Dam viewed from above

Rediscovering the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

A few months ago, I presented the findings of a new book, The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Power, Politics and Justice, to an International Water Association conference on the same topic at Salerno. To my great surprise, I was the only social scientist out of 200 participants. Nexus approaches help to bridge the separate domains of water,…

water pipe

Water crisis’ disproportionate toll on women can no longer be ignored

STEPS member Lyla Mehta has written an article with Ria Basu for the Indian magazine Firstpost about the impacts of ‘water crisis’ on women. Often, access to water is about power and social relations, not just physical scarcity. For most of us, accessing water is as simple as turning the taps on in our kitchens…

Farmers with irrigation channels

Irrigating Africa: can small-scale farmers lead the way?

by Ian Scoones, Felix Murimbarimba and Jacob Mahenehene We often hear that irrigation in Africa is too limited, and that the key to a “green revolution” on the continent is to expand to levels seen in Asia. But what if there is much more small-scale, informal irrigation in Africa than we thought? Could this be…

Creating bridges in Xochimilco through the “Pathways to Sustainability Game”

By Beatriz Ruizpalacios, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, Hallie Eakin, J. Mario Siqueiros-García, Rebecca Shelton, Pathways Network The urban wetland in Xochimilco, Mexico City, and the traditional agricultural areas within it, are undergoing rapid change and degradation, driven in part by the lack of regulation of urban growth near and within the wetland ecosystem. Strategizing on the best…

Gurgaon skyline with skyscrapers and construction

The Power of a T-Lab: Sharing lessons on water and justice in Gurgaon, India

by Dinesh Abrol, Pravin Kushwaha and Bikramaditya K. Choudhary, South Asia Sustainability Hub & Knowledge Network. As big cities change rapidly, people moving into them can struggle for access to basic services like clean water and sanitation. One such city is Gurgaon, a secondary city that’s experienced rapid urban transition over the last two decades….

Green fields with grazing animals

In South Africa’s land reform, class matters

In South Africa’s former ‘homelands’ the government is trying to ‘revive’ agriculture. These areas are a legacy of the 1913 and 1936 land acts, which reserved only 13% of the land for black South Africans, and where most victims of forced removals were relocated. One of the pillars of the government’s strategy is to support…

Boundary object

How rethinking local people’s agency could help navigate Xochimilco’s troubled waters

Xochimilco, Mexico City is the last remnant of the complex lacustrine system of wetlands that was the basis for agriculture and livelihoods (the chinampa system) in pre-Columbian times. However, the water is no longer provided by natural springs, but is reliant on the discharge of treated wastewater from the neighboring, densely populated and impoverished borough…

water pipe

Just another drop in the bucket on World Water Day?

Each year, the United Nations uses World Water Day as an opportunity to raise awareness and demand action around the global water crisis. Each year, there is a theme. This year’s theme is wastewater, framed as a ‘grossly undervalued as a potentially affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials’ (pdf)….

City street

How understanding politics and science can help create resilient cities

A new article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) explores how urban resilience can be strengthened by considering social and political norms, values and behaviours alongside engineering and environmental science approaches. The article, Urban resilience efforts must consider social and political forces, is written by colleagues at Arizona State University and UNAM…

water in mozambique

From remunicipalisation to reprivatisation of water? The case of Mozambique

After widespread privatisation in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, many water services around the world began to be transferred back into public control. This ‘remunicipalisation’ has been welcomed by the Transnational Institute and like-minded organisations, who suggest that ‘remunicipalisation is here to stay’ (Lobina et al., 2014). While I am sympathetic to this work on…