Water service delivery in Pietermaritzburg: A community perspective
AbstractSouth African service delivery paradigms are undergoing a period of decentralisation. Local government/local municipalities are the preferred vehicles, selected by national government, to implement national policy, manage and deliver water services to local populations. Municipalities face a significant challenge of reducing apartheid backlogs, raising the level of service delivery and maintaining working systems whilst concurrently undergoing a period of painful re-demarcation and facing financial and capacity crises. Municipalities, forced to recover costs, transfer pressures of payment to households in an environment of massive job losses, decreased employment opportunities, HIV/AIDS and rising household service debts. South Africa's democratic system lends itself to a heightened awareness of community voices and participation, it is this environment, encouraging community involvement, where community perspectives are sought to identify challenges and provide recommendations for the transformation of water service delivery systems. This article highlights the perspective of low-income urban households to the following (community-identified) major water service delivery issues: free basic water, affordability mechanisms and tariff structures, water meters, leakages and water demand management, political platforms for community engagement and municipal administration. Grass-roots perspectives are critical as they provide insight into how implementation strategies are working on the ground. This paper aims to provide a platform for the perspectives of low-income households to water service delivery in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal and provides community-suggested recommendations for the transformation of water service delivery systems.
Keywords: municipal water service delivery, free basic water, water tariffs, community
Water SA Vol. 31(4) 2005: 435-448