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Adapting agricultural water use to climate change in a post-Soviet context: challenges and opportunities in southeast Kazakhstan

Barrett, T., Feola, G., Khusnitdinova, M. and Krylova, V. (2017) Adapting agricultural water use to climate change in a post-Soviet context: challenges and opportunities in southeast Kazakhstan. Human Ecology, 45 (6). pp. 747-762. ISSN 1572-9915

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10745-017-9947-9

Abstract/Summary

The convergence of climate change and post-Soviet socio-economic and institutional transformations has been underexplored so far, as have the consequences of such convergence on crop agriculture in Central Asia. This paper provides a place-based analysis of constraints and opportunities for adaptation to climate change, with a specific focus on water use, in two districts in southeast Kazakhstan. Data were collected by 2 multi-stakeholder participatory workshops, 21 semi-structured in-depth interviews, and secondary statistical data. The present-day agricultural system is characterised by enduring Soviet-era management structures, but without state inputs that previously sustained agricultural productivity. Low margins of profitability on many privatised farms mean that attempts to implement integrated water management have produced water users associations unable to maintain and upgrade a deteriorating irrigation infrastructure. Although actors engage in tactical adaptation measures, necessary structural adaptation of the irrigation system remains difficult without significant public or private investments. Market-based water management models have been translated ambiguously to this region, which fails to encourage efficient water use and hinders adaptation to water stress. In addition, a mutual interdependence of informal networks and formal institutions characterises both state governance and everyday life in Kazakhstan. Such interdependence simultaneously facilitates operational and tactical adaptation, but hinders structural adaptation, as informal networks exist as a parallel system that achieves substantive outcomes while perpetuating the inertia and incapacity of the state bureaucracy. This article has relevance for critical understanding of integrated water management in practice and adaptation to climate change in post-Soviet institutional settings more broadly.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:73813
Publisher:Springer

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