Water scarcity in Southern Chile – how does knowledge shape water use and access?

Authors: Johanna Höhl*,
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Political Geography, Latin America
Keywords: Water, Governance, Knowledge, Chile
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Beverly, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Terrace Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Although the Andes in Southern Chile are mainly snow-covered in winter and in summer they strech out through lush deep green forests, the municipalities on its foothills in the Biobío, Araucanía and Los Ríos regions, as well the Indigenous communities complain about water scarcity. In some parts drinking water is even supplied by tankers. On the other hand, the mentioned areas count with a high number of hydroelectric projects, forestry and agricultural activity, all requiring water. Hence, water use and control are distributed inequally, causing water scarcity for certain users. Although natural, economic, legal and social factors influence the availabilty and distribution of water in the studied area, knowledge and information play a central role as they mold power struggles regarding access and water use. How are thus knowledge and information producing, using and circulating water scarcity? This research focuses on understanding the relationships between the different water users and investigates the kind of information and knowledge they use, produce and communicate. Through an analysis of the discourses of the Mapuche, the Indigenous people involved in the selected case studies, as well as public and private agencies this research aims at an empiric understanding of how governance processes and structures are modified in contexts where different conceptions of water and its use are in dispute. Thus, this study seeks to contribute to a more holistic understanding of water scarcity and links it to the knowledge and information gaps producing power struggles regarding the access and use of water.

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