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Limited access to safely managed water in resource poor rural contexts: a photovoice study of adult experiences in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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This study examined how adults living in a resource-poor rural community experienced and communicated about their challenges of living in a place that had limited access to safely managed water. Seventeen adult women and men were purposively recruited from eMdubezweni in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In order to explore these daily experiences, the study employed a participatory visual methodology, and used photovoice as a tool to generate data. Data generated using photovoice was augment by four focus-group discussions and oneon- one interviews with the adult participants. Analysis in the study was informed by two theories. First, the entitlement theory provided a framework for understanding how limited access to safely managed water in resource-poor rural communities resulted from enduring injustices that were inherited from a legacy of colonial and apartheid rule, and the failure of the democratic dispensation to rectify the impact of these historically unjust systems. Second, the gender socialisation lens provided a general framework used to examine the gender inequalities inherent in how water is accessed and who, between men and women, benefits the most from this access. Data analysis was in three layers: the first two layers involved the participants’ own analysis of their photovoice images, the captions they wrote and the explanations they gave about their visual artefacts. The third layer involved my own thematic analysis of the data. The overall finding pointed to the marginalisation of rural livelihoods from the practice of national development. Moreover, the findings pointed to gendered differences in how both the women and men in this study experienced and articulated the challenges they faced regarding their living in a resource-poor rural community will limited access to safely managed water. Emerging from the findings, this dissertation proposes a framework for amplifying rural voices for improving safely managed water services, with several implications for research and practice.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.