Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: February 2019

Chapter Three - Bridging Complexity and Contingency: Role of Three Enabling Conditions to Resolve Water Conflicts in the Indus and Jordan Basins

from Part I - The Conceptual Argument of the Book and a Case Illustration



The transboundary water management (TWM) literature shows a wide range of complexity in terms of the dynamics of competition and cooperation that arise from the interactions and feedback among variables, processes, actors and institutions. These interactions and feedback are attributed to allocation, access and use of water with complexity understood to be related to a variety of natural, societal and political elements.

Given the complexity of TWM and its contingent manifestations, the narrative goes on to specify the conditions under which conflict arises or cooperation is attempted (de Vries 1990; Falkenmark 1992; Frey 1993; Lowi 1993; Wolf 1999a; Wolf and Hamner 2000; Wolf et al. 2003; Dombrowsky 2007; Zeitoun and Mirumachi 2008; Priscoli and Wolf 2009; De Stefano et al. 2010; Schmeier 2013; Zawahri et al. 2016; Mirumachi 2015; Dinar and Dinar 2017). The focus on cooperation rests on the institutional means for the equitable and sustainable sharing and management of water by the riparian countries (Wolf 1999b; Giordano and Wolf 2001; Lautze and Giordano 2006; Tarlock and Wouters 2007; De Stefano et al. 2012; Earle and Wouters 2015; Dinar and Tsur 2017), particularly under the conditions of climatic variability (Swain 2012; Earle et al. 2015; Dinar and Dinar 2017). There is also a general agreement that institutionally designed cooperation has been the historical path as well as the rational means to solve water disputes (Kaufman et al. 1997; Elhance 2000; Uitto and Duda 2002; Yoffe et al. 2003; UNDP 2006; Gleick 2009; Earle et al. 2010; Draper 2012; Schmeier 2013; Giordano et al. 2014; Earle and Wouters 2015; Hefner 2016; Dinar and Dinar 2017).

The conditions in the past that led to negotiated settlements for a simple or complicated problem may no longer prevail under a changed context. Changing natural (e.g., climate) and societal (e.g., demography or socioeconomic conditions or political dynamics) conditions may create new emergent patterns (e.g., role of non- state actors) and make current water issues complex. Today's constantly changing situations and issue configurations call for TWM resolution approaches to adapt to the needs of the changed context based on integrative learning and adaptive action.