The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles

The Right to Water, edited by Farhana Sultana and Alex Loftus, engages with a range of approaches that focus on philosophical, legal and governance perspectives before seeking to apply these more abstract arguments to an array of concrete struggles and case studies.

In so doing, the book builds on empirical examples from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, and the European Union. The book contains 15 chapters written by 21 academics & practitioners, and a Foreword by Maude Barlow.

  • The Book has been translated into three other languages:
    • Polish version (2012): Prawo do wody. W perspektywie politycznej, gospodarczej i społecznej. Published by Polish Humanitarian Action, Warsaw, Poland.
    • Spanish version (2014): El Derecho Al Agua: Economia, politicia y movimientos sociales. Published by Editorial Trillas S.A. de C.V., Mexico.
    • Chinese version (forthcoming): China Water & Power Press: Beijing, China.

Further information about the book is available at the publisher’s website.

Read below for Description, Endorsements, Book Reviews, and Table of Contents

View the Table of Contents


“The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles is a brilliant collection of essays from the best thinkers, academics and activists in the field, and is required reading for all those wanting this mighty effort to succeed.” – Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, former Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the UN General Assembly, and recipient of the 2005 Right Livelihood Award

“The right to water for all has been invoked many times over the past decade or so. Yet, very little has been achieved to achieve a more equitable access to water despite resounding declarations of assorted national and international public and private organizations. This book is a long overdue engagement with the enduring relevance of the right to water and why it is denied to so many people in the world. The contributors consider the centrality of social and political struggle in claiming this right to water. For those who have enough of empty slogans, impotent declarations and superficial analysis, this book opens up new theoretical perspectives and politically empowering insights that chart pathways for achieving real change.” – Erik Swyngedouw, Professor of Geography, University of Manchester

“The right to safe and sufficient drinking water for all is one of the main issues and struggles of our time. Unequal power relations at local, national and transnational scales, combined with policies and intervention practices that are often highly adverse for the vulnerable, make that those with water abundance tend to squander leaving the others to face ever greater injustice. This book’s diverse chapters provide an empirically rich and intellectually elaborate insight in the world of water, power, governance, and social mobilization” – Rutgerd Boelens, Coordinator Justicia Hídrica/Water Justice Alliance; Associate Professor Wageningen University, The Netherlands; Visiting Professor Catholic University Peru

“This edited collection by Sultana and Loftus comes at the right time, when the global financial collapse threatens to worsen the conditions of water injustice affecting millions in the planet. The book is an excellent contribution to international debates about the conceptual and practical intricacies of “the human right to water”. It should be read by scholars, students, practitioners and all those concerned with the eradication of structural water inequality and injustice” – José Esteban Castro, Professor of Sociology, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University


John Agnew in Antipode:

Lee Godden in Journal of Human Rights and the Environment: (open PDF)

Kate Berry in AAG Review of Books: (open PDF)

Michael van der Valk in H2O (in Dutch):

Álvaro Francisco Morote Seguido in Documents d’Anàlisi Geogràfica (in Spanish):

Rory Padfield in Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development:

Manuel Prieto in Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography: (open PDF)

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