Access to Water

The Mncwasa Water Scheme building started in 2010 and was finalised around 2013. The Scheme changed the lives of the people in this region. Access to quality, clean water near households brought along with-it improved health outcomes, reduced infant mortality, and increased the quality of life for all. 

The Scheme feeds water to approximately 6000 households across 40 villages, has 36 reservoirs: 200 break-pressure tanks and thousands of taps.

While this is an access to water services success story for post- democratic South Africa, maintaining and ensuring consistent and reliable access to clean water is becoming an increasing challenge.  Although most of the villages have access to communal taps, there are areas that have not had access to water for months (Mdikana, Zwelitsha and Lumkwana), many taps that are not operational and 100s of leaks all around the system.  There are also many homesteads that do not have a tap within 200 metres of their home as legally required.

In April 2020, we set up a WhatsApp group to facilitate community leaders reporting issues to the Amathole District Municipality (“ADM”). The assumption was that the main problem/ issue was a lack of reporting. However, it was quickly realised that some of the issues were structural and/or systemic and that a more comprehensive diagnosis of the challenges was required.

To respond to some of the systemic or structural reasons why are communities do not have consistent access to water we are doing the following:

  1. We conducted a social audit of water delivery in our region together with our partner, Viva con Agua. This social audit will be used as a baseline for further engagements regarding remedial measures with Amathole District Municipality. A summary of the social audit can be found here and a more comprehensive report can be found here

  2. Conducting a governance, financial and political review of challenges at Amathole District Municipality

  3. Conducting legal research on potential tactical legal avenues or avenues for legal reform

  4. Exploring issues of local government budget justice

  5. Exploring greater advocacy around "Fix our Municipalities"

  6. Exploring options for a community management or monitoring system to better support the work of ADM

Our work in water issues arose organically from our community members being "gatvol" about a lack of consistent access to water. We are now working together to strategise on way forward.

The Mncwasa Water Scheme