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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, 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.

Google Scholar



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.


Market-Based Mangrove Afforestation and Reforestation in Kenya and India

This study aims to understand and compare processes and relationships associated with the ‘marketization of nature’ – how nature-based commodities and markets for trading them are brought into being – in the context of mangrove afforestation, reforestation and restoration projects in...



Is global citizenship the answer to the ‘refugee crisis’?

The TV images of refugees being rescued from flimsy boats in the Mediterranean, or never making it are all too familiar. World Refugee Day is another reminder that on a daily basis, refugees are making treacherous journeys to find security, safety and peace. According to the UN Refugee Agency...

20 June 2019



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

7 November 2019

Journal Article

Unpacking Uncertainty and Climate Change From ‘Above’ and ‘Below’

Regional Environmental Change;6

Uncertainty is a key factor shaping climate and environmental policy at international, national and sub-national levels. It is usually defined as a situation characterised by indeterminacies and refers to what we cannot know for certain in terms of outcomes, effects or impacts of a particular...

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Lyla Mehta & 2 others

13 July 2019

Lyla Mehta’s recent work



Cities have a distinctive role in development processes: they are focal points for economic growth, jobs and innovation but also for poverty, inequality, vulnerability and conflict. Although we can learn from historical processes of urbanisation, there are many new development elements...