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Lyla Mehta - Research Fellow

Resource Politics; Cities; Gender and Sexuality
T: +44 (0)1273 915677


Annie Lowden

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Lyla Mehta is a Professorial Research Fellow at IDS and a Visiting Professor at Noragric, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. She trained as a sociologist (University of Vienna) and has a Ph.d. in Development Studies (University of Sussex).

Her work focuses on water and sanitation, forced displacement and resistance, scarcity, rights and access, resource grabbing and the politics of environment/ development and sustainability. More recently, her projects have addressed peri urban dynamics, the politics of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Africa and uncertainty and climate change from below in India. She has extensive field research in India studying the politics of water scarcity, the linkages between gender, displacement and resistance, access to water in peri urban areas and climate change and uncertainty.

Additionally, she has worked on water management issues in southern Africa and studied the cultural and institutional aspects of sanitation in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia and the scaling of community-led total sanitation. Her work uses the case of water to explore conceptual and empirical questions concerning scarcity, power, politics, uncertainty, rights and access to resources, the contested nature of the 'public' and 'private' and the cultural politics of development. She is currently the water and sanitation domain convenor of the STEPS centre.

This EPSRC project focuses on the 'peri-urban' environment, which includes areas outside cities that are characterised by poor infrastructure, and poor access to formal water and sanitation services.

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This research seeks to link ideas of IWRM as constructed at the global and European level to their translation into narratives and practices in eastern and southern Africa. It will critically examine the interpretations and challenges of IWRM, hopefully contributing to improving water policies and practices and making them locally appropriate.

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Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a participatory approach that started in Bangladesh and has been spread to varying degrees in India, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Nepal. To a limited degree, it has also been trialled in some African countries.

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This project examines the role of peri-urban spaces in urban expansion and how resilience can be fostered in these contexts.

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Water is an invisible passenger travelling on and under roads. Roads also act as dikes altering run-off patterns and sometimes even re-arranging watersheds. Road programs and projects directly deal with existing land and water property and user rights: farmers gaining or losing water resources.

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Water scarcity has emerged as a potential 'global crisis' with serious implications for food security, human health and social and economic development. The UN estimates that 2.7 billion people will face water scarcity by 2025. Against a growing alarmism around 'water wars', solutions have been framed to address 'water governance' due to a perceived lack of efficient public sector management.

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The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development.

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The Water Justice Programme critically examines the politics and pathways of water and sanitation policy and practice through interdisciplinary research on access, rights and control over these key resources

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Search and filter for all the author's publications by journal, research theme, country and much more.

This is the cover to IDS Policy Briefing 77, 'Learning from Southern Africa on Fair and Effective Integrated Water Resources Management'.

Learning from Southern Africa on Fair and Effective Integrated Water Resources Management

IDS Policy Briefing 77 (2014)

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been promoted by international donors, global water organisations and financers as the answer to the water crisis in the Global South. More details

PB63 Front Cover

The Potential and Limits of the ‘Resilience Agenda’ in Peri-urban Contexts

IDS Policy Briefing 63 (2014)

Today, it is acknowledged that peri-urban space plays a critical and increasing role role is still poorly understood and peri-urban areas are rarely recognised in the in relation to urban expansion. Yet this different relevant decision-making spheres, leading to the political and economic marginalisation of peri-urban residents, who are often among the poor. More details

ER63 Front Cover

Exploring the Potential and Limits of the Resilience Agenda in Rapidly Urbanising Contexts

IDS Evidence Report 63 (2014)

More than half the world’s population now live in urban areas. In developing countries, these areas will become home to almost all of the projected 50 per cent population growth that will occur between now and 2030, swelling urban populations by a further 1.3 billion by 2030 and 2.5 billion by 2050 (GMR 2013). More details

This is the cover image for IDS Working Paper 438, 'Flows and Practices: Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in African Contexts'.

Flows and Practices: Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in African Contexts

IDS Working Paper 438 (2014)

For the past two decades, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been considered the dominant paradigm in water resources. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Global Politics of Water Grabbing

Third World Quarterly 34.9 (2013)

The contestation and appropriation of water is not new, but recent global debates on land grabbing are bringing increased attention to a water perspective in these discussions. Water grabbing takes place in a field that is plural-legal, both locally and globally. Formal law has been fostering grabs, both in land and water. More details

Understanding water for food security

04 Apr 2014
By Lyla Mehta

Are African land grabs really water grabs?

25 Mar 2013
By Lyla Mehta

Thematic Expertise:
Citizenship; Climate Change; Climate Change Vulnerability and Resilience; Conflict and Security; Environment; Gender; Migration; Politics and Power; Rights; Science and Society; Water and Sanitation.

Related Programmes and Centres:

Geographic Expertise:
South East Asia; Sub Saharan Africa; Bangladesh; Ethiopia; India; Indonesia; South Africa.