The real water crisis: inequality in a fast changing world

Working and discussion papers
May 2014

Water equity requires that each person shares access and entitlements to water, and benefits from water use. As we enter the post-2015 development era, we will mark a decade since the 2006 Human Development Report, which positioned power, poverty and inequality at the heart of the global water crisis. But while we have a good idea of the central challenge, we still lack workable solutions.

Building on ODI research, this new paper from the Water Policy Programme identifies four propositions for debate – areas where we need to chart a different path if we are to see meaningful progress on water equity in the decade to come:

  • Acknowledging flux and instability, rather than stasis and stability, as the new normal.
  • Building on existing entrepreneurial capacity at local level, rather than fixating only on big business.
  • Focusing on secure entitlements to water for productive uses, as well as for drinking, hygiene and sanitation, to ensure benefits are broadly shared as competition for water grows.
  • Giving due attention to political context and support for institutions, without prescribing ideal institutional forms.