Trans-forming social capital around water : water user organizations, water rights and non-governmental organizations in Cangahua, the Ecuadorian Andes

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Although the community represents a very important level at which existing social capital is used to mobilize resources and collective action in the Andes, many irrigation systems need supracommunity cooperation for their management. Based on a case study of the Guanguilquí and Porotog irrigation systems in the northern Ecuadorian Highlands, this article argues that external nongovernmental organizations can play an important role in facilitating the establishment of new supracommunity autonomous water user associations by (1) developing mutual trust relations and reciprocity between individuals and communities (bonding and bridging); (2) facilitating the establishment of a normative framework (water rights) that provides the rules of interaction; (3) assisting in the creation of relations with external agents (linking); and (4) developing local capacities for organizational and technical irrigation management. Once sturdy water user organizations consolidate, they have the potential to mobilize collective action for issues that stretch beyond the management of irrigation systems
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-74
JournalSociety & Natural Resources
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • highland ecuador
  • northern ecuador
  • governance
  • resources
  • migration
  • politics

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