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Peer-Review Record

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;
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Water 2021, 13(20), 2810;
Received: 1 September 2021 / Revised: 30 September 2021 / Accepted: 1 October 2021 / Published: 9 October 2021

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

I am satisfied with the revisions of the paper

Author Response

Thank you.

Reviewer 2 Report

The authors have replied to all my comments and introduced minor changes in the manuscript. As mentioned in my first evaluation, I consider the paper interesting despite being mainly descriptive and not focused enough. I therfore  suggest publication in the current state.

Author Response

Thank you.

Reviewer 3 Report

This work tries to investigate social challenges such as climate change, marginalization, and inequality on lack of access to water and sanitation in South Africa.

The topic is very important. Although the study is limited to local areas of South Africa, the work is presenting a deep vulnerability assessment that can be useful for other sub-Saharan communities.

The applied changes to the document are tracked. It seems that the work went under review once. I did not review the first draft and my comments are based on the contents of the most recent version of the manuscript.

I have some comments as below:

1. This work can be a notable contribution on the way toward SDG6. Therefore authors' general idea on access to sustainable sanitation is important to be mentioned.  In particular, I wish to attract the authors' attention to the concept of "sustainability." Several indexes are designed to evaluate the sustainability of a sanitation system in a community. Here is a list of some publications in this regard, sorted based on publishing time.

I invite the authors to discuss such indexes in the introduction or discussion sections. How their work can help develop such evaluation indicators. How such indexes can be developed by considering deeper long-term social aspects such as climate change to prevent failures faced in HaMakuya?

2. Please clearly mention all variables considered for each indicator theme. For example, what did you measure to evaluate the weather vulnerability? Please describe them clearly in the materials and methods section.

3. If applicable, I invite the authors to evaluate their results with sound statistical analysis. This is very important to increase the scientific aspect of your work.

4. The authors did interviews. Please provide sufficient information of the interviewees including their socio-demographic information.

Overall, I found this work interesting and informative. I hope that the comments above be useful to the authors for improving their work.

Author Response

Thank you for your helpful feedback. 

  1. Thank you for these suggestions – this important notion of sustainable sanitation systems from a community perspective has been incorporated into our discussion. We have considered your input here and it has assisted us in developing a further point of discussion on generalisability and the need to consider drainage within WASH as part of thinking towards sustainable sanitation – see page 17 of the manuscript (tracked). We really appreciate your suggestion – and the references provided.
  2. Please see updated text on page 7 of the manuscript for more information on the ways in which these indicators were analysed and addressed. We have also provided references to the research thesis and some related reports that described the methods we used in more detail – this is in order to address your comment without extending the length of the paper much more.  In addition, as already in the text, we provide links and references to the Greenbook, one of the modes of analysis we undertook which has extensive explanations of the indicators used for this specific analysis. Finally, in the special issue we had been invited to for this paper, the editor of that special issue has led an indicator exploration and it was his methods we drew on – we have referenced a recent publication of his, but we also expect that the special issue would contain his methods (describing the indicators) and so we refer to that in text now.
  3. Thank you – at this point, statistical analysis is not appropriate as the data sets are all qualitative and small samples. Here we would also like to point out that qualitative research, while often supplemented by sound statistical analysis, does not require statistical analysis to be scientific – social science in our context moves from the position that all experiences are pertinent and relevant. 
  4. Interviewee information for each context has been added, and references to primary research where the study design of each project is outlined in depth is provided. See footnote 3 and additional interviewee information provided on pages 5 and 6 of the manuscript.

Thank you – your feedback and input were very helpful

Round 2

Reviewer 3 Report

Well revised! This paper is very valuable and can contribute toward achieving SDG6. I wish to read more from these authors in the future.

This manuscript is a resubmission of an earlier submission. The following is a list of the peer review reports and author responses from that submission.

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

This is a modest paper that will be of interest for readers specifically interested in WASH. The paper lacks a clear research question and a clear focus. The central argument is hard to grasp. The only take home message is that acccess to WASH is inequal and impacted by climate hazards, marginalization and inequalities.

It is also difficult to really take benefit from the comparison between Hamakuya and Prince Albert. An hypothesis regarding possible differences between the two places and about their causes is clearly lacking here. Hypothesis would bring to the paper the analytic dimension which is currently lacking. It would allow to interpret Table 1.

A proper literature review would be a great asset in order to better identify the added value of the paper.

Meanwhile, it remains that the paper brings - in a somewhat unstructured manner - lots of interesting information regarding WASH issues in South-Africa and more specifically in the two study areas. The collected information remains strictly descriptive but appears to be solid and trustworthy. On this basis, a publication in a low-entry-threashold journal like Water is justifiable.

Minore comments

Some additional informatiosn about the tourism sector would be interesting as there is an ongoing debate on the impact of tourism on water availability.

Typo in line 501 "esseentially"


Reviewer 2 Report

The title Is too long

Objectives are not clearly defined

The article is too descriptive.

Research method is not consistent, eg. How many f2f interviews? It seem based most on direct observation.

CVRA is not enough explained, it is not clear what is the acronym meaning.

Reviewer 3 Report

Dear Author,

Study is descriptive and draws conclusions based on conjectures and available studies. My recommendation is to provide more analytica aspects and data for your study. May be think of economic cost and benefits of WASH. Social cost and or business costs of WASH and impact on water and soil quality. See for example impact of water consumption on economy; Gupta et al (2020) Domestic and International Drivers of the Demand for Water Resources in the Context of Water Scarcity: A Cross-Country Study, Journal of Risk and Financial Management.

I will strongly suggest to articulate a theoretical framework and present some empirical support.

Good Luck


Reviewer 4 Report

Although the topics discussed by the authors belong to the category of "water, sanitation, and hygiene", the questions and challenges revealed by the article have little relevance to science and technology, and even have little relevance to the management of the WASH technical system. The vulnerability of the two cases in "WASH" is mainly related to the failure of social management or politics. It is suggested that the authors publish the relevant research in other more suitable journals.

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