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Plantation Development in the Turkana Basin: The Making of a New Desert?

Stevenson, EGJ; (2018) Plantation Development in the Turkana Basin: The Making of a New Desert? Land , 7 (1) , Article 16. 10.3390/land7010016. Green open access

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Abstract

Since the early 20th century, “desert reclamation” has been synonymous with large-scale waterworks and irrigation. These techniques have made it possible to produce abundant crops in arid or semi-arid environments. The costs have often been externalized, with increased environmental productivity in the new croplands counterbalanced by increased aridity elsewhere. In this paper I consider whose interests are served by such projects, and what kinds of social constructions of the natural and human environment make them possible. I focus on the Turkana basin, a watershed spanning the Ethiopian and Kenyan borders, where large dams and irrigation projects are currently being established with the goal of producing cash crops and hydro-electricity. In the narratives of the projects’ proponents, the schemes are represented as part of a tradition of development stretching back to the American West. In the discourse of critics, the Aral Sea of Central Asia is frequently invoked. Considering Turkana in relation to these cases sheds light on the political and ecological gambits involved in desert reclamation, and helps us to understand the costs and benefits of such projects.

Type: Article
Title: Plantation Development in the Turkana Basin: The Making of a New Desert?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/land7010016
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3390/land7010016
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: desert reclamation; desertification; river basin development; political ecology; water
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10044467
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