Soft power and transboundary water regimes: The case of the proposed inter-basin water transfer between Lake Chad and the Congo River

Soft Power and Transboundary Water Regimes: The Case of the Proposed Inter-Basin Water Transfer between Lake Chad and the Congo River

- America/Toronto

As part of the University of Waterloo’s Water Institute’s Seminar series, Dr Caner Sayan, UNU-INWEH Postdoctoral Fellow: Water Security, will present, “Soft Power and Transboundary Water Regimes: The Case of the Proposed Inter-Basin Water Transfer between Lake Chad and the Congo River”. The seminar will take place on Wednesday 25 March, 2:30 PM, QNC – Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre.


The shrinking surface water of Lake Chad has remained a hot topic in the political agendas of the Sahel region since the 1960s. As a response to revitalize the Lake, an Italian engineering firm-Bonifica- drafted a large-scale inter-basin water transfer project (known as Transaqua project) aiming to divert water from the Congo River to Lake Chad through a 2400-km-long canal in the 1970s. Since then, this project has been slowly shaping a new transboundary regime in this region – a regime that is shaped by the private sector and one that looks beyond the regular inter-state discourses in transboundary water governance settings. This presentation examines the diverse narratives from member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, Congo Basin riparian actors, state agencies and the private sector -all of whom are closely involved in the creation of the consensus building to realize or to block the implementation of Transaqua. Through the examination of tactics and strategies of soft power such as agenda-setting, securitization, issue-linkage and knowledge construction, the role of multiple actors and the complexity surrounding the Transaqua are explained. Overall, this presentation demonstrates how states, regional organisations and the private sector have exercised multifaceted strategies towards creating a new transboundary water regime and transnationalization of the Lake Chad water crisis scenario.


Speaker Bio

Ramazan Caner Sayan is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Water Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH). He has a BSc degree in International Relations from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey and a joint-MSc degree, funded by the Erasmus Mundus Consortium, in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management from Central European University, the University of Manchester, Lund University and University of the Aegean. He obtained his PhD degree in Water Governance & Policy from the University of Dundee in 2016 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher, consultant and part-time lecturer in the same university between 2016 and 2018. His work focuses broadly on water politics, policy & governance, environmental and water justice, the study of dams and water infrastructure and the politics of transboundary water with a regional focus on developing countries.

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