1st Edition

Transboundary Water Politics in the Developing World

By Naho Mirumachi Copyright 2015
    224 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    202 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the political economy that governs the management of international transboundary river basins in the developing world. These shared rivers are the setting for irrigation, hydropower and flood management projects as well as water transfer schemes. Often, these projects attempt to engineer the river basin with deep political, socio-economic and environmental implications. The politics of transboundary river basin management sheds light on the challenges concerning sustainable development, water allocation and utilization between sovereign states. 

    Advancing conceptual thinking beyond simplistic analyses of river basins in conflict or cooperation, the author proposes a new analytical framework. The Transboundary Waters Interaction NexuS (TWINS) examines the coexistence of conflict and cooperation in riparian interaction. This framework highlights the importance of power relations between basin states that determine negotiation processes and institutions of water resources management. The analysis illustrates the way river basin management is framed by powerful elite decision-makers, combined with geopolitical factors and geographical imaginations. In addition, the book explains how national development strategies and water resources demands have a significant role in shaping the intensities of conflict and cooperation at the international level. 

    The book draws on detailed case studies from the Ganges River basin in South Asia, the Orange–Senqu River basin in Southern Africa and the Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia, providing key insights on equity and power asymmetry applicable to other basins in the developing world.

    1. Introduction: How Water becomes Political 

    2. Explaining Transboundary Water Conflict and Cooperation 

    3. The Transboundary Waters Interaction NexuS (TWINS) Framework to Understand Coexisting Conflict and Co-operation 

    4. Securing and Securitizing Cooperation in the Ganges River Basin 

    5. Engineering the Orange-Senqu River

    6. Developing the Mekong Waters 

    7. Making Sense of Transboundary Water Politics


    Naho Mirumachi is a Lecturer in Geography at King's College London, UK.

    "The importance of this book extends beyond transboundary water and the developing world to bring intelligent insights to many water issues. Naho Mirumachi critically examines a number of shibboleths in water management such as: conflict and cooperation are opposites; agreement means decisions are equitable; templates like the creation of strong river basin organization structures leads to better decisions; and increasing resources for the hydrocracy serves the public interest. This is the best book about water I have read in a long time." – Helen Ingram, The Southwest Center, University of Arizona and Professor Emeritus, University of California at Irvine, USA

    "Transboundary Water Politics in the Developing World brings insight and nuance to a field of inquiry dominated by speculation and generalisation. We often hear that wars of the future will be fought over water by states locked in competition for a shared but increasingly scarce commodity. But we are also told that it is far more common for states to cooperate than it is for them to conflict over transboundary waters. Applying a rich theoretical framework dubbed 'TWINS' – the transboundary waters interaction nexus – to three case studies, Naho Mirumachi sheds new light not only in terms of her cases – the Mekong, Ganges-Brahmaputra, and Orange-Senqu river basins – but in terms of what we know and what we can expect from transboundary water politics. This is a must-read for all those interested in the complex ways a multiplicity of actors, forces and factors come together in the simultaneously conflictful and cooperative world of water resources development and management." – Larry A. Swatuk, University of Waterloo, Canada.

    "Naho Mirumachi’s new book is a comprehensive and rigorous work on the complex world of transboundary water politics and will interest both academics and water sector professionals... This is an important contribution to water management practitioners and researchers, especially those working in developing countries." - Kyungmee Kim, Uppsala University, Sweden, in Water International (2016).

    "... no researcher or practitioner concerned with the challenges of transboundary water management should be unaware of the existence or approach of this book." - Laurence Smith, SOAS, University of London, UK, in Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy (2016)

    'Mirumachi’s book deserves credit and laurels for unravelling the intricacies of transboundary water politics and revealing the exciting opportunities ahead for theorizing transboundary water governance. The book is highly recommended for both academics and practitioners interested in the topic of transboundary water sharing.' - Srinivas Chokkakula, Department of Sociology and Anthropology SOAS, Progress in Development Studies

    "Mirumachi's well-written book dares us to look beyond the smooth surface and make sense of the messiness and, at times, ugliness below." - Jeroen Warner in Water Alternatives (2018)