The Big Water of a Small River: Flood Experiences and a Community Agenda for Change
This chapter draws on observations from anthropological fieldwork in a flood-prone area in northeast Siberia to comment on how rural residents assess and “process” destructive consequences of floods in their interaction with water and multiple water governance scales. The massive Soviet “river-turning” projects figure prominently in the development programmes in the Tatta District, an area that has suffered from drought for several decades. Due to the state programme for transporting water from the Lena River, the largest in northeast Siberia, to Tatta, the small Tatta River became a dense network of water management projects. The research demonstrates that the governmental and local agenda for dealing with increased flooding – the causes of such a departure from the norm, the view of “things to be governed” and “how they should be governed” – may differ considerably. This paper focuses on how rural communities search for a balance in their adaptive practices amid several tensions: conflicting attributions of disaster to dams and irrigation constructions as opposed to natural changes; the threat of increased flooding alongside a practical need for development projects; and the clash between the governmental ‘emergency’ approach and communities’ long-term adaptive practices.
KeywordsAffordances Culturally “affiliated” community Russian North Republic of Sakha Yakutia Tatta River Flood Natural disaster Development projects Human-nature interaction Emergency strategy Perception and action Local adaptation
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