Water Services Targets: Department presentation

Water and Sanitation

16 August 2006
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

16 August 2006

Acting Chairperson:
Ms C September

Documents handed out:
Presentation from The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry on Water Services Targets
Four sets of Committee minutes
Draft Committee report on
Water Quality And Security Public Hearings (available at Committee Reports once adopted by the committee)

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) briefed the Committee on the water services targets and its progress in meeting them. DWAF targets fell into a number of groups. Access to services and sanitation required everyone to have access to a functioning basic water supply facility by 2008; and to have access to basic sanitation by 2010. Currently only 17% lacked that basic supply. The backlog in regard to sanitation was currently 31%. School water backlogs stood at 2 688. Sanitation backlogs were 281. The bucket system eradication backlog was 165 912, but should be eliminated by December 2007. South Africa currently invested at least 0.55% of GDP in the water and sanitation sector, slightly less than the target of 0.75%. Hygiene education and the wise use of water must be taught in schools, so that provision of basic sanitation was linked to the practice of safe sanitation.

74% of the total population currently had access to free basic water, measured against a targeted 78% by March 2007. Practical problems delayed implementation in all areas. DWAF was optimistic that it could meet targets in institutional development and performance, having already transferred 58% of schemes. DWAF had produced model by laws for municipal use. 86% of Water Services Authorities had implemented water services development plans, and DWAF supported them.

The main challenges to the process included municipalities’ frequent lack of technical and financial capacity, financial constraints, non-viability of some municipalities, high costs in water supply, poor cost recovery and lack of infrastructure. Basic water provision was hampered by lack of communication, lack of awareness by officials, councillors and communities, and targeting and prioritizing of the poor. Sanitation challenges included insufficient plans, capacity constraints, insufficient funding and slow or inadequate expenditure. DWAF then presented on certain special projects.

Water targets could not be considered in isolation but must be seen against the substantial growth in population and urbanisation. The current implementation rate would have to be improved before the backlogs could be addressed. The budget was inadequate. Water services had to be linked to housing, settlement and population issues and other sources of funding would be needed for higher levels of services. Agreement was needed on differentiated service levels and water and sanitation delivery must be accelerated. DWAF planned to submit comprehensive reports on the municipal and sector performance to show how it performed.

Questions by members related to the figures for population growth, the provinces with the most serious backlogs, clarity on targets, provincial problems, and the apparent discrepancy in figures given by the Department of Education and DWAF on school sanitation. There was discussion on the by laws and enforcement and the Chairperson requested copies of the by laws to be provided. Targets and budgets were raised, and the percentage allocations clarified. Water quality was raised, but there was insufficient time to discuss it in depth. The transferred schemes were raised but were also not discussed. SALGA was asked to clarify its role and its statements that certain targets would not be met. The Chairperson suggested that a further meeting was necessary, to include other stakeholders, to discuss these issues in more depth.

The Chair reported that the targets for Water Services, as set out both by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the President, would be dealt with as part of the Committee’s oversight function. She stressed that it was the function of the Committee to engage actively, not merely receive documents.

Department of Water Affairs and Forestry Presentation
Mr Helgard Muller (Chief Director, Water Services: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF)) focused in his presentation on what the water targets were and the progress in meeting these targets. Mr Muller stated that DWAF’s targets were very ambitious, and had sometimes been criticized as too ambitious, but setting high targets helped DWAF to focus and prioritise. Without targets, people would not take water and sanitation seriously. He drew the distinction between DWAF’s targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). MDG aimed, by 2015, to halve the proportion of people that were without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation in 1990. South Africa had already met the MDG for water supply and was well underway to meet the sanitation MDG as well. DWAF had also performed well on international targets.

Mr Muller continued to deal with specific targets. The first target group consisted of targets dealing with access to services; this required everyone to have access to a functioning basic water supply facility by 2008; to have access to basic sanitation by 2010. Basic sanitation to all schools should be provided by 2005; to all clinics by 2007, and all bucket toilets must be eradicated by December 2007. The investment in water services infrastructure in the sector totalled at least 0.75% of gross domestic product (GDP). Mr Muller highlighted the progress by indicated that in 1994, 41% of the population did not achieve a basic supply. Currently only 17% lacked that basic supply.

Mr Cyprian Mazubane (Deputy Director: Sanitation Support, DWAF) reported that only 48% of the population, in 1994, had access to basic sanitation. 57% had achieved access in 2001, and currently, 69% of people had such access.  The backlog currently stood at 31%, a 40% improvement on 1994.

The school water backlog was reduced from 4785 schools in September 2004, to its current level of 2688. 2478 schools were served as at the end of March 2006.

Sanitation backlog in clinics had been reduced from 4300 in September 2004 to 1822 by March 2006. Currently, the total backlog was 281. It was intended to serve 59 clinics in 2005/06; 114 in 2006/07; and 108 clinics in 2007/08.

The target for eradication of bucket sanitation in formal settlements was end December 2007. Formal settlements were surveyed in June 2006 and showed that the backlog stood at 165 912. DWAF were on track to eliminate this backlog by December 2007. 74 000 buckets would be replaced in the current year and 91 912 next year.

Mr Muller then reported that it was estimated that South Africa currently invested at least 0.55% of GDP in the water and sanitation sector. Mr Muller stated that this was slightly less than the target of 0.75%. Government policy set out that sanitation should not merely be provided in isolation. Hygiene education and the wise use of water must be taught in schools, in order that the provision of basic sanitation was linked to the practice of safe sanitation.

Mr Muller reiterated that the free basic water policy must be implemented by 2005 and the free basic sanitation policy by 2010. One mechanism used to measure the percentage of households with safe sanitation practices was to measure the decline in water borne illnesses. Figures from the Department of Health did show this decline. Surveys showed that 74% of the total population had access to free basic water, measured against a targeted 78% by March 2007. Free basic sanitation was already implemented in some metros and cities, but practical problems delayed implementation in all areas.

In regard to institutional development and performance, Mr Muller reported that a national institutional reform strategy was to be developed by June 2004. Institutional reform of regional water services providers must be completed by 2013. The assets of water services schemes must be transferred by DWAF by 2008. DWAF was also to report on sector development and progress. DWAF had developed a national institutional reform strategy and was being discussed with sector partners like SALGA. The institutional reform process had started in 3 priority areas.  DWAF had to date transferred 58% of the schemes and was optimistic that it could meet the target of 2008. DWAF produced model bye laws for municipal use, were not currently able to monitor how many of these have been adapted, but aimed to monitor in line with DWAF’s future role as national regulator. Mr Muller reported that DWAF had its annual reports, but still needed more specific reports on progress and achievements in the sectors.

A further target related to reports by all Water Services Authorities (WSAs) on progress against their water services development plans. All external water services providers should render services in terms of a contract with the applicable water services authority (municipality) and must have a business plan, which had adopted a set of key performance indicators. 86% of WSAs had implemented water services development plans. DWAF had a substantial programme to support WSAs in completing their development plans and getting them approved by Council. DWAF, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and South African Allied Workers Union (SAAWU) had also produced a model contract for WSAs and Water Service Providers (WSPs). 67% of municipalities had started negotiating on this contract. DWAF would also monitor these contracts.

Mr Muller reported on some key performance indicators. In 2005 DWAF and SALGA started a benchmarking regulatory process that would enable WSAs to adopt and report on a set of Key Performance Indicators, such as Drinking Water Quality (DWQ) standards. Challenges included municipalities’ frequent lack of technical and financial capacity, financial constraints, financial non-viability of some municipalities, the cost of supplying widely-dispersed consumers, the cost of waterborne sanitation in dense urban areas, poor cost recovery and a bulk infrastructure funding gap, when funding was available but the bulk infrastructure was lacking. Sustainability posed a further challenge as often municipalities would set local targets, but neglect the operation, maintenance and infrastructure asset management. Both informal settlements and urbanization and growth in household numbers, due to reduction in household sizes, posed problems. Basic water provision was made difficult by lack of communication, lack of awareness by officials, councillors and community, and targeting and prioritizing of the poor.

Mr Mazubane spoke of the challenges to sanitation. Municipalities should, but often did not, have development plans that adequately reflected the sanitation target for 2010. Plans often did not look far ahead. Further challenges arose through capacity constraints. DWAF needed to create support capacity in all regions to strengthen municipalities, give them support to implement sustainable sanitation and reach the targets. Insufficient funding to meet sanitation targets and slow MIG expenditure compounded the problem. Currently the funding allocated for sanitation was inadequate, and was also spent inadequately or inefficiently.

Mr Mazubane reported on Operation Gijima, as outlined in his presentation, which aimed to support municipalities. A special fund of R1.2 billion was allocated for bucket eradication over a three-year period. The total bucket backlog in June 2006 was 165 912. 63 602 buckets would be eradicated by December 2006 and 102 310 by December 2007. 35 contracts were in place, and further contracts would be finalized by end August 2006. He said that if R600 million was re-allocated to 2006/07, contracts could commence immediately to deal with the matter.

Mr Muller stressed that targets were often mentioned without taking into account the substantial growth in population and urbanization, which played a major role in the demand for services. Formal settlements would require more than basic water. Although South Africa was making very good progress, unless the current implementation rate improved the sector might not be able to address all basic water and sanitation backlog challenges in all municipalities. The budget for basic services was inadequate to meet all the targets. The bucket target only applied to those in established, formal areas, therefore buckets would remain after December 2007 in informal settlements, to be addressed by other subsequent programs. The issue was not only about providing toilets, but housing and settlements. Bulk infrastructure did not merely mean putting in pipes, but also involved water development. It was also essential to facilitate the use of other sources of funding for higher levels of service. Basic services in informal settlements can only be addressed in partnership with housing programs.

Mr Muller stressed that the sector must reach agreement on differentiated service levels, for example what is interim or rudimentary service in deep rural areas. Water and sanitation delivery must be accelerated. Municipal capacity building initiatives and support programs were essential. The municipalities must examine cost recovery, dependent on good financial administration. DWAF had a dual role as regulators of sanitation and water, as well as of functioning, to ensure sustainability. DWAF planned to submit comprehensive reports on the municipal and sector performance to show how it performed.

The Chair invited Mr William Moraka (Manager: Water Services, (SALGA) to comment. He stated that it was important not only to concentrate on the targets, but also keep the institutional and financial capacity in focus. He stated that some municipalities would not be able to meet the targets. 

Mr J Arendse (ANC) stated that the progress made was impressive, but the population was growing nationally. He asked if figures were available on population growth in areas where there was a backlog. He asked DWAF if it could provide a breakdown per provinces indicating where the targets would soon be met, and where greater urgency was required.

Mr Muller replied that DWAF would look at area targets. He mentioned that he did have information on the questions asked.

Ms M Ngwenya (ANC) asked which province had the most serious backlog in bucket eradication. She questioned SALGA’s remark that targets would not be met, and commented that DWAF had not informed the Committee of its working relationships with departments, who should also be drawn in. She furthermore asked how DWAF monitored money that was given to SALGA.

Mr Mazubane replied that currently the Free State had the most buckets, followed by Eastern Cape and North West province. He commented on the actions DWAF was taking to eradicate these buckets. Mr Muller showed a slide on the water supply in specific areas, indicating the problematic provinces. Limpopo had a serious problem in sanitation and Free State had the worst bucket problem.

Mr K Moonsamy (ANC) said that during a recent visit to Limpopo there did not appear to be free basic water, as people were getting water from the river using buckets. In some places toilets were also a problem as their doors either did not exist or were falling off. Mr Moonsamy also asked what the practical problems were. He asked the Department to clarify the 1910 bylaws mentioned. He furthermore asked what was inadequate financial administration and what kind of staff were needed.

Mr Muller commented further on free basic sanitation and practical problems. He clarified the
by laws, and stated that DWAF did need to work more closely with SALGA to monitor implementation of the by laws.

The Acting Chairperson requested documents on the by laws to be given to the Committee in order for them to see what was done.

Ms Semple asked also for information which municipalities had not implemented these bylaws.

Ms J Semple (DA) commented that there were some discrepancies in the figures for clinics. Since clinics were health organizations she could not understand how they operated without water, although she was aware that this related to the Department of Health.

Mr Muller clarified the figures that did not appear to match.

Ms Semple commented that the target relating to water services, was missed, and said that she would like to know what the new target is.

Mr Muller acknowledged that the comment about the missed target was valid and this matter would be taken forward. There should be improvement in terms of development plans.

Ms M Manana (ANC) asked what SALGA was doing to attain the President’s targets.

Ms Manana asked for clarity on the next target for the schools. She commented that some formal municipalities had informed her that the quality of water was unfit for drinking.

Mr Muller stated that although there was no time to go into detail on water quality, this was a very serious issue for DWAF and they were giving attention to it.

Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) commented that there needed to be concrete discussion on targets. There were some areas where insufficient capacity and resources had been provided and was worried whether the targets would ever be reached. He also asked for more clarity on practical problems.

Mr Ditshetelo asked whether the transferred schemes were functional and sustainable, and if any remedies were in place to address inadequacies.

This question did not appear to have been addressed specifically.

Mr Ditshetelo asked SALGA what role it played in assistance to municipalities, as its secondary interest should be ensuring success of the municipalities.

Mr Moraka stated that there was a municipal finance unit within SALGA which would give assistance.

Mr Mazubane responded to the question on involvement of other departments. In regard to school sanitation, DWAF was in constant discussion with the National Department of Education, who could have an influence on the prioritization of sanitation. New schools were built with adequate sanitation, but existing schools still posed a problem.

The Acting Chairperson asked that the slides dealing with the specific provinces be made available to the Committee.

The Acting Chairperson asked DWAF how it ensured that it would achieve quantity and quality in meeting the set targets. She also asked what other factors would influence the targets, and whether there was adequate access to these factors. She commented that community education on proper use of sanitation was vital.

Mr Moraka (SALGA) clarified his point on meeting targets by stating that not all municipalities would fail in meeting the targets, but some who continued at their current rate, such as Limpopo, were bound to fail.  More effort was needed and all matters needed to be put in context. SALGA would certainly give appropriate support to municipalities.

Ms T Lishivha (ANC) asked for some clarification around the Operation Gijima, and the number of engineers. She asked how DWAF monitored figures of regional offices.

Mr Mazubane commented further on Operation Gijima. He reported that the 21 engineers involved were specifically supporting the Department regarding bucket eradication.

Mr M Sibuyana (IFP) asked if targets could be met if large amount of services were still outstanding.

Mr Sibuyana also asked what system DWAF used for budgeting, which was a key factor. Funding was clearly needed to employ engineers, and such funding would result from budgeting. He asked how acceleration could take place without budgeting.

Mr Muller replied that the total funds indicated included a number of funds under specific budgets. The MIG was intended to cater for basic services.

Ms M Maine (ANC) asked whether capacity or funding was the prime issue.

Mr B Mosala asked if DWAF compared statistics with the Department of Education, as he had gained the impression that  there was no correlation between their statistics. Officials at the schools that were without water did not report receiving any assistance from DWAF. Departmental officials seemed unaware of how to help, and he asked what DWAF’s regional offices reported upon. Mr Mosala believed that if there was collaboration the current crisis would not exist. Many children were suffering and it was important to do something urgently.

Mr Muller mentioned that there was an instruction to the regional offices to engage with municipalities.

Mr Muller replied that the figures might not tally exactly as there were debates around matters such as the definition of formal or informal settlements, as well as what was regarded as a bucket system.

The Acting Chairperson commented that consensus had to be reached on the statistics of DWAF and the Department of Education.

Mr Arendse asked how DWAF would prevent missing its 2010 targets for free basic services, as there was clearly incapacity at the moment. There was insufficient funding for sanitation and there were no clear guidelines on the percentage of funds to be used for specific purposes.

Mr Muller replied that the allocation depended on the priorities and there was no set percentage laid down for sanitation. Percentages could not be forced.

The Acting Chairperson expressed concern around whether guidance existed regarding the percentage of funding.

Ms M Manana referred to her previous question on the target for schools. She enquired as to the current state, and the new target.
Mr Sibuyana commented that there had been no definite answer on the water problems in certain areas.

Mr Sibuyana feared that the infrastructure was being dismantled for political reasons.

The Acting Chairperson stated that this comment was not relevant to this briefing.

Ms Semple brought up the topic of waterborne sewerage.

The Acting Chairperson felt that this question was not relevant to the current briefing. However, she believed that another meeting should be held, when it would be beneficial to bring other interested parties, such as the Department of Health.

The Acting Chairperson commented that there were still quite a number of issues on targets to be discussed, and felt that another round of discussion should take place. It was clear that there needed to be a substantial campaign for funding. More clarity was needed on cases where the budget was not aligned. She would assume that population growth was part of the overall project planning. She wished to state, on behalf of the whole Committee, that DWAF’s comments had been noted, but the written reports did not always reflect realities. She mentioned that Genadendal still had buckets.

Mr Muller replied that DWAF regarded all points raised as valuable guidance. He commented in particular that DWAF would be monitoring by laws, and this function would become part of their KPI’s. DWAF would give detailed feedback on the monitoring.

The Acting Chairperson commented that there was still a long road to travel, but was confident that DWAF would meet its targets on bucket eradication.

The meeting was adjourned.



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