Divided waters: a hydropolitical analysis of development, space, and labour in N'Djamena, Chad
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date16/08/2023
This thesis analyses the everyday politics of water in N’Djamena, Chad and its implications for various realms in the urbanscape. Water workers and end-users coexist and punctually collaborate with numerous other space-users in public places such as community squares, where water is prominently sourced. I argue that water and social life occupy distinct spaces within the same squares, a dissociative process that leads to “multiplex spaces”. The research further demonstrates that water access and supply in peripheral and working-class neighbourhoods of N’Djamena operate as a moral economy characterised by precarity and shifting temporalities but also strong agentive struggles and solidarity. Similarly, agents of Chad’s National Water Company engage in “hydraulic bricolages” during maintenance and connection operations. Despite endeavours to build universal infrastructural networks, multiple water supply schemes coexist in N’Djamena, as exemplified by the borehole economy. As such, localised water delivery solutions are likely to prevail, a situation of “reticular urbanism.” Furthermore, development projects funded by foreign donors reshape N’Djamena’s waterscape. These projects rely on local fieldworkers that engage in community work. Community work undertaken by municipal officers and neighbourhood association members appears as an essential form of relational work that require in-depth social and technical knowledge. Finally, dynamics of water patronage suggest that politicians and local leaders can choose different paths that imply contrasting levels of territoriality; while professional politicians might decide to fund water works to build up their popularity in their constituencies, chiefs tend to rely on water as a profitable business venture.
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