Water and sanitation

National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS)
Dams and water schemes
Role players


Water is a critical element to sustainable socio-economic development and the eradication of poverty, and has a criti- cal function in the South African economy where it contrib- utes 60% towards agriculture and irrigation.

The Department of Water and Sanitation’s (DWS) legislative mandate seeks to ensure that the country’s water resources are protected, managed, used, developed, conserved and controlled by regulating and supporting the delivery of effective water supply and sanitation.

By mid-2015, the War on Leaks Programme, which was launched in August 2015 to eradicate water leaks whilst creating jobs for the youth, had about 3 000 trainees that were in the system as plumbers, water agents and artisans.

The DWS aimed to train an additional 7 000 unemployed youth in 2016/17.

According to the results of the General Household Sur- vey released by Statistics South Africa in June 2016, some 89,4% of South African households had access to piped water in 2015. During the same year, an estimated 45,8% of households had access to piped water in their dwellings. Nationally, 62% of households rated the quality of water- related  services  they  received  as  'good’. A further  27% accessed water onsite while 13,9% relied on communal taps and 2,7% relied on neighbours’ taps.

Although households’ access to water is improving, 4,4% of households still had to fetch water from rivers, streams, stagnant water pools and dams, wells and springs in 2015.

This is a decrease of more than fve percentage points from 9,5% of households that had to access water from these sources in 2002.

Nationally, the percentage of households with access to 'RDP-standard’ sanitation increased from 62,3% in 2002 to 80% in 2015. The majority of households in the Western Cape (93,3%) and Gauteng (91%) had access to adequate sanitation, while about half those in Limpopo (54%) and just below two-thirds of those in Mpumalanga (65,8%) had adequate access.

The percentage of households that continued to live without proper sanitation facilities declined between 2002 and 2015, decreasing from 12,3% to 4,7% during this period.

Sanitation and Hygiene Week

The DWS marked Sanitation and Hygiene Week from 11 to 15 May 2015 under the theme "It’s not all about fushing". The week, which was frst introduced at the Global WASH Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in 2004, aims to raise awareness on the importance of sanitation and promotes sanitation best practices.

National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS)

The National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS2) sets out the vision and strategic actions for effective water management These included the security of water supply, environmental degradation, and pollution of resources.

The NWRS2 outlines the key challenges, constraints and opportunities in water resource management and proposes new approaches that ensure a collective and adequate response for the benefit of all people in South Africa.

This strategy moves towards the achievement and attainment of an inclusive sustainable and equitable economy.

The NWRS2 ensures that the management of national water resources contributes towards achieving South Africa’s growth, development and socio-economic priorities in an equitable and sustainable manner over the next fve to 10 years.

The strategy also responds to the priorities set by government in the NDP and National Water Act of 1998 imperatives that support sustainable development.

Dams and water schemes

The country has more than 500 government-owned dams spread across all nine provinces. They range in storage capacity from a volume of 5 500 million m3 of water down to 0,2 million m3 of water.

South Africa uses about 10 200 million m3 of water a year from its major dams. The majority of water consumption can be attributed to drinking, irrigation, electricity, mining processes and industrial processes.

Bucket Eradication Programme

In keeping with the aspirations of the NDP, steady progress is being made towards eradicating the bucket toilet system in both formal and informal areas across South Africa.

By March 2016, the DWS’s Bucket Eradication Pro- gramme had prioritised North West, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Free State.

By March 2016, some 2 261 structures were com- pleted in the  Eastern  Cape,  124  in  North  West,  6  377 in Northern Cape and 6 974 in the Free State. Since September 2013, the DWS has eradicated the use of 14 386 buckets countrywide. Government remains committed to completely eradicate the backlog of the bucket system in communities.

Role players

Water boards

The primary activity of water boards is to provide water services (bulk potable and bulk waste water) to other water services institutions within their respective service areas.

They may perform other activities under conditions set out in the Water Services Act of 1997. There are 15 water boards in South Africa, with the three largest being Rand Water in Gauteng, Umgeni Water in KwaZulu-Natal and Overberg Water in the Western Cape.

Catchment management agencies (CMAs)

The main responsibilities of CMAs are to manage water resources at catchment level in collaboration with local stakeholders, with specific focus on involving local communities in the decision-making processes, in terms of meeting basic human needs, promoting equitable access to water, and facilitating social and economic development.

Water-user associations (WUAs)

WUAs are cooperative associations of individual water users who wish to undertake water-related activities at local level for their mutual benefit.

Water Research Commission

The WRC has a vital role in water research by establishing needs and priorities, stimulating and funding research, promoting the transfer of information and technology, and enhancing knowledge and capacity building in the water sector.

It also focuses on water resources management, water-linked ecosystems, water use and waste management, and water use in agriculture.

Water Trading Entity (WTE)

The DWS is responsible for the regulation of water use in South Africa by ensuring that water is allocated equitably and  used  beneficially  in  the  public  interest,  and  is  also required to create a register of all water users in the country. The National Water Act of 1998 provides for cost recovery on services rendered by the department to water users. It is against this background that the department created the WTE within its administration.

The main function of the WTE is development, operation and maintenance of specific water resources infrastructure and managing water resources in specific water management areas.

Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA)

The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority is a State-owned entity (SOE) specialising in project fnancing, implementation and liability management. It is responsible for the development of bulk raw-water infrastructure. It also provides an integrated treasury man- agement and fnancial advisory service to the DWS, water boards, municipalities and other entities that are linked to bulk raw-water infrastructure.

Komati River Basin Water Authority

The Komati Basin Water Authority was established in terms of a treaty between South Africa and Swaziland. The aim of the authority is to manage the water resources of the Komati River basin sustainably. The authority is responsible for fnancing, developing, operating and maintaining the water resources infrastructure in the basin, comprising the Driekoppies Dam in South Africa and the Maguga Dam in Swaziland.

Water Tribunal

The aim of the Water Tribunal is to hear appeals against directives and decisions made by responsible authorities, CMAs or water management agencies about matters such as the issuing of licences to use water. It is an independent body and can hold hearings anywhere in the country.

Strategic Water Partners Network – South Africa (SWPN-SA)

The SWPN is a dynamic and cutting-edge partnership between the DWS, the private sector and civil society working collectively to close a 17% gap between water supply and demand that is anticipated to manifest by the year 2030 in South Africa.

The partnership strives to contribute to efficient, equitable and sustainable water supply and access to water for all South Africans through the identification and application of innovative and cost effective solutions and programmes.

Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa 2015/16

Related information