Water Justice Programme

The Water Justice Programme (WaJuP) 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. Through this research we ask how future global action on water and sanitation and water resources management can centralise the needs of the poor and most marginalised.

Water and sanitation for all provided in an equitable and sustainable way is central to global justice for poor women and men. Despite successive global declarations and efforts, hundreds of millions still suffer from lack of access. Simplistic portrayals of water and sanitation 'crises' have often led to misunderstandings on the nature of the problem and how to address it. The result has been a failure to centralise the needs and interests of the poor and marginalised within different solutions. Our research works in the following areas to seek sustainable and equitable solutions:

Rights and global politics

Even though water and sanitation are recognised as global rights, we ask:

  • Why is there such a gap between rights talk and rights practice?
  • How can questions of accountability, duties, responsibilities and financial arrangements be adequately addressed to make rights a reality for poor women and men? 
  • How do different rights jurisdictions interact with each other, and how can the rights of those most at risk be protected and strengthened?

Risk, sustainability and equity

Sanitation and water supply and water resources management need to become more equitable and sustainable in order to ensure future global poverty reduction, we ask:

  • How, given growing uncertainties, including rapid urbanisation and climate change policy can be constructed that more adequately responds to issues of risk and vulnerability?
  • Given that sustainability will always be contested, how can we ensure that we balance the right to water with other rights, including environmental justice and environmental flows to sustain ecosystems?

Growth and development

Water resources management and water and sanitation services are central to achieving equitable economic growth, we ask:

  • How can we ensure that policy instruments avoid harm and ensure fair entitlements for poor and marginalised communities?
  • How can managers and users be enabled to balance demands between sectors and between urban and rural areas more effectively in order to ensure greater human security?

Key contact

Photo of Lyla Mehta

T: +44 (0)1273 915677

E: l.mehta@ids.ac.uk

More details
Photo of Jeremy Allouche, IDS research fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915834

E: j.allouche@ids.ac.uk

More details
Photo of Naomi Vernon

T: +44 (0)1273 915684

E: n.vernon@ids.ac.uk

More details
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The Global Politics of Water Grabbing

Third World Quarterly 34.9 (2013)
Franco, J., Mehta, L. and Veldwisch, G. J.

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

IDS Policy Briefing 38 (2013)
Corbett, H. and Mehta, L.

Voices from the source: Struggles with local water security in Ethiopia

Dessalegn, M., Nigussie, L., Michago, W., Tucker, J., Nicol, A. and Calow, R.

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

Water Alternatives 5.2 (2012)
Mehta, L., Vedwisch, G.J.A. and Franco, J.

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

IDS Bulletin 43.2 (2012)
Nicol, A., Mehta, L. and Allouche, J.

The Social Construction of Scarcity: The Case of Water in Western India

In 'Global Political Ecology' (2011)
Peet, R., Robbins, P. and Watts, M.J.

Water Security: towards the human securitization of water?

The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations 12.1 (2011)
Allouche, J., Nicol, A. and Mehta, L.

Water Rights and State Management in India and South Africa

In 'Citizenship and Social Movements: Perspectives from the Global South' (2010)
Thompson, L. and Tapscott, C.

Contexts and Constructions of Water Scarcity

In 'State of Justice in India: Issues of Social Justice, Volume IV, Key Texts on Social Justice in India' (2009)
Roohi, S. and Samaddar, R.

Going with the Flow? Directions of Innovation in the Water and Sanitation Domain

STEPS Working Paper 29 (2009)
Movik, S. and Mehta, L.

Water and State Formation

In 'The Politics of Water' (2009)
Warner, J. and Wegerich, K.

Water Sector Evolution Scenarios: The Case of Europe

Water Policy 10.3 (2008)
Allouche, J., Finger, M. and Luis-Manso, P.

Contexts and Constructions of Scarcity

In 'Contested Grounds: Essays on Nature, Culture, and Power' (2008)
Baviskar, A.

Liquid Dynamics: Challenges for Sustainability in Water and Sanitation

STEPS Working Paper 6 (2007)
Mehta, L., Marshall, F., Movik, S., Stirling, A., Shah, E., Smith, A. and Thompson, J.
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