Government in The Republic of Cyprus: Responding to the Problems of Water Scarcity and Quality
Water management is a significant challenge in The Republic of Cyprus. The country is subject to a number of water problems based on scarcity and quality, with these stemming from limited precipitation inputs, drought, the overuse of groundwater, as well as the spatial disparity of supply and demand due to population growth, agriculture, tourism, and climate change. The convergence of these aspects has generated water problems, which necessitate the use of particular problem-solving responses by government that are targeted at securing the provision of water services and sustaining socio-economic development. To understand how government in Cyprus has responded to water management problems this thesis adopts an understanding based on John Dryzek’s (2013) problem-solving rationalities of administrative rationalism, democratic pragmatism, and economic rationalism. These reflect and build on the three methods that societies use to coordinate and organise responses to socio-environmental problems, namely mandatory, voluntary, and economic approaches. The problem-solving rationalities provide a unique way of understanding government problem-solving due to an interpretation that focuses on the specifics of problem-solving, based on; actor roles, motives, and behaviour; rhetoric; the evolution of responses over time; as well as the use of multiple concepts that are brought together to offer a more inclusive conceptualisation. This research adopts a qualitative approach to data collection and utilises semi-structured interviews to understand the views, roles, and experiences of key actors in problem-solving. A case study approach provides an appropriate context and facilitates detailed analysis of the problem-solving rationalities. The Republic of Cyprus offers a unique and appropriate case study setting. This is justified based on; tangible problems of scarcity and quality in practice; the potential to generate new insights in relation to small, Mediterranean, and peripheral EU state experiences; as well as limited previous research understanding government responses and considering actor roles and behaviour when responding to water problems. Based on the findings, Dryzek’s rationalities demonstrated a good level of applicability, with certain aspects shown to be justifiable such as the basis of administrative rationalism, the idea that some civil servants act in the public interest, and evidence of management challenges expected by Dryzek. Some differences were also found in relation to the existence or non-existence of certain methods or constructs; differences in some natural relationships; as well as variability in actor type, role, behaviour, and motivation. A range of emerging themes were identified as a result of the findings. These included; an alternative understanding of the evolutionary format of problem-solving; the role and influence of supranational governance; the importance of aspects such as culture and economic status; as well as the strong influence of politics. Ultimately, the management challenges of the rationalities, similarities and differences found in practice relating to the characteristics of the rationalities, as well as the emerging themes identified through the findings, have been utilised to develop understanding of problem-solving in Cyprus.
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