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Enlivening development: Water management in the post-conflict city of Baucau, Timor Leste

Date of publication
01-Dec-2010
Abstract
This paper explores how the state and others involved in the 'development enterprise' in Timor Leste are (mis)recognizing the potential of the existing environmental governance and exchange capacities of local customary institutions and practices in relation to water supply and management. Examining the problematic of water supply in a post-conflict city, it examines the intermesh of the customary, state and market sectors and ponders how customary institutions might be better supported to extend their range of political and economic credibility and contribute to a reconfiguration of dominant community-managed water supply models. The paper draws on the political and economic theory developed by Gibson-Graham (2006) and draws out in a particular place based instance the workings of a diverse economy where a customary economy is enmeshed with, and to some extent undermining, a weak capitalist sector. The paper argues that a failure to address issues of resource ownership and control and to engage the strengths and import of local customary institutions will have serious ramifications for the successful implementation of Timor Leste's national development objectives in the city of Baucau and elsewhere in Timor Leste. Instead it argues for an enlivened development approach wherein locally socialised landscapes are recognised as credible political sites with which 'development' can engage and power relations can shift.