Working Paper

IDS working papers;111

Water for the Twenty-First Century: Challenges and Misconceptions

Published on 1 January 2000

This paper critically reviews some of the global debates and narratives concerning water scarcity, water ‘crises’ and water resources management and shows what they are obscuring. It also examines the various positions on water ranging from those viewing water as an economic good to those viewing water as a human right. The paper demonstrates how global debates and perspectives tend to draw on rather vague political, economic and theoretical assumptions rather than empirically-grounded facts and realities.

The paper argues for the need for a greater pluralism in the debates and for more attention to be paid to the multifaceted dimensions of water and its various expressions. There is a need for critical research to map out the mismatch between rhetoric and reality across macro, meso and micro realms, and explicit links to be made between water and power and politics.


Image of Lyla Mehta

Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

published by
Mehta, Lyla
IDS Working Paper, issue 111
1 85864 302 3


Related content