South Africa - seminar on local government implementation of a multiple uses of water approach

South Africa - seminar on local government implementation of a multiple uses of water approach

TitleSouth Africa - seminar on local government implementation of a multiple uses of water approach
Publication TypeStudy report
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsSmits TCousins an
Publication Languageeng

The multiple uses of water approach has gained broad recognition in South Africa, and initiatives are undertaken in terms of policy, research, advocacy and implementation. One key gap still are the implications of the mus approach for stakeholders at intermediate level, especially local government. This seminar brought together national, provincial and local level stakeholders to discuss these implications especially for integrated planning, financing mechanisms and definitions of roles and responsibilites.

Citation Key316
Full Text

The multiple uses of water (mus) approach to water services provision aims to meet people’s different water needs in an integrated way. This approach has been gaining broad recognition in South Africa over the last few years, expressed in a range of initiatives in terms of policy, research, implementation and advocacy. In 2005 a
national seminar was held in which these initiatives were mapped out. One of the concerns raised was that local government is key to implementation, but they have so far been absent from the discussions about mus. Therefore, this year the seminar was convened by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), the MUS (Multiple Use Systems) project, in partnership with WIN-SA (the Water Information Network of South Africa) and SALGA (the South African Local Government Association), with the objective to look into implications for local government implementation of the mus approach. This particularly revolved around the guidelines for local government implementation of multiple use water services that DWAF is developing. Participants came from a cross-section of institutions: national government departments, provincial DWAF offices and local government, research institutions, NGOs and consultancies. This report provides the key points of discussion of the seminar.

The importance of mus to realising goals of addressing poverty through water was emphasized. However there are still no coherent, agreed upon, national definitions of multiple uses of water, which give clarity while providing flexibility. It is agreed that livelihoods and Local Economic Development (LED) are at the heart of mus, and that
the boundaries of that cannot be tightly set. Definitions can become an academic discussion, but are important as they have implications for mandates, and for accounting and funding purposes. Mapping of the different funding streams made it clear that, mostly, combinations of such streams will be needed to implement mus.
This is complicated, as the entities who administer them operate at different levels, with different procedures. Integrated Development Plans, in theory, provide a mechanism for alignment between those, but in practice IDP processes are weak. IDPs could be the basis for assessing demand and needs for mus, considering supply issues, and enabling cooperative governance. Combining piped water supply with alternative water sources, especially rainwater harvesting, seem to provide the most practical way forward. The lack of capacity at municipal level and how this may limit the implementation of mus, was raised as a concern. On the other hand, the integrated approach required for mus may also be an opportunity to overcome these problems.

A range of activities were proposed in terms of a way forward. Communication and advocacy for the concept was recommended, targeted at senior decision makers at DPLG and SALGA, as well as at local government level. The guidelines need further elaboration, especially in terms of the mapping of financing streams, and the links with IDP processes. At the same time, piloting of the guidelines should start at municipal level. Such piloting could seek two approaches – one with funding allocated to support it, another working within the reality of the existing funding streams. Pilots could provide the nexus for further collective learning, and for including local government more actively in the further development of the guideline, and in making policy recommendations that flow from learning what is needed to enable the realisation of this approach. Alignment with other initiatives was recommended, the piloting of rain water harvesting being highlighted.