Domesticating water supplies through rainwater harvesting in Mumbai
Mumbai is a city where 60 per cent of the population are living in poverty in informal settlements, with low – and decreasing – water access, and low resilience to water shortage. In the middle-class areas of the city, inhabitants are being made responsible for securing their own water supplies via rainwater-harvesting technology, which is increasingly installed in new housing. This shifts responsibility for water provision from city authorities to private households. The domestication of water supplies could potentially give residents more control, and could also change the gendered power balance of water provision. However, this article argues that making the middle classes responsible for their own water provision in a context of water shortage and environmental concerns has justice implications. People living in poverty are not able to self-provision in this way; yet on the other hand, the move could free up more of the piped water supply. The article draws on three case studies offering different experiences of the impact of the policy, to reflect on concepts of power, gender, and environmental justice.
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