30 March 2017 – Community members in Spring Valley Informal Settlement, in Emalahleni, can finally open taps to clean, regular and running water after a long struggle with poor and limited access for over twenty years.

Unsuccessful efforts to actively engage the Emalahleni Local Municipality for a sustainable water delivery service forced the Spring Valley community to escalate the matter to the Nkangala District Municipality. The District, then responded positively by providing financial resources that made it possible to install a permanent and innovative solution to the problem.

Previous situation where water was delivered by trucks.
Previous situation where water was delivered by trucks.
After collecting water, this is how women carried bucket loads to their homes.
After collecting water, this is how women carried bucket loads to their homes.
Running water now accessible in-front of homes in Spring Valley.
Running water now accessible in-front of homes in Spring Valley.

The financial resources from Nkangala District Municipality were used to purchase a sustainable water infrastructure such as the solar powered community boreholes including tanks, pipes and taps which the residents have welcomed.

However, with the struggle for security of tenure currently, this means that only those occupying the municipal owned land have access to this infrastructure, whereas those in private property in the same settlement are left struggling.

“We are relieved that we finally have running water in taps. The supply doesn’t run out like it did with the (water delivery) trucks. The social audit on water delivery that we conducted as the community with the support of Planact and IBP played a big role because from it, we have now received water from taps,” said Master Kuphe, a community leader in Spring Valley.

For the past years, the Emalahleni Municipality treated the need for water in Spring Valley as an “emergency service” which meant an irregular and dirty water supply delivered by unmonitored trucks effectively becoming an expensive exercise costing over R8 million in 2 years. This is according a social audit conducted by the community and Planact in January 2016. Get the Social Audit Report here

Planact’s role has centred on supporting community members to develop and enhance their capacity to meaningfully engage with the state and to hold the state accountable for the provision of basic services, namely water, sanitation and land tenure security.

Despite the recognition of water and sanitation as global rights, many communities in South Africa still suffer from poor basic services delivery.