Water for Food Security, Nutrition and Social Justice: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Water for Food Security, Nutrition and Social Justice

1st Edition

By Lyla Mehta, Theib Oweis, Claudia Ringler, Barbara Schreiner, Shiney Varghese


214 pages | 17 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-10-03
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This book is the first comprehensive effort to bring together Water, Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) in a way that goes beyond the traditional focus on irrigated agriculture. Apart from looking at the role of water and sanitation for human well-being, it proposes alternative and more locally appropriate ways to address complex water management and governance challenges from the local to global levels against a backdrop of growing uncertainties.

The authors challenge mainstream supply-oriented and neo-Malthusian visions that argue for the need to increase the land area under irrigation in order to feed the world’s growing population. Instead, they argue for a reframing of the debate concerning production processes, waste, food consumption and dietary patterns whilst proposing alternative strategies to improve water and land productivity, putting the interests of marginalized and disenfranchized groups upfront.

The book highlights how accessing water for FSN can be challenging for small-holders, vulnerable and marginalized women and men, and how water allocation systems and reform processes can negatively affect local people’s informal rights. The book argues for the need to improve policy coherence across water, land and food and is original in making a case for strengthening the relationship between the human rights to water and food, especially for marginalized women and men. It will be of great interest to practitioners, students and researchers working on water and food issues.


"This ground-breaking book analyses vital but hitherto ignored intersections between the human right to food and the right to water. Citing recent trends, the authors comprehensively disentangle the multiple linkages between the management and distribution of water resources for domestic and productive uses, malnutrition and food insecurity from local to global levels. These novel perspectives provide pertinent policy guidance to further advance human rights and social justice."Barbara van Koppen, Principal Researcher, International Water Management Institute

"This book is a must read for those who want to explore why water for food and nutrition security should be a basic human right and what it takes to deal with water shortages for agriculture under climate change. This book successfully establishes the rationale of putting people at the center and addressing ecosystems health as entry points to achieve a paradigm change in the way we think of and use water for food security and nutrition."Patrick Caron, President High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) for Food Security and Nutrition CIRAD, France

"This interdisciplinary book boldly studies the connectivity of the crucial "cluster" issues of water for food security and nutrition. In making the quantum leap towards securing this as a human right, it demonstrates that our moral obligation to protect human dignity through basic needs can no longer be ignored."HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Chairman of The Higher Council for Science and Technology

"Farmers, indigenous peoples and fishers are well aware that land, water and food are interconnected and crucial for human wellbeing. However, policies, programmes and right based approaches on water and food have developed often without their participation and thus with little understanding of the livelihoods and wellbeing of rural communities, including customary communities, and in isolation from each other. Local people’s rights to water and food are routinely violated. This book boldly highlights the faultlines in policy debates and practices and provides a very welcome and much needed social justice perspective to water, food security and nutrition."Jennifer Franco, Transnational Institute

"This highly readable book breaks new ground by framing food and nutrition security in terms of both the right to food and the right to water. It clearly highlights the importance of agroecological practices in renewing the availability and quality of water for food systems and the environment. The gendered analysis of water governance is generative of critical proposals for equitable policies and inclusive practices. In sum, this scholarly work fills a major gap in the literature. It is a 'must read' for many academics, policy makers and development professionals."Michel Pimbert, Director of the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, UK

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Linking Water and Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) 3. Agricultural Water Management 4. Water Governance for FSN 5. Water, FSN and Social Justice Index

About the Authors

Lyla Mehta is Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, UK, and a Visiting Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Theib Oweis is Director of the Water, Land and Ecosystems research program at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and a Distinguished Guest Professor of water management at the International Platform for Dryland Research and Education (IPDRE) of Tottori University, Japan.

Claudia Ringler leads the Natural Resource Management Theme at the International Food Policy Research Institute and is also a flagship co-lead with the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.

Barbara Schreiner is a water resources policy expert and Executive Director of the Water Integrity Network.

Shiney Varghese is Senior Policy Analyst with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA, and a member of the High Level Panel of Experts to the UN Committee on World Food Security.

About the Series

Pathways to Sustainability

Pathways to Sustainability Series

This book series addresses core challenges around linking science and technology and environmental sustainability with poverty reduction and social justice. It is based on the work of the Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre, a major investment of the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The STEPS Centre brings together researchers at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research) at the University of Sussex with a set of partner institutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Series Editors:

Ian Scoones and Andy Stirling - STEPS Centre at the University of Sussex

Editorial Advisory Board:

Steve Bass, Wiebe E. Bijker, Victor Galaz, Wenzel Geissler, Katherine Homewood, Sheila Jasanoff, Melissa Leach, Colin McInnes, Suman Sahai, Andrew Scott

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
NATURE / Ecology
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / Water Supply
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Food Science / Food Safety & Security