Down the drain; a study on the political ecology of wastewater governance affecting slum settlements in rapidly urbanizing Chiang Mai.
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Slum communities located along the borders of the Mae Kha canal in Chiang Mai are exposed to city wastewater flowing along their houses. Lacking capacity among the local municipality to adequately protect the urban poor against socio-environmental problems appears to have a power-laden dimension. By implementing a political ecology framework, this study has aimed to expose the underlying power structures that shape the current governance of the canal. It has become clear that in different ways, the current means for wastewater disposal supress the basic human rights of the urban poor in Chiang Mai. Pollution, floods and droughts in the canal are influenced by political processes and put the communities at risk. The case of Chiang Mai does not appear to form an exception. With increasing urbanization in developing countries, local governments are challenged with the management of socio-environmental issues in their rapidly expanding cities. Herein protection for the urban poor is urgently required, since their closely built settlements, often located in unsafe environments puts this group in a particularly vulnerable position.