Accepted Paper:

Drought, debt and claims for water justice in the Colca-Majes watershed, Peru  
Astrid Stensrud (University of Agder)

Paper short abstract:

The effects of climate change intersect with the effects of neoliberal policies among small-scale farmers in Peru. This paper discusses how claims for environmental justice are made at various scales, taking into account social inequalities, power, values and different forms of water governance.

Paper long abstract:

Small-scale farmers and herders along the Majes-Colca watershed in southern Peru increasingly experience changes in the weather and the environment, which they interpret in terms of global climate change. Climate change mainly translates into water-related problems and seasonal instability, with adverse effects on agriculture. These effects are exacerbated by adaptations to the market economy, neoliberal deregulations, introduction of financial credit institutions, increased use of chemicals and fluctuating products prices. Drought in the Colca highlands also affects the farmers in the Majes Irrigation Project in the lowlands, who depend on the water channeled down from a dam in the poor highlands. Simultaneously, herders from the highlands demand compensation for the water that is channeled, and claim ownership to land and water rights in Majes based on ideas of justice. The new inequalities and tensions that are created locally and regionally will increase dramatically with the second phase of the irrigation project that is starting up this year, in which a private consortium will construct new infrastructure and large land areas will be sold to agribusiness companies. These developments generate fear of privatization, commodification of water and corporate dominance, and produce new uncertainties and senses of injustice. This paper will scrutinize how climate changes intersect with economic changes and how claims for justice are made. I will argue that we should look into environmental justice at various scales, taking into account economic inequalities, different positions of power, and different forms of water governance and value regimes.

Panel P12
Inequality and Climate Justice in an Overheated World