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Political ecology of inter-basin water transfers in Turkish water governance

Mine Islar, Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS)
Chad Boda, Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS)


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We explore the emergence of two contemporary mega water projects in Turkey that are designed to meet the demands of the country’s major urban centers. Moreover, we analyze how policy makers in the water sector frame problems and solutions. We argue that these projects represent a tendency to depoliticize water management and steer away from controversial issues of water allocation by emphasizing large-scale, centralized, technical, and supply-oriented solutions. In doing so, urgent concerns are ignored regarding unsustainable water use, impacts on rural livelihoods, and institutional shortcomings in the water sector. These aspirations build heavily on prevailing discourses of modernity, development, and economic growth, and how urban centers are perceived as drivers of this growth. In the light of these tendencies, social and environmental implications are downplayed, even though the projects will change or already have changed the dynamics within urban-rural life and agricultural water resources practices. We develop an understanding of how such projects are presented as the only solution to problems of water scarcity in Turkey.

Key words

inter-basin water transfers; political ecology; Turkey; urban water; water governance

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087