Water: From Basic Need to Commodity: A Discussion on Gender and Water Rights in the Context of Irrigation


Zwarteveen, Margreet. 1997. “Water: From Basic Need to Commodity: A Discussion on Gender and Water Rights in the Context of Irrigation.” World Development 25 (8): 1335–49.

Author: Margreet Zwarteveen


This paper examines the implications of changing water policies for women's water rights and access to water in irrigation systems. With growing water scarcity and programs to increase the efficiency of water allocation and delivery, the allocation of water rights becomes critical. Although women often have informal means and mechanisms to obtain and secure access to water, in most systems studied there is no recognition of women's specific water needs, especially for production, as opposed to domestic consumption. Current policies to privatize and devolve management of irrigation need to increase responsiveness to specific women's water needs and interests if they are to address efficiency as well as equity concerns.

Keywords: water resources, irrigation, intrahousehold, water rights

Topics: Gender, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Rights

Year: 1997

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