The politics of water delivery in the Phatheni District, Richmond.
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Water security and the provision of water services is a critical issue, particularly in rural areas of the developing world. Understanding water management and the technical provision of water has been the major focus of research in the past. However, more recently there has been a shift towards adopting a more integrated and critical perspective on water provision using a political ecology approach. The concept of the hydrosocial cycle has been introduced by scholars as a means of revealing the interconnected relations between water and society. Rather than merely focusing on the elements of the system that make up the hydrological cycle, the hydrosocial cycle analyses the complex relations and politics in water service provision recognising that water is as much a social and political construct, as it is a technical one. This thesis uses the framework of the hydrosocial cycle to explore the relations between the different actors in the production and provision of water services in Phatheni in Richmond. This study explores how these progressive national policy and practices of water governance play out in Phatheni, Richmond with a particular focus on water politics. Phatheni is a poor rural settlement in the 'periphery' Richmond Municipality. It is located in the southern part of uMgungundlovu District Municipality, approximately 38 kilometres from Pietermaritzburg. Phatheni has high levels of poverty and unemployment, and poor delivery of services and facilities. It is governed by both the Richmond and uMgungundlovu Municipalities and the Traditional Authority and hence falls under a system of dual governance. In 2014 a number of water projects were designed and implemented in Phatheni. This thesis explores the politics and issues related to the implementation of these water projects by identifying and analysing the policy and legislative frameworks shaping water service provision in South Africa, the actors involved, the practices of implementation and the politics and relations between the actors that shaped the outcomes of the projects.