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Corruption and conflicts as barriers to adaptive governance: Water governance in dryland systems in the Rio del Carmen watershed.

Sci Total Environ; 660: 519-530, 2019 Apr 10.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30640119
Water governance in the Rio del Carmen watershed has failed to achieve sustainable water use, generating social conflicts, water overexploitation, and grassland loss. This leaves it unable to adapt and learn, to reconcile different stakeholder perspectives and to adequately respond to uncertainty. Adaptive water governance regulates water access through flexible, inclusive and innovative institutions, increasing system adaptive capacity in the face of uncertainty. This is necessary for water-scarce systems since they suffer context-specific exposure to land degradation and climate change. This research focuses on how water governance regulates water access in the Rio del Carmen watershed, Mexico, identifying key legal and institutional features that could increase adaptation and secure water resources in the long-term. 27 semi-structured interviews were conducted with key stakeholders in the watershed, in order to understand the water governance structure and its system dynamics. It was found that water mismanagement, overexploitation, and conflicts over access to water are due to the lack of application and neglect of formal rules. Results indicate that breaches of the legal framework are commonplace, permitted by corruption of both former and current government officials. Many farmers have institutionalized this corruption in order to access water; increasing social conflicts and hindering any type of planning or water management, which, in turn, continues to affect the ecological conditions of the watershed. By understanding the governance system, its structure and the interactions that weaken and bypass formal institutions to the detriment of water resources, stakeholder engagement has emerged as an entry point for enabling collaboration and acceptance of formal institutions. This process has the potential to create a formal network, as a Watershed Committee, that could be honoured in practice through the efficacy of this engagement.