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Drops of Diplomacy: Questioning the Scale of Hydro-Diplomacy through Fog-Harvesting

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Original languageEnglish
JournalJOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY
DOIs
E-pub ahead of print13 May 2018

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Abstract

Hydro-diplomacy conversations have up till now been generally state- and basin-centric, focused on formal international relations and transboundary rivers. This paper applies the notion of water diplomacy to a project in rural Southwest Morocco in order to interrogate the scalar potential of water-based environmental peacebuilding. In the Aït Baamrane region of the Anti-Atlas Mountains, a local non-profit oversees the world’s largest operational fog-harvesting system, piping potable water collected from the mountains’ extensive fog cover to 13 Amazigh villages. Dar Si Hmad’s related Ethnographic Field School leverages the fog project’s uniqueness to attract scholars to an underrepresented region, where research programming questions mainstream narratives of Morocco and sustainable development while exploring how traditional knowledges can be integrated in scientific innovation. This paper argues that, by intentionally using fog to facilitate collaborative exchange, Dar Si Hmad is engaging in a form of hydro-diplomacy. Drawing from ethnographic data and building on international relations theories of Track Diplomacy, this paper demonstrates how fog water is being used to lay the groundwork for durable peace, intercultural understanding, and symbiotic growth. Such local iterations of hydro-diplomacy should be better understood and integrated with the emerging literature on state-to-state water cooperation in order to develop holistic expertise, share best practices, and promote positive policy interventions.

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