Why social engineering approaches fail to solve socio-political problems

A lot of the reform agendas in the field of natural resource management are framed by natural scientists and engineers. Molinga, Meinzen-Dick and Merrey show why their approaches often fail as they don’t keep the the political and network nature of water resource management reform in the picture:

Politics, Plurality and Problemsheds: A Strategic Approach for Reform of Agricultural Water Resources Management, by Peter P. Mollinga, Ruth S. Meinzen-Dick and
Douglas J. Merrey

They write:

“Our sketch of the contours of a ‘strategic action’ approach to policy reform, as an
alternative to a social engineering perspective, has the following three components.
(i) the benefits of a ‘problemshed’ rather than a ‘watershed’ perspective, i.e., using
‘issue network’ as the unit of analysis rather than ‘basin’;
(ii) the existence, relevance and advantages of plurality in organisations, institutions
and water-management objectives;
(iii) the operational implications of the specifics of the embeddedness and contextuality
of agricultural water management.”

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