The nature of water and land in K'am Samnar
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Water is the lifeblood of every living being on earth. In Cambodia water is abundantly available, but not always accessible. The Mekong river is an important vein in the life of many rural households in Cambodia. People in K’am Samnar commune govern and cultivate their food and water which is highly dependent on the flow of the river. Their hydro social lifeworld(s) focuses on dealing with common water resources. Most previous research that focussed on water as a common good around the Tonle Sap and the Mekong river delta looked primarily from the vantage point of national interests. This research focusses on comparing local practices with the way other entities such as state agencies govern the water from the Mekong river. Eight semi-structured interviews with farmers, a pump owner, local chiefs, and a spiritual elder, as well as a survey with 45 participants, an in-depth interview with ECOLAND, field notes and day reports about common land and water practices in K’am Samnar were analyzed. The analysis has an ontological view as well as an ecological lens. Little is known about the water and land practices of the inhabitants of K’am Samnar which is a border commune with Vietnam in the Leuk Daek district. Insight is given about the way rural livelihoods are shaped in K’am Samnar. Looking at, for example, the main source of income, food security, governance of land and water, development changes, and water, land and spirit practices. Furthermore, the management system used for common pool resources was closely examined as well as how this effect relations between people in this research area. Finally, multi-scalar water related issues are addressed from a local lens to show multiple power relations within processes of water governance; looking at different ontologies centred around the Prek(s). Within these Prek systems, the political scales and scalar power dynamics are visible in traditional and modern ways of dealing with water. Elements in the possible lifeworld(s) and local water ontologies can be suppressed by the more dominant development frameworks which may have effects on development outcomes.