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Published in: Urban Forum 4/2016

22-11-2016

Water, Rights and Poverty: an Environmental Justice Approach to Analysing Water Management Devices in Cape Town

Authors: Londeka Mahlanza, Gina Ziervogel, Dianne Scott

Published in: Urban Forum | Issue 4/2016

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Abstract

Fair processes and just outcomes are recognised globally as an important part of climate change adaptation and water resource management in particular. Achieving this is challenging, particularly in a developing country context where there is a myriad of pressing needs and conflicting ideas of what is needed across scales. This study takes a qualitative approach to exploring issues of justice and fairness in implementing water management technologies in low-income households. Water management devices (WMDs) are employed as part of the City of Cape Town’s water conservation and water demand management strategy. Through applying an environmental justice approach, this study shows that the WMDs have impacted on justice at the local level. The justice implications relate to the following: limited participation by households and a lack of procedural justice, distributional impacts and rights infringement, and the failure of the policy to fully recognise the diverse needs and vulnerabilities experienced by households. The perspectives of City officials and representatives of households with WMDs installed reveal that there is a mismatch between the City’s stated benefits of WMDs and the growing dissatisfaction of households with their devices. This dissatisfaction stems, in particular, from the inability of households to fulfil their needs with a limited water allocation, and personal convictions that water access is and should remain their unrestricted right. This research suggests that for water resource management and adaptation measures to be effective at the local and city scale, policies will require the inclusion of local communities’ understandings and experiences in order to uphold principles of social justice.

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Footnotes
1
The term City is used in the paper to refer to the City of Cape Town municipality.
 
2
Indigent grant criteria: property value R199 000 and total household monthly income R2880 or less (CCT 2008).
 
3
Non-revenue water refers to the water that is produced and remains unaccounted for. This is due to leakages in the transmission or unbilled, unauthorised consumption of water.
 
4
Calculated for a household of eight.
 
5
In comparison, city-wide, as of mid-2015, around 140,000 WMDs had been installed (EMG 2016).
 
6
Translated from the Xhosa Language means: “Let us help one another”.
 
7
Pseudonyms are used for the participants in this study.
 
8
According to the CCT official, the homeowner must be 18 years or older, preferably the person on title deed, but it can be another resident living at the property (Jacobson 10/06/14)
 
9
A vernacular word for townships.
 
10
A term given to a community plumber, who may have professional or self-taught expertise in this field.
 
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Metadata
Title
Water, Rights and Poverty: an Environmental Justice Approach to Analysing Water Management Devices in Cape Town
Authors
Londeka Mahlanza
Gina Ziervogel
Dianne Scott
Publication date
22-11-2016
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Published in
Urban Forum / Issue 4/2016
Print ISSN: 1015-3802
Electronic ISSN: 1874-6330
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-016-9296-6

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