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Water SA

On-line version ISSN 1816-7950
Print version ISSN 0378-4738


OLIVIER, DW; VOGEL, C  and  ERASMUS, BFN. Scholarship on urban Africa's water crisis narratives: the state of the art. Water SA [online]. 2021, vol.47, n.2, pp.264-271. ISSN 1816-7950.

Water crises present a global water governance challenge. To date, scholarship has tended to focus on technological and policy-based solutions, while ignoring the influence of narratives on public buy-in during such crises. Africa is expected to become hotter and drier in future, while its cities experience high levels of informal population growth and inequality. These factors combine to make African cities particularly vulnerable to times of water stress. The aim in this paper is to investigate the state of the 'art' on narratives framing domestic water use in African cities during periods of acute water stress and 'crises', using a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed academic journal articles. The findings revealed a small population of recently published papers that engage critically with state-generated narratives framing the crisis, limited to case studies on Cape Town and Windhoek. We recommend, however, a greater critical engagement with the anti-establishment narratives that can flourish during periods of acute water stress, and tend to be inflammatory and divisive in nature.

Keywords : Africa; urban centres; water crises; narrative analysis; media; systematic literature review.

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