Assessing the capacity of municipalities for water provision within a rural context: a case study of uMkhanyakude District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Dlamini, Sinenkhosi Hlalanathi.
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The study assesses the capacity for water provision of the uMkhanyakude District Municipality. To establish a better understanding of the municipal capacity for water provision the study focuses on satisfying four main objectives. The first objective is to describe the arrangement for water governance and the impact it has on the municipality’s capacity for water provision. The second objective focuses on reviewing how governmentality has had an impact on shaping access and control over water resources in the municipality. The third objective focuses on assessing the outcomes of how policy implementation has impacted the municipality’s capacity to provide water. The final objective is to interrogate the influence of politics on water provision in uMkhanyakude municipality. This study adopts the human development, basic needs and neo-intuitionalism theories, to provide a framework of analysis that acts as a lens for interpreting the research findings. Each of these theories provides the study with a critical base of analysis on the various topics discussed. The combination of the theories proves advantageous to the study as they address different research interests. The human development and basic needs theories, for instance, provide useful tools for assessing development with a human-centred perspective. The neo-institutionalism theory, on the other hand, helps the study to assess the municipality as an institution or vehicle for delivering development. The study adopts a qualitative research approach for data collection and analysis to interrogate the complex relationship between capacity and the various factors of governance and politics affecting water provision in the municipality. In-depth interviews with officials from various institutions provided valuable insight into the study. The study found that the municipality’s capacity has been affected by several governance factors. The study also found that the governmentality conditions within the institutional arrangement may have the dual effect of advancing development on the one hand and growing the divide in level and quality of access that exists between urban and rural areas (wealthy and poor neighbourhoods) on the other hand. The role and influence of power and politics have been found to be considerably instrumental in affecting the municipality’s performance, as the abuse of power by politicians has been found to have an adverse effect on the municipality’s functionality. The study concludes that UKDM is regarded to have adequate physical resource capacity to provide water to its constituency. The study’s findings confirm claims from literature reviewed on the capacity of institutions in water provision. UKDM’s capacity to improve performance in water provision has been affected by a range of different factors including, governance issues, politics and the broader institutional dynamics. The study recommends that the municipality undertakes a capacity self-assessment to gauge the level of capacity they currently possess and identify areas of critical concern within the organisation and broader institution.