How can we explain the over-exploitation and degradation of natural resources in the countries of the South? Population growth, poverty and problems associated with common property resource management have been common themes in this debate, yet insufficient attention has been paid to how traditional political relations and local perceptions affect natural resource capture and resource allocation. This is especially evident with respect to groups and communities at the political and geographical peripheries of state influence and control for whom self-identity is constructed around notions of autonomy and food self-sufficiency. This informative book addresses this omission by discussing water resource allocation and management. It focuses in particular on the socio-economic and political contexts which influence approaches to and determine practices of water management. Taking the example of the tribal communities of the Sa’dah basin in the northern Yemen, it analyzes the politics of environmental change, with particular reference to groundwater resource degradation, within the conceptual framework of political ecology .
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'This book brings together two of the great themes of the modern world, namely the management of scarce water resources and the political construction of ideas about the environment. I entirely endorse Gerhard Lichtenthaler's focus on the local and on the periphery - too often these have been swamped by environmental metanarratives imposed on the South by the North and by international and state organisations.' Professor Emeritus Philip Stott, University of London, UK 'The study takes the reader deeply into the society and power relations of the Sa'dah region of northern Yemen. Local leaders and communities have had their expectations transformed through their economic relations with lucrative Saudi agricultural commodity and labour markets and the consequences of the projection of Saudi power. Throughout allegiance to the Yemeni state has been attenuated. The way scarce water resources have been used is analysed to reveal the complex political ecology and power relations that have determined perceptions and misallocation.' Professor Tony Allan, King's College London and SOAS London, UK 'This book provides a very detailed account not only of Sa'dah's physical ecology but of the region's political ecology, from the role of the state and markets to the detail of customary law ... Lichtenthaler's work will be of interest to anyone concerned with modern Yemen. Beyond that it deserves reading by anyone concerned with water-resources and development in semi-arid regions. It is one of all too few books that really describes what happens when localised systems encounter market forces and state intervention.' Dr Paul Dresch, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK '...an interesting book on the management of groundwater resources in the Sa'dah region of Northern Yemen...The book is well written and structured, and nicely illustrated with photos of the research field. It will be of interest to researchers in the areas of political ecology, common-pool resources management and instutional theory/analysis.' International Journal of Environment and Pollution
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