TOWARDS POLICY, STRATEGY AND DETAILED PROCEDURES FOR THE PROVISION OF SANITATION TO LOW-INCOME SETTLEMENTS IN JOHANNESBURG
Report No: 1192/1/03

May 2003

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Introduction

A Sanitation Policy and detailed procedures in the form of a Sanitation Protocol for the provision of sanitation to low-income settlements were developed for Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council (GJMC) - now City of Johannesburg (CoJ) -under an earlier research project (GJMC, 2000a; Pegram et al., 2000) by Pula Strategic Resource Management (Pty) Ltd, with funding from the Eastern Metropolitan Local Council (EMLC) and the British Department for International Development Southern Africa (DFIDSA). The project was completed in early 2000, but due to political factors within GJMC during local government elections in December 2000, the process of establishing the Sanitation Policy and Protocol was temporarily suspended, and the Policy and Protocol were never formally accepted by GJMC. Subsequent to these events, the institutional environment has changed very substantially, and a very different institutional arrangement is now in place from that which was in place when the two documents were written, namely:

  1. the ring-fencing of water and sanitation services within the local authority; and
  2. the establishment of Johannesburg Water (Pty) Ltd.

The aim of this research project has been to review the Sanitation Policy and Protocol for appropriateness for use in CoJ as well as for more generic use in the urban and peri-urban areas of South Africa, in the light of developments in the intervening period since they were developed. The review has in fact been extended to take in a range of other policy and protocol documents that have been developed in this period. The intention is that this review should provide a basis for discussion of Johannesburg's policy, strategy and detailed procedures, as well as those of other local authorities.

Institutions as rules

In reviewing the Sanitation Policy and Protocol of CoJ, it is first necessary to place these documents within a broader framework, which is best described by the term 'institutions' or 'institutional' framework. The term is used on this project with a very specific meaning: that 'institutions' are viewed as 'rules' rather than as 'organisations', with the following more detailed explanation (World Bank, 1999: p.22, 23):

The term Institutions, as it is used here, refers to sets of formal and informal rules governing the actions of individuals and organisations and the interactions of participants in the development process. Rules can be formal, taking the shape of constitutions, laws, regulations and contracts. Or they can be informal, like values and social norms.

The Sanitation Policy and Protocol therefore form part of a range of institutions for the provision of sanitation.

Policy, strategy and detailed procedure form a continuum in which the different elements are difficult to separate out:

  1. Policy implies general principle, not easily departed from, and therefore stable and not easily subject to change;
  2. Strategy, set within the framework of the policy, implies a plan of action necessitating a choice of timing, location, method and resources, in other words, 'what, when, where, how and with what resources'. It may be revised more regularly than policy; {say annually, but with a horison of 5 or 10 years or even longer);
  3. Detailed procedure, implies detailed steps and techniques, which may be even more flexible than either policy or strategy.

The heart of policy generally lies in the policy principles. The policy principles set out both how sanitation will be provided, and by implication how sanitation will not be provided. The place where the tensions of policy are resolved is in strategy, where priorities are set and trade-offs made within specified time frames for the provision of sanitation (and water). The Water Services Development Plan (WSDP) (as required by the Water Services Act of 1997) is intended to be the primary strategic planning tool for the resolution of these priorities and trade-offs.

Recent policy, strategy and detailed procedure documents include:

  1. An Evolving Sanitation Policy Framework for the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council (GJMC, 2000a); and associated Sanitation Protocol document (Pegram et al., end of project: Feb 2000);
  2. White Paper on Basic Household Sanitation (DW AF, Sept 2001);
  3. Ethekwini Sanitation Protocol (2002?);
  4. Sanitation Policy for the City of Johannesburg (CoJ, draft 2: Apr 2002b);
  5. Procedures being piloted by Johannesburg Water under their low-income settlements programme (current).
With respect to sanitation policy for Johannesburg, current initiatives based on the White Paper on Basic Household Sanitation appear sound. With respect to more detailed procedures, current pilot studies by Johannesburg Water have sought to gain an understanding of technical requirements and community dynamics as a first step. While sensibly following a pilot-and- programme approach and gaining essential experience in low-income settlements in Johannesburg, this initiative does need to be aware of three possible dangers:
  1. The lack of development at the pilot stage of a clear framework through which demand can be expressed carries the risk of not being able to mobilise community capacity, and of not being able to reverse the matter of non-payment;
  2. Moving too quickly from pilot to full scale implementation programme under pressure to deliver carries the risk of being unable to develop designs and procedures adequately, and runs the risk of rejection of particular levels of service by communities before Johannesburg Water (JW) has had the chance to get the systems right.
  3. A third possible danger is a longer term one rather than a short term one; and it may be argued to be outside the man4ate of the water utility. Irrespective of whether it falls within the mandate of the utility or not, the consequences will impact profoundly on the utility: Unless development takes place in the low-income communities of Johannesburg, it is likely to prove extremely difficult to resolve the problems of non-payment and inability to pay currently being experienced - and prove difficult to turn consumers into customers. From the service provider side, this requires careful collaboration and planning together with other parties within the framework of the IDPs (Integrated Development Plans).

Key elements of policy are generally translated into legislation. However, it needs to be understood that while the legislation will generally seek to prevent what is clearly unacceptable, it will not necessarily enforce good practice. More specifically, it appears that while existing legislation and procedures do not enforce the principles of the White Paper on Basic Household Sanitation in a number of key respects, neither do they prevent the principles from being pursued. In other words, if such principles are not being followed in practice, there are reasons other than legislation that are driving this action. What legislation and regulations primarily do is to allocate powers and functions, but not necessarily to spell out in detail all actions that must be taken. The legislation allows the discretion of the incumbent in making decisions in the absence of an explicit ruling. The policy principles are nevertheless a statement of good practice, which would be unwise simply to disregard.

Various governance problems identified include the following:

  1. 'Silo' approach to government:
  2. Co-operative government can be made to work, but there appears to be currently no formal mechanism for ensuring that it works;
  3. Legislation is currently in a state of constant change;
  4. Underfunded mandate;
  5. No clear policy; interpretation of the legislation inconsistent;
  6. Clear legislation, but there is no mechanism for enforcement, so that it is ineffectual;
  7. Clear legislation, but the administrative procedures are so onerous that the vehicle is ineffective.

Progressing from the more general governance difficulties listed above to more specific issues, the following appear to be particularly critical issues in the provision of sanitation to low-income settlements:

  1. In contrast with rural areas, decisions about service provision in the urban context are primarily about access to land -and the opportunities that accompany them. While a decision on the level of service for informal settlements -many of which may never become established townships -is made independently of the formal establishment procedures, it appears that decisions about the level of service of sanitation in urban areas are generally made -certainly in formal areas and areas to be formalised - within the context of township establishment. Servicing - certainly in formal areas and areas to be formalised - therefore accompanies the land registration -and housing procedure; and as such, is not an independent procedure over which the service provider has significant control. There appears to be a difference in approach between housing/planning and water services, with housing appearing to promote higher levels of service, but the service provider carrying the consequences of any non-payment.
  2. The second is between DWAF (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry) (water) and DEAT (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) (environment) - as well as DTJ (Department of Trade and Industry) (building regulations) - over pollution from on- site sanitation systems. It appears that while liquid waste -or waste with an impact on water -is controlled by DW AF, solid waste is controlled by DEAT.

While legislation and strategy are key drivers in the provision of services to low-income settlements, there are other tools that also serve as drivers. One such tool is that of performance indicators. The primary Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for CAPEX is generally timeous expenditure of capital budget. For contracts where the procedures are well-established, this is appropriate (although even here, the graph of expenditure over time follows the classic S-shape: starting more slowly and building up over time). For contracts in low-income areas, the same curve is not appropriate. CAPEX alone is simply too blunt an instrument to be used as a KPI in this situation.

May and Stark (1992) suggest that the establishment of operating procedures alone are unlikely to be sufficient to ensure good practice. They suggest that operating procedures need to be combined with various other mechanisms that regulate the individual professional. Regulatory mechanisms for design professions are set out in a paper by May and Stark (1992) in relation to earthquake policy. These give some insight into the 'family' of institutions that need to be set up to ensure good practice, which includes various forms of public and private regulation.

The value or attitude of learning is selected to explore the place of values and attitudes in the range of institutions for the provision of sanitation to low-income communities. Educational theory may provide Useful insights into how learning might happen.

Substantial knowledge about both the principles and practice of service provision to the Poor is available. Notwithstanding that, municipal engineers in general appear to battle to get to grips with particularly the non-technical aspects.

With respect to identifying the institutions or rules for the provision of services to low-income settlements, it is important to note the long period of time over which the development of policies, strategies and detailed procedures has taken place. It also pertinent to note that most of the de facto rules for the provision of sanitation to low-income areas that go to make up the 'institution' are informally held, which makes it both time-consuming and difficult to identify them.

Finally, regardless of the degree to which the local authority complies with the intent of national policies, there appear to be two specific 'rules' with which the local authority is compelled to comply:

  1. The local authority as a whole must remain financially sustainable;
  2. The local authority must comply with applicable environmental legislation. These two topics are addressed in more detail in the following sections.

Financial Sustainahility

As indicated in the previous section, one of the 'rules' with which a local authority1 appears compelled to comply is that of financial sustainability. What this implies for the local authority is that:

  1. There must be a clear distinction between cost, price and subsidy; and
  2. For the operation of the local authority as a whole in the long term, the expression C<= P+S must hold true (where C=cost, P=price and S=subsidy).
In other words, the price of the services provided by a local authority must be set at a value that will enable it to Continue to provide these services on a financially sustainable basis. The price of the good or service may be reduced by the amount of internal cross-subsidy from richer to poorer consumers (normally by means of a rising block tariff) and/or by external subsidy (from a Source outside the local authority). But whatever happens, total expenditure of the service provider must be covered by total income (from all sources, including external subsidy income).
The matter is complicated by:
  1. the service provider's need to borrow in order to fund major capital Works;
  2. C, P and S have further components (capital and operating; internal and bulk/connector; which can be expressed as one-off costs or can be translated into ongoing monthly or annual costs);
  3. The price may be reduced by the amount of subsidy. For Free Basic Water (FBW) the cost is subsidised in full so that demand is not tested for the basic amount.

1While this applies in the first instance to a local authority as a whole, the principle would apply equally to the operation of a service provider.

Nevertheless, breakeven is where C = P + S, and in the long run, the utility must be able to cover its costs, otherwise (to state the obvious) it will go bankrupt.

At the planning stage, there are a number of more specific levels of detail at which costs can be determined:

  1. Country-wide or regional estimates of average unit costs e.g. Van Ryneveld (1995), or Palmer Development Group (1993 and 1994) -updated in Van Ryneveld (2000). These costs do not make provision for specific local conditions e.g. economies of scale of infrastructure (There are distinct differences between ER W AT and City of Johannesburg). They give a good 'first pass' overall understanding of the costs of different levels of service and what factors influence them, but generally have insufficient local detail for tariff-setting at local authority level;
  2. Average unit costs for the particular local authority or service provider, derived from historical costs e.g. as derived from annual reports or summary studies e.g. iGoli 2002 (GJMC, 2000b?). These may be refined to produce more detailed equivalent costs to (a). They may also be translated into a model that can check sensitivity of various parameters (as suggested in the costing framework; see Van Ryneveld, 2000). Their limitation is that they remain essentially static models, and are not able to model changes in costs and level of service distributions over a period of time.
  3. Financial modelling of the service over a period of time e.g. Palmer Development Group (1998a). This level of modelling would normally be undertaken for a large local authority for the construction of the WSDP. The approach is described in the Management Guidelines for Water Service Institutions (Palmer Development Group, 1998b).
  4. Detailed GIS-based physical modelling of the actual network extensions, which can test the effect of different layouts, settlement densities, levels of service etc e.g. Boutek model; see Biermann and Landre (2002). Some current master planning may provide some of this data.
  5. Combinations of different aspects would provide a high level of modelling ability, e.g. integration of dynamic cost and tariff modelling together with physical modelling, supplemented by willingness-to-pay studies and economic development models.

A graded effort can also be a wise approach i.e. start with a fairly simple study (e.g. review of theoretical understanding, combined with more specific data from previous local investigations) to gain an understanding of the problem, and then follow it with more detailed studies. Many key understandings can be obtained from fairly rudimentary planning. This permits scarce resources to be targeted at specifically identified problem areas as the investigation progresses.

For decision-making in a large metropolitan local authority such as Johannesburg, static modelling of costs can provide a first estimate, but dynamic modelling of costs, prices, subsidies etc over a period of time is necessary for decision-making regarding tariffs and levels of service.

Updated costs (regional estimates of average unit costs; see (a) above) repeat earlier assertions that the life cycle cost of a full level of service of water supply and sanitation in Gauteng is (on average) 3 to 4 times the cost of a basic level of service; and the cost of an intermediate level of service is 1 to 2 times that of a basic level of service.

A first indication of unit costs for Johannesburg may be derived from summary figures given by CoJ itself as part of the iGoli 2002 initiative (GJMC, 2000b?) (average unit costs for the particular local authority or service provider, derived from historical costs; see (b) above) which yield figures of about R 18 000 per connection for average replacement capital cost for a full level of service of water and wastewater. This falls squarely within the range of estimates for the average of Gauteng. It is also very much of the same order of magnitude as the total housing subsidy amount of R20 300 (for income category of 0 to Rl 500 per month; Department of Housing, Gauteng, 2002).

While the costs of the DDPLG (Department of Development Planning and Local Government) Water and Sanitation Backlog Study (DDPLG, 2001) were not analysed in detail, it appears that while the estimates of operating cost as used in the study are not unreasonable, the estimates of capital cost are low as compared with figures for Gauteng presented in this study.

In the case of the Stretford x4 shallow sewer pilot project, JW deviated from the promulgated sewer tariffs in two respects:

  1. in using a volumetric based tariff of R 1 per kilolitre of water consumed, instead of the flat rate ofR37/household.month (2002/2003 tariffs). (The volumetric tariff is understood to cover only the purification cost, and consumers are given a rebate on the balance of the operation and maintenance cost because they maintain their own sewer system).
  2. in substantially reducing the impact fee for the bulk services contribution that is paid by consumers.

By comparison with the costs of services, these tariffs appear to be low. The matter is further complicated by various reciprocal contributions between the community and the service provider in respect of:

  1. the community contribution of labour for construction, operation and maintenance of the condominial sewers;
  2. payment to the community for labour;
  3. training provided to the community by JW in the execution of the tasks.

The monthly water and sewer tariffs for the intermediate level of service (shallow sewers) in the Stretford x4 pilot project were agreed with the community. Furthermore, there is merit in such tariff structures in that they are:

  1. simple;
  2. more affordable to low-income communities than the promulgated tariff,
  3. give consumers the benefit of the rising block tariff; and
  4. provide a rebate for in-kind community contributions to the construction, operation and maintenance of the sewer system.

What is not clear, however, is:

  1. whether consumers will in practice be able to restrict their consumption to below the free basic amount (i.e. 6kl/household.month), while using the intermediate level of service;
  2. whether the shallow sewer system will be able to operate satisfactorily on the return flow from the free basic amount of water used;
  3. whether - if consumption cannot be kept below the free basic amount (for whatever reason) - Johannesburg can afford to provide the intermediate level of service to residents for free, given that recovery of charges from existing low- income consumers is so low;
  4. whether - if extended to large numbers of households in Johannesburg - the provision of services at these tariffs is financially sustainable for the provider in the long run.

On the matter of non-payment, Professor Schlemmer (Water Services Forum News, Sept 2000) said: "The underlying causes of non-payment are not clearcut, simple or singular" and "…nothing less than such integrated and co-ordinated strategies are likely to reduce the problem to manageable proportions." Furthermore, figures (Hartley, 2002: p.1) indicating that the accumulated debt in the country's four metropolitan areas amounted to R9.4billion and that the Johannesburg metropolitan councils had by far the largest debt - R4.56billion - give a clear indication that the problem of non-payment for municipal services remains a severe problem in the country as a whole and in Johannesburg in particular.

Environmental sustainability

There is a potential confusion between the procedures of:

  1. National Building Regulations (1985);
  2. Groundwater Protocol (1997);
  3. Water Use Authorisation Process (DWAF, 2000a) of the National Water Act (1998);
  4. Environmental impact procedures of the National Environmental Management Act (1998).

DWAF Water Quality Management decision-making hierarchy lays down four principles to give direction to decision-making in this regard:

  1. Prevention;
  2. Minimisation at source;
  3. Disposal according to the precautionary principle;
  4. Disposal according to the differentiated approach.
In similar manner to the general sanitation policy principles, these water quality management principles give somewhat limited assistance in deciding how decisions might be made in particular instances. They cannot easily be resolved in absolute terms; but rather have to be resolved through strategy. In order to give more specific direction to implementers such as local authorities, it is necessary for these principles to be resolved in some form of national and regional water resources strategies.

There is a lack of clarity on how the critical judgement as to whether groundwater will be used in the long term for drinking purposes or stockwatering (as required in the Groundwater Protocol) should be made. The issue at stake here is not whether there will be any contamination (because even limited contamination is likely to occur, certainly in the long term) but rather whether the aquifer is of major strategic importance. It is suggested that the issue is dependent on the outcome of the Water Quality Management decision-making hierarchy -and therefore of some form of national and regional water resources strategies - as mentioned above.

There is lack of clarity as to whether the polluter pays principle will be invoked against local authorities who are issued with permits by DWAF to discharge effluent to any water resources, if any pollution (in the definition of the National Water Act) were to occur as a result of this.

Developmental approaches

Developmental approaches to the provision of infrastructure in general and sanitation in particular are significantly at variance with what might be termed conventional engineering approaches. The past record of projects in low-income or developing areas has been poor, and unless significant attention is given to developmental approaches, projects in these areas are likely to fail.

There are several different ways, however, in which failure2 can occur. Four are suggested as follows:

  1. where a constructed facility falls down, blows up or fails physically in some catastrophic manner. Failure is sudden, simple and obvious (although the exact causes of failure may not be); and it is usually a technical failure. Thankfully, such failures are rare.
  2. where the service is nominally provided, but the infrastructure assets have physically deteriorated, with consequent reduced utility. The results may be little different from the first case, but the period of time over which deterioration takes place is much longer. Although the failure is physical, it is usually a direct consequence of financial, social and/or institutional failure rather than technical failure.
  3. where extension of basic services to all is delayed and significant backlogs persist. In this case the consequences may not be the deterioration of any infrastructure assets, but rather (particularly in the case of water and sanitation services) poor environmental conditions and consequent health impact resulting in both illness and/or death. This situation is often associated with providing high levels of service to a few consumers, and little or no service to the rest.
  4. where the infrastructure is provided, and remains in satisfactory working order, but consumes resources and fails to perform or deliver the developmental benefits that it is intended to deliver. Infrastructure provision does not necessarily enable growth -or poverty reduction -to happen. If inappropriately high levels of service are provided, they may divert scarce resources away from more beneficial areas and retard growth. Such a failure is difficult to identify as it is a loss of opportunity rather than a direct failure.


2In engineering in general - and in this study in particular, the term 'failure' is used to mean any failure to meet required performance standards. This may even be fairly subtle such as excessive cracking or deflection of a structure. The term 'catastrophic failure' is reserved for when something actually falls down or blows up.

International experience over recent decades indicates that while development is possible, it is neither inevitable nor easy. Furthermore, it is multi-faceted process, requiring several components to be in place both individually and together for development to succeed.

Further local experience "...confirms that the quality and financial sustainability of projects are almost always directly related to whether initial funding decisions were informed by consumer demand and the economic rationality in very specific contexts. Ill-considered projects, designed in isolation from specific community dynamics and demand, have mostly proven costly." (DB SA, 1998).

Samuel Paul (1987) suggests five objectives of community participation as follows:

  1. Cost sharing;
  2. Project efficiency;
  3. Project effectiveness;
  4. Capacity building;
  5. Empowerment.
While Paul makes the point that particular objectives may not be 'right' or 'wrong' -nor are they necessarily mutually exclusive -the objectives at the 'empowerment' end of the spectrum do tend to promote development in low-income communities more than those at the 'cost sharing' end.

Further detail on capacity building and empowerment are provided by DBSA (1993) and Abrams.(1992) respectively: the Development Impact Approach of DB SA for promoting maximum use of local skills and resources, and the concept of 'empowerment' of Abrams (1992), who suggested that for development to occur, communities need to 'gain the will to act', take the initiative and make the decisions themselves.

If a key to development is that communities should 'gain the will to act' and take responsibility for decision-making and action directed to their own development, then it is essential that a demand responsive rather than supply driven approach be followed in the provision of infrastructure.

World Bank (2002) defines the key characteristics of a demand responsive approach as follows:

  1. Community members make informed choices about:
    1. whether to participate in the project;
    2. technology and service level options based on willingness to pay (based on the principle that more expensive systems cost more);
    3. when and how their services are delivered;
    4. how funds are managed and accounted for; and
    5. how their services are operated and maintained.
  2. Government plays a facilitative role, sets clear national policies and strategies, encourages broad stakeholder consultation and facilitates capacity building and learning;
  3. An enabling environment is created for the participation of a wide range of providers of goods, services and technical assistance to communities, including the private sector, and non-government organizations; and
  4. An adequate flow of information is provided to the community, and procedures are adopted for facilitating collective action decisions within the community (social intermediation).

The opposite of 'demand responsive' is 'supply-driven'. They form a continuum rather than two discrete states. Notwithstanding that, the key difference relates to where control lies: If the major decisions about level of service etc are retained by the supplier or provider, then it is supply- driven. If the major decisions - and consequent responsibilities - are carried by the user, then it is demand responsive.

From an infrastructure provision perspective, three major approaches are identifiable. It must be remembered that these are caricatures. At a time, they are appropriate and sound; held on to for too long, they are distorting and retrogressive. In fact, very often it is the erroneous interpretation of approaches that is damaging.

  1. 'Standards' approach, characterised by adherence to (typically high) standards on (ostensibly) technical grounds alone.
  2. 'Strategic' approach, where the emphasis shifts to a consideration of coverage + backlogs + financial sustainability, rather than absolute standards alone. While strategic planning is currently undertaken, decision-making within what is financially feasible tends to be retained by technical professionals.
  3. Demand responsive approach, which has many similar elements to the strategic approach, but where there is a change in the role of government, particularly planning and technical professionals, who are required to provide an enabling environment or a framework of rules through which demand can be expressed by communities on the ground, demand being demand at a price. It does not necessarily rule out the use of subsidies, but it does suggest changed roles: an enabling role for government and a more active implementing role for communities. The key is the establishment of a framework of clear, non-negotiable, transparent rules. Further suggested detail is given in the recommendations.

Recommendations

Institutions as rules

The following recommendations are made for resolution of the specific issues raised in the conclusions above:

  1. With respect to the apparent difference in approach between housing/planning and water services, it is recommended that mechanisms be explicitly set up to develop a clear and detailed vision for how spatial development, infrastructure development and economic development are going to take place in City of Johannesburg (Co]) -translated into clear step-by-step strategy. The Joburg 2030 vision (CoJ, Feb 2002a) does provide such a long term vision, but there does not yet appear to be a sufficiently detailed strategy in the short and medium term for translating this into action.
  2. In conjunction with the development of the more detailed strategy, it is also recommended that CoJ pursue with other spheres of government the implementation (e.g. offer the metro as a pilot site?) of a consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), where such grant funding may be devolved to local authority level. While this would not in itself resolve any differences that there may be between parties at local authority level, it would at least focus the debate at that level, and reduce interference from other spheres of government.
  3. Irrespective of the legislative procedure followed in the township establishment process, the decision to accept a particular level of service of infrastructure - with all its financial and other consequences - appears to rest with the local authority/service provider alone, with approval formally being given in the services agreement between local authority/service provider and the developer. The local authority/service provider is strongly advised to be fully aware of the responsibility that it carries in this regard. and to ensure that it gives appropriate consideration to the long term consequences before entering into any such agreements. (Similar comments would apply in the case of informal settlements, where an agreement may be entered into directly with the community, in the absence of an agreement with a developer).
  4. On the matter of overlapping responsibilities over pollution from sanitation systems, it is recommended that this be resolved through multilateral discussions between the three departments (DWAF, DEAT and DTI and their provincial equivalents).
    Further recommendation:
  5. (e) It is recommended that the various Key Performance Indicators (KPI) being used for both organisations and individuals be reviewed to ensure that they promote co-ordinated development in general and conform to appropriate developmental outcomes for sanitation provision to low-income settlements in particular.

Financial sustainability

For the purposes of planning for financial sustainability, it is recommended that the following items be modelled dynamically over an extended period of time - together with demographics and economic development -in order to determine appropriate tariff levels and service provision strategies. This should at the same time form part of the preparation of the Water Services Development Plan (WSDP). What is recommended is a graded effort i.e. to start with a fairly simple study (e.g. review of theoretical understanding, combined with more specific data from previous local investigations) to gain an understanding of the problem, and then follow it with more detailed studies. Many key understandings can be obtained from fairly rudimentary planning. This permits scarce resources to be targeted at specifically identified problem areas as the investigation progresses3.

  1. Determine external subsidies that are available for low-income consumers and ensure that provision is made for these in the tariffs;
  2. Determine the extent to which it is possible to provide an internal cross-subsidy of poorer consumers by increasing the tariffs to richer consumers over a period of time;
  3. Because bulk and connector services form such a significant portion of the costs - particularly of the higher levels of service - it is necessary to determine the amount of spare capacity that exists in the network, which can be treated as a sunk cost that does not have to be recovered from new consumers. One has to be cautious here to recognise the effect that this may have on future infrastructure requirements -and make appropriate provision for future expansion;
  4. Make provision for rehabilitation (or replacement) of ageing infrastructure;
  5. Assess the impact of rehabilitation on physical losses in the system;
  6. Assess the need for future improvements to the infrastructure or service where environmental standards may be raised (e.g. discharge requirements for wastewater treatment works);
  7. Envisage and plan for upgrading of levels of service (e.g. from basic to intermediate), for how this might happen, and what the cost implications are likely to be.
Whatever method of costing is used, it is recommended that there be a clear and detailed statement of what assumptions have been made in the costing and what the costs represent. For this purpose, the establishment of a 'costing framework' is recommended for use by several local authorities e.g. across the province, which would provide a set of rules or standard method by which costs might be calculated. This would permit a consistent -and auditable -comparison to be made of the costs of any water supply and sanitation option that might be proposed. What is more important, though, is that the local authority should over a period of time assemble a database of such costs for its own decision-making.

Assessment of demand is included under the 'Developmental Approaches' section.


3Several of these items are already being pursued by JW at present. The full list is nevertheless presented here for completeness.

Environmental sustainability

The following approach is recommended for addressing environmental sustainability of sanitation systems:

  1. In the very short term (say 2 or 3 years; say less than 10 years), adopt a health focus (ensure access to adequate sanitation for all in the short term):
    1. ensure that basic (health-protecting) on-site sanitation is provided to all;
    2. ensure that health and hygiene education is provided to all; .
    3. ensure that contaminants from both excreta and greywater do not surface (and so come into contact with people), but remain in the sub-surface;
    4. ensure that a clean water supply is provided;
  2. With respect to short term environmental impact (say 3 to 10 or 20 years):
    1. minimise diffuse pollution by design for - and possible treatment of - greywater;
    2. assess (only) the long term impact of on-site sanitation i.e. assess the water resources (groundwater and surface water), estimate impacts and likely long term scenarios, together with long term planning for service provision and for development, using a mass balance/mass flow approach;
    3. establish baseline water quality status, and establish an ongoing monitoring system.
  3. With respect to long term environmental impact (say longer than 20 years):
    1. While the aquifers may not be strategic now or in the short term future (say 10 to 20 years?), they may become of strategic importance in the medium to long term future (say 50 to 100 years?). There is therefore a need to develop a sound understanding of longer term behaviour of contaminants and their possible management, which is a combination of physical and social factors.
    2. Initiate longer term research and discussion into these matters. In particular, assess very carefully those short term interventions that may have long term impacts.
  4. Where further work is required is as follows:
    1. water resources assessment of groundwater aquifers and an assessment of when they are likely to be used (from an assessment of demand).
    2. what remedial measures (or treatment measures) will need to be put in place to ensure that the water is safe for domestic and stock-watering purposes.
    3. clarification of the ownership of the characteristics of the groundwater resource i.e. its quality.
    4. clarification as to whether local authorities will be legally responsible for cleaning up the aquifer under the 'polluter pays principle' -even if it is given a permit to do so by DWAF (Similar clarification may be required for surface water resources as well).

Developmental approaches

There are a number of overall components to a framework through which demand might be addressed, which may be summarised as follows:
  1. Regulation: set by the local authority: a framework of non-negotiable rules, through which the provision of services can take place;
  2. Support: by the local authority to communities, mobilising those communities, supporting their decision-making and supporting the implementation of services.
  3. Implementation - and decisions around implementation - carried by communities themselves or (which applies to implementation rather than decision-making) delegated by communities to agents appointed by them to carry this out on their behalf.

Within this framework, further detail is as follows:

  1. Settlement location within macro spatial planning;
  2. Layout planning within a settlement within the township establishment procedures. This generally includes the choice of level of service. It is essential that communities are involved in this decision-making. A review of existing township establishment procedures is essential if a demand responsive approach is to be pursued.
  3. Rules about what bulk infrastructure can be provided, what the lead times are for provision and the cost implications thereof;
  4. Opportunities for labour-intensive construction + development of small contractors;
  5. Training grant to promote the development and use of local skills and resources;
  6. Tariff structure and statement of subsidies;
  7. Rules surrounding cut-offs;
  8. Crucially, it is recommended that the service provider takes formal steps to assess customer demand for services, which may include the use of tools such as Contingent Valuation studies.

In summary, such a framework does the following:

  1. It clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the various players (water service authority, water service provider and community in the first instance; but also assists in clarifying the role of other spheres of government in the second instance)
  2. It clarifies the 'rules' under which the community can get sanitation.
  3. It clarifies the decisions that the community must make.
  4. It steers the community towards a contract between water service provider and community .

The establishment of a framework of rules through which demand can be expressed needs to be undertaken by means of pilot- and-programme approach, combined with significant investigation or research. Johannesburg is in the process of following such a pilot-and-programme approach.