Improving water security for the poor

A risk-based framework

A conceptual framework for the research programme addresses the interactions between water security risks and poverty reduction across three intersecting dimensions: resource sustainability, inclusive services and sustainable growth.

Achieving water security for the poor requires decision making across a wide range of choices, each with different outcomes.

A risk-based framework is useful because it investigates the likelihood and consequences of harm, and enables us to study the trade-offs and outcomes of different decisions. We are interested in outcomes that influence water system sustainability, economic growth, or poverty reduction.

Water security risks are determined by the relationship between:

  • hazard – the issue or event with the potential to cause harm;
  • exposure – the people, assets and livelihoods that could experience harm or loss due to the hazard;
  • vulnerability – sensitivity or predisposition to experience harm, based on the capacity to anticipate, cope with and recover from harmful events.

The poor are often exposed to multiple and severe hazards, and their poverty means they are highly vulnerable with few resources to be able to cope and recover from water-related hazards.

Resource Sustainability

Resource sustainability considers how to manage surface water and groundwater sustainability for the competing needs of people, industry, agriculture and the environment. Making decisions is challenging when there is high uncertainty about the future of water resources, and increasing climate variability and extremes.

Inclusive Services

Inclusive services address the need to provide reliable, safe, affordable and physically-accessible water services for everyone. Improvements in policy, regulation and delivery are needed to target the poorest people who are most in need and difficult to reach.

Sustainable Growth

Sustainable growth aims to make the benefits of growth inclusive for the poor whilst avoiding damage to the resource base through pollution or over-use of water. Where growth is sustainable it offers pathways out of poverty, whether in agriculture, enterprise or the informal sector.

'The programme will generate data on climate, hydrology, health, poverty and demographic trends to inform future decision making to improve water security.'


Skip to content