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Water Sharing in Puerto Rico: Coping with Water Insecurity in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria

Authors: Anais Roque*, Arizona State University - School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Amber Wutich , Arizona State University - School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Melissa Beresford, San José State University - Department of Antropology , Alexandra Brewis, Arizona State University - School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Qualitative Research
Keywords: water insecurity, social networks, disaster, social vulnerability, risk reduction
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 10:15 AM / 11:30 AM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In 2017, Hurricane María left more than a third of households without water services in Puerto Rico. In order to address water insecurity, federal and local government used different methods (e.g. municipal water tanks, bottle water donations) to provide basic needs. However, since the government had multiple challenges to restore services (e.g., insufficient pre-existing infrastructure) families across Puerto Rico had to adopt a range of coping strategies to obtain safe and sufficient water for household use.
This paper examines water sharing in the aftermath of Hurricane María. Data was collected using household interviews in three municipalities (coastal, urban, rural) in west Puerto Rico. Using a novel qualitative social network approach, the study examines gendered and regional water sharing experiences. Our findings show that women’s water sharing network sizes are larger than men’s, but that there were no statistically significant differences in water sharing network sizes across the coastal, urban, and rural sites. The results have important implications for future hurricane planning in Puerto Rico and for other sites at high disaster risk around the world.

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