Multi-level hegemony in transboundary Flood Risk Management: A downstream perspective on the Maritsa Basin


Anusha Sanjeev Mehta * , Jeroen F. Warner

Sociology of Development & Change, Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, The Netherlands


While the literature takes a neutral to optimistic view of cooperation between the riparian countries Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece on Flood Risk Management (FRM), floods in the Maritsa Basin have been increasing over the last decade. Considering the inherently political nature of transboundary rivers, this article investigates the role of power in FRM in the Maritsa Basin using an adapted hydro-hegemony conceptual framework. Interviews with actors at different levels, regional and central, in transboundary FRM and field visits to the Maritsa Basin in Greece and Turkey provided a downstream multi-level perspective of hydro-hegemony in the basin. Contradicting hydro-hegemony literature, Bulgaria’s presumed hydro-hegemonic control of the basin is found to be based on geographical and ideational power, expressed in silence and non-engagement rather than discursive and ideological power shaping perceptions. Additionally, power relations influence not just interactions at the basin level but also between the national and regional levels. The distance between the seat of power and area of disaster impact has led to a lack of understanding and interconnectivity as well as prioritisation of the Centre’s agenda, and thus (in)sufficient action from the riparian countries.

Keywords: Maritsa river basin Flood risk management Transboundary rivers Multi-level hegemony Power dynamics

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