Water Access and Governance in the Global South

Water—access and rights to it, how to manage and govern it—represents one of the most pressing policy and livelihood challenges of today's world.

Critical issues include access to safe drinking water, damming and diversion of major rivers, climate variability and the accompanying potential for severe droughts and flooding, and changing water use structures and practices that affect livelihood possibilities. These issues present tremendous challenges for water governance: the practices and processes through which decisions over uses and management of water are made.

ICGC supports an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students at the University of Minnesota and several other institutions, including key partners at the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia and the Institute for Water Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

Our network aims to promote research collaboration, enhance student training, and enrich academic and policy dialogue related to these issues, with particular focus on the global south. Several key assumptions frame our approach to these issues: rural and urban water issues are interlinked; access to and governance of water resources connects across scales, local to global; and effective water governance demands closer integration of biophysical and social sciences as well as the direct involvement of practitioners.

Research network participants seek to address contemporary water governance challenges through deeply interdisciplinary research connecting the social and biophysical sciences; critical scholarship sensitive to the broader dimensions, histories, and contexts of global change; and engagement with international scholars and practitioners.

We are building a broadly interdisciplinary and collaborative network of scholars and practitioners to understand and seek solutions to water governance challenges in the global south. Research network participants focus their work on water governance challenges in communities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.


Multiple initiatives have grown from the work of this research circle.


Harris, L.M.; Goldin, J.A. and Sneddon, C. 2013. Contemporary water governance in the Global South: Scarcity, marketization and participation. Oxford, UK: Routledge.



International WaTERS Network