Access, equity and hazards: highlighting a socially just and ecologically resilient perspective on water resources

M Usman Mirza, Daanish Mustafa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Historically there was a general trend towards infrastructural and physical investment in supply side water related initiatives for the provision of clean drinking water and livelihood needs such as irrigation and agriculture. The critical missing link was the absence of a social/human aspect to water resources and its relation to the human society. Access to water resources revolved predominantly around the health and livelihood needs of the society. Multiple values that a society could derive from its access to water were ignored. This limited focus on access to water coupled with a growing problem of water scarcity gave birth to a new phenomenon of considering water as an ‘economic good’. This commoditization of water meant water was provided based on the ability to pay and efficiency of use, thus further alienated the social value of water. Furthermore, the link between water and society can also be viewed from a hazards perspective. With the increasing awareness of climate change and water related hazards, view of water based upon assumption of average normal conditions is no longer tenable. Building resilience and adaptation capacity to address water hazards must involve a fundamental shift towards a planning paradigm that works inwards from extremes rather than outward from means. With this background, the objective of the chapter is to review water research literature through the tri-focal lens of access, equity and hazards and attempt to identify the gaps – when the water resources field is viewed through this tri-focal lens. To set the stage, the chapter will first briefly discuss the rationale for the choice of our tri-focal analytical lens before delving into the international academic and policy literature to address the aforementioned objectives.keywordssocial justiceecological resiliencewaterequityrisk.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Development and Disaster Risk Reduction
EditorsJuha Uitto, Rajib Shaw
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-4-431-55078-5
ISBN (Print)978-4-431-55077-8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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