This paper examines participatory processes in an Asian Development Bank (ADB) technical assistance package in Thailand’s water resource sector. The authors analyse various levels of social interaction in the local community, in meso-level stakeholder consultations, and in opposition to ADB’s environment programmes expressed by civil society organisations. While participatory approaches are employed to promote more bottom-up management regimes in water resources, the authors find that local power and gender differences have been overlooked. Evolving institutions of resource governance are constituted by gender, reproducing gender inequalities such as regarding water intended for agricultural use as a ‘male’ resource. Finally, it is argued that understandings and practices of participation legitimise particular agendas in a politically polarised arena.
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