Water service delivery in eThekwini municipality : perceptions and processes in Johanna/Boxwood Road informal settlement.
Malakoana, Mandla Saul.
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Government is expected by its citizens to deliver services with the highest degree of quality and of suitable standards. This results in citizens’ satisfaction and positive perceptions of their government. Any failure of government to meet citizens’ expectations results in dissatisfaction and protests. In line with this assertion, the study primarily aimed at analysing the perceptions of the Johanna/Boxwood Road Informal Settlement’s dwellers, in relation to the provision of water services by the eThekwini Municipality. It also sought to propose policy recommendations at a strategic level in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to advance quality waterservice delivery beyond 2015. The study was grounded on the Expectation-Perception and Core- Value theories. The two theories centre their perspectives on the customer’s view and on the ethos of customer service. These aspects accentuate the essence of organisations, including government, measuring the perceptions and expectations of customers. Their constructs are premised on reliability, assurance, tangibility, empathy, and responsiveness when services are delivered. One hundred units of analysis were drawn as the sample from the Johanna/Boxwood Road Informal Settlement, using a random sampling technique for the quantitative research method. Fifteen senior officials were interviewed from eThekwini Municipality’s Water and Sanitation Unit, deploying the qualitative research method. The data collected was analysed using SPSS Version 23 for the quantitative research method, and Nvivo Version 10 for the qualitative research method. A huge percentage of the Johanna/Boxwood Road Informal Settlement dwellers surveyed believed that the quality of water delivered by eThekwini Municipality was high, and the delivery of water was reliable. They further asserted that the municipality was empathetic when delivering water services for them, expressing confidence in it. However, the results also stressed the importance of developing a policy that would be responsive to the needs of the citizens, and which would positively affect the lives of the common people. The findings further underscored the essence of enhancing communication between the municipality and the community when services such as water were delivered. The monitoring and evaluation tools were also identified by the study as being critical to measuring the progress when delivering services, particularly water. The major recommendations of the study are that: 1) eThekwini Municipality should improve communication with the community, 2) eThekwini Municipality should develop response strategies on how to efficiently deliver water services to areas, such as Johanna/Boxwood Road Informal Settlement, 3) more work needs to be done in order to understand how the water is collected and stored at household level, 4) more relationship building with the community should be undertaken by eThekwini Municipality, and 5) eThekwini Municipality should evaluate uts incentive programme at lower levels in order to encourage more productivity. Collectively, the recommendations of the study suggest the transformation of developmental local government, such as eThekwini Municipality in improving service delivery and good governance. This serves to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) espoused by the United Nations, 2015, in terms of Goal 6 which places emphasis on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation to all by 2030. The model proposed in the last chapter of the dissertation should therefore be adopted to enhance water delivery and management at local government level.