Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Hermen Smit

Date: 17 December 2019
Location: Westvest 7, 2611 AX Delft

Dissertation title: 

Making water security – A morphological account of Nile River development

Group: Water Governance, IHE Delft
Promotor: Prof. Dr. Pieter van der Zaag
Co-promotor: Dr. Rhodante Ahlers


This dissertation examines Nile water security through the morphology of the river. It uses the changing morphology of the river as an empirical and theoretical device to understand how infrastructures and discourses of Nile water security change with the river they redistribute. This yields three new insights: 1. A history of dam construction shows how three waves of investment in large scale hydraulic infrastructure have shifted the definition of and limits to water security along the river. 2. Three contemporary projects show how with the revival of new mega-projects in the name of water security in the new millennium, the limits of these projects become increasingly evident. 3. By moving from the idea of science as a tool for discovery towards science as a mode of conversation about sustainability and equity, the dissertation shows how scientific tools can be mobilized to push for more emancipatory agendas of Nile development.

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