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Drought, demand and scale: fluidity and flexibility in the framing of water relations.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date09/2007
JournalInterdisciplinary Science Reviews
Journal number3
Volume32
Number of pages16
Pages233-248
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The drought in the south-east of England in 2004-06 generated important insights for contemporary interdisciplinary debates about what it means to build resilience in water management. First, there are a set of issues about the assessment and definition of drought at multiple levels of organisation - local, regional, national - and consequently about the interaction between scales at which building resilience is to be enacted. Drawing on interviews with regional water company managers in south-east England and a selection of households within their jurisdictions, this paper explores the contested framings of drought risk and the need to manage demand. We argue that definitions of drought are mediated by the institutional context of water management across different scales and by different disciplinary framings of water problems (from economics and geography, to sociology and environmental science). Second, chosen strategies of drought management are revealing of different disciplinary relationships to questions of scale. In particular we argue that the debate about building resilience to ensure 'security of supply' is framed predominantly through engineering logics, from technological fixes at the household level to large-scale reconfiguration of infrastructural networks. By contrast, sociological approaches suggest the need to explore resilience through a reconceptualisation of supply and demand as an ongoing process of co-management. We conclude by examining the implications that a more interactive and scale-sensitive conceptualisation of resilience-building in socioecological systems brings for interdisciplinary research agendas and integrated policy frameworks.

Bibliographic note

50% contribution from each author RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences