CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION IN THE DECENTRALISATION OF BRAZIL'S WATER RESOURCES: ASSESSING PARTICIPATION IN THREE STATES
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Decentralisation, the transfer of powers to a lower level of government, is thought to encourage more efficient and equitable management of natural resources. Participation of civil society organisations (CSOs) is considered critical to create positive outcomes of decentralisation. Here we examine aspects of civil society participation in decentralised management using the case of Brazil's water resources management. Several Brazilian states have enacted reforms mandating watershed committees in which the participation of civil society is either encouraged or required. However, actual participation of civil society is not yet well understood. To assess participation, we collected qualitative data on watershed districts in three Brazilian states (Bahia, Paraná and São Paulo). Our findings reaffirm the importance of the state in establishing a transparent legal framework to encourage participation and in defining "civil society". The ability of civil society leaders to obtain and deploy local environmental knowledge, which frames environmental issues in new geographical scales, is useful to achieve the efficiency and efficacy objectives of decentralisation. However, by "upscaling" political activities beyond decentralisation's new territories, CSOs could make decentralisation irrelevant to local environmental issues. © Copyright 2004 Department of Geography, National University of Singapore and Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
author list (cited authors)
Brannstrom, C., Clarke, J., & Newport, M.