SOAS University of London

Centre for Water and Development

SOAS Water Group Research: Water and Globalisation

2010 to date: Currencies of Globalisation:

Comparative analysis of the mechanisms of globalisation in water resources management under different state forms
  • ZEF (Center for Development Research), Bonn, Germany
  • IWE (Irrigation and Water Engineering group), Wageningen, the Netherlands

The Currencies of Globalisation programme undertakes comparative research on the mechanisms connecting globalisation and regional processes of freshwater resources management. As a heuristic device for initiating the research, the programme has identified four categories of mechanisms (law, policy & rights; knowledge & ideas; markets & money; technology & landscapes) through which the globalisation of water resources management operates, to be investigated under five different state forms – the national governance regimes within and through which regional and local water resources management predominantly takes place (industrialised liberal democratic, developing (semi-)democratic, (semi-)authoritarian, aid-dependent, and fragile/failed). Production of more precise and useful typologies is an objective of the programme. The impact of the globalisation dynamics is assessed in terms of changes in

  1. the socio-ecological systems that form the resource base (‘sustainability’), 
  2. forms of social mobilisation, decision making and rule (‘democracy’), and 
  3. livelihood security and  economic growth (‘welfare and equity’)

In addition to producing concrete analysis of water resources management under different state forms in the context of globalisation, the research programme will make the following broader contributions to scientific knowledge development. As theoretical research the programme will attempt to unravel three interdisciplinary ‘puzzles’: 

  1. the puzzle of water:  conceptualising the interconnected behaviour of water and its users in morphogenetic hydrosocial cycles; 
  2. the puzzle of politics: the implications of the embodiment of rights, the inherently public nature of water, and the space-time features of water systems for modes of political contestation; 
  3. the puzzle of development: the relation between water resources management and capitalist development.

The programme will methodologically contribute to the elaboration of an interdisciplinary approach to comparative research on water resources management, building on the long-standing tradition of comparative water studies.

SOAS Contact: Peter Mollinga,

2010 to date: Warm-In:

Strengthening Integrated Water Resource Management through institutional analysis: an analytical tool and operative methodology for research projects and programmes

Lead partner: IRS (Institute for Regional and Structural Planning), Erkner, Germany;  

The WaRM-In project deals with what most scholars and practitioners have identified as the most pressing issues of implementing IWRM: adapting the broader, fundamental principles of IWRM to particular political and institutional contexts. Developing the capacity of project managers to analyse and account for the institutional context of implementation is crucial to future success of IWRM projects, particularly in developing and transition countries where the conditions are both varied and starkly different from those found in Europe.

SOAS Contact: Peter Mollinga,