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Water access, food security and power relations

In a Guardian article, “Without ensuring universal access to water, there can be no food security”, Lyla Mehta highlights how the human right to water and sanitation has been won, but how existing power dynamics from the local level to the global level often act as a barrier to these rights being realised.

Mehta was project team leader of a  new report by the “high-level panel of experts on food security and nutrition” (HLPE)​. The report calls for a human rights approach to water governance and for coherence from local to global policy making on issues of water access and food security. It notes that, although there are competing demands from the agricultural, energy and industrial sectors, “policymakers have to prioritise the rights and interests of the most marginalised and vulnerable groups, with a particular focus on women, when it comes to water access”.

Mehta states that the “vast inequality in access to water…is determined by socio-economic, political, gender and power relations”. So the real questions become: To what extent can policy-makers’ improved understanding and good intentions, resulting from this report and others, lead to significant changes in water access? What steps can we take to shift ​the ​power relations underlying inequality in access to water?

Politics results in filthy water, Mail & Guardian, August 8, 2015