Negotiating water conservation communication through indigenous media
Keywords:Indigenous media, Development communication, Mass communication, Mass mediated messages, Participatory action research, Communication campaign, Water conservation
Water conservation efforts have become increasingly important as spiralling population figures and snowballing economic development continue to pile pressure on fresh water resources across the world. In South Africa there are a number of water conservation initiatives to ensure optimal use of dwindling water resources. But not all citizens, particularly in rural communities, consider water conservation a social priority. The apathy has been attributed to the failure of current conservation communication to galvanise people in a way that they come to regard conserving water as a critical factor in achieving sustainable water use. The water conservation efforts rely heavily on persuasive communication, which encourages rural residents to take on new behaviours adjudged beneficial by the promoting agencies, often without seeking their commitment and understanding or appreciating the sociocultural dynamics underpinning their water use behaviour. This study used the participatory action approach to explore the effectiveness of indigenous media in engaging and mobilising rural residents on water conservation initiatives. Given its grassroots nature and interpersonal attributes, indigenous media provide a communication approach with the potential to negotiate the issues around water conservation.