HDR 2006 - Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis

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Human Development Report 2006 - Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis
Report Overview | Chapter 1: Ending the Crisis in Water and Sanitation | Chapter 2: Water for human consumption | Chapter 3: The vast deficit in sanitation | Chapter 4: Water scarcity, risk and vulnerability | Chapter 5: Water competition in agriculture| | Chapter 6: Managing transboundary waters | Links to the Millennium Development Goals | Notes and Bibliography | UNDP Fast Facts
Background and issues papers:

(Link to full list of Papers for download)

Related WaterWiki articles:

Water Rights and Wrongs | Summary of Live Forum: HDR 2006 - From the Report to Action on the Ground

External Links:

HDR 2006 Homepage |

Key Downloadables:

 HDR2006 English Summary.pdf
 Hdr2006 - errata 27nov06.doc
 Hdr 2006 presskit en.pdf

Type of Report


HDR 2006 - Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis


UNDP HDR Office (Kevin Watkins)

Year Published

09 November 2006




Water Rights and Wrongs - A young people's summary of the United Nations Human Development Report 2006 "Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty, and the global water crisis"


The Human Development Report "Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crises" looks at an issue that profoundly influences human potential and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Throughout history human progress has depended on access to clean water and on the ability of societies to harness the potential of water as a productive resource. Water for life in the household and water for livelihoods through production are two of the foundations for human development. Yet for a large section of humanity these foundations are not in place. The report examines the gaps and solutions to meeting the Millennium Development Goals for access to water and sanitation. The following points are the main messages of the Human Development Report.

See also Main Messages of the Human Development Report by Chpater below.

>>>Check This out: Water Rights and Wrongs - A young people's summary of the United Nations Human Development Report 2006 "Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty, and the global water crisis"

See also


 Ok Human Dev Report WF.doc (SIWI paper)

- media advisory - regional fact sheets - HDR 2006 - UNDP Fast Facts

Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis

"The water is not good in this pond. We collect it because we have no alternative. All the animals drink from the pond as well as the community. Because of the water we are also getting different diseases." - Zenebech Jemel, Chobare Meno, Ethiopia

"Of course I wish I were in school. I want to learn to read and write…. But how can I? My mother needs me to get water."- Yeni Bazan, age 10, El Alto, Bolivia

"The conditions here are terrible. There is sewage everywhere. It pollutes our water. Most people use buckets and plastic bags for toilets. Our children suffer all the time from diarrhoea and other diseases because it is so filthy." - Mary Akinyi, Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

" They [the factories] use so much water while we barely have enough for our basic needs, let alone to water our crops." - Gopal Gujur, farmer, Rajasthan, India

Four voices from four countries united by a single theme: deprivation in access to water. That deprivation can be measured by statistics, but behind the numbers are the human faces of the millions of people denied an opportunity to realize their potential. Water, the stuff of life and a basic human right, is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by countless millions of the world’s most vulnerable people—a crisis that threatens life and destroys livelihoods on a devastating scale.

Unlike wars and natural disasters, the global crisis in water does not make media headlines. Nor does it galvanize concerted international action. Like hunger, deprivation in access to water is a silent crisis experienced by the poor and tolerated by those with the resources, the technology and the political power to end it. Yet this is a crisis that is holding back human progress, consigning large segments of humanity to lives of poverty, vulnerability and insecurity. This crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. It also reinforces the obscene inequalities in life chances that divide rich and poor nations in an increasingly prosperous and interconnected world and that divide people within countries on the basis of wealth, gender and other markers for disadvantage.

Overcoming the crisis in water and sanitation is one of the great human development challenges of the early 21st century. Success in addressing that challenge through a concerted national and international response would act as a catalyst for progress in public health, education and poverty reduction and as a source of economic dynamism. It would give a decisive impetus to the Millennium Development Goals —the targets adopted by governments as part of a global partnership for poverty reduction. The business as usual alternative is to tolerate a level of avoidable suffering and loss of human potential that all governments should regard as ethically indefensible and economically wasteful.

Main Messages of the Human Development Report

Chapter 1: Ending the Crisis in Water and Sanitation  Hdr 2006 chapter 1.pdf
The global water crisis overwhelming affects the poor: Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water and more than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day. And yet water and sanitation are among the most powerful preventive medicines available to governments to reduce infectious disease and improve quality of life. Investment in this area is to killer diseases like diarrhoea what immunization is to measles—a life-saver.
History shows that resolving this crisis could trigger the next great leap forward in human development: In rich cities like London and New York the separation of water and human waste was one of the most powerful forces of change for the better in human history. That revolution heralded unprecedented advances in life expectancy and child survival, and as people got healthier they got wealthier. We could do the same for today’s poor. We urgently need history to repeat itself.
Chapter 2: Water for human consumption  Hdr 2006 chapter 2.pdf
Every person should have a basic minimum of 20 litres a day and the poor should get it for free: The longstanding public versus private water debate has distracted from the inadequate performance of both in tackling the global water crisis. Water is a human right. That means that every government should, at a minimum, enshrine in their legislation the right of each citizen to 20 litres of water, which is the basic minimum every person needs to live. The poor should get their 20 litres for free.
Chapter 3: The vast deficit in sanitation  Hdr 2006 chapter 3.pdf
Being ‘polite’ about sanitation is costing lives: Toilets may be an unlikely catalyst for human development, but overwhelming evidence says that they are. Sanitation is a taboo subject and the biggest barrier to progress is the unwillingness of national and international political leaders to put excreta and its safe disposal on the international development agenda.
Chapter 4: Water scarcity, risk and vulnerability  Hdr 2006 chapter 4.pdf
The world is not running out of water, but many countries are running out of time to tackle critical water stress problems: Globally, there is plenty water to go around, but some areas get much more than others. We need to manage water resources much more effectively. An environmental accounting system that values water as an asset and counts it’s depletion as a loss would help change the way policy-makers view water.
Global warming will intensify the vulnerability of the poor to hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and inequality: International action aimed at helping the poor to adapt to climate change has been spectacularly inadequate. As most of the poor are dependent on agriculture, tripling current aid to agriculture - from $3 billion annually to $10 billion by 2010 - should be a minimum requirement.
Chapter 5: Water competition in agriculture  Hdr 2006 chapter 5.pdf
Water is power and when it’s in short supply, power determines who gets it and who does not; those without a voice are the first to loose out: Over the next few decades the rural poor in developing countries face intensified competition for water from growing cities, industrialization and commercial agriculture. Governments must recognize, protect and extend the rights of poor rural households, and in particular women, to ensure their lives – especially food security – are not put at risk. That includes better support for improved irrigation, the decentralization of decision-making, and new incentives to develop and disburse innovative technologies to increase water productivity.
Chapter 6: Managing transboundary waters  Hdr 2006 chapter 6.pdf
Water wars are not inevitable: Water is the ultimate fugitive resource, crossing political boundaries without documentation or passports. The fear that transboundary competition will become a source of conflict and future water wars is exaggerated: cooperation remains a far more pervasive fact of life than conflict. ‘Water wars’ are entirely preventable if the right political choices are made now. Water is in fact a bridge for peace.

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