Margreet Zwarteveen Prof., PhD, MSc

Professor of Water Governance


Margreet Zwarteveen is an irrigation engineer and social scientist, who joined IHE Delft in 2014 to become its professor of Water Governance, within the Integrated Water Systems and Water Governance Department. Her professorial affiliation is with the Governance and Inclusive Development Group at the UvA, see

Zwarteveen studies water allocation policies and practices, focusing on questions of equity and justice. Her research includes the study of different institutional and technical modalities for allocating water and regulating water flows, and of different ways to understand or legitimize these. Zwarteveen uses an interdisciplinary approach, seeing water allocation as the outcome of interactions between nature, technologies and society.

The relation between power and water is central in the work of Zwarteveen, with explicit attention to gender. Her current research looks at re-allocations of water from agriculture and rural areas to cities and industries: how do these re-allocations happen, with what effects, and how are they legitimized in policies and knowledge? She for instance studies how the introduction of supposedly water efficient technologies (drip irrigation) goes accompanied with, and causes, changes in water tenure relations that favour some people more than others. Zwarteveen is also interested in questions emerging at the interface between science and policy when governing water, especially in relation to the challenges of dealing with complexities and uncertainties.

Zwarteveen coordinates a CGIAR Water, Land and Ecosystem project called Inclusive Water Accounting, and is the Dutch coordinator of an Open Research Area project, called Delta's dealings with uncertainties (DOUBT) (see or 



Dominguez-Guzman, C., A. Verzijl and M. Zwarteveen. 2017. Water Footprints and ‘Pozas’: Conversations about Practices and Knowledges of Water Efficiency. Water (9):16.

Sosa, Milagros and M. Zwarteveen. 2016. Questioning the effectiveness of planned conflict resolution strategies in water disputes between rural communities and mining companies in Peru. Water International.

Wanvoeke, J., Venot, J.P., de Fraiture, C. and Zwarteveen, M. 2016. Smallholder drip irrigation in Burkina Faso: The role of development brokers. Journal of Development Studies

Wanvoeke, J., Venot, J.P., Zwarteveen, M. and Fraiture de, C. 2016. Farmers' logics in engaging with smallholder drip irrigation projects in Burkina Faso. Society and Natural Resources

Roth, D., R. Boelens and M. Zwarteveen. 2015. Property, Legal Pluralism and water rights: the critical analysis of water governance and the politics of recognizing ‘local’ rights. The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Local Law 47(3): 456-475.

Bossenbroek, L., van der Ploeg J.D. and Zwarteveen, M. 2015. Broken dreams? Youth experiences of agrarian change in Morocco’s Saiss region, Cahiers Agricultures 24 (6): 342-348.

Kooij, S., M. Zwarteveen and M. Kuper. 2015. The material of the social. The mutual shaping of institutions by irrigation technology and society in Seguia Krichfa, Morocco. International Journal of the Commons.

Ahlers, R., Budds, J., Joshi, D., V. Merme and M. Zwarteveen. 2015. Framing hydropower as green energy: assessing drivers, risks and tensions in the Eastern Himalayas. Earth System Dynamics 6: 195-204.

Wanvoeke, J., J.-P. Venot, M. Zwarteveen and C. de Fraiture. 2015. Performing the success of an innovation: the case of smallholder drip irrigation in Burkina Faso. Water International

Joy, J.K., S. Kulkarni, D. Roth and M. Zwarteveen. 2014. Repoliticizing water governance. Exploring water re-allocations in terms of justice. Local Environment 19(9): 954-973


M. Zwarteveen; S. Ahmed and S. Gautam (eds.). 2012. Diverting the Flow: Gender Equity and Water in South Asia. New Delhi: Zubaan Publishers.

Chapters in books

M. Zwarteveen. 2016. Questioning Masculinities in Water. In: M. Shah and P.S. Vijayshankar (eds.), Water. Growing Understanding, Emerging Perspectives. Essays from Economic and Political Weekly. Hyderabad: Orient Black Swan: 199-217.

M.Z. Zwarteveen and J. Liebrand. 2015. Performing modernity: the scalar politics of irrigation development in Nepal. In: E. S. Norman, C. Cook, and A. Cohen (eds.) Scaling Water Governance: The politics of watersheds, waterscapes, and hydrosocial networks. Ashgate.

L. Bossenbroek and M. Zwarteveen. 2015. 'One doesn't sell one's parents': gendered experiences of shifting tenure regimes in the agricultural plain of the Sais in Morocco. In: C. Archambault and A. Zoomers (eds.), Global Trends in Land Tenure Reform. Gender Impacts. Londen and New York: Routledge. 


Zwarteveen, M. 2015. Regulating Water, Ordering Society. Politics and Practices of Water Governance. Inaugural Lecture, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.