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Social protests and water service delivery in South Africa
Expanded Title:Since 2004, South Africa has been hit by high volumes of social protests. Protestors claim that they protest over lack of ‘service delivery’ and water is one of the elements of service delivery. In 2012 the frequency, geographical spread and violence of service delivery-related social protests in post-apartheid South Africa reached unprecedented levels. Water service delivery issues rose in prominence among various reasons cited for protests. While this ascendance is remarkable, grievances over water services are not new. Water service delivery issues have been (and still are) a part of a range of conflated grievances that masquerade under the general rubric of ‘service delivery’ issues and underpin many rallying calls for social protest action. Although such conflation reflects the inter-relatedness of social services, it also masks the precise nature of the specific water service delivery issues in question. It is perhaps worth mentioning that although social protests are complex phenomena, for those protests in which water is cited as a grievance issue, a key policy issue is that water insecurity is at the core of dissatisfaction, alongside grievances over the delivery of related social services, poor governance and municipal capacity constraints, especially funding and human resources. Research findings show that the majority of social protests associated with water service delivery tend to occur in low and middle income working-class urban and peri-urban neighbourhoods that are characterized by: • Poverty, unemployment, inequality and unhappiness about perceived relative deprivation and/or marginalization; • Dissatisfaction with water services delivery and the delivery of related social services (e.g. sanitation, housing, electricity, refuse removal and roads); • Disjuncture (including communication breakdown) primarily between municipal authorities at local levels and water users at plot and neighbourhood levels; • Negative perceptions about governance in general and municipal governance in particular; and • Municipal capacity constraints in dealing with longstanding backlogs for access to water and related social services (e.g. sanitation, housing, electricity, refuse removal, roads and storm water drains), particularly amid rapid urbanization and a changing demographic profile of citizenship expectations and aspirations.
Date Published:01/05/2015
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Drinking water - Water supply, R & D - Water history
Document Keywords:Society, Water Quality
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:TT 631/15
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0672-8
Authors:Tapela BN; Ntwana B; Sibanda D
Project No:K5/2133
Originator:WRC
Organizations:University of the Western Cape
Document Size:19 001 KB
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