Date: 2014 - 2019

Research team: This project is being conducted by researchers from a number of organisations, including RUBEN, the Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU), and iCOMMS. Researchers include: Martine Visser (RUBEN & EPRU), Kerri Brick (EPRU), Samantha De Martino (EPRU), Jorge Garcia, Johanna Brühl (EPRU), Ulrike Rivett (iCOMMS) Megan McLaren (iCOMMS, Masters)

In the first stage of this project, a large scale randomised control trial (around 400,000 households) was conducted where behavioural nudges were sent to households with their monthly municipal bill over a period of 6 months to motivate water savings. A number of framings were used, for example a social norm message compared a household’s consumption to the average for their neighbourhood and a financial loss message quantified the loss from not reducing consumption.

While the first stage of the project was focused around the design and roll-out of the study, the second part is focused around knowledge and skills transfer and the integration of the learnings within the structures and staff at the City of Cape Town. Working papers from the first stage of the project

  • Brick, K., De Martino, S., Visser, M., 2017. Behavioural Nudges for Water Conservation: Experimental Evidence from Cape Town, South Africa. WRC Working Paper. DOI10.13140/RG.2.2.25430.75848
  • Brick, K., De Martino, S., Visser, M., 2017. Image Motivation for prosocial behaviour: Evidence from South Africa. Draft Working Paper.
  • Brick, K. and Visser, M., 2017. Green Nudges in the DSM toolkit: Evidence from Drought-Stricken Cape Town. Draft Working Paper, School of Economics, University of Cape Town. DOI10.13140/RG.2.2.16413.00489
  • Brühl, J. and Visser, M., 2018. Heterogeneous responses to behavioural messages: evidence from a large-scale randomised control trial in Cape Town. Draft Working Paper, School of Economics, University of Cape Town

 Additional Outputs

  • A report detailing the processes in terms of logistics and technology required to roll-out the interventions used during this study.
  • Local workshop with staff from different departments within the City of Cape Town to communicate findings and to set in place a plan to facilitate the integration of the necessary processes needed to scale up the findings.
  • Strategy for integration and cooperation formulated jointly between the research team and the City of Cape Town to ensure knowledge and skill transfer.
  • Paper comparing the effectiveness of tariff hikes to the behavioural nudges as a means of encouraging water savings.
  • Paper assessing the long-run impacts of behavioural nudges as a demand side management tool and shed light on the habit formation processes relevant to such interventions.
  • Knowledge sharing workshop at a national level