IWRM and the Politics of Scale: Rescaling Water Governance in Uzbekistan

Andrea Zinzani, Christine Bichsel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the last two decades, politics of scale and rescaling processes in relation to water have been debated by several scholars, especially by geographers and political ecologists, who emphasized their socio-political nature and their interactions with the environment. By contributing to this debate, this paper analyses rescaling processes in water governance in relation to the implementation politics of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Uzbekistan. IWRM and related initiatives were promoted worldwide, especially in the “Global South”. These initiatives proposed the shift in water governance from administrative to hydrographic, or river basin, units. Empirically, the analysis focuses on the Middle Zeravshan valley in Uzbekistan, where IWRM was promoted as a part of post-Soviet water reforms. The analysis demonstrates that rescaling water governance towards IWRM and hydrographic units is inherently political. The evidence shows that the process is deeply interlinked with interests and power of Uzbek hydraulic bureaucracies at multiple scales.
Firstly, the IWRM sponsored establishment of hydrographic units coincided with a recentralization of water management, supported by national hydraulic bureaucracies. Secondly, the design of the hydrographic unit and related boundaries in the Middle Zeravshan valley was driven by controversial multi-scalar power dynamics and relations between national and province levels,
which emphasized the complexity and the multi-scalar nature of rescaling processes rooted in Post-Soviet political transformations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2018

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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