EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Financial inclusion is a development strategy rooted in neo-liberal economic structures that aims to alleviate poverty through the inclusion of the poor in formal financial institutions and markets. One of the most commonly known methods of financial inclusion is microfinance, which experienced a surge of popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s as a result of Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Microfinance is known for self-help lending groups to minimize risk and the goal of creating entrepreneurs out of the poor. …


Introduction

Sharing a vital natural resource, water, between multiple groups requires significant cooperation, and in the event of anything less than plentiful supplies of water, carries the potential for conflict. In a world increasingly affected by climate change, the potential for severe water shortages and scarcity is rising in many low-income countries, which tend to be disproportionately located in arid water-scarce areas. The amount of water in the world today is the exact same amount that existed during Mesopotamian times: 1.386 million cubic kilometers of which 97.5% is saltwater and 2.5% is freshwater. This amounts to anywhere from 27 million…


Maya K. Peterson’s book, Pipe Dreams: Water and Empire in Central Asia’s Aral Sea Basin, markets itself as a tour through the actions and events that caused the draining of the Aral Sea Basin. In the introduction, the reader learns that Peterson will be taking an “environmental historical approach (Peterson, 2020, p. 4)” in her book, as no region’s environmental history can be understood without its human history, and vice versa. She dives quickly into the history from the first chapter, giving detailed accounts of the first Russian contact with the region. It becomes clear that two of Peterson’s strengths…


Near the end of his book, Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World, Laurence C. Smith asks the reader to imagine a world without rivers. He describes a high-altitude, inhospitable, and cold environment forcing humans to huddle near oases and coastlines. He considers if our cities would exist. He wonders if trade or movement could have ever happened (Smith, 2020, pg 316). This imagined scenario reinforces Smith’s argument: the rivers whose resources we take for granted, the rivers whose role we leave out of accounts of conflicts, development, and the rivers who…


For decades, national, regional, and international development organizations have been focused on solving energy challenges in developing countries by building large-scale hydropower infrastructure for sustainable development. In 2014, Atif Ansar, Bent Flyvbjerg, Alexander Budzier, and Daniel Lunn published the article “Should We Build More Large Dams? The Actual Costs of Hydropower Megaproject Development.” The paper built on the conclusions of the World Commission on Dams’ 2000 report, which showed many dams did not deliver expected benefits and services. Ansar et al compared the estimated construction costs of large dams to actual costs and argued that with the average dam running…


The legacy of colonialism haunts many African countries. European powers spent centuries extracting natural resources and human beings, inciting conflict, and changing states forever. To divide up land and resources, they signed treaties that continue to impact states and international law. Several of these treaties established control over the Nile Basin, impacting the one country to not be colonized. Ethiopia, in possession of the source of 86% of the Nile’s flow (Wheeler et al., 2020), managed to escape colonization. However, its use of the water was severely restricted by the United Kingdom, France, and Italy struggling for control within the…

Meadow Poplawsky

Current Oxford student studying Water Science, Policy and Management, interested in communication, cooperation, and conflict over transboundary rivers.

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