Here is the opening section of the introduction to the special issue by Kai Wegerich, Jeroen Warner, and Cecilia Tortajada:
Anarchy and the ‘dark side’ in the water sector
This special issue on ‘the dark side of governance’ seeks to increase knowledge and reveal new understanding of governance in two meanings: its unknown, hidden side, as well as its darker, obscured side: apparent corruption, deviance, mismanagement, unac- countability and apparent anarchy, and what these do for whom: in the end, ‘who gets what, where, why and how’ (Lasswell, 1936).
What do we mean by the ‘dark side’? The first connotation is the dark side of the moon: the hemisphere of the Moon that is permanently turned away and not visible from the surface of the Earth—dark to the existing knowledge, as the hidden side of the moon is only dark from an Earth perspective. Metaphorically, it refers to what we cannot see or know, but also the ‘darkness (or different ideas) that can destroy all of the positive emotions and ideas that are a part of humanity’ (http://music-and-art-45.hubpages.com/ hub/The-Meaning-of-Pink-Floyds-Dark-Side-of-the-Moon).The dark side can therefore also be a force for change. The final connotation of the ‘dark side’ is the downside of a grand scheme (e.g. http://tajikwater.net/docs/turkmenistan_lake.pdf).
In the field of water, the ‘dark side’ refers to what happens outside the control, or purview, of the formal governance arrangement. Contrary to ‘common knowledge’ in the water sector on large scale irrigation and the bulk of its governance literature, many areas still escape central planning and control (Lebel et al. 2005, Conrad 2006, Warner 2012), still lacking the ‘soft’ coordination of collaborative networks. This may bring violence and lawlessness, but—as we shall argue—also more constructive, productive forms of self-organisation. Water governance in turn refers to the political, social, economic, and administrative systems that are used to develop and manage water resources and the de- livery of water services at different levels of society (Water Governance Facility 2014, Teisman et al. 2013). The Governance frameworks enable several actors to play roles as responsible stakeholders and as increasingly important forces for reform and develop- ment processes. However, engagement can be very complex politically, philosophically and technically because of the intrinsically multi-dimensional nature of governance. This is also the case because processes that involve dialogue, interaction and debate between stakeholders are enormously intricate (Teisman and Klijn 2008). It is equally complex to persuade the different actors to recognize and assume the responsibility they hold in the development process.
As important as a strong civil society organized in interest groups may be, it may also not be the solution to all governance problems or in taking over and providing State services to the public in all cases. This can be exemplified with the myriad of unfulfilled roles and expectations as well as accountability and transparency concerns with non governmental organisations (NGOs) and grassroot organisations (GROs). For example, water management has seen a steady increase in stakeholder involvement with the ob- jective to promote decentralization, examples of which are included in several papers in this special issue. However portrayed as the ‘magic bullet’ by their supporters, poor transparency and accountability issues of NGOs and GROs may mean that their actions only reflect their own interests and agendas rather than the concerns of those they claim to represent. In many cases they have also contributed to the state of anarchy. This may mean that, inadvertently, the inclusion of multiple stakeholders has contributed to the state of anarchy, rather than reducing it as it would have been expected.
The more critical water literature, notably, has seen a guarded celebration of the local and anarchic escaping the unsustainable machinations of the ‘neoliberal state’ and prescriptions of multilaterals. It has moreover identified a tendency for anarchy to grow in light of state retreat. Shah (2009) for example distinguishes non-human (technical) from human (governance) anarchy and shows how informal arrangements, even within irriga- tion departments, bring about workable compromise (for some), rather than a ‘syndrome of anarchy’. Yet, while such ‘constructive anarchy’ has been celebrated for creating spaces for agency and sensible compromise, it may also fail to protect what should be protected in this case the groundwater sustainability—humane anarchy can also mean environmental madness.
For instance, water theft is a recurring concern in public irrigation systems (Rinaudo 2002), and unaccounted for water (UFW) and ‘deviance’ attests to the shortcomings of the modernist dreams even in the most controlling states. The evidence of ‘hidden (un- reported) land or water’ highlights that there can be higher-level disorder (bureaucracies not communicating to each other or hiding information from each other). This calls into question whether a state and state bureaucracies really imply order.
You can read the entire Table of Contents and the opening introductory paper in this PDF:
But I really want to showcase the excellent paper on good governance in Alberta and Lao PDR by Nathan Matthews and Jeremy J. Schmidt, "False Promises: The Contours, Contexts and Contestation of Good Water Governance in Lao PDR and Alberta, Canada".
‘Good water governance’ in Lao PDR and Alberta, Canada emerged in different political contexts of, respectively, communism and democracy. Yet both espouse similar principles of participation, transparency and accountability. Drawing on multiple methods, this paper exam- ines how contests over governance affect the adoption of, and mechanisms for, ‘good water governance.’ It gives particular emphasis to how both scale and context influence, and at times curtail, the promises of good water governance. In both Lao PDR and Alberta, we examine how governance mechanisms have been wielded by what we call closed communities. These communities are part of the dark side of water governance. They espouse good governance principles yet retain political power apart from them. We suggest good water governance is far from guaranteed by particular political systems, new institutions or even legislation.
Download Matthews_Schmidt_False_Promises_IJWG (scroll down 10 pages).
Fascinating - going to use this in my class! I keep telling my students that I went over to the 'dark side' of water in the mid-1990s. Little did I know how true that statement was.
Thanks to Jeremy for sending this my way.
"Every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: 'Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?' If you don't ask those questions, your governance will not be good." - Pope Francis