Scarcity, Neoliberalism and the ‘Water Business’ in Lima, Peru

Antonio Ioris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Water scarcity is a widespread phenomenon that still affects many cities and settlements around the world. Situations of scarce water resources are not external to society, but are directly and indirectly caused by deliberate attitudes towards nature and society. Conditions of water scarcity go beyond the physical insufficiency of resources to vividly contain the long-term inadequacy of social institutions. In the case of Lima, the capital of Peru, the material and discursive elements of scarcity have been exacerbated by political and ideological affirmation of marketbased institutions and private property relations. Rather than being an extreme hydrological event, water scarcity is part of the urbanisation and modernization of Lima under the sphere of influence of neoliberal policies. Scarcity has been constantly recreated and, in the end, has served as a legitimating tool to maintain social and spatial inequalities. The evolution of water infrastructure and the formulation of public policies have consolidated the patterns of discrimination, fragmentation and risks that characterise everyday life in the Peruvian capital. Understanding water problems ultimate requires a class-based approach that connects the local, national and global scales of interaction, which should be articulated together with considerations of culture and the micro-dynamic of power. Only through a political ecology approach it is possible to explain the synergistic ontology of water scarcity and the persistent obstacles to democratizing water and the waterscape.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Geography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Lima
  • Peru
  • Neoliberalism
  • Political Ecology
  • Scarcity
  • Water Services
  • Water Supply


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