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Water Sector Policy Database (WSPD)

Policy Detail Information
Policy Name: Strategic Framework for Water Services

Open Policy Document Open Policy Document
This document has been opened: 3 642 times to date.
Date Of Release: 17 Sep 2003
Date Of Expected Review: 17 Sep 2013
Date Last Updated: 21 Jun 2007
Policy Type: Strategic Framework
Policy Level: National
Department: Department of Water Affairs: Water Services Policy and Strategy
Contact Name: Mbentse Bekubuhle / Ndlovu Siboniso
Phone Number: 012 336 7451 / 336 7391
Fax Number: 012 336 6560
Email: /
Directorate: Water Services Policy & Strategy
Contact Name: Ngobeni Selina
Phone Number: (012) 336 8129
Fax Number: (012) 336 6560
Topics covered:
WS/WR Policies and Strategies
Policy Precis:

The Strategic Framework sets out a comprehensive approach with respect to the provision of water services in South Africa ranging from small community water supply and sanitation schemesin remote rural reas to large regional schemes supplying water and sanitation to people and industry in the largest urban areas. The policy makes reference to a ‘water ladder’: the emphasis is on the progressive improvement of levels of service over time. The first step on this ladder involves the provision of at least a basic water supply and sanitation service to all people living in South Africa. Poor households will receive this basic service free of charge. This is highlighted as the most important policy priority. The next step up this service is an intermediate level of service such as a tap in the yard. Water service authorities are expected to assist communities to achieve an intermediate and higher level of service where this is feasible. The policy also outlines the change of approach needed to achieve the desired policy goals as a result of the progress that has been made in establishing democratic local government and developments in the sector since 1994. Water services are provided to domestic consumers, institutions, businesses and industries. The policy outlines the institutional framework for water provision in the country and provides that DWAF will no longer operate services but rather regulate and support water services institutions in their role of providing water services to the people. Water services authorities are given the responsibility of ensuring delivery of water services.

Section Summary

  Section Number Section Heading Section Description
1 Introduction The Key changes are outlined which depart from the 1994 White Paper. They are as follows: 1. This Strategic Framework is a comprehensive framework paper for the water services sector. 2. DWAF will become a sector leader, supporter and regulator (rather than an operator). 3. Water services authorities are responsible for the delivery of water services. 4. An approach to the institutional reform of water services provision is set out. 5. The financial policy framework reflects the consolidation of national government funding to local government through the equitable share, the municipal infrastructure grant and the capacity building grant. 6. More emphasis is placed on sustainability, financial viability and efficiency. 7. The vision of the water ladder is defined to ensure commitment of the sector to enable all people to progressively move up the ladder to higher levels of service.
2 Sector vision, goals and targets This section outlines targets, means of verification and the locus of responsibility in relation to the following four areas: access to services, education and health, free basic services, and institutional development and performance
3 The institutional framework This section deals with institutional structure for service provision in the water sector. This involves outlining the responsibilities of DWAF and other water services institutions for various aspects of the water sector, including the following areas: water resource management, allocations, monitoring and licensing water services provision, regulation, contracts with service providers and consumer charters.

The key principles informing the institutional vision are as follows: the need for a clear definition of roles and responsibilities; the separation of regulatory and operational responsibilities; local government is responsible for ensuring water services provision; flexibility in terms of scale and type of water services provider; the private sector and civil society have a role to play; management must take place at the appropriate level; building on existing capacity; the need for transformation and policies sensitive to gender differences.

Key policies to achieve this vision include: roles and responsibilities of water services authorities and water services providers must be clarified; the need for institutional reform was recognized and the development of a coherent policy framework upon which water services providers are chosen by water service authorities; detailed policies are necessary to govern the transfers of water services infrastructure from DWAF to water services authorities.
4 The financial framework The key elements of the new financial framework to be established are: the development of primary redistributive mechanisms; conditions will be set on grants to ensure objectivesare met; a decentralised fiscal framework will be implemented; local subsidies will be introduced; retail tariffs to be set by water services authorities within the framework provided by DWAF and national government to regulate use of municipal infrastructure grant and can set national norms and standards for tariffs.

They key principles informing this vision are as follows: the first step is the provision of basic water and sanitation services; as the economic affordability increases and backlogs reduce, people should should have access to higher levels of service; there is a consumer responsibility to use water services responsibly and to pay for services above free basic services; ownership of water services will not be privatised; water provision must operate in accordance with sound business principles.

This section also covers: investing in water services infrastructure; ensuring viable and sustainable water services; free basic water and sanitation services; tariff and credit control; local subsidy policies; and financial provisions in contracts.
5 The planning framework This section covers water services planning through documents such as the water services development plans (WSDP), and local and regional business plans. It makes provision for integrated planning in conjunction with national and regional strategies, as well as reporting requirements. All factors affecting water services including social and economic factors, water demand management, conservation, choice of technology and integrated water resources management must be taken into account.
6 National norms and standards This section defines the basic norms and standards for water supply and sanitation services, encompassing: the provision of basic water services; potable water quality; metering and flow control; eradication of bucket toilets; and the process for setting and revising norms and standards.
7 The regulatory framework This section descibes the regulatory framework for local regulation (by self-regulation and regulation through contract) and national regulation (setting standards, national regulation of water services, the role of DWAF as a regulator).

The key principles in this area are described under the following headings: separation of regulatory and operational responsibilities; integration with local government regulatory framework; incremental regulation; strategic regulation; implementation or regulatory impact assessments; regulation of outcomes; dispute resolution. The following areas are described in detail: implementing the new regulatory framework; national regulation; local regulation; regulation of regional water services; and links with water resources regulation
8 The support and monitoring framework This section describes the support framework and the mechanisms of support to ensure capable and effective water services institutions. The mechanisms of support include capacity building grants; knowledge networks; an advisory service; guidelines and tools; strategic support initiatives; and skills development The implementation of these support mechanisms is described. This section also deals with monitoring, information management and evaluation.

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