Introduction: Peri-Urban Water Security in South Asia

Narain, Vishal; Roth, Dik


This chapter sets the context for the analysis of water security in peri-urban South Asia. Urbanization has been a key demographic trend globally as well as in South Asia, in the recent past and increasingly also in the future. While cities are often seen as engines of economic growth and development, and are associated with economies of scale, efficiency and sustainability, much urban growth occurs through the appropriation and reallocation of land and water from their peripheries. This creates patterns of deprivation for resource-dependent peri-urban and rural communities, as well as increasingly severe environmental problems, such as the over-extraction of groundwater and water pollution. This chapter first introduces the various perspectives, themes and cases presented in the book chapters. It then discusses urbanization and the peri-urban more specifically, introducing two contrasting views — ecological modernization and political ecology — and introduces the concept of water security. Referring to the examples from the book, the chapter then gives an overview of some of its key themes: the role of material infrastructure; property transformations and the declining commons; socially differentiated access to water; intervening in the peri-urban; and the role of conflict and cooperation.