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Water, justice, and wellbeing in the Kamiesberg, Namaqualand: Reflecting on local histories in the context of the Anthropocene

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Abstract This paper explores relationships between water and well‐being in the Leliefontein Pastoral Area, Namaqualand, South Africa. Despite its geographical focus, it nonetheless articulates with broader regional and national debates around water in the Anthropocene. As a positive response to calls for water justice in South Africa, the paper argues for the need for water justice that is attuned to the particularities of South Africa's complex social‐ecologies. In order to make this case, the paper explores a regional literature rich in works in the disciplines of environmental history, anthropology and ecology that demonstrates deep entanglements between water, dispossession of land, and oppressive power in the Leliefontein Pastoral Area, and Namaqualand more generally. Because of the histories and ways of life it describes, the literature underscores the need to consider wellbeing as it relates to water in varying forms—as that which flows through pipes and taps, but also that which cycles through the air, falls on the ground, is taken up by plants, and eaten by stock animals. A consideration of Leliefontein's water history also surfaces the historically delimited nature of water that is primarily known as a natural resource, measured in liters and assessed in terms of its microbial and chemical contents. Other kinds of waters exist and persist in the area and are also vital to how many people experience and think about their own wellbeing. This becomes especially significant in the face of expected effects of climate change in the region. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Human Water

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