Department solicits stakeholders’ views on draft water, sanitation services policy on privately owned land

31st March 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has 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 on the provision of water and sanitation services to people living on privately owned land.

Consultations with affected stakeholders, including farm dwellers, people living on privately owned land 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, while national consultations were completed in March.

The draft framework emerged following a 2017 judgment on a 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 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.

In light of this court judgment, the DWS revived the draft to provide a policy framework on how to deal with the provision of water services to those on privately owned land.

The draft policy is exploring ways to redress the provision of these services by ensuring that there is access to safe and potable water supply and sanitation, supported by appropriate health and hygiene practices for the people living on land that is not served by a municipal distributing network, 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 108 of 1997, which discusses water services intermediaries.

The overall aims, as a holistic policy to unify and simplify the delivery and regulation of sustainable water services, is to establish an enabling regulatory environment for the provision of water services to people living on privately owned land, as well as determine the internal mechanisms, resources and decision-making criteria required to regulate accessibility and entitlements to water resources and the associated services infrastructure required by the private land sector.

It also emphasises the need for equity in the provision of water services and the need for the conservation of water resources and the use of appropriate technologies to provide water services on privately owned land in an environment-friendly manner based on best management practices.

The policy also seeks to, besides others, align DWS policies and protocols in relation to water services on privately owned land with all the relevant legislation of the other departments.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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