Social organization under conditions of informality: the case of water scarcity in irregular settlements in Mexico City

Authors: Bertha Hernandez Aguilar*, Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico
Topics: Sustainability Science, Urban Geography, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: social organization, water scarcity, urban informality, global south
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Galerie 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Climate change presents challenges for cities in the global south, particularly for marginalized and vulnerable populations who struggle with diminished access to resources and conditions of poverty and not integrated into city policy and planning. This is the case for Mexico City, where hazards related to climate change such as water scarcity or flooding are exacerbated given informal urban development. This paper analyzes the case of informal communities in Mexico City, one of the largest megacities in the world where informality, lack of access to water, and flooding are common throughout the city. The presentation will provide a discussion of the role of the social organization in residents’ responses to critical condition of water scarcity and flooding in the absence of effective management from government agencies. It will also explore the economic and social costs of these actions for residents. Using data from twelve focus groups in three of the boroughs of Mexico City (La Magdalena Contreras, Xochimilco and Iztapalapa), the presentation will propose a list of actions that will be linked to a variety of factors or drivers associated with them, such as socio-cultural (identity, attachment to place, trust), biophysical (level of scarcity), and political (leadership). This analysis provides a framework to examine the ways in which residents respond to risk in a megacity, which can assist in delineating pathways to urban sustainability and planning. Additionally, it delineates ways in which policy can promote sustainable water management and higher levels of well-being for city dwellers in informal areas.

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