water rights formalization is certainly no panacea.


Water security water rights formalization legal pluralism political ecology indigenous communities peasant communities Peru Bolivia water justice Andean highlands irrigation qualitative research human rights conflict analysis discourse analysis social justice comparative research Latin America social movements conflict ecology research Water Resources Water resources management

Authors and affiliations

  • Miriam Seemann
    • 1
  1. 1.German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)Germany

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