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An analysis of water conservation education methods and practices and their effect on water usage in the case of Durban’s eThekwini municipality.

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This study focuses on water conservation and awareness, through the use of water education. The eThekwini Municipality of Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is the location chosen for observation, due to the long history of the Municipality’s Department of Water and Sanitation involvement in South Africa’s water policies. The study of water education is examined under the conceptual framework of Sustainable Development, which is then further supported by the Education for Sustainable Development framework. Water education is understood as: 1) the water cycle, 2) sources of water, 3) human consumption and different users of water, 4) domestic uses of water and, 5) water used on a large scale (Middlestadt et al., 2001). By understanding these key concepts, the cognitive, asset-based, and participatory development approaches are assessed to determine if they are being implemented to teach water education within eThekwini, and if they can be further applied to enhance current water education practices. Data was collected as part of a qualitative study method, through literature review and one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Interviewees address how education plays a role in environmental outreach projects, how the three development approaches are being used, and how water education can be enhanced. Through content analysis, factors such as class, wealth, and accessibility were discovered to impose on many residents’ ability to engage in water conservation efforts. Within the formal education system, water education seems to be more prominent throughout primary education, with more inclusive and engaging approaches. Little water education seems to be provided in secondary education, and if done the approaches used are more outcome-based rather than inclusive or interactive approaches. Interviewees found more inclusive, engaging, and active methods to be most successful when implementing water education. Water education can be enhanced through the use of the cognitive and participatory approaches; through formal education students are not encouraged to engage or participate and are therefore not strongly connected to the subject matter. As a result, students are not internalizing the information. The asset-based approach includes open discussions and an understanding of the local assets that are being impacted; this approach is therefore also recommended for further use.


Master Social Science in Development Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban, 2017.