A city in a water crisis: the responses of the people of Gaborone
Worldwide, countries are challenged by the increasing pressure on potable water resources. In Botswana these pressures are particularly severe. Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana, is faced with a water crisis. There are no nearby permanent water sources to supply the city and successive years of drought led to extreme water shortages in Gaborone in 2015. This study investigates how the government has responded to the developing water shortage over the last decades and how the water use and management practices of the people changed in response to this water crisis. Social practice theory is applied as an analytical theoretical framework with a focus on the elements of practices and the norms of consumption (three Cs of cleanliness, comfort and convenience) reveal how and why consumption takes place. It is shown that the co-evolution of water supply infrastructure and customer demand creates imperatives and expectations that water is always available and ready to be used. It is also concluded that practices of water use are shaped around the concepts of cleanliness, comfort and convenience and that when water was very scarce, practices evolved so that acceptable social standards could still be maintained. The study shows that although people’s practices changed, there were limits to their adaptability in the context of the supply and demand paradigm that dominates water infrastructure across the world. This study illustrates that social practice theory’s conventions of comfort, cleanliness and convenience (the 3Cs) needs to be extended to survival to adequately capture how people respond in a resource constrained situation, which is a contribution this thesis makes to the social practice theory literature. While the importance of technical supply solutions to water situations cannot be overlooked, this study shows that addressing water demand and supply cannot be entirely dependent on them. Understanding people’s social practices and the ways in which they adjust to changes in water provision can be valuable to inform policy aimed at building resilience and adaptive strategies to crisis situations such as water paucity.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordssocial practice; water; water management; water storage; water use; demand and supply; meanings; resilience; adaptation; Gaborone, Botswana; Botswana
Fields of Research1605 Policy and Administration; 160404 Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning)
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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