Beating the backlog: meeting targets and providing free basic services
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This short paper concentrates on dealing with the backlogs in delivery with particular reference to the key life sustaining services of water and sanitation and life enhancing service of electricity. The first point is that considerable additional resources are needed to make these services available to the rural poor. The easy part of delivery has been the investment in infrastructure to the more accessible communities on the basis of line function departments and public institutions. The investment strategy was one of steadily and incremental growth in infrastructure on the basis of fairly modest investment in the extension of water services and of electricity to the unserved poor of the order of 0.33 and 0.36 per cent respectively of total state expenditure in 2003/4. The current targets of accelerated delivery in water and sanitation, which have been spelt out in detail by the Minister, are for the backlog in water delivery to be cleared by 2008 and that of sanitation by 2010. Although there is less emphasis on electrification there is also a general goal of the rural poor also enjoying electricity mainly through the extension of the grid or through alternative This paper contributes to this discussion by identifying the backlogs in these sectors, their location, and the additional investment needed to meet backlogs. The institutional context for sustainability is also developed. Investment in infrastructure at an annual level of R2.3 billion in electrification and R3.2 billion in water and sanitation is needed to clear these backlogs.