Abstract: In the global South, rural and resource-based livelihoods increasingly face water-related risks. The conceptualization and application of the water security concept in relation to rural livelihoods has not been reviewed in this context. To fill this gap, a systematic scoping review of refereed journal articles (2000–2019) was conducted to examine how water security is defined, driven, and addressed for rural livelihoods in the global South. Publications (n = 99) featured diverse methodologies and geographical contexts, and recognized simultaneous drivers of water insecurity and solution strategies for water security. Several shortcomings were evident. First, only 30.3% of publications defined the concept, mostly using frames of ‘adequate’, ‘sufficient’, and ‘acceptable’ water-related risks. Few definitions recognized the role of water security interventions in increasing capabilities and prosperity. Second, technical and managerial responses to proximate drivers of water-related risk – namely climate-related dynamics, water re-allocation, extraction, and mismanagement – outnumbered efforts to identify and transform the underlying social, economic, and political inequities that create and sustain water insecurity. Last, studies focused heavily on agriculture, while labour, transhumance pastoralism, and aquaculture were underrepresented. A research agenda that increases the synergies between the wider water security and rural livelihoods scholarship is advanced to address these shortcomings.
Shah, S. H. (2021). How is water security conceptualized and practiced for rural livelihoods in the global South? A systematic scoping review. Water Policy, wp2021054. https://doi.org/10.2166/wp.2021.054
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