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Lyla Mehta - Research Fellow

Knowledge Technology and Society
T: +44 (0)1273 915677


Annie Lowden

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.

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

Lyla Mehta is a Professorial Research Fellow at IDS in the KNOTS team 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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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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PB63 Front Cover

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

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

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

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 Cost of a Knowledge Silo: A Systematic Re-review of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Interventions

Divisions between communities, disciplinary and practice, impede understanding of how complex interventions in health and other sectors actually work and slow the development and spread of more effective ones. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Global Politics of Water Grabbing

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

This is the image for IDS Policy Briefing 38, 'Ensuring Women and Girls’ Rights to Water and Sanitation Post-2015'.

Ensuring Women and Girls’ Rights to Water and Sanitation Post-2015

This policy briefing, part of the special MDG series, examines how a post 2015 framework can help ensure women and girls rights to water and sanitation. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Ensuring Rights to Water and Sanitation for Women and Girls

Access to water and sanitation for all is central to achieving global justice for poor women and men. Even though water and sanitation have been the focus of international development at least since the 1970s, the global aid architecture is straining to solve what appears on the surface a simple problem: how to provide water and sanitation to all. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Introduction to the Special Issue: Water Grabbing? Focus on the (Re)Appropriation of Finite Water Resources

Recent large-scale land acquisitions for agricultural production (including biofuels), popularly known as 'land grabbing', have attracted headline attention. Water as both a target and driver of this phenomenon has been largely ignored despite the interconnectedness of water and land. More details

This is the cover for IDS Bulletin 43.2 ' ‘Some for All?’ Politics and Pathways in Water and Sanitation'.

'Some for All?' Politics and Pathways in Water and Sanitation

This IDS Bulletin looks back at the legacy of the UN’s New Delhi 1990 global consultation and the Dublin Conference that followed, assessing their meaning and significance, and challenging the wider global water and sanitation community to rethink approaches and emphases, shifting from targets and pronouncement to sustainability and local knowledge. More details

This is the image for Time to Reimagine Development.

Time to Reimagine Development

The major global crises of the past four years have collectively had a dramatic impact on people's lives and livelihoods – but have they also had a large impact on core ideas underlying mainstream development? More details

Non-IDS publication

Rewriting Citizenship in Displacement: Displaced People’s Struggles for Rights

For displaced people, citizenship (or the lack of it) is a crucial issue. Displaced people are denied formal citizenship and rights but are now claiming them, subjectively seeing their de facto experience as lived citizenship. Protests, claim assertions and transnational alliances are ways in which their struggle for rights is manifested. More details

IDS Working Paper

Citizenship and Displacement

Crucial for displaced people is citizenship (or the lack of it). In conventional terms, citizenship is seen as political membership in a given nation-state through which citizens possess civil, political, economic and social rights. More details

IDS Research Summary

Citizenship and Displacement

Crucial for displaced people is citizenship (or lack of it). They are often denied formal citizenship and rights, yet sometimes able to claim those rights through protest, claim assertion and transnational alliances. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Limits to Scarcity: Contesting the Politics of Allocation (South East Asian edition)

Scarcity is considered a ubiquitous feature of the human condition. It underpins much of modern economics and is widely used as an explanation for social organisation, social conflict and the resource crunch confronting humanity's survival on the planet. More details

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