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Understanding controversial access to water in Mexico City: The case of informal settlements in Xochimilco

Authors: Bertha Hernandez Aguilar*, Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Urban Geography, Sustainability Science
Keywords: water scarcity, informal settlements, costs, alternatives, urban sustainability, Mexico City
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 Mexico City, as in many megacities of the global south, the hazards related to water scarcity as climate change
continues are exacerbated by informal urban development.Limited access to public services, particularly those
considered human rights such as water, are complex challenges faced in cities where informal settlements exemplify
the need for innovative solutions. In Mexico City, the number of formal and informal settlements is rising in a complex
environment of corruption, poverty and legal ambiguities. Water represents a contradiction since it is considered a
human right and informal settlements technically cannot receive formal service provision, leading to minimal water
delivery. We are in front of an enormous governance challenge, on the one hand, the need to create conditions for a new model of urbanization that responds to the challenges of our era, and on the other hand, the constant struggle against unsustainable forms of city growth through precarious housing in prohibited areas. This research analyzes the economic and social cost of water access and provision in vulnerable housing by the absence of effective and clear management policies to face the situation. Taking as case studies two informal settlements of the Xochimilco borough, where 49% of the total population lives in an informal area, this analysis provides information regarding alternatives for water supply, with a focus on informal settlements. This analysis seeks to provide the current policy framework by which water distribution and access are legitimized in a megacity, as well as to assist in delineating pathways to urban sustainability.

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