Water and Human Development: Capabilities, Entitlements and Power

Published on 1 January 2006

Water and sanitation are key aspects of human development. For poor people, access to water and sanitation is a pre-requisite to achieving a minimum standard of health and to undertake productive activities. Moreover, water plays a key role enhancing agricultural and industrial productivity. Human freedom and access to water and sanitation go hand in hand. Without adequate, safe and affordable water and sanitation, billions of people around the globe are unable to lead healthy lives and lack the ability to build secure livelihoods. Women are denied their self-respect and dignity without sanitation and the lives of thousands of babies are dramatically cut short daily due to water-borne diseases and poor hygiene and sanitation. Poor women and men are also denied access to water and sanitation, either because it is too expensive or because they are excluded from the gains of large infrastructure projects such as dams and irrigation schemes. Finally, for many people, the basic choices regarding water and sanitation provision and the ability to participate in decision making processes are simply not available, and consequently they lack the basic capabilities required for human functioning and flourishing in the realms of water and sanitation.


Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

Mehta, L.
Human Development Report Occasional Paper


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