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Providence College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights

Abstract

Access to affordable and clean water within Buenos Aires and the surrounding province has been a commonly discussed topic throughout the Twentieth Century as the city grew and developed into the urban capital that it is today. Beginning with the privatization of many services, in the 1990’s, including water, the greater metropolitan area of Buenos Aires continues to struggle to provide everyone with access to clean water. However, as social movements became popular in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, social organizations began to form to fight for the human right to water and to demand a change in the system. These actions, organized by upset citizens, has put pressure on state officials and on the water company, AySA, to respond and resolve this problem and to follow through with their obligations they have to provide their citizens with clean and accessible water.

The research conducted for this study took place in the city of Claypole, part of the province of Buenos Aires, within the municipality of Almirante Brown. The focus of the research is based on the principle that water is a human right that everyone should have access to and focused on the following questions: What factors have contributed to the difficulties with access to water in this community? What has the government done to improve accessibility? Is this issue something that is being addressed strongly or not? What have people done to demand action? Have their efforts improved the problem? Have outside companies or organizations tried to intervene to help the situation and has this improved or worsened the situation? And lastly, how has the lack of water access affected the people of Claypole?

The research for this qualitative study was carried out both in the La Capital Federal of Buenos Aires and the community of Claypole. Research was begun by collecting secondary sources about the previous history of privatizations in Buenos Aires and the history of access to water in Claypole, along with the research of theories about the human right to water, social movement theories, and the role of the state to provide this right to its citizens. The field study portion of the research was collected through conversations with various members to understand their views on the current situation in Claypole and the problems with water contamination. Interviews included: a member of the organization, Taller de Aguas (the University of Buenos Aires students working with the community); three community members of Claypole who work with Taller de Aguas, a Claypole member of the water cooperative working to build water infrastructure, and the Director of Relations with the Press for AySA.

Based on the research gathered in this study, it is clear that the problem with contaminated water and lack of access to both water networks and sewage networks in Claypole needs to be further addressed by both AySA and the municipality of Almirante Brown. The government has a responsibility to ensure its citizens have clean and accessible water. Water is a human right, and when this right is being denied, people have a reason to demand action. Based on the unacceptable condition of the water in Claypole today, it is necessary for the government, the municipality, and AySA to not only respond to the issue, but to resolve the problem for good.

Disciplines

Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources Management and Policy

 

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