Factors affecting the effectiveness of pro-poor urban water service delivery in post-apartheid South Africa

SOURCE: South Africa's democracy @ 20: diagnosis and prognosis
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2015
TITLE AUTHOR(S): T.Zikhali
SOURCE EDITOR(S): J.S.Kotze
KEYWORDS: MUNICIPAL SERVICES, MUNICIPALITIES, POST APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA, URBAN RENEWAL AND DEVELOPMENT (URD), WATER SERVICE DELIVERY
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8584
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/2003

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at researchoutputs@hsrc.ac.za.

Abstract

The birth of democracy in 1994 resulted in a massive law reform process which brought much optimism in South African water resource governance structure. These reforms have included a pro-poor oriented water service delivery system to redress the inequalities experienced by the poor during the apartheid regime. However, although a lot of financial resources have been used to improve water security amongst the poor, water access have reached unprecedented levels in the post-apartheid era. The broad objective of the paper is to identify and assess pro-poor interventions in water service delivery in urban areas. Given the plurality of pro-poor mechanisms to ensure access t water, a special focus is made on the free basic water policy to illustrate how the manner in which policies are formulated and implemented can affect service delivery. The role that municipalities play in water governance and how this subsequently impacts on the effectiveness of these policies and mechanisms is interrogated. The paper finds that the municipality as the sphere of government tasked with urban water service delivery lacks financial independence and is in itself fraught with various operational challenges. Supply side oriented reforms and neoliberal policies are also criticised for not taking cognisance of the needs of the poor, particularly as envisaged under a democratic developmental state.