Discomfort in Public Spaces of Appearance: An examination of water security in the Western Cape around the Day Zero Drought
15 Pages Posted: 13 May 2022
Date Written: May 11, 2022
There are 1.1 billion people around the world who lack access to water and sanitation, while 2.7 billion people around the world experience water scarcity. For countries like South Africa, where water is a particularly scarce resource, understanding the social implications of resource deprivation is becoming increasingly necessary. The climate-conflict literature regularly finds that economic instability, migration, and competition for limited resources resulting from water scarcity influence conflict events. However, these factors are not enough. The human security framework used in this research instead finds that the role of solidarity and the pursuit for water security as a human right are prominent factors that motivate individuals to participate in the solidaric action of protest. When solidarity is not well-motivated, protesters turn to using discomfort as a strategic tool to amplify their voices in public settings to gain the attention necessary for their cause. By analyzing local newspaper articles around the time of the Day Zero drought in the Western Cape of South Africa, and through the creation of a unique social conflict dataset, this study argues that discomfort is a common thread innately connected to social conflict that influences political action, highlighting the nexus between water scarcity, governance, and social systems.
Keywords: human security, water, protest, human rights, solidarity, Day Zero drought
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