The author scrutinizes the claim of policy-makers and experts that legal recognition of local water rights would reduce water conflict and increase water security and equality for peasant and indigeus water users. She analyzes two distinct 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' formalization policies in Peru and Bolivia - neoliberal the former, indigenist-socialist the latter. The policies have intended and unintended consequences and impact on marginalized peasants and the complex inter-legal systems for providing water security on the ground. This study seeks to debunk the official myth of the need to create state-centric, top-down legal security in complex, pluralistic water realities. The engagement between formal and alternative 'water securities' and controversial tions of 'rightness' is interwoven and contested; a complex setting is unveiled that forbids one-size-fits-all solutions. Peru's and Bolivia's case studies demonstrate how formalization policies, while aiming to enhance inclusion, in practice actually reinforce exclusion of the marginalized. Water rights formalization is certainly panacea.
Miriam Seemann is an associate researcher at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Germany. She received her PhD from the University of Hamburg and holds an MA in Intercultural Conflict Management from the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences, Berlin. Her current research focuses on natural resource management, social struggles and peace and conflict studies. She is a member of the Justicia Hidrica / Water Justice Alliance.