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Securing water for megacities: An analysis of water governance and scarcity in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region

The aim of this project is to understand the causes and effects of water shortages in São Paulo, and how decision-making structures and processes both trigger and address them. Despite having a relatively well-functioning water utility, this megacity has struggled to supply water to an expanding population amid limited supplies, especially to poor areas. One question is whether a centralized water utility is suitable for such a large and diverse city. One proposed solution is to instead mobilize the resources and expertise of the private sector, despite disappointing results elsewhere. Based on a study of central São Paulo and the municipalities surrounding its main reservoirs, this project will examine how the utility’s institutional structure, comprising a private-public partnership, has influenced investment in infrastructure and management of consumer demand. It will explore how far these institutional aspects have combined with climatic conditions to produce shortages, and to encourage individual water infrastructure.

Start date September 2015 | End date September 2016

UEA Team

Dr Jessica Budds, Co-Investigator


Dr Vanessa Empinotti, Principal Investigator, Department of Territorial Planning, Universidade Federal do ABC, São Paulo, Brazil.


British Academy Newton Fund Mobility Grant