Understanding resource governance of the Cape Town water crisis through media framing

Authors: Jaime Jones*, Arizona State University, Dave White, Arizona State University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Sustainability Science, Africa
Keywords: food-energy-water nexus, collaborative governance, sustainability, collective action framing, media analysis, South Africa
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 48
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Cape Town, South Africa faced a severe water crisis in 2018 and came close to running out of water, an event that captured international media attention. Examining this media framing provides an opportunity to understand the framing of the water crisis, which can provide valuable insights into what society and policymakers consider important. It can also examine the roles of stakeholder collaboration, as collaborative governance can reduce unintended consequences when addressing issues of crisis and uncertainty, especially across multiple resource sectors. Thus, this research explores the framing of news articles on the Cape Town water crisis to examine the role of collaboration in the governance of the crisis and the impact on the interconnected food and energy sectors. I address this research objective by using content analysis on relevant news articles from local, national, and international outlets and coding the texts with codes for framing, collaborative governance, and impacts of the crisis. The results contain three sections. First, I present how the framing of the news articles uncovers the perceived causes of, solutions for, and calls to action regarding the water crisis. Second, I discuss how the media portrays the role of collaboration in the governance response to the crisis. Finally, I describe the impact of the crisis on the related sectors of food and energy. This study exemplifies the value of collaborative governance and provides insight into the interdisciplinary impacts of water crises, which is are important considerations for other cities facing water stress.

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