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Water and emplacement: new perspectives from displacement and resettlement to enhance IWRM practice
Expanded Title:This project seeks to apply concepts from the field of displacement and resettlement studies to develop a framework to understand, assess and respond constructively to the socio-economic, institutional, and ecological, i.e. social-ecological, impacts experienced by people in human settlements, and the options and constraints created, when they are affected by planned changes in access to water supply, quality and habitats. This includes not only the water supply impacts, but also the social consequences and the accompanying reactions that such planned changes evoke – not least because of the changes in infrastructure, environment and neighbourhoods, and thus, of social and economic circumstances, that such changes often bring with them. The intention is to apply this framework to help ensure viable and sustainable human settlement by contributing to the development of guidelines, and so, of sound practice, in relation to upholding water’s positive emplacement role (see below) in human settlements. This will make a significant contribution to IWRM. Through developing this framework, the aim is to give direction to the design and implementation of i) future water related projects ii) the continuing water and human settlement policy process iii) socially and ethically sound water research practice iv) more social-ecologically related practice v) better overall implementation of IWRM. Inasmuch as the project provides fresh insights into conceptualising the integrating role of water in society, it will also feed directly into the WRC’s major new Lighthouses initiative (see below), notably Water Sensitive Design. In applying concepts and insights from the field of displacement and resettlement to develop a framework to address the impact of change in the water sector, the project leader is bringing more than 30 years of experience in the fields of resettlement and development, and inter-disciplinary work, to this project. Human settlement has a significant spatial/place-related aspect. Place, as a source of habitation and shelter, as well as a source of resources, relationships and meaning, undergirds and enables human settlement and society. People may be seen as settled, not only in a specific place, but in place as such, as socially and culturally ‘emplaced’. ‘Emplacement’ is here taken to refer to an association and identification that a person or group of people has with a socially constituted place/territory. This association is recognised by others also associated with that place. Emplacement relates to being a member of the group or community associated with that place, with the concomitant rights and obligations of such membership, with regard to social relations and the institutional life of the group; this includes access to resources, livelihood, protection and meaning. Emplacement thus involves a socio-spatially constituted local citizenship (de Wet, 2008). Because the various aspects of collective human emplacement are interwoven in a dynamic, complex system, modification of any of these bases feeds back into, and works through, the on-going system of emplacement as a whole. Water is fundamental to human settlement. In the same way that place, as a source of habitation and shelter, as well as a source of resources, relationships and meaning, undergirds and enables human settlement and society, so too does water undergird and enable human settlement and society. If we are to ensure viable and sustainable human settlement, it is necessary to understand water’s foundational and emplacing role in relation to human settlement, and to develop guidelines for sound practice in that regard. This will make a substantive contribution to Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), which is a goal of this project. Water is central to human emplacement and to its viability. Apart from the fact that water is necessary to the sustenance of biota, it flows across human settlement and society in many and interrelated ways (e.g. social, economic, political, religious, health-wise, ecological). Water thus takes on a range of interlinked functions, and is central to the possibility and sustenance of human emplacement. Interventions or projects which impact upon people’s physical and social environment, notably in the form of infrastructure, impact upon emplacement and its viability, in a range of ways. Resettlement projects often significantly modify the spatial, social, economic, political, institutional and environmental bases upon which emplacement rests (Cernea, 2000; de Wet, 2006; Downing and Downing-Garcia, 2009; Scudder, 2005). Many interventions or projects alter access to and distribution of water, whether in terms of quantity, quality, or habitat, or in terms of the spatial and socio-political dimensions of that access and distribution. This influences what one might call ‘the ways water flows across human society and settlements’, and feeds back into the dynamics and sustainability of the complex system of human emplacement, in that particular context. This project seeks to apply ideas from the field of displacement and resettlement studies, as a new perspective for helping us to understand the wider implications for settlement sustainability, of changes in water access and distribution, and of the social and policy implications of such changes. It is argued that the emplacement perspective provides a new and multidisciplinary approach to looking at the ways in which water plays a facilitating and diverse role in human settlements. Since water flows in many, diverse and multi-directional ways in relation to the social, institutional, political, economic and ecological needs of human settlement, it has a range of interrelated impacts. This crosscutting and foundational role of water in relation to human settlements and their wellbeing has not always been adequately understood or incorporated in approaches to a wide range of water-focussed interventions. Looking through the list of projects which have been commissioned and completed by the Water Research Commission over the last decade and more, it is apparent that many of them have been very discipline-specific, and have correspondingly focused on the investigation of very specific relationships and limited notions of systems. It is here argued that applying insights from emplacement/dis6 emplacement and resettlement will enable us to bring out this multi-dimensional and integrating role of water in human settlements more clearly. This will assist us in opening out avenues of inquiry about ways in which water’s ‘emplacing’ and foundational role in human settlements may be either impoverished/undercut or enhanced by poorly and narrowly, or by well-conceived and executed, undertakings. This final report of project K8/1065 will investigate case studies of interventions or projects that have altered access to or distribution of water in settlement situations in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. The impact of such changes upon the ways in which water underscores and enables general human emplacement in specific areas or settlements will be documented and analysed. The intention is to understand the ways in which such alterations in the water regime impact upon human emplacement, and thereby, human socio-economic and ecological well-being. Bringing out differences in the ways in which this has happened, will help us to understand more clearly the ways in which alterations in the water regime relate to and impact upon human emplacement, and so enable these understandings to feed into the development of more informed and more responsible policy and better practice in IWRM.
Date Published:01/01/2015
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Drinking water - Water supply, Sanitation - On site sanitation
Document Keywords:Water Quality
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Consultant
WRC Report No:KV 336/14
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0619-3
Authors:de Wet C
Project No:K8/1065
Originator:WRC
Document Size:510 KB
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