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Water and Human Development


  • Mehta, Lyla


The article argues for a human development approach to the water “crisis.” It explores the application of the entitlements approach (EA) and capabilities approach (CA) to water. EA goes beyond volumetric or per capita measurements of water scarcity and directs attention to the structural and institutional issues concerning water inequalities. CA focuses on links between water and wellbeing. Both strengthen the case for the human right to water and break down false distinctions between water for domestic and productive purposes. Despite challenges with operationalizing CA and EA, a human development approach to water helps question the sector’s traditional focus on utilitarianism and efficiency. It also directs attention to equity and to the needs and interests of the marginalized and excluded.

Suggested Citation

  • Mehta, Lyla, 2014. "Water and Human Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 59-69.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:59:y:2014:i:c:p:59-69
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2013.12.018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nussbaum, Martha, 1987. "Nature, Function and Capability," WIDER Working Papers 295560, United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    Cited by:

    1. Geoff Goodwin, 2018. "Water, Infrastructure and Power: Contention and Resistance in Post‐colonial Cities of the South," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 49(6), pages 1616-1630, November.
    2. Schwartz, Klaas & Tutusaus, Mireia & Savelli, Elisa, 2017. "Water for the urban poor: Balancing financial and social objectives through service differentiation in the Kenyan water sector," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 22-31.
    3. Kistemann, Thomas, 2018. "Gesundheitliche Bedeutung blauer Stadtstrukturen," Forschungsberichte der ARL: Aufsätze, in: Baumgart, Sabine & Köckler, Heike & Ritzinger, Anne & Rüdiger, Andrea (ed.), Planung für gesundheitsfördernde Städte, volume 8, pages 317-331, ARL – Akademie für Raumentwicklung in der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft.
    4. repec:hal:journl:hal-01023795 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gimelli, Francesco M. & Bos, Joannette J. & Rogers, Briony C., 2018. "Fostering equity and wellbeing through water: A reinterpretation of the goal of securing access," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 1-9.
    6. Zamani, Omid & Grundmann, Philipp & Libra, Judy A. & Nikouei, Alireza, 2019. "Limiting and timing water supply for agricultural production – The case of the Zayandeh-Rud River Basin, Iran," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 222(C), pages 322-335.
    7. Dickin, Sarah & Bisung, Elijah & Nansi, Juste & Charles, Katrina, 2021. "Empowerment in water, sanitation and hygiene index," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    8. Swann Bommier & Cécile Renouard, 2014. "On Equity in India's Water Supply Public-Private Partnerships," Working Papers hal-01023795, HAL.
    9. Norbert Brunner & Vijay Mishra & Ponnusamy Sakthivel & Markus Starkl & Christof Tschohl, 2015. "The Human Right to Water in Law and Implementation," Laws, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-59, August.
    10. Bommier, Swann & Renouard, Cécile, 2014. "On Equity in India's Water Supply Public-Private Partnerships," ESSEC Working Papers WP1411, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    11. Marson, Marta & Savin, Ivan, 2015. "Ensuring Sustainable Access to Drinking Water in Sub Saharan Africa: Conflict Between Financial and Social Objectives," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 26-39.

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