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On the Verge of a New Water Scarcity: A Call for Good Governance and Human Ingenuity

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Falkenmark, Malin; Berntell, Anders; Jägerskog, Anders; Lundqvist, Jan; Matz, Manfred; Tropp, Håkan
Date: 2007
Agency: Stockholm International Water Institute, Sweden
Series: SIWI Policy Brief
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/5086
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region:
Subject(s): scarcity
water resources
governance and politics
water management
poverty alleviation
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Abstract: From p. 3: "The 2006 Human Development Report, 'Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Crisis,' (United Nations Development Programme 2006) considered water scarcity from two points of view: (1) as a crisis arising from a lack of services that provide safe water and (2) as a crisis caused by scarce water resources. It concluded that the world’s water crisis is not related to the physical availability of water, but to unbalanced power relations, poverty and related inequalities. The focus now being placed on the importance of governance makes clear the importance of issues such as unfair power structures, and weakly defined roles, rights and responsibilities. These, it is felt, exacerbate natural water scarcity. This way of thinking has been useful in that it has increased our understanding of the need to manage demand as well as to increase supply. However, while governance remains a key challenge, we also need to better understand the issue of 'water crowding' – as increasing pressure is being placed on finite, erratically available and vulnerable water resources. Recognising this is the key to proper policy formulation. Rather than addressing management/governance problems, many countries still instinctively reach for supply-side solutions such as desalination or the use of reservoirs and other large-scale infrastructure. Such an approach is often the most politically feasible option within the context of a country or region’s water problems."

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