Recognition of Informal Norms in Creating Resilient Water Management Structures : The Case of Soweto East, Nairobi



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HAL Science


Cities are made up of assemblages of incoherent wholes which co-exist together in a seemingly placid or tolerating mode of existence. Due to their nature and neo-liberalist policies governing them, the urban services are assumed to be provided in the right quantities and the right time for all, which is not always the case as many interests are at play contesting the powers that are. Water – a basic good and right enshrined in many nations’ constitutions is still a far cry for all, is at the crux of this thesis in which a case study of Soweto East – a routinely marginalized heavily contested ‘ghetto’ space in which the residents have suffered historical neglect and injustice in the provision of basic urban goods and services and a site of several failed development interventions which foster urban injustice and further entrench the lack of the right to dwell in the city- has been used to depict the governance of a water system to ensure resilience and sustainability in the wake of the Sustainable Development Goals. Using the Governance Analytical Framework, this thesis unpackages the contested s(p)laces where dwellers have democratically organized themselves to take charge of their destiny by creating systems that utilize both the statutory norms and informal norms in differing measures to ensure that they can lay claim on water services. The system boasts of a rich interwoven tapestry of both historical and current claims for its being. The research explores the different roles and relationships existing between the various actors who move in between discourses of the local realities, relying on their local political economy to define or adapt to the actualization of the basic human right to a descent livelihood in the city and minimize the scarcity of these urban goods and services. Mixed method research infused with ethnography and archival material demonstrated the unique governance features of this particular system which is a model of a non-conformist emergent space where the dwellers are critical in governing their water system using the informal norms and systems.