Rooted water collectives: Towards an analytical framework

Jeroen Vos*, Rutgerd Boelens, Jean Philippe Venot, Marcel Kuper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents an analytical framework to identify and understand grassroots water governance practices, which we call ‘rooted water collectives’ (RWC). RWCs can be multi-scalar organizations that engage in common property resources management or multi-scalar social movements that advocate for common property resources governance. The framework, which we open for discussion, scrutinizes (1) the extent to which ‘rooted water collectives’ are ‘grounded’ in the sense they address locally perceived water control problems and resort to water-context embedded meaning, values, identities, belonging and vernacular knowledge; (2) their internal decision-making dynamics; and (3) their effectiveness in achieving impact at multiple scales. It also considers five contextual factors that enable and constrain RWC development. RWC can be deployed as a conceptual lens, but also as an empirical manifestation constituting the object and subject of research. It differs from wide-spread top-down-implemented participatory water management approaches and common property resources management research, in the importance it gives to politics, advocacy and multi-scale social movements. The framework is illustrated with a cursory analysis of four cases: irrigators' federations in Peru; the ‘new water culture’ movement in Spain; collective irrigation in oases in North Africa; and loosely structured networks of irrigation water users in Cambodia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106651
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Common-pool resources management
  • Federations
  • Rooted water collectives
  • Social movements
  • Water governance


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