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Day Zero: the role of social movements inthe face of 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 severewater crises ever seen, becoming the first big city to face a realistic scenario of a "DayZero", the day in which the dams reach a water storage level unable to provide waterservices to other than critical services. In the wake of this emergency, severalorganisations and movements started to organise themselves to mitigate the effects ofthe drought and find a solution. The measures undertaken by the local government, whichincluded 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 socialmovements rose to demand from the authorities democratic and reasonablemanagement 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 thetrue problems behind it.This qualitative research included a field study in the city of Cape Town and usesabductive research for the analysis of data. The study is exploratory, as it intends tounderstand and explore what happened during the crisis and the role of socialmovements to create a narrative. Five interviews were conducted between two differenttarget groups: social movement actors and authorities.This thesis focuses on the role that social movements played and their dynamics in theoutcome 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 wereinvolved, what actions and activities the social movements conducted, and what was theoutcome of the role they played. This is done in order to create a narrative of the factsthat occurred during the crisis until the Day Zero was officially called off by the localauthorities, the moment in which the organisations stopped their engagement due towhether the loss of the momentum, the collapse of the alliances or the accomplishmentof their minimum demands.The study concludes that there were two moments that determined the role of socialmovements during the water crisis: first, with the emergence of the crisis, the movementsgathered and played a communicator role, delivering information and sharing facts;secondly, after the measures taken by the authorities were announced, the movementsplayed 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 itincluded some of the demands of the movement. It is not possible to conclude that therole played by the social movements was key to determine the outcome of the crisis, butthey contributed to put pressure and make visible the demands for a more democraticwater 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 Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-88856OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-88856DiVA, id: diva2:1347017
Subject / course
Peace and development
Educational program
Peace and Development Work, Master Programme, 60 credits
Presentation
2019-06-05, K3042, Vaxjo Campus, Vaxjo, 17:44 (English)
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
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