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Utilising Diversity to Achieve Water Equity

  • Year: 2008
  • Author: Lacey, Justine
  • Journal Name: Rural Society
  • Journal Number: Vol. 18, No. 3
  • Country: Australia

In the realm of water justice there are a myriad of competing equity claims. Water is highly valued for a range of uses but competition for the resource can create divisions among the community of users. Moreover some parts of the community such as women and the poor are denied adequate access to water. This type of social exclusion can occur in a variety of ways, but for many, exclusion means they are denied basic choices about water due to a lack of ability to participate in decision making processes. Such equity claims cannot be readily solved by utilitarian formulas which seek to apply a simple metric to determine the highest economic value. Rather there are multiple values and realities which must be addressed including the social and institutional frameworks surrounding water governance. Martha Nussbaum has used the capabilities approach to address issues of social well being in the context of human development and gender. The capabilities approach is a conceptual framework which explores the basic freedoms and opportunities that are required to realistically enhance human well being, including the equity considerations linked to water access and distribution. Further, the capabilities approach is applicable across the diversity of human experience such that lessons from the human development sector will likely reveal relevant considerations for equity within the Australian community of water users.

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