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Sustainable urban water management and integrated development in informal settlements: The contested politics of co-production in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Sletto, Bjørn, Tabory, Samuel, Strickler, Kelly
Global environmental change 2019 v.54 pp. 195-202
climate change, community development, drainage, economic development, humid tropics, infrastructure, local government, nongovernmental organizations, planning, politics, runoff, society, solid wastes, stormwater management, vegetation, weather, Dominican Republic
Given the implications of global climate change, including higher likelihood of extreme weather events, and the increasing urban density coupled with reduction in permeable surfaces in the Global South, Sustainable Urban Water Management (SUWM) has emerged as a preferred paradigm for stormwater management. However, the implementation of SUWM, which is premised on using vegetation or engineered capture technologies to control runoff at its source in an effort to replicate natural hydrology, is limited by a lack of institutional integration, not merely between administrative organs with responsibility for stormwater management but also between infrastructure departments, planning institutions, communities, and civil society organizations. This is particularly true in informal settlements in the humid tropics, where excessive impermeable surfaces and a lack of adequate solid waste collection exacerbate municipal limitations in stormwater management. This article discusses an effort to integrate local communities, civil society organizations, and local and regional authorities to improve drainage services within the framework of integrated development in the informal settlement of Los Platanitos, Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic. In order to address the drainage and flooding issues in Los Platanitos while also fostering economic development, representatives of community groups, NGOs, local government, and state agencies have developed a participatory planning structure known as a mesa de concertación, or “cooperating table.” The mesa, which was established in 2014, has succeeded in bringing neighborhood, civil society, and government actors to the same “table” as a mechanism for addressing the community’s drainage challenges within the broader context of integrated community development.