Contesting water territories: Social movements and collective actionto defend water rights in the Ecuadorian Andes
07 / 2008 - 07 / 2012
In Ecuador during the twentieth century, peasant and indigenous social movements have emerged that revolved mostly around identity, territoriality and recognition. More recently, water has become a central cohesive element in such movements. This study focuses on two cases of third-tier social water movements: the Federation of Irrigation User Groups of Cotopaxi (FEDURIC), and Interjuntas in the province of Chimborazo. Both are important multi-scalar organizations that are active from field to national level in different arenas. They have fought for more representative, just, and transparent decision-making processes in the allocation of water, the resolution of conflicts, and water investments mostly with the provincial water management agencies. At present they form a strong political water lobby of peasants and indigenous communities at different local scales in the respective provinces, while also engaging in politics of scale through their interventions at regional and national levels. The research analyzes the historical and present day development of water centered social movements in Ecuador in general and the two case studies in particular. It will look at the `internalÂ¿ strategies and structures and practices, the linkages to the communities and individuals as well as at the `externalÂ¿ relations and strategies. When analyzing these organizations and how they `jump scalesÂ¿ the issue of legitimacy and recognition from above (state agencies) and below (grassroots and other social movements) are essential. The study set-up and methodology will be designed in such a way as to allow comparison with the Peru study, which provides a nice contrast that can be used to further identify social and political triggers of social movements around water.