Water Tenure

With population growth, environmental change and increased pressure on global water resources leading to shortages and rising conflict over this scarce resource, the time for an increased focus on water tenure is at hand. In most cases, formal water rights have traditionally been linked to formal land tenure rights and thus strengthening land rights can directly strengthen water rights.

Water tenure can be understood as ‘the relationship, whether legally or customarily defined, between people, as individuals or groups, with respect to water resources.’ Water tenure arrangements are often, but not always, expressed in terms of ‘water rights.’ The fundamental challenge is how to ensure that people have access to this most basic resource while also ensuring food security, promoting economic growth and safeguarding both livelihoods and the environment. Secure water tenure is key to delivering this access.

Photo Credit: Sandra Coburn / The Cloudburst Group

Issue Documentation