Undergraduate Honors Thesis


A Tale of Two Cities: A Study of Day Zero in Cape Town and Gqeberha Public Deposited


    As more countries start to experience increasing water scarcity, effectively implementing water management policies is proving to become a vital part in securing a sustainable water supply. Prolonged drought conditions and unsustainable water consumption practices have made water conservation particularly challenging in South Africa. Two major cities in South Africa, Cape Town in the Western Cape and Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, have both experienced extreme water crises and approached Day Zero. Day Zero refers to the date on which a province's dam levels would be too low for safe water extraction to occur, essentially the date on which taps would run dry. This research paper analyzes government intervention and subsequent public action in reducing water consumption in both the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. In this paper, the factors affecting how people respond to government water management policies and restrictions are identified and explored in order to understand the divergent outcomes in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. Higher levels of trust in the local government, increased state capacity, and a larger tourism industry in the Western Cape led to higher levels of compliance to water restrictions. Media coverage of the severity of the water crisis was limited in the Eastern Cape which influenced how much information residents received regarding the status of dam levels. These residents experienced increased water interruptions as a result of their continued, unsustainable consumption during times of increased water availability; this may have been avoided if news outlets had encouraged continuous conservative water usage practices. This research paper builds upon existing literature and explores new avenues to address and transform water consumption behavior in order to achieve the implementation of sustainable water policies.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-04-12
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2023-04-21
Resource Type
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