Evaluation of the implementation of water supply and sanitation services to an in-situ upgrade housing project : a case study of Newtown, Pietermaritzburg.
The provision of a basic water supply and sanitation service to the 12 million South Africans without an adequate water supply and the 21 million without basic sanitation is a mammoth task that is currently being undertaken by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Billions of rands have been spent on, and committed to, water and sanitation projects that involve national, provincial and local spheres of government, as well as parastatals, non-government organisations and private developers. It is acknowledged that important successes have been achieved in the water and sanitation sector. However, despite the provisions provided in national and local legislation, internationally lauded policy directives, the numerous studies undertaken and recommendations made by institutions such as the Water Research Commission, problems have continued to emerge in the sustainable delivery of water and sanitation projects, particularly in the peri-urban and rural areas. It is clear that the installation of physical structures such as pipes, taps and ventilated improved pit latrines in these areas have created a sense of 'delivery' however, little thought seems to have gone into how these projects are to be sustained. International experience has shown that the concept of 'community ownership' is very important in providing sustainable water and sanitation services. The most important principles in achieving sustainability are community participation and community decision-making throughout both the development of the project as well as the further operation and maintenance of the system. International experience has also shown that financial contributions towards the scheme from the community (in cash, labour or materials), also assists in obtaining community ownership. Over the past decade emphasis in South Africa has shifted towards community participation and the empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities where communities play an active role in determining the level of service provided and the manner in which these services are delivered. However, current government policy advocates that water must be treated as an economic resource to achieve sustainability and this does not always lie comfortably with the policy of delivering free basic water. As a result of these two often-juxtaposed concepts, the delivery of sustainable water and sanitation services, a function performed by local government, is thus made more difficult. This study assesses the importance of delivering a potable water supply and adequate sanitation service to enhance the quality of lives of people. It also considers the key issues that contribute towards sustainable water and sanitation service delivery, with particular reference to the concept of 'community ownership'. The complex nature of the policy, legislative and institutional framework for water supply and sanitation is considered along with an analysis of the Msunduzi Municipality's water supply and sanitation policy and objectives. The study then focuses on the delivery of water and sanitation services to one such project, Edendale Unit RR (commonly known as Newtown), as an in-situ upgrade case study. A Provincial Housing Board funded project has, over the last five years, provided housing units, roads, stormwater drains, and water and sanitation infrastructure to this community. This initial research is undertaken with the intention of providing an evaluation of the installation of the water supply and sanitation service to the in-situ upgrade of Newtown.