The water is ours!: Defense of common-pool water resources in Cochabamba, Bolivia


Amber Wutich - Arizona State University  


Abstract: Cochabamba, Bolivia is an Andean city famous for an uprising known as the Water War of 2000. Threatened with the privatization of common-pool water resources, urban migrants rose in defense of neighborhood water cooperatives. After the revoltís successful conclusion, Cochabambaís neighborhood common property regimes became an international symbol of anti-neoliberal resistance. While Cochabambaís neighborhood water cooperatives are praised for providing a viable alternative to privatization, little is actually known about how they operate at the community level. Wutich presents an in-depth case study of a neighborhood water cooperative in Villa Israel, a migrant squatter settlement in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Drawing on theories of common property regimes and Andean commons management, she examines the design and function of Villa Israelís community water system. Using data from participant-observation, in-depth interviews, and across-time surveys, she explores the effects of intra-annual climactic variability on community membersí enforcement of rules and their defense of scarce water resources.