"Rivers are Ours" versus "Rivers are Flowing in Vain" - Conflict over Water Governance in Eastern Black Sea Region in Turkey
Research Assistant The Public Adminstration Institute for Turkey and the Middle East Ankara, Turkey
Nation-states and global and national political actors are embedded in broader frameworks of governance and these frameworks consist of multiple layers and multiple actors. This adds substantial weight to the need for democratic, legitimate and just water governance structures, institutions and dynamics. Hence, deeper understanding of use of rivers is necessary.
Since 2005, with the enforcement of the Law on Renewable Energy, there was an outburst of projects by the private sector to construct hydroelectric power plants (HEPP) who are also assigned the right to use water. Most of these river type HEPPs are (and planned to be) constructed in the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey, eminent for its rich ecosystem, rainforests, encompasses many protected areas and diverse flora and fauna. The small river type HEPPs are not even subject to any Environmental Impact Assessment and are subject to uncontrolled, vigorous construction. The reason beneath this policy is to decrease the level of foreign energy dependency of the country via constructing HEPPs. The discourse to rationalize this policy has been "The rivers are flowing in vain". The local people living by these rivers are not even informed throughout the process. As a result, they have formed a platform called"The Rivers are Ours" and have organized mass protests. Some cases have already been taken to the court. The study will explore how the rivers are perceived by the local people, how much they are part of the social, cultural and economic life and how they see being left out of decision- making processes of their habitus. Further, it will dwell upon the two conflicting discourses around the river and will depict the impact on the local, regional and national levels with a definite emphasis on the local level.
The study will be based on a field study to be carried out at several villages to grasp the relations of the local people with the river. The research methods consist of group and in-depth interviews with the policy-makers, local people and members of the "Rivers are Ours" Platform.