Human Development Report 2006

Beyond Scarcity – Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crises

image of Human Development Report 2006
The 2006 Human Development Report focuses on water and human development. Water is central to the realization of human potential. It is a source of life for people and for the planet. Clean water and sanitation have a profound bearing on health and human dignity. Inequalities in access to clean water for drinking and to water as a productive input, reinforce wider inequalities in opportunity. With competition for water intensifying, there is a danger that poor and vulnerable communities will become increasingly marginalized. The twin challenge facing governments and donors is to accelerate progress towards universal access to water and sanitation; and to ensure that water management policies strengthen the rights of poor households to access water resources.



Water competition in agriculture

One hundred years ago William Mulholland, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Water Department (LAWD), introduced California to a new concept in state politics: the water grab. Faced with meeting the water demands for a small, fast growing desert town, Mulholland quietly bought up water rights in the Owens Valley, more than 200 miles to the north, built an aqueduct across the blistering Mojave Desert and delivered the water to downtown Los Angeles. Violent protests followed. Owens Valley ranchers attempted to dynamite the aqueduct, and the LAWD responded with a massive show of armed force. The water transfer paved the way for the growth of Los Angeles. Urban users got unlimited supplies of water, and large commercial farmers got irrigation water that made the deserts bloom with cotton and other water-intensive crops. Farmers in the Owens Valley lost out.


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