Water Insecurity, Injustice, Gender and Tourism

Authors: Stroma Cole*,
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Gender
Keywords: Water, Gender, Tourism, Environmental Injustice, Indonesia.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Balcony A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper explores the interconnection between environmental injustice, gender and intersectionality, tourism and water insecurity. Women in tourist destinations bear the burden when tourism developments outcompete locals for water access. Those in the most marginal communities at the fringes of social power, with little bargaining strength at the market and little force in the political process, are most affected.

This paper is based on qualitative and quantitative data from Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, intensive fieldwork included over 100 interviews and 240 responses to HWISE. The paper explores how the development of tourism has led to greater water insecurity for many in Labuan Bajo. Environmental injustice compounded by patriarchy results in powerlessness, shame and disempowerment for many of Labuan’s women.

Tourism development is diverting water supplies away from local domestic needs and agriculture to hotels who can afford to pay far higher rates. For some women, water procurement prevents them for participating in work outside the home reinforcing gendered divisions. Other women are driven into exploitative paid work while they remain responsible for all domestic and water work, thus doubling their burdens.
Labuan Bajo is not an exceptional example of where tourism has been promoted as a growth strategy, without consideration of water availability. Given the importance of global tourism for many small island and coastal regions where water supply networks fail to fulfil local needs, this problem needs both monitoring and dissemination. HWISE can be used to monitor the local experiences and provide the necessary data for environmental justice advocates.

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