Physical scarcity of freshwater is often given as the reason for water shortages, but it is usually its management that can either create or resolve the problem. This will be illustrated by the case of Barbados. The water management issues are typical of many small island states, some of which are particularly vulnerable to water scarcity, especially in the context of climate change. Barbados experiences extended interruptions in the water supply, mainly in northern and eastern parishes. Supplies of freshwater are relatively sparse, but it will be argued that it is the policy regime that ensures that water is inefficiently supplied, allocated and used, and so is the primary cause of supply interruptions. The objectives of this paper are to establish a theoretical framework for sustainable water resource management and frame a strategy for Barbados which reconciles demand and supply of water while taking into account environmental, economic and social interests. The mixed methodology involved semi-structured interviews of policy makers and practitioners from the water, tourism, agriculture and planning sectors, as well as a household survey.

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