South Africa- Learning and working with local stakeholders on integrated services delivery

South Africa- Learning and working with local stakeholders on integrated services delivery

TitleSouth Africa- Learning and working with local stakeholders on integrated services delivery
Publication TypeStudy report
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsCousins T, Maluleke VDlamini an
Publication Languageeng

This paper will analyse the learning alliance process at intermediate level. Based on the ongoing process documentation an analysis has been made on how SWELL has been able to support institutional changes necessary for multiple uses of water. Although a change in attitude has been observed, especially among field officers, this hasn't translated into changes in practices. Process of institutional changes and accountability relations between communities and local government lie at the heart of that.

Citation Key315
Full Text

Providing water services for multiple uses, often requires a change in the way intermediate level institutions, such as local government, sector departments and NGOs, plan and implement water supply. Above all, it requires the capacity for integrated planning to meet people’s multiple livelihoods needs, and the capacity to follow a participatory approach. Many intermediate level institutions currently lack such capacities.

In Bushbuckridge, South Africa, it has been tried to promote the multiple use approach among intermediate level institutions through a programme called SWELL (Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods). A key element of the programme was to follow a multi-stakeholder approach, involving community structures and intermediate level agencies in bottom-up integrated planning for multiple uses, with the view to base the mus approach within local government reality, and to strengthen the capacity of the stakeholders involved. This report details the approach followed, and tries to evaluate the changes in capacity that have occurred.

An increase in understanding about multiple use services has been observed, as well as a positive attitude towards such services. Especially at field officer level, it is realised that current approaches of services delivery and ad-hoc planning do not lead to sustainable services or impacts in people’s livelihoods. However, this realisation doesn’t lead as of yet into changes in practices. One reason for that is that senior decision-makers haven’t been fully involved in the programme as hoped. This means that field staff often do not get the mandate to take lessons learnt forward. It also implies that the call for improved cooperative governance remains a call only. Giving actual shape to this promising concept only happens on paper. But, it must be said that the consolidation of institutional responsibilities in local government help in taking away the institutional confusion which in the past has given rise to so much finger pointing. Accountability mechanisms between communities, their representative structures and service providers are poor, and haven’t improved. The limited actual responsibility of community structures is a main reason for that.

Reflecting on the learning approach taken, future activities would need to seek a closer involvement of senior decisions makers, even though it is realised that this is difficult. Probably another important lesson has been the opportunity to link the findings from working at intermediate level with the engagement with national stakeholders. It is felt that the experiences from Bushbuckridge provide relevant practical limitations to implementing mus within local government. National agencies are in a position to support local authorities in this. Linking practical experiences to the national policy debate is therefore crucial.