By Statistician-General Pali Lehohla
IN OCTOBER last year, Statistics SA conducted a large-scale citizen satisfaction survey in KwaZulu-Natal, the design of which was reported extensively by subject of enquiry at municipal level. The design was for 20 000 households and the results of the survey were presented to former premier Senzo Mchunu and his cabinet in February. They welcomed the results and in August the KwaZulu-Natal government committed Stats SA to do this survey every two years.
In this column I will explore the results of this survey, focusing mainly on the priority areas as ranked by citizens and their level of satisfaction with the specific services, and especially explore what the data suggests in terms of adequacy or otherwise of planning. This is reported by type of municipality.
Finally, I will map out municipalities to have an appreciation of spatial comparisons as regards citizens’ levels of satisfaction. The results promise to sharpen the quality of development and political dialogue, as well as inform municipal delivery and performance.
Priority areas for KwaZulu-Natal are heavily weighted towards water, electricity, clinics, sanitation and housing. Up to 52 percent of its municipalities ranked water as a top priority. Electricity came second at 40 percent, with clinics, sanitation and housing coming at 39 percent, 36 percent and 34 percent respectively.
The accompanying chart provides the degree of satisfaction regarding the specific services that are delivered to municipalities, namely housing, sanitation, electricity and water. The satisfaction level has been presented in relation to the different types of municipalities being types A, B1, B2, B3 and B4.
How integrated are integrated development plans across municipalities? We can observe that the level of satisfaction is widely dispersed for a particular service across these municipalities.
For instance, by type of municipal housing in Type B4, the level of satisfaction is at 20 percent, compared with Type
Recent satisfaction survey results highlight the importance of understanding the patterns of service delivery and how citizens experience them.
B1, where satisfaction with housing is at about 45 percent. As regards water, Type B1, municipalities excel at 80 percent, and this can be compared with Type B4 municipalities, where satisfaction levels are at 30 percent.
How integrated are the integrated development plans within municipalities?
The implementation question to be asked is the one relating to the extent to which integrated development is integrated, especially within municipalities.
A bundle of services such as housing, water, sanitation and electricity ideally should be delivered as a service delivery package.
In a well-planned environment, such as, possibly, the leafy suburbs of our land, these services are packaged such that they to a large extent meet user needs.
This is the essence of urban and regional planning. However, as we note in the chart, the degree of dispersion in satisfaction levels within municipalities suggests that the planning of these services is not coherent.
For instance, how is it that the range of satisfaction is as low as 20 percent for housing and as high as 55 percent for electricity for say Type B4 municipalities, and this degree of dispersion is observed in all other types of municipalities?
The question posed by this observation is how integrated are integrated development plans?
The step taken by KwaZulu-Natal to consult citizens on their opinions as far as service delivery is concerned is consistent with the constitutional imperatives of a government that consults citizens and can only deepen democracy.
The results highlight the importance of understanding patterns of service delivery and how citizens experience and view them. These can impact on choices made at the ballot as well as on how the integrated development plans programmes can be influenced.
Dr Pali Lehohla is the Statistician-General of South Africa