Multi-level and multi-dimensional water conflicts
Water conflicts in South Asia occur at multiple levels – within and across national boundaries – and need to be addressed from a multiplicity of disciplinary perspectives. This panel provides a platform for the identification and development of collaborative research agendas.
The number and significance of water conflicts occurring at different levels in South Asia has been increasing in recent years. Intra-sectoral conflicts arise from allocation of water within one category of use, for example, between urban drinking water users in different localities who are provided different quantities and quality of water. In contrast, inter-sectoral conflicts arise from allocation of water from one use of water to other uses, for example, between irrigators and industrial users. Further, an increasing number of conflicts arise from the re-allocation of irrigation water to drinking water. Addressing such intra- and inter-sectoral water conflicts is crucial to achieving sustainable social and economic development while protecting water sources for the future, both within and across national boundaries. Policymakers and academics have identified some mechanisms for the prevention or resolution of sectoral water conflicts, but they mostly focus on transboundary and inter-state conflicts. The ineffective regulation of water allocation, which can lead to such conflicts, poses another concern. This is matched by the absence of clear framework for solving intra- and inter-sectoral conflicts. These gaps raise various conceptual concerns that this panel will seek to address. It will first reflect on specific disciplinary approaches and then seek to develop a collaborative research agenda in order to address the abovementioned knowledge gaps and challenges in South Asian countries.