Handbook on Water Security
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Handbook on Water Security

Edited by Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Anik Bhaduri and Joyeeta Gupta

Water security has received increasing attention in the scientific and policy community in recent years. This Handbook covers the wide range of perspectives required to understand water security as a concept guiding water governance and management at different levels and in different regions. It reflects on past, present and future challenges to water security and strategies on how to overcome them. An invaluable resource for scientific scholars, it will also appeal policymakers and practitioners interested in a deeper understanding of this important concept.
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Chapter 4: Water securities and the individual: challenges from human security to consumerism

Jeremy Allouche, Alan Nicol, Lyla Mehta and Shilpi Srivastava


Notions of security and the politics of water resources have been conjoined since the late 1970s. In the post-Earth Summit period, there has been a reinforcement of this link and water security and hydropolitics are now common currency across governments, multilateral organisations, development agencies, the private sector and non-governmental organisations. International donors now prioritise the concept of water security within core policy objectives in the water sector, reflecting a particular convergence of development, sustainability and security debates. In this chapter we argue that there is a need to ensure that security in relation to hydropolitics encompasses a broad spectrum of conceptions, with particular focus on notions of water and human security, in which securitisation is centred more on the individual human as a category, where notions of social equity, human rights and human wellbeing are vested. Such an emphasis pulls water security from environmental determinism and scarcity debates towards social equity and responsibility, firmly rooting the notion in human (and biocentric) security. We argue that whilst this shift is important, it is also important to caution against water security becoming an individualistic concept, rooted in wider concerns over consumer behaviour and water ‘footprinting’. Whilst the individual may play a central role in claiming rights to the resource as part of individual human security, the individual as an agent and determinant of water security (or insecurity) ‘for others’ can be problematic and may lead to perverse outcomes. This chapter unpacks some of these challenges and reflects on implications for water and society as the global development community shapes the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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