Sustainability may impact water security more than economics alone
Water security requires not only sufficient availability of and access to safe and acceptable quality for domestic uses, but also fair distribution within and across populations. However, a key research gap remains in understanding water security inequality and its dynamics, which in turn creates an impediment to tracking progress towards sustainable development. Therefore, we analyse the inequality of water security using data from 7603 households across 28 sites in 22 low- and middle-income countries, measured using the Household Water Insecurity Experiences Scale. Here we show an inverted-U shaped relationship between site water security and inequality of household water security. This Kuznets-like curve suggests a process that as water security grows, the inequality of water security first increases then decreases. This research extends the Kuznets curve applications and introduces the Development Kuznets Curve concept. Its practical implications support building water security and achieving more fair, inclusive, and sustainable development.