Forum Index > Water Politics, Policy and Management > Rights and responsibilities of water provision and infrastructure

Katherine Jones 3 years ago
ActivityRank: 144
Another confluence for me at the moment... teaching a course on environmental management and politics of the environment in the 'urban global south', I have become very much focused on the provision of water to people living in 'informal settlements' in big cities like Mumbai. The examples from the 'global south' (seemingly the more polite way to say 'developing countries' based on a UN categorization) are really striking. People who already have few citizenship rights, through being located in settlements which are not formally recognized by the administrators of cities (in spite of being there for decades often)... 

As we were discussing water shortages in times of drought, and the disproportional effect on people in less affluent areas, someone asked the question about whether cities of the global north were really so different in this respect. Should a drought be experienced, wouldn't inequalities mean that those with existing political and economic power would suffer less than those without (such as the agricultural conglomerates in California compared with the cities' poorest residents)?

It's certainly true that inequality is not something that the global south has a monopoly on, even if it is sometimes less obvious in the global north. And yet, politics and economics are ever present and people are at the mercy of forces they often have little power (in terms of economic resources, access to information, traditional political clout or will and other forms of power) to address. 

An example is the case of the poisoning of residents of the town of Flint in Michigan. Someone recently posted an analysis of this situation on a geography list I am on and I thought I'd share it here. I haven't had a chance to watch yet, but I'm sure this will be an interested analysis of this situation and how it could come about even in a country that supposedly has regulatory bodies protecting its citizens from the vagaries of profit motivated water suppliers. 

Below is the message about the recording posted on the forum: 

"For those of you who've been following the poisoning of the municipal water in Flint, Michigan, and who may not have seen this, can I recommend this online lecture (Framing Flint) by Professor Jamie Peck - http://media.rackham.umich.edu/rossmedia/Play/afa23ac545364438b3d700748882d45e1d

I came across this by accident through a URL in Salon, and in it Professor Peck sets the crisis in Flint in a series of frames, neoliberalizing urbanism, urban georgaphies of the US, neoliberalization more generally and the environment of municipal bankruptices and emergency managment that is increasingly occurring cross the US.

It's about an hour long but really detailed and interesting - a seminal lecture, well worth listening to..

Professor Jon Cloke"

Julian Jones 3 years ago
ActivityRank: 22

Great lecture by Prof Peck - many thanks.

The processes of the neoliberal experiment are largely framed by the those enabling the UK water privatisation – this was only possible by widespread dismantling/disregard of regulatory processes that should have protected the public interest in the face of rampant and often irrational commercialism (particularly also in agriculture).

Conversely, applying the regulatory processes required to protect public interests is a mechanism to roll back neoliberalism.  These processes are not clearly explained by the environmental movement or academia.

These regulatory criteria are those that municipal leaders should already be using to unravel this mess, to protect their citizens from direct critical risks in the water cycle, while rebuilding our economy.  They are also globally relevant, as appropriate to Flint, Mumbai or London and contain implicit mechanisms that reverse the urbanization (and migration) processes.

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