Water is life campaign

Jun 18, 2020 | Blog, Weekly Covid19 Updates

Why is the #MetsiKeBophelo (Water Is Life) campaign necessary?

Access to water is a constitutional right in South Africa, not a privilege.

According to research[i], 1 in 3 people in South Africa don’t have access to safe or reliable water. That’s about 20 million people. Most of these people who don’t have access to water are found in disadvantaged communities such as rural areas, small towns and informal settlements.

Currently, South Africa has a policy called Free Basic Water Access. According to the South African Constitution every citizen is entitled to a certain amount of water regardless of ability to pay for it; this policy defines the amount of entitlement be 6000 liters per household per month.

The coronavirus pandemic, and the need to provide adequate water to communities so that they can break the rate of covid-19 infections through washing of hands, should be a major wake-up call to the South African government.

We need water to survive and flatten the curve. Our fate is tied to what rushes out of our taps.

Why is there a problem with delivering safe and reliable access to water?

Planact has established through social audits and community based scorecards that:

  • Monitoring of outsourced services by local municipalities is not effectively done especially for vulnerable communities
  • the mismanagement of public funds has weakened the Department of Water and Sanitation’s ability to deliver access to safe and reliable water.
  • poor forward planning for a water scarce country
  • Poor maintenance of infrastructure
  • Corruption and poor tender specifications when water service is outsourced to service providers for vulnerable communities
  • There is poor regulatory framework for water use management especially in mining towns and rural areas

Who is affected?

Planact has received numerous pictures and videos from community members in informal settlements and small towns who do not have adequate water supply. This a ticking time bomb and Covid-19 has exposed a water crisis in the making!

The elderly, children and the differently-abled are the most affected in rural areas, small towns and informal settlements where small municipalities are no longer able to provide potable water.

Who must fix the delivering of safe and reliable access to water problem?

Planact joins Amnesty International South Africa’s call on the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, to recognize that many people in South Africa are denied their constitutional right to water, and to publicly commit to providing equal access to water for everyone – now and always.

Throughout The Covid-19 Pandemic and Going Forward, the minister of Human settlement, water and sanitation must ensure that there is:

  • Transparency: with communication and information regarding which communities water is being delivered to, the distance needed to travel to access water, and how much water is being distributed per household;
  • Accountability: to the commitments made, including ensuring municipalities monitor water levels, so that individuals have access to sufficient, safe and reliable water each day and are able to regularly wash hands with soap;
  • Incremental and Progressive water provision: so that equitable access to sufficient, safe and reliable water becomes a reality for all, even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Zero tolerance to corruption: ensuring that all outsourced water and sanitation contracts are value for money.


[i] https://amnesty.org.za/action/turn-on-the-tap/?fbclid=IwAR0xo4G_jivmOmntHHxnvRjPOM4MAjB1T73rPL-KHoj0jYyvrxRwcdg3H0Y