Narratives underlying research in African river basin management

Autor(en): Kleinschroth, Fritz
Lumosi, Caroline
Bantider, Amare
Anteneh, Yilikal
van Bers, Caroline 
Stichwörter: CONSERVATION; DROUGHT; Environmental Sciences; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; ETHIOPIA; FRAME; Green & Sustainable Science & Technology; Landscape approach; MATTERS; Positionality; REFLECTIONS; RESCALING ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE; Science & Technology - Other Topics; Scientific collaboration; STATE; SUSTAINABILITY; Sustainable development; SYSTEMS; Water-energy-food nexus; Watersheds
Erscheinungsdatum: 2021
Volumen: 16
Ausgabe: 6
Startseite: 1859
Seitenende: 1874
River modifications through hydropower dams and other infrastructure have far-reaching economic, ecological and social effects that are viewed in highly contrasting ways depending on underlying narratives. As part of a Euro-African research consortium funded by the European Commission we studied pathways for sustainable river basin management in the Omo-Turkana basins in Ethiopia and Kenya. Based on a literature review, stakeholder workshops, targeted interviews and considering our own positionality, we identified underlying narratives related to (a) economic transformation and modernization, (b) indigenous rights and (c) nature conservation, which were all connected through water, energy, food and ecosystems within a (d) landscape nexus. Yet, we also identified a (e) living museum narrative suggesting that international advocacy for indigenous rights and nature conservation is a means through which Western societies want to preserve African societies in an ``undeveloped'' state. National governments use this narrative to silence external critique, while the tourism industry promotes it to advertise visits to pastoralist tribes. This narrative reveals powerful, yet largely ignored hindrances for collaborative projects resulting from cultural and historical biases in Euro-African collaborations. Based on our analysis, we argue that international research projects in sustainability sciences need to increase the transparency of open and hidden narratives that influence research directions and power relationships between scientific partners, also those using mostly technically-driven approaches. We emphasize that African landscapes are not to be viewed as living museums, and collaborative research should be based on fairness, respect, care, and honesty to allow for multiple narratives that underlie research.
ISSN: 18624065
DOI: 10.1007/s11625-021-01044-4

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