Water, equity and resilience in Southern Africa: future directions for research and practice

Lucy Rodina, Lawrence A. Baker, Mary Galvin, Jaqueline Goldin, Leila M. Harris, Thomani Manungufala, Muchaparara Musemwa, Catherine Sutherland, Gina Ziervogel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Drawing from the proceedings of an expert workshop with academics, researchers, government and NGO participants working in diverse countries in southern Africa and beyond, this paper reviews the discourse on resilience, both conceptually and in practice. We highlight opportunities to develop and apply a more situated, equity-sensitive and context-relevant understanding of resilience, particularly in the water sector. To pursue more just and resilient water futures in highly unequal and water stressed regions, we propose that researchers and practitioners (1) place greater emphasis on the transformative potential of resilience, (2) broaden the social dimensions of resilience to account more fully for intangible and other social factors, (3) engage critically with the decision-making processes and practices of building resilience, (4) contribute to the development of indicators and guidelines for building just and resilient water futures, (5) strengthen the role of situated knowledges, (6) critically engage with scale and boundaries in complex adaptive systems, and (7) strengthen the policy–science–civil society interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper is the product of many minds, and especially those who participated in the International WaTERS Workshop (see full participant list at www.waterequity.pwias.ubc.ca ). We would like to acknowledge our workshop funders: Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies (UBC) , the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study , the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant # 22R73504 ), the Hampton Fund (UBC), the South Africa Water Research Commission, the NEPAD Water Centers for Excellence, the University of the Western Cape, and the Programme on Water Governance (UBC) for their contribution to workshop organization and implementation. We would also like to acknowledge Everisto Mapedza and Willem De Clercq for their insightful comments on the draft.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


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