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Advancing human capabilities for water security: A relational approach

Jepson, Wendy; Budds, Jessica; Eichelberger, Laura; Harris, Leila; Norman, Emma; O'Reilly, Kathleen; Pearson, Amber; Shah, Sameer; Shinn, Jamie; Staddon, Chad; Stoler, Justin; Wutich, Amber; Young, Sera

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Wendy Jepson

Jessica Budds

Laura Eichelberger

Leila Harris

Emma Norman

Kathleen O'Reilly

Amber Pearson

Sameer Shah

Jamie Shinn

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Chad Staddon
Professor/Associate Head of Department: Research and Scholarship

Justin Stoler

Amber Wutich

Sera Young


We argue that a relational water security framework informed by the capabilities approach offers new ways to consider politics and cultures of water. Each dimension allows us to better contextualize water security beyond just an object (H2O) to be secured for a certain population. Instead, the relational perspective demands a fuller consideration of the political structures and processes through which water is secured, with emphasis on the social relations of access as opposed to simply the politics around water supply. We also attend to cultural dimensions, such as the meanings of water and customary practices that are not easily captured by standardized metrics. By including these dimensions, we necessarily broaden analytical space to evaluate water security as a relational and dynamic process tied to lived experience rather than as solely parameterized conditions in relation to access, quality, or availability of water. We first move to explain our broader conceptualization of water security as linked to human capabilities, then explore in more detail the specific engagements with politics and culture in the sections that follow.


Jepson, W., Budds, J., Eichelberger, L., Harris, L., Norman, E., O'Reilly, K., …Young, S. (2017). Advancing human capabilities for water security: A relational approach.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jul 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 13, 2017
Publication Date Jul 1, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2018
Journal Water Security
Print ISSN 2468-3124
Electronic ISSN 2468-3124
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Pages 46-52
Keywords advancing, human capabilities, water security, relational approach
Public URL
Publisher URL


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