DWS consults on Draft Water, Sanitation Services Policy on privately-owned land

16th March 2023 By: Natasha Odendaal - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) on Thursday hosted its final national consultations on the Draft Water and Sanitation Services Policy on Privately Owned Land.

Approved by Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu in September and gazetted on November 22, 2022, the policy aims to provide a framework and solicit inputs for the provision of water and sanitation services to people living on privately-owned land.

Consultations with affected stakeholders, including farm dwellers, residents on privately-owned lands and property owners, as well as affected organs of State, started across the country’s provinces in December 2022.

The provincial hearings were completed in February 2023.

The draft framework comes as a result of a 2017 judgment on the case involving Mshengu vs uMsunduzi, uMshwathi local municipalities, uMgungundlovu district municipality and others, with the DWS the sixth respondent, where the court judgment stated that failure by the Water Services Authorities to provide farm dwellers and labour tenants with access to basic sanitation, sufficient water, and collection of refuse was inconsistent with the Constitution.

With this court judgment, the DWS revived this draft policy to provide a policy framework on how to deal with the provision of water services to people living on privately-owned land.

The draft policy is exploring ways to redress the provision of water services to residents on privately-owned land by ensuring that there is access to a safe and potable water supply and sanitation, supported by appropriate health and hygiene practices for the people living on those lands that are currently out of municipal distributing networks, using water services intermediaries’ mechanisms as enshrined in the Water Services Act.

The Draft Water and Sanitation Services Policy on Privately Owned Land expands and operationalises chapter V(5) of the Water Services Act (Act No. 108 of 1997), which discusses water services intermediaries.

During the development stages of the draft policy, affected municipalities were consulted, in an attemot at a bottom-up approach in the development of this policy.

Various other government departments such as the departments of Employment and Labour; Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Human Settlements; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; Forestry, Fisheries and Environment; Mineral Resources and Energy; Basic Education; and National Treasury, along with other organisations such as South African Local Government Association and Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent, were consulted, providing their comments on the draft policy.