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Rhodes University (2019)

Civil society engagement with water governance at a local government scale in South Africa

Weaver, Matthew James Thanduxolo

Titre : Civil society engagement with water governance at a local government scale in South Africa

Auteur : Weaver, Matthew James Thanduxolo

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2019

Résumé partiel
The South African state’s ideological commitment to a participatory approach to managing water resources and delivering services in a way that includes all stakeholders warrants critical analysis.Realising this ideological commitment has proved challenging, due largely to the complex historical, political, social, and environmental context of integrated water resource management (IWRM) in South Africa. The overarching aim of this study was to explore and expand the learning of civil societyparticipating in water governance processes at a local government scale. To address this aim a single, in-depth, four-year case study into civil society participation in water governance in the Makana Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa was conducted between 2014 and 2018. The case study comprised two research phases. Both phases of the research were conducted using an adaptive transdisciplinary and participatory action research approach underpinned by General Complexity Theory. Located at the research-practice interface, the study sought to be transformative and advance both scientific research and societal goals. Qualitative research methods and inductive and deductive modes of inference were used to collect and analyse the data respectively. In the first phase of the study, a Communities of Practice theoretical framing was adopted to investigate the emergence, practice and learning of a civil society organisation (CSO), Water for Dignity (WfD), in response to household water service delivery issues in the municipality. This phase served to build an understanding of factors that enabled and constrained the practice of WfD in addressing local water service issues, and of their role as social learning agents in building water-related knowledge in their community. As participation with the first civil society organisation fragmented, the opportunity arose for local government, the National Department of Water and Sanitation and civil society to co-engage. This opened up the second phase of the research during which the role of a multi-stakeholder platform, the Makana Water Forum (MWF), in enabling democratic water governance was investigated. The MWF was South Africa’s first catchment management forum with an integrated water service and water resource management agenda. In this phase, the study drew on interventionist methodology, Change Laboratory, from Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) to 1) describe the historical development, composition and shared purpose of the MWF multi-activity system constellation ; and to 2) guide participants through seven learning actions (expansive learning cycle) to identify, analyse, model and implement remedial actions to problematic aspects (contradictions) of the MWF practice. Participants of the Change Laboratory workshops built their individual and collective transformative agency (deliberate actions to transform a problematic situation) as they navigated the expansive learning process

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