Urbanization and the changing climate are increasingly influencing people’s access to land and water. Changes in use of, and rights and access to, land and water are most acutely experienced in peri-urban areas. We analyze these changes in peri-urban Kathmandu, Nepal. Increasing pressures on land and growing water needs of an expanding population in Kathmandu Valley are creating new patterns of water use, water-related conflicts, and (in)securities. We use two case studies that are characteristic of these changes, with a focus on the microlevel redefinitions of, and struggles about, rights, access, and notions of legitimate water use, and what these mean for water security and water conflict in a socially and institutionally complex and dynamic environment. Our findings show that these water-related changes cause contestations and conflicts between peri-urban water users. Amid increasing competition for water, people are using new sources and technologies, searching for negotiated solutions based on local norms and rights, and co-opting other water users through cooperation to create access opportunities and avoid conflicts. Our cases show self-restraint in practices of claiming or accessing water, while avoidance of conflicts also derives from an awareness of unequal power relations between user groups, past experiences of violence used against protesters, and lack of active intervention to regulate increasing exploitation of peri-urban land and water resources.
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- water security
- water rights
- water-related conflicts
- land and water use