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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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Towards Brown Gold: Alleppey, India

Alleppey, a major tourist destination in Kerala, has seen a congestion of its extensive ‘backwater’ canals and severe damage to its fragile ecosystem due to poor waste management practices. The liquid waste management in Alleppey is inadequate as there is no treatment of faecal waste. It...



Mumbai and the world should listen to its fishing communities

Facing the dual threat of climate change and human disturbance, Mumbai – and the world – should listen to its fishing communities Coastal cities and settlements are at the forefront of climate disruption. Rising sea levels, warmer seas and changes in rainfall patterns are together creating...

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Lyla Mehta & 2 others

24 October 2022


Between the cracks of the sanitation grid: a photo story of Nanded

Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are intrinsically linked. Without a clean, safe source of water nearby it is nearly impossible for communities to have adequate sanitation facilities, and inadequate sanitation facilities often spill over and pollute drinking water sources....

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Lyla Mehta & 3 others

24 August 2022


75 years of independence for India and Pakistan

75 years ago, Britain ended its 200-year rule of India and the independent nations of Pakistan and India were born. IDS researcher Lyla Mehta who was born and raised in Bombay, India, reflects on this anniversary and today’s struggle for freedom and human rights for all. This partition was...

15 August 2022


Working Paper

Increased Attention to Water is Key to Adaptation

There is growing awareness that water is central to climate change adaptation. Water is a top adaptation priority in 79% of the Nationally Determined Contributions. However, there are several challenges in translating these commitments to substantive benefits on the ground, in particular for...

3 February 2022


The Politics of Climate Change and Uncertainty in India

This book brings together diverse perspectives concerning uncertainty and climate change in India. Uncertainty is a key factor shaping climate and environmental policy at international, national and local levels. Climate change and events such as cyclones, floods, droughts and changing rainfall...

23 December 2021

Journal Article

The social Life of Mangroves: Neoliberal Development and Mangrove Conservation in the Changing Landscape of Kutch

Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space

This article explores the convergence of neoliberal development and mangrove conservation in marginal environments, which are becoming the new resource frontiers. We focus on Kutch, a border district in western India and highlight how the contested trajectories of accelerated and aggressive...

29 October 2021

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