The city of Jerusalem: A case of Urban Water Welfare? A study exploring the relation between capabilities and Urban Water Welfare
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Two billion people are expected to experience water shortages by 2025, partially caused by the worldwide urbanisation trend (Koop & Van Leeuwen, 2017). This raises the question how urban water can be managed safely, sustainably and equitably (UN, 2015). Integrative approaches are needed to address this question (Gerlak et al., 2018). Urban Water Security (UWS) is such a holistic approach. However, UWS is incomplete as it neglects local context, which is important for the adoption potential of governance strategies aimed at improving UWS (Jepson et al., 2017). To overcome this caveat, this study introduces the concept Urban Water Welfare (UWW) that complements UWS with the Capabilities Approach (CA), an approach for assessing social and political context (Staddon, Rogers, Warriner, Ward, & Powell, 2018). This study aims to develop an assessment approach for UWW and to provide recommendations on assessing and improving UWW by applying the assessment approach in a case study of municipality Jerusalem. This translates into the research question: To what extent is Jerusalem a city with water welfare and what factors account for it? To answer this question, first, UWW is conceptualised by reviewing literature on UWS and the CA. Second, UWW is operationalised through quantitative indicators in the Urban Water Welfare Dashboard (UWWD), and through theoretical propositions on the speculative relation between capabilities and UWW. Third, the UWWD was applied in Jerusalem through desk research, while the propositions were assessed through a Q-study (N = 10) with interviews (N = 11). Results of the UWWD show that Jerusalem’s UWW is above the acceptable threshold, scoring 3.36 out of 5. A great strength is the water sector’s technological advancement regarding water infrastructure and alternative water sources. Meanwhile, the state of traditional water sources reflects a great weakness. Testing the propositions identified three perspectives on influential capabilities for Jerusalem’s UWW: Environmentalists, the Establishment, and Egalitarians. Across perspectives, the capability Significant relations with others, reflecting power dynamics, appeared most important in determining people’s water access and participation. Other factors affecting UWW are the neighbourhoods people live in and the policy of the Jerusalem Master Plan. The study’s main theoretical implication is that it addresses UWS’ pitfall of neglecting local context by complementing it with the CA in the concept UWW. Practical recommendations for improving Jerusalem’s UWW are to make water issues more tangible through education and collaborations; more sustainable and integrated urban planning; and improving political representation of marginalised groups.