Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Vulnerability among Rural Areas and Small Towns in South Africa: Exploring the Role of Climate Change, Marginalization, and Inequality
1.1. Aims and Objectives
1.2. WASH, Climate Change, and Vulnerability Assessments
1.3. Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessments (CRVA), and Their Limitations
1.4. WASH in South Africa
1.5. Climate Variability and WASH in Small Towns/Rural Villages in South Africa
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Data Collection
2.2. Sites Description
2.2.1. Prince Albert Municipality, Western Cape Province
2.2.2. HaSinari, Vembe District, Limpopo Province
2.3. Analysis and Conceptual Framework; Building Storylines and Assessments from What Is Available
- Historic context—including land ownership/dispossession and resource access;
- Climate, extreme weather events, natural resources context;
- Socio-economic profile.
- WASH specific analysis;
- Catchment vulnerability assessment;
- Source vulnerability assessment;
- WASH management and community engagement capacity/vulnerability assessment;
- WASH supply chain and supporting infrastructure vulnerabilities and capacity assessment.
3.1. Key Components
3.1.1. Historic Context: Entrenched Inequality
3.1.2. Climate and Landscape
3.1.3. Socio-Economic Aspects and Demographics
3.2. Climate Vulnerability WASH Assessments
WASH Access, Acceptability, and Management
3.3. Specific Catchment and Source Vulnerability Assessments
4.1. WASH Management and Community Engagement Capacity and Vulnerability Assessment
- Transportation challenges
- Extreme weather events—further exacerbating transportation challenges
- Fragmented oversight and conflict over rightful leadership
4.2. WASH Supply Chain/Supporting Infrastructure Vulnerabilities and Capacity Assessment
4.3. WASH Resilience and Adaptive Capacity
4.4. Local Government Support and National Policy
4.4.1. National Policy
4.4.2. Local Government Support
4.5. Generalizability and International Relevance
5. Conclusions—Perspectives for Improving WASH in Rural Areas and Small Towns
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|drainage||here refers to infrastructure (natural or built) that is purposely designed and implemented to remove excess surface water (including wastewater in non-sewered areas) so as to prevent flooding as well as manage public and environmental health impacts.|
|fragmented policy landscape||Multiple restructurings of national ministries and related departments over the last two decades make it challenging to track South African policy development through time. For example, the latest changes in May 2019;Environmental Affairs was combined with Forestry and Fisheries; the department of Human Settlements was combined with Water and Sanitation; and the department of Rural Development and Land Reform was combined with Agriculture . A challenge in the climate change and WASH context is the coordination and alignment across the many spheres of policy on which it touches. While a study specifically on climate change and WASH policy coordination and alignment does not exist, a study by Momberg  looking at WASH and child undernutrition in South Africa finds that the policy environment is highly complex, with a lack of communication between departments. At the same time, there are attempts at setting up a variety of coordinating committees, including the National Committee on Climate Change (NCCC) and the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change (IMCCC).|
|semi-structured interviews||See  for more details on methods. Interview questions informed by a comprehensive water services thematic mapping exercise followed the desk-based review. Interviewees ranged in socio-economic status, from wealthy land-owning elites to residents renting in informal settlements and working as day laborers; demographics ranged with people self-identifying as white, colored, and Black/African.|
|bantustan||Bantustans, or homelands, created through the Group Areas Act and the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act, were left to their own devices to develop systems to cope with the harsh inequalities in service provision, funding, arable land allocation, and resources. Relatedly, as Apartheid policies mounted, formal disenfranchisement was imposed by making these areas ‘independent’ and installing government-picked ‘customary’ leaders .|
|the Greenbook||The Green Book is an online tool to support municipal planning with the development of climate resilient settlements while facilitating climate change adaptation into local government planning instruments and processes. See www.greenbook.co.za (accessed on 26 August 2020) for further information on the tool|
|Venda period of ‘statehood’||During this ‘nominal statehood’ (1979–94), ‘Venda was not so much ‘independent’ of South Africa as isolated from it’ (p. xix) . This political, legal, and social ‘isolation’ reinforced Venda’s ‘geographic and economic marginalization’, while explaining historic differences in ‘political regulatory framework[s], and enforcement system[s]’ between Venda and the rest of South Africa (ibid: xix).|
|Land ownership in former homelands||The Apartheid era interference in local governance led to conflicting claims over official Chieftaincy and land rights/controls resulting in contestation of the current customary leadership in place. At the same time, the land management policies in place require the customary authority to agree with the Limpopo Province on management plans, all of which are meant to happen in consultation with all the residents who fall within the royal authority, but no management plan for the lands have been agreed upon. Similarly, issues surrounding water catchment management, as water is directed away from this catchment to deliver water to Kruger National Park, are challenging to engage with as municipal water management was devolved to districts, and this district has been mismanaged (evidenced by the administrative takeover in 2016). Different aspects of land and water management are variably contested, and clear directives on who has ultimate control and decision-making abilities are not established.|
|erratic average annual rainfall||Ranging 50–200 mm/year, the annual rainfall varies greatly because the mountains can receive 250–500 mm higher rainfall than the plains. For example, the Groot Swartberg mountain range in the south receives rainfall varying between 474 and 926 mm annually .|
|municipal system has failed||When water provision was devolved to the municipalities with the establishment of the constitutional right to water, the Luvhuvhu water supply system was already over-subscribed , leading to water shortages, even at the district hospital. https://www.dwa.gov.za/Projects/Luvuvhu/Documents/Web%20Doc%20CD2/WCWDM%20Strategy%20and%20Business%20Plan_Vhembe%20Polokwane.pdf, accessed on 26 August 2020.|
|water access in HaSinari||At the same time, while the municipal infrastructure system is built to draw HaSinarians’ water from the Luvhuvhu catchment, they live within the Shingwedzi catchment, where ‘no sustainable yield is derived from surface flow’ as those waters are directed into river systems that flow through Kruger National Park .|
|area where HaSinari falls||The Green Book analysis for the Limpopo region does not clearly outline where HaSinari fits in the new district classifications. It sits on the border of Musina and Thulamela districts, thus by exploring both of these districts one can have a better understanding of the climate risk profiles for the region. While the area most likely overlaps more with Musina, a small portion of HaSinari may have been absorbed into Thulamela since the Vhembe district came under administration in 2016.|
|residents are often ‘waiting for water’||Elsewhere in South Africa, waiting two days for water was considered a burden(see https://theconversation.com/south-africas-water-sector-a-case-study-in-state-capture-69581, accessed on 26 August 2020). In HaSinari, very few people could afford a borehole; thus, most residents were accustomed to periods of inaccessible water|
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|HaSinari||Prince Albert||Indicator Theme|
|Rain patterns have changed, as have the river levels in the area; Drought during research period||Drought during research||Weather change/weather vulnerability|
|Infrastructure failure/lack of municipal investment has led to community response and organization by local residents that make water access possible. Consistent drinking water and hygiene (hand and food washing) sources not available: All of these challenges combine to make consistent access to drinking water especially difficult.||Infrastructure failure/lack of investment. Groundwater recharge project was not completed; reticulation and taps are not available to all; some households still resort to the bucket system as a means of sanitation provision||Infrastructure failure|
|Municipal infrastructural failures mean that water delivery and access are reliant on community money collection||Dependence on community collection (or donation) in financially precarious setting||Community dependence on collection|
|With the failure of the municipality to manage local taps, residents had boreholes dug and pumps installed at their own cost through connections that tie into the existing tap system. The cost of diesel to run the pumps is covered through residents’ contributions to the Water Committee, but it is not simply collecting funds (already a burden in this cash-strapped setting) because there is no local fuel station||Previous flooding damaged roads, rendering areas inaccessible. Major supplies for WASH infrastructure are sourced from cities. Municipal supply chain processes may not always support effective maintenance of water services, e.g., a breakdown or depletion of water treatment chemicals will result in WASH service disruption||Supply chain concerns|
|Transport challenges: The dirt road and limited road options are further complicated by the reality that in extreme weather events, the roads are significantly impacted, and when navigable, the roads are slow.||See above||Transport challenges|
|Residents suggest that drastic changes in rain patterns (rainy season shifting from Jul/ Nov to Oct/Feb) and reduced rain and river flows changed local agricultural practices and significantly influence daily life||Prince Albert is renowned for both extreme droughts and flash floods resulting from poorly designed stormwater drains with major public health impacts as well as economic consequences (e.g., through decimating the agricultural sector)||Extreme weather events|
|Apartheid era interference in local governance led to conflicting claims over official Chieftaincy and land rights/controls. Different aspects of land and water management are variably contested, and clear directives on who has ultimate control and decision-making abilitites are not established||It is unclear if the municipality has oversight on water and sanitation services installed by third parties. For example, no water quality data for Leeu-Gamka village boreholes (installed by Transnet) are available; residents rely on water smell as the quality attribute. There is a skilled water management team with reasonable support from the Water Board (agricultural interests), but engagement is limited to better-resourced parts of town||Political oversight|
|Historic environmental racism/inequality/exposure to toxins add to the burdens of this region, including an incomplete removal and clean-up of coal mine debris after the local mine closed in 2014, and this means that water quality is further challenged||Apartheid-era segregation and provision of services based on race left a highly unequal society which persists in service delivery when Prince Albert town’s provision of water and sanitation services is compared to others in the area||Colonial/Apartheid Legacies|
|Economies of water emerge along both monetary and moral lines (see Abrams, 2018); access to water is leveraged to make income; at the same time, income is needed to contribute to the water committee||Agricultural activities are an important economic activity in Prince Albert. Worsening droughts impact these activities, resulting in job losses and downstream social and financial impacts||Economic aspects|
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Abrams, A.L.; Carden, K.; Teta, C.; Wågsæther, K. Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Vulnerability among Rural Areas and Small Towns in South Africa: Exploring the Role of Climate Change, Marginalization, and Inequality. Water 2021, 13, 2810. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202810
Abrams AL, Carden K, Teta C, Wågsæther K. Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Vulnerability among Rural Areas and Small Towns in South Africa: Exploring the Role of Climate Change, Marginalization, and Inequality. Water. 2021; 13(20):2810. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202810Chicago/Turabian Style
Abrams, Amber L., Kirsty Carden, Charles Teta, and Katinka Wågsæther. 2021. "Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Vulnerability among Rural Areas and Small Towns in South Africa: Exploring the Role of Climate Change, Marginalization, and Inequality" Water 13, no. 20: 2810. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13202810