THE HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER:
RESEARCH GUIDE & ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
by Jootaek Lee & Maraya Best
This guide supports research on the human right to water. First it defines the right and identifies some of the challenges of research in the field. Next, it delineates international standards and institutional mechanisms designed to protect those affected by the denial of this human right. Finally, it selectively reviews current literature that provides useful starting points for contemporary research on the right to water.
WPD took part in the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) at Wayne State University and are featured in a Deceleration reportback.
“Monica Lewis-Patrick discussed how the work of We the People of Detroit started around the effects of emergency management on public education, but shifted to water access after Charity Hicks, a community leader and water protector who passed in 2014, was arrested for speaking out against the shut offs in her neighborhood. Via the People’s Water Board, Lewis-Patrick, Taylor, and numerous others organized a hotline for reporting shut offs, emergency water stations, and community research efforts to document the extent of the crisis, even publishing a book last year on the basis of this research, entitled ‘Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit.’ Lewis-Patrick spoke powerfully about how, out of 126 municipalities in the region, Detroit and Flint, communities with large Black populations, were the only two with a water shut-off policy for delinquency. ‘This is not conspiracy,’ she said. ‘This is a highly orchestrated system of evil to determinate who can drink and who cannot.'”
A report has been released by the US Water Alliance that highlights the work of the WPD Community Research Collective.
“Data can also empower communities to understand and analyze affordability challenges, as well as present their findings to decision-makers. We the People of Detroit, a community organization which engages in participatory research, took a data-driven approach to the water affordability crisis faced by low-income Detroit communities in 2014. We the People saw the impact of water shutoffs on quality of life, but they also saw the need to quantify the scope and impact of the problem. They partnered with the University of Michigan and the Detroit Public Health Department to lead community-based research on the public health impacts of unaffordable water. We the People conducted surveys, gathered government data, and created maps, all showing the health effects of the shutoffs. This project leveraged institutional resources to involve the community in data collection and analysis around affordability and water quality, promoting a clearer understanding of the challenges and illuminating potential solutions.”
Rebecca L. Rutt and Jevgeniy Bluwstein have published a research paper entitled “Quests for Justice and Mechanisms of Suppression in Flint, Michigan”. The abstract is below. READ FULL PAPER
“There is widespread acknowledgment of the crisis nature and injustices around water quality and access in Flint since mid-2014. This crisis led to different forms of grassroots activism demanding political accountability, transparency, and redress. However, residents’ experiences and their needs and demands in response to the crisis have been largely ignored. This article explores the mechanisms of suppression at work in obscuring these needs and demands. Specifically, it sheds light on the role of the public sector, the media, and the academic institutions in reproducing these mechanisms of suppression. The article situates the struggles over political accountability within the neoliberalization of public administration and government through emergency management. Capital accumulation can continue and intensifies, whereas emergency management further contributes to suppressing public dissent in the times of crisis via the erosion of political accountability. By illuminating institutionalized mechanisms of suppression of residents’ needs and demands, we argue that the Flint water crisis should also be seen as a crisis of government, journalism, and academia.”
Last week the Ford Foundation shared some key insights from the Flint water crisis. They say:
“We’ve explained before that the Flint water crisis is about more than poisoned water. It highlights inequalities rooted in race and class, and tied to issues including education, healthcare, government accountability, and the environment.”
To read more visit the Ford Foundation website.