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Urban Water Insecurity in Northeast Brazil - Perspectives from the Margins

Authors: Wendy Jepson*, Texas A&M University, Paula Tomaz, Federal University of Ceara, Brazil, Jader Santos, Federal University of Ceara
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Cultural and Political Ecology, Latin America
Keywords: Brazil, water insecurity, drought, water governance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 11:50 AM / 1:05 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Urban water security strategies commonly pivot around supply-side initiatives to mitigate scarcity, forecasted population growth, or anticipated climate change; yet, scholars have begun to expand urban water security scholarship by including alternative frameworks that incorporate equity into the analysis. Our study seeks to contribute to to this equity turn by opening the investigative aperture on urban water security research in several aspects. We address the question of water security for whom, and turn our attention to the urban resident and household. We shift empirical focus to smaller urban centers in the Global South, and we developed a new metric of water insecurity, the Household Water Insecurity Index (HWISI), to assess these differences across the urban waterscape. We conducted this research in an interior city in the State of Ceará, which, in many ways, represents an overlooked class of small urban centers common across Brazil’s semi-arid region. We draw on qualitative and quantitative data to describe household water insecurity using the HWISI. The prevalence of household water insecurity in the study community is variable, with a quarter of the population experiencing moderate to severe household water insecurity. This paper contributes to the larger scholarship on urban water insecurity because we build an empirical model of household insecurity as an important first step toward developing a validated regional tool such that we can address distributional inequities at the household scale, and suggests pathways for future policy interventions to address the significant gaps and inequalities for future severe drought scenarios under climate change.

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