Role of government in securing water resources

The role of government – initiatives towards securing water: inter-basin transfers and building dams

South Africa’s Water management structure:  Institutional organisation of domestic water services in South Africa


  • In1994, the government made the then Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) responsible for ensuring that all South Africans had equitable access to water supply and sanitation.
  • Today this is the task of the Department of Water Affairs (DWA).

Role of municipalities: provision and water purification

There is general agreement that due to their economic conditions, the poor majority cannot afford to pay the full price for essential municipal services. The adoption of the policy in 2000/1 to provide a basket of free basic services to all, linked to an indigent (very needy) policy which targets the poorest sections of communities is an integral part of the program to alleviate poverty among poor households.

The basket of services includes solid waste, water, sanitation and electricity. Since the introduction of the policy by government in 2001, the emphasis has been on the provision of a basic amount of free water and electricity, though work has started over the last year or so on sanitation and solid waste.

Many municipalities have also developed indigent policies to ensure that households with little or no income can be identified and can still get basic municipal services.In most areas all users get a certain amount of free water and electricity – enough for their most basic needs. Those who use a lot must pay higher rates. In this way people with big houses and gardens who use a lot of electricity and water pay more and the poor who use very little, pay nothing or very little.