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Title: WHEN ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL CRISES COLLIDE: Problems in the Periphery are Center Stage in the São Paulo Water Crisis
Authors: McNulty, Mary Ann
Advisors: Centeno, Miguel
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: São Paulo, the largest city in South America, is currently struggling with long-term sustainability of its water resources. While the city experiences back-to-back years of massive droughts, policy measures and issued reports have primarily focused on the long-term consequences of a prolonged environmental catastrophe. Although the drought has rapidly accelerated the loss of the remaining freshwater supply, policy measures have failed to account for the medium to high water stress risk that have defined the municipality prior to the drought. Reports that have swayed policymakers have disregarded the primary cause of the decline of São Paulo water resources. This thesis will explain how the poor management of an explosive population indirectly became a primary reason behind São Paulo’s water crisis. São Paulo’s position as the economic center of Brazil created a mass influx into the city. However, while wages stagnated, rents rose exorbitantly. This created an extraordinary housing crisis for São Paulo residents, known as Paulistanos. The municipality did little to mitigate the economic strain that low-income households experienced, and as a result, poor Paulistanos sought solutions within the informal sector. To mitigate the population expansion, officials passed the Guarapiranga Special Land Use Law. This two-part law sought to protect the watersheds, a resource vital to the future stability of the city, by restricting any formal development in the areas surrounding the freshwater rivers and reservoirs. The protected land lacked the proper oversight, causing lower-income families whose housing needs had been ignored by São Paulo officials to move to the area in droves. The government attempted to eradicate the resultant informal housing, known as favelas, to no avail. To top it off, their failure to provide adequate resources for these households backfired tremendously.
Extent: 92 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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