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The Australian National University

Fresh water in the Maningrida region’s hybrid economy: Intercultural contestation over values and property rights

Working Paper 46 / 2008


This report presents preliminary research about fresh water governance arrangements in the Maningrida region of some 10,000 square kilometres in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. The report begins with a discussion of methodology before turning to a description of the region’s water resources. The focus is on three linked broad perspectives on water: a historical analysis of the political economy of water; a sectoral analysis of water in the regional 'hybrid' economy; and a spatial analysis of water governance in Maningrida and the hinterland. These three perspectives are combined in a discussion about cross-cultural contestation over water values and property rights, and early steps that might be taken to ameliorate such contestation are outlined. Finally, it is suggested that a new water governance paradigm that lies beyond the water allocation system might be needed in this region.

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