Understanding agricultural water management in a historical context using a socioeconomic and biophysical framework
Publication date: 1 March 2019
Source: Agricultural Water Management, Volume 213
Author(s): Vibeke Bjornlund, Henning Bjornlund
While the earliest irrigation societies were relatively simple in their technical and social structures, they represent complex socioecological systems where human activities interact with the biophysical environment. Actions taken within any part of the system affect other parts, often with detrimental environmental impact. In this paper, we propose an integrated framework that explains how the socioeconomic and biophysical factors influence the development of agricultural water management (AWM). We categorize AWM developments into six distinct stages with increasingly complex interactions between the socioeconomic and biophysical components of the system. We argue that the failure of AWM developments across time and space, and within any stage of complexity, is a consequence of a lack of understanding of the interconnectedness within these complex systems and a lack of political will to acknowledge and investigate the failure, which allows both positive and negative effects to influence decision-making.