n HTS : Theological Studies - 'Keeping head above water' : a case study in religious leadership in a polluted context : original research




'We must stop wasting our precious water - and also stop polluting it.' These are the words of Dr Jo Barnes, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer in Community Health at the University of Stellenbosch's Faculty for Health Sciences. Her research involves the quality of water in rivers and its health impact on communities. It is general knowledge that health services are struggling under the burden of diseases resulting from environmental pollution, particularly water pollution. This potentially avoidable crisis is slowly turning into a disaster. The article draws on a case study done in the informal settlement of Sweet Home Farm in Philippi, Cape Town, with the intent of compiling a descriptive empirical report on the way the community deals with human waste. In a next step, interpretive lenses are used to look with 'deeper understanding' at the problem of human waste and pollution. After that, the focus shifts to the problem of a theology of human waste, and the article concludes with suggestions on the role of religious leadership and ways in which leaders can play a constructive role in handling the crisis of a polluted context.


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