Postgraduate Profiles

Lisa Guppy

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Thesis: Disaster Risk Reduction to Enhance Human Security in Developing Countries – an exploration of water scarcity in Cambodia and Viet Nam

Water scarcity is broadly a function of any combination of three factors: insufficient supply (due to degraded quality or limited quantity), excessive demand, and poor management and access (Homer-Dixon, 1999; Matthew et al., 2002). These factors vary spatially and temporally, and may incorporate cultural, economic, political, climatological and environmental issues. Nations, regions and communities at risk are trying to answer the question of how adequate, clean water can be secured for life and wellbeing within these contexts.

Water scarcity needs to be addressed urgently and effectively in many developing regions. This research focuses on two arguments: firstly, that water scarcity needs to be recognised as vital, urgent and potentially devastating; and secondly, that a better way to assess which interventions are best applied to water scarcity issues in a particular area is required.

Why my research is important

Around 900 million people lack access to improved drinking water (UN-Water, 2008:1). Lack of drinking water and improved sanitation leads to ‘hundreds of millions’ of water borne illnesses and 5 million deaths every year (WHO/UNICEF 2000; UNEP, 2002:152). The UK Department for International Development (DFID, 2005) have predicted that 3.4 billion people will be living in countries defined as water-scarce by 2025. Postel and Wolf (2001) have predicted that by 2015, 40% of the worlds projected population will live in water scarce countries.

The majority of water poor people live in Asia and Africa (WHO/UNICEF, 2000:1). It is clear that particularly in rural areas of developing countries, water as an essential component of human and ecosystem survival is being degraded and depleted at an alarming rate. This is critical as, unlike other natural resources, there is no substitute for clean, fresh water (Postel and Wolf, 2001; Middleton and O’Keefe, 2004).


Oct 2008

Oct 2011