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Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Professor Lyla Mehta is a Professorial Fellow at IDS. She trained as a sociologist (University of Vienna) and has a PhD in Development Studies (University of Sussex).

Her work focuses on water and sanitation, forced displacement and resistance, climate change, scarcity, rights and access, resource grabbing and the politics of environment/ development and sustainability. Her recent project focus on climate change, uncertainty and transformation in marginal environments and off grid sanitation in urban areas. She has extensive field research in India studying the politics of water scarcity, the linkages between gender, displacement and resistance, access to water and sanitation in peri urban areas and climate change. Additionally, she has worked on the politics of water management in southern Africa and community-led total sanitation. Lyla has engaged in advisory work with various UN agencies and has also been active in advocacy and activist work on gender, environment and development issues with NGOs and social movements in Europe and India. She was the water and sanitation convenor of the STEPS Centre and is currently editor of the journal Environment and Planning E, Nature and Space.

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System Change Hive

The System Change HIVE will explore and communicate visions of better lives to inform public thinking and work towards fairer systems that safeguard life-support systems and prioritise well-being and justice.



The value of water goes far beyond its stock price

In the midst of a global pandemic, when the presence of water in our lives has never seemed more important, its future availability has also never been more uncertain.  Water scarcity is now such a threat that it is even possible to trade in ‘water futures’ - joining commodities like gold...

22 March 2021


The last days of Indian democracy

India marks its 73rd year of freedom from colonial rule on August 15th, still claiming the mantle of the world's biggest democracy and a secular state where citizens’ constitutional rights are guaranteed. But those who have been paying attention to India are not celebrating. Covid-19 has given...

Image of Naomi Hossain
Naomi Hossain & 4 others

14 August 2020


Book Chapter

Uncertainty in Modelling Climate Change

The Politics of Uncertainty: Challenges of Transformation: Chapter 7

There is significant uncertainty in establishing the incidence, scale and pattern of change resulting from climatic events and environmental hazards. Scientific and policy attention has concentrated on how to manage – and particularly how to reduce – uncertainty. A range of approaches are...

1 January 2020


Water for Food Security, Nutrition and Social Justice

This book is the first comprehensive effort to bring together Water, Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) in a way that goes beyond the traditional focus on irrigated agriculture. Apart from looking at the role of water and sanitation for human well-being, it proposes alternative and more locally...

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Lyla Mehta & 4 others

19 September 2019

Lyla Mehta’s recent work


New IDS research project seeks to re-imagine ‘shit’ as ‘brown gold’

A new IDS-led research project seeks to re-imagine sanitation in rapidly urbanising areas in Asia and Africa to help address the sanitation crisis, enhance off–grid economies and improve the well-being of poor and vulnerable women and men, and marginalised communities such as Dalits,...

24 November 2020