Scarcity, Entitlements and the Economics of Water in Developing Countries

Scarcity, Entitlements and the Economics of Water in Developing Countries

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

P. B. Anand

P.B. Anand argues that if water supply and sanitation were mainly problems of technology or financial resources, they would have been resolved long ago. While appreciating that technology and finances are important, he ascertains that there are many other factors affecting our ability to intervene and improve the effectiveness of policies. The author explores these factors, raising questions such as ‘How is water scarcity defined?’, ‘Are there patterns that indicate how nations use available freshwater resources?’, ‘Does water shortage make nations use water more efficiently?’, and ‘What explains the variation in progress with regard to Millennium Development Goals related to water and sanitation?’.

Chapter 9: Conclusions and a Research Agenda

P. B. Anand

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics, water


INTRODUCTION Inequality in access to water and sanitation is a manifestation of poverty and wider economic inequality. Various moral arguments can be made to justify why improving access to water and sanitation is important: its intrinsic importance to expanding functionings and capabilities or its intrinsic importance to a deeper interpretation of a right to life with dignity; its instrumental importance to improving health and avoiding up to 2 million deaths annually or its instrumental importance to guaranteeing other freedoms and capabilities, such as to be free from hunger or to be educated and to lead a life in dignity without drudgery. The explorations in this book have touched on a number of issues. I do not want to recapitulate the various points made earlier in the previous chapters, but shall present some thoughts on these issues. On the Framework In the framework developed in Chapter 1, the central focus of water policy is improving well-being. That framework is not particular to water resources but is developed as a general framework to understand the role of institutions and entitlements in determining access to resources. There are many subsystems or processes in that framework. At the level of the individual, an individual’s access to resources determines his/her well-being. However, access to resources is determined socially through the process of creation of entitlements and property rights. Another subsystem is that of the interaction between entitlements and preferences and this helps explain the process of adaptation. This is also important in relation to recognition...

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