Date

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

Political Science

First Adviser

Casagrande, David

Abstract

This thesis explores how, for more than four millennia, neighboring Afghan tribal communities have exercised highly decentralized, community-based freshwater management practices. I argue that these practices can act as both a model for how to structure Afghan polity at large as well as a global lesson in environmental resource management. The staying-power of these highly decentralized institutions is especially confounding for US policymakers because despite enduring nearly three decades of unrelenting violent conflict, these community-based freshwater management practices have remained a bulwark against "modern" western capitalist expansionism. These management practices are exceptionally resilient because they draw their strength from the people-to-people relationships they create and because they place the decision-making power firmly in the hands of the community. These time-honored practices are under attack by economic intervention from western capitalists and the structural adjustment schemes needed for its entrenchment. Using these community-based freshwater management practices as a model for Afghanistan's political organization at large, I recommend ethnofederalism with consociational power sharing at the center because it fits Afghanistan's specific cultural and environmental considerations. The decentralized nature of this strategy also leaves the decision-making power firmly in the hands of the tribal communities.

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