South Africa: As Water Systems Fail Across the Country, Rural Communities Look to Self-Supply


About half of municipal wastewater and water treatment works across South Africa are in a poor or critical condition. Many need urgent rehabilitation, and 11% are dysfunctional. Over three million people still do not have access to a basic water supply service. Self-supply in partnership with government could be the answer.

In the lead-up to Mandela Day, we reflect on the many meanings of Thuma Mina. It's a presidential campaign to re-ignite the South African spirit of working together and working for the nation. It's a song of hope by Hugh Masakela. It's a traditional church chorus. It's the optimistic and disillusioned Ramaphoria that gripped many South Africans and that has seen a tapering out since elections. It's also a "joke phrase" used to anecdotally describe the trouble South Africa is really in. Whichever way you choose to look at it, it's a call (or a cry) to action.

Several national departments have begun to realise the importance of this call - one being the Ministry of (now Human Settlements) Water and Sanitation emphasizing the case for local water management and the need for partnerships to address the water service backlog, particularly in rural communities.

The department has acknowledged some...

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