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Providence College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights

Abstract

The city of Buenos Aires bears a long history of flooding, notable throughout the twentieth century as the city grew and developed into the urban capital it is today. Although the floods are provoked by natural causes such as the location of the city on flat and low land, as well as the obvious meteorological causes of weather patterns and heavy rains, there are many other aggravating circumstances caused by humans and that consequently can be controlled by humans. With the most recent tragic floods at the beginning of April 2013 in the city of Buenos Aires, the questions and disputes over what needs to be done have once again become a central topic of discussion. The April flooding, by instigating the anger and frustration of affected citizens, has put pressure on government officials to respond to the problem, to present and follow through with adequate solutions that will improve the currently precarious situation of the city and its people.

Given the urgency of the problem of flooding in the city, the present research was conducted based off of the following questions: What is the responsibility of the government in the face of the recurring flooding in the city? What has the government been doing or not been doing to address the problem and fulfill its obligations to the people? What are the perspectives and demands of the citizens regarding the propensity of their neighborhoods to flood and the responsibility of the government in improving this situation? And finally, how can flooding be incorporated more adequately and directly into the public policy of the city?

This qualitative research, all carried out in the city of Buenos Aires, was begun by exploring secondary sources about both the situation of Buenos Aires in the face of the recurring floods and theories about the responsibility of the government given this ongoing risk. The field study component of the research was realized by listening to various actors in the city discuss their viewpoints and concerns regarding the flooding, including: a member of the team which was put together by the government to prepare a master plan for the city and its floods, the director of a community center and the vice-principal of a high school both in one of the most affected neighborhoods, and a group of neighbors and specialists gathered in a meeting to discuss the recent floods in the context of the perpetual problem in the city.

This research suggests that due to the recurrent and grave nature of the flooding in the city of Buenos Aires, this question needs to be directly addressed in the public policy of the city. The government has a responsibility to listen to the concerns of the people who suffer from the ongoing and severe nature of this problem, and then to act appropriately to address and solve this issue. Even though flooding is not a permanent condition- or something that is always happening- the risk of flooding is always present, and this is enough to argue for the incorporation of the topic into the public policy of the city. Furthermore, the policies need to be long-term and carried out continuously by the government as a whole, independent of whichever political group is in office. Due to the grave consequences flooding has for the city of Buenos Aires and the recurring nature of the problem, the government needs to take seriously and carry out its responsibility to address and to solve this issue.

Disciplines

Infrastructure | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Social Influence and Political Communication

 

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