Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Capability, sustainability, and collective action: an examination of a river water dispute

Anand, P B (2007): Capability, sustainability, and collective action: an examination of a river water dispute. Published in: Journal of Human Development , Vol. 8, No. 1 (March 2007): pp. 109-132.

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In this paper, a framework is developed to consider collective action, sustainability and the capability approach with regard to resolution of water disputes, followed by a brief discussion of how identity can hinder cooperation or the development of universalism. This framework is then examined with a case study of the Cauvery river dispute in India. At the heart of river water disputes are issues related to justice and fairness, which depend to a significant extent on: how citizens perceive their claims over river water (shaped by cultural and historical factors); the extent to which citizens are able to collectivize their claims through location, economic activity and identity, and use their voice to influence the state; the extent to which the state policy and actions reflect the ‘voice’ and collective interests of different groups; and how the various riparian states recognize and deal with each other’s’ claims. The framework discussed here suggests that the capability approach provides us with a much broader framework than collective action or Robert Solow’s sustainability as inter-generational fairness. These are conjectures for further exploration.

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