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Together Strong or Falling Apart?: Coping with COVID-19 in Smallholder Irrigated Agriculture

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>27/02/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of the Commons
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)87-104
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Coping, surviving and living with different kinds of crisis is a recurrent challenge to those governing groundwater as a common resource. In this paper, we mobilise ideas about the functioning of the state and of processes of bricolage to explain the functioning of institutions governing groundwater during the Covid-19 pandemic. Drawing on empirical material from one irrigation scheme in Zimbabwe we argue that such institutions show signs both of transformation and degeneration over the course of the Covid-19 crisis. Our analysis shows the emergence of temporary and innovative ways of collectively organising around groundwater which ensure improved access to water during the pandemic. Such new ways of doing things draw on different sources of authority and legitimacy in shaping governance arrangements. However, as the pandemic situation becomes the ‘new normal’, collective arrangements degenerate into a pre-Covid-19 state, or worse, further restricting access and representation for some people.