In the past two decades spaces for user participation have been opened within water governance structures at many scales. In this contribution, based on a case study of the Provincial Water Users Federation Interjuntas-Chimborazo in the Ecuadorian Highlands, I explore how and why formal participation of water users in itself is problematic in terms of democracy. The case shows that for organised peasant water users to work on more democratic water governance, the creation of upscaled federations, alliances, networks and sometimes street protests is crucial to open up spaces in which their interests are represented. This suggests that democracy is not merely about participation, but more importantly, it is about the politics of how democracy is made through conflicts, protests, negotiations and the creation of strategic alliances that challenge the structures and processes through which decisions are taken.
- water governance