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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The political ecology of water in northwest Namibia, 1915-1980
Author:Van Wolputte, StevenISNI
Periodical:Bulletin des sťances = Mededelingen der zittingen
Geographic term:Namibia
colonial policy
water resources
Abstract:Between 1979 and 1982 the northern Kunene Region in Namibia went through a devastating drought which decimated the herds and flocks of the predominantly pastoral population. Mainstream discourse usually attributes these livestock losses to natural causes, but local Himba informants blame civil and international conflicts for their hardship. This local or emic perspective is in line with the theoretical orientation known as political ecology, which is the point of departure of this article. It suggests that, first of all, the causes of the havoc experienced in the early 1980s were not natural but political as they were rooted in apartheid livestock policy and indirect rule. By demonstrating that even under colonial rule so-called technical innovations (drilling water holes, building pumps, dams, etc.) were subject to negotiation and intrinsically part of local power relations, the article, secondly, suggests a move away from the State in the study of colonialism. Thirdly, the article contends that this study of water and 'material development' ('fisiese ontwikkeling') under South African rule has particular relevance for contemporary development studies. Only by placing development efforts in the situated interaction between various actors can we start to understand why some initiatives 'work' and many others fail. The article is based on anthropological fieldwork conducted among the Himba in 1995-1996, 1998 and 2002. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in Dutch, English and French. [ASC Leiden abstract]