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Day Zero: the role of social movements in the face Cape Town's water crisis
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In 2017 and 2018, the city of Cape Town, in South Africa, suffered one of the most severe water crises ever seen, becoming the first big city to face a realistic scenario of a "Day Zero", the day in which the dams reach a water storage level unable to provide water services to other than critical services. In the wake of this emergency, several organisations and movements started to organise themselves to mitigate the effects of the drought and find a solution. The measures undertaken by the local government, which included punitive tariffs for the citizens, caused a big discontent among the population, who protested in the streets to demand a proper solution. Amid the protesters, the social movements rose to demand from the authorities democratic and reasonable management of the water in the city, putting pressure by protesting, creating petitions, mobilising people and spreading facts about the crisis and what they believed were the true problems behind it.

 

This qualitative research included a field study in the city of Cape Town and uses abductive research for the analysis of data. The study is exploratory, as it intends to understand and explore what happened during the crisis and the role of social movements to create a narrative. Five interviews were conducted between two different target groups: social movement actors and authorities.

 

This thesis focuses on the role that social movements played and their dynamics in the outcome of the actions taken by the authorities to address the water crisis in Cape Town. Using social movement theory and alliances theory, this explores what actors were involved, what actions and activities the social movements conducted, and what was the outcome of the role they played. This is done in order to create a narrative of the facts that occurred during the crisis until the Day Zero was officially called off by the local authorities, the moment in which the organisations stopped their engagement due to whether the loss of the momentum, the collapse of the alliances or the accomplishment of their minimum demands.

 

The study concludes that there were two moments that determined the role of social movements during the water crisis: first, with the emergence of the crisis, the movements gathered and played a communicator role, delivering information and sharing facts; secondly, after the measures taken by the authorities were announced, the movements played an instigator role as an opposition to the local government, putting pressure mainly in the streets. We conclude that the outcome delivered by the authorities, the so-called Water Strategy, was an important step but did not respond to the demands of the movement sufficiently, as it was not conducted in a participatory way, although it included some of the demands of the movement. It is not possible to conclude that the role played by the social movements was key to determine the outcome of the crisis, but they contributed to put pressure and make visible the demands for a more democratic water management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 58
Keywords [en]
Water crisis; social movements; peace and development; South Africa; Cape Town.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-88855OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-88855DiVA, id: diva2:1347031
Subject / course
Peace and development
Educational program
Peace and Development Work, Master Programme, 60 credits
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-09-03 Created: 2019-08-29 Last updated: 2019-09-03Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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Output format
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