Parish pump politics: the politics of water supply in South Africa
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An understanding of the politics of the water sector during the first decade of South Africa's democracy requires an engagement with a series of parallel debates. There is a technical debate about the nature of the water supply challenge. There is an institutional politics around budget allocation, between and within spheres or levels of government. There is a tension between a rights-based approach to service provision and the politics of sustainability and conservation. The interplay between these parallel dynamics is about the politics of the South African transition to democracy. But South Africa is not an island. So, finally, there is the global water debate, with its human rights, economic, anti-privatisation/imperialism and environmental dimensions. The focus of this paper is on how these different politics are playing out and how they impact on South Africans, particularly the poor who have perhaps the most to gain or lose.