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    UPR 299 - CNRS
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Doctor in geography

Contact : caroline.sarrazin1 [at]

Title of thesis : "Someway between common property, ecosystem functions and productive systems : Tarai ponds faced with recent socio-spatial transformations (Nepal). (Entre bien commun, fonctions écosystémiques et systèmes productifs : les plans d’eau du Téraï face aux récentes transformations socio-spatiales (Népal))

Supervisor :
Joëlle Smadja (Director of research - UPR 299)


The Tarai Plain (Nepal), which is subjected to considerable land pressure and competition for resources, is undergoing extreme socio-cultural and territorial changes that are affecting the way water is managed, notably through the use of waterbodies, called “pokhari” in Nepali. Regarded as a rich cultural heritage, these waterbodies have multiple functions - social, religious, environmental as well as economic - and are still regularly used by the Tharu and Madeshi populations who settled in the Tarai several generations ago. However, the “pokhari” have been largely overlooked by scholars and are of purely economic interest to Nepalese institutions which have broken with local knowledge and traditional practices.

In writing this thesis I intend to fill in the gaps in our scientific knowledge. My purpose is twofold : firstly, to analyse the diversity of these “pokhari” with the aim of establishing a comprehensive typology of these hydraulic infrastructures that are to be found in the Tarai, using geospatial and qualitative data ; secondly to identify the management methods and to reflect on the factors that determine this diversity of shapes and uses.

Keywords : Tarai ; waterbodies ; social management ; water ; pressure ; competition ; territorial dynamics ; socio-economic stakes ; twenty-first century
Video (in French) : " Caroline Sarrazin - gestion des plans d’eau au Népal " (Caroline Sarrazin - waterbody management in Nepal)