School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences - Research Publications

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    Between Project and Region: The Challenges of Managing Water in Shandong Province After the South-North Water Transfer Project
    Chen, D ; Luo, Z ; Webber, M ; Rogers, S ; Rutherfurd, I ; Wang, M ; Finlayson, B ; Jiang, M ; Shi, C ; Zhang, W (WATER ALTERNATIVES ASSOC, 2020-02-01)
    This paper examines the challenges that a region of China is facing as it seeks to integrate a centrally planned, hierarchically determined water transfer project into its own water supply systems. Water from China's South-North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP) has been available in Shandong since 2013. How has this province been managing the integration of SNWTP water into its water supply plans, and what challenges is it facing in the process? This paper demonstrates that Shandongʼs planners consistently overestimated future demand for water; this, together with the threats posed by reduced flows in the Yellow River, encouraged the Shandong government to support the building of the SNWTP. However, between the genesis of the plans for the SNWTP and its construction, the supply from the Yellow River became more reliable and the engineering systems and the efficiency of water use in Shandong Province itself has improved. As a result, by the time the SNWTP water became available, the province had little pressing need for it. Besides this reduced demand for SNWTP water, there have been difficulties in managing delivery of, and payment for, water within the province. These difficulties include unfinished local auxiliary projects that connect cities to the main canal, high water prices, conflict and lack of coordination among stakeholders, and ambiguous management policies. The result is that in 2016, on average, cities used less than 10% of their allocated quota of SNWTP water, while seven cities used none of their quota. The story of the SNWTP in Shandong is that of a centralised, hierarchically planned, fixed infrastructure with its deterministic projections coming into conflict with the fluidity of water demand and local political circumstances.
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    Producing a Chinese hydrosocial territory: A river of clean water flows north from Danjiangkou
    Rogers, S ; Wang, M (SAGE Publications, 2020-11)
    Hydrosocial territories are produced not just through concrete water infrastructure, but through flows of people, water, money, and ideas at multiple scales. As part of China’s South–North Water Transfer Project, water drawn from the distant Danjiangkou Reservoir now supplies the megacities of Beijing and Tianjin with the majority of their drinking water. To provide this new service – supplying drinking water of sufficient quality and quantity – the Reservoir and its upper reaches are in the midst of socio-economic and ecological transformations. In this article, we outline the tools being mobilised to send a river of clean water north, including administrative interventions, displacement, and discursive imaginings. We argue that what is being attempted is a wholesale reorganisation that marginalises local territorialities, reflects China’s particular governing rationalities and practices, and highlights new spatialities of water governance. Our analysis of the remaking of Danjiangkou pushes hydropolitical scholarship to more precisely define the geographies of power in hydrosocial territories.
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    Targeted Poverty Alleviation in China: A Typology of Official-Household Relations
    Davie, G ; Wang, M ; Rogers, S ; Li, J (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2021-07-01)
    ‘Targeted Poverty Alleviation’ (TPA) is the Chinese government’s latest anti-poverty policy, aiming to lift the remaining 70 million Chinese citizens above the poverty line by 2020. The TPA scheme is novel in that every impoverished household is paired one-on-one with a local government official, who then bears responsibility for the eradication of their poverty. Despite being at the core of TPA, this pairing mechanism has received little academic attention. Based on an empirical case study of ten households across two villages in rural Shaanxi Province, China, this article aims to investigate this pairing mechanism at the micro level and its outcomes for poverty alleviation, in order to better understand how the notion of ‘precision’ is being realized through TPA. Two distinct traits that influence the TPA pairing system emerged: first, the ranking of the assigned local official is important in that higher-ranked officials have greater social and financial resources at their disposal, bringing about enhanced poverty alleviation outcomes for their households compared with lower-ranked officials. Secondly, the willingness and ability of impoverished households to actively participate in their poverty alleviation programme is beneficial within the TPA scheme, achieving better outcomes in the long-term compared with households who are passive receivers. TPA has the potential to work effectively and to achieve China’s poverty reduction goals; however, our analysis shows that some pairing mechanisms are more effective in achieving poverty alleviation goals than others.
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    Inside-out: Chinese academic assessments of large-scale water infrastructure
    Webber, M ; Han, X ; Rogers, S ; Wang, M ; Jiang, H ; Zhang, W ; Barnett, J ; Zhen, N (WILEY, 2021-09-04)
    Little is known in the international academic community about Chinese-language research on water management. To remedy this deficit, this paper reviews current mainland Chinese understandings of the role of large-scale water infrastructures as tools of water resources management. We reviewed 461 papers published in mainland Chinese journals by Chinese scholars. This review suggests that the dominant approach to water management reflects the confines of government priorities—large-scale, concrete-heavy, infrastructure-based means of moving water around the country so as to meet demands and stimulate economic growth. Suppression of critical voices means that infrastructure is generally rendered apolitical: the critiques are about practical issues, such as technological, managerial, or administrative problems. There are exceptions to this characterization that adopt more critical frames; however, they reflect on water management elsewhere or in the past rather than on contemporary China. While these more critical papers are interesting and important contributions to our understanding of the politics of hydraulic infrastructures, the literature as a whole says little about the politics of infrastructure in China now. In effect, much of the literature in Chinese on water management in China simply acts as an arm of a machine—a network of corporations, universities, international institutions, and arms of the government, together tasked with identifying and framing what are water management issues, formulating standardized procedures for tackling those issues, and then constructing solutions to them. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Human Water > Water Governance.