Participation in natural resources management is widely promoted in sub-Saharan Africa, but faces mounting criticism from social science scholars who rarely engage with it in practice. We use the notion of room for manoeuvre to reflect on a multi-level participatory approach designed to support the Burkinabè Integrated Water Resources Management policy and propose ways of engaging constructively with local users and policy-makers. Within an “invited space” of participation, water users’ room for manoeuvre was enhanced through the acquisition of new knowledge on the legal Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) framework. This allowed them to interact with decision-makers and to extend their networks. Power imbalances were discussed, but this did not lead to modifying existing power structures that hinge on broader societal dynamics.
- companion modelling
- Integrated Water Resources Management
- West Africa