Citizen Science & Water Quality in the uMngeni Catchment Area, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Date
2014-09-23
Authors
Kolbe, Andrea
Keyword
Water Quality , Citizen Science
Abstract
South Africa (SA) is considered to be water scarce under current climatic conditions. As such, the conservation of water quality is emerging as an increasingly urgent challenge as water resources face a growing number of natural and anthropogenic stressors. This thesis investigates how citizen science – the involvement of, and action by, everyday citizens in the collection of data and improvement of water resources- might contribute to the conservation of water quality in SA. The thesis used qualitative research methods, including interviews and participant observation. Mpophomeni Township (within the uMngeni catchment area), KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), SA is used as a case study to better understand the role of citizen science in addressing water quality challenges. Theory U is used as an analytical lens to understand the impact of citizen science as well as the extent to which citizen scientists engage with aspects of social learning and systemic change. Findings indicate that citizen science promotes empowerment and social learning amongst participants, in addition to fostering multi-stakeholder collaboration (on water quality issues), encouraging the establishment of new environmental connections, and enabling a shift in existing government-citizen power relations. Additionally, lack of education and awareness along with minimal or non-existent governmental support as key barriers to citizen science, are examined in further detail.
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