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Accepted paper:

Decolonizing the mind in debates on water and technology in Africa: exploring new ways of framing agricultural and food innovations

Authors:

Janwillem Liebrand (Utrecht University)
Kei Otsuki (Utrecht University)
Eggo Mueller (Utrecht University)
Gert Jan Veldwisch (Wageningen University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper addresses the challenge of decolonizing the conceptual framework in research-policy debates on water science and technology in Africa, and the need to articulate new forms of communication on agriculture and food.

Paper long abstract:

This paper addresses the challenge of decolonizing the conceptual framework in research-policy debates on water science and technology in Africa, and the need to articulate new forms of communication on agriculture and food. Research shows that African households in rural, and especially peri-urban areas, are driving the establishment, improvement and expansion of irrigated agriculture in an unprecedented manner, a process referred to by Western academic researchers in agriculture and irrigation as African farmer-led irrigation development (Beekman et al., 2014; Woodhouse et al., 2017). This 'African' development has the characteristics of what is today discussed as food sovereignty (Patel, 2009). It potentially embodies new, 'de-colonial' social relations 'in the making', in a relatively bottom-up way, and in circumstances that are potentially less oppressive and more equal between men and women, social classes and generations, than globally promoted models of corporate trade and food regimes. Therefore, it deserves our attention as a place to challenge the colonial mind-set in agriculture and urban planning which tends to undermine farmer-led innovations and use of water, and explore new ways of discursive framing of promising small-scale bottom up innovations in the agricultural and food sector.

panel D18
Disciplinary trends in Africa: water science and technology