Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

International Affairs

First Advisor

Dr. Yaffa Truelove

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Mansfield

Third Advisor

Dr. Shuang Zhang

Abstract

This paper analyzes the social and political consequences of the implementation of “smart” water meters in Cape Town, South Africa. As policymakers around the world implement new solutions to ever-growing concerns about depleting water resources, technologies and ideas are exported to other parts of the world before experts understand how these concepts will function in different environments. It is imperative to assess the implications of technological solutions to ensure they are implemented sustainably. This paper employs a qualitative approach synthesizing findings from government documents, personal conversations, and traditional and social media to evaluate the societal impacts of smart water meters in Cape Town over the course of the city’s 2017-2018 water crisis. The methodological framework created for this study can be used in future contexts to anticipate how urban areas will respond to smart water technology. This paper concludes with policy recommendations including a historical assessment of water-related grievances, government engagement with business and civil society leaders, and the potential for a cap-and-trade-like system for water rights.

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