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Industry news for the Water and Sanitation Sector in South Africa


 The Mvula Trust latest updates

'Value creation provokes spontaneous partnership' 'Value creation provokes spontaneous partnership'
Youth urged to embrace water and sanitation learnership programme
Limpopo cooperatives benefit from the skills development programme

TMT gears up for the year ahead

The Mvula Trust (TMT) set aside three days (16 – 18 May 2016) to retreat from the office environment and vanished into the bushy and invigorating Entabeni Safari Conservancy for a strategic planning session. This was a not-to-be-missed opportunity for a leading...

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Basic Methods of Water Conservation

In honour of National Water Week, I have made it my duty to make everyone understand the significance of this valuable resource called water. Water is a generally scarce resource and a source of livelihood which has no substitute. Therefore, it needs to be conserved and this can be done in a number of ways.

Firstly, standpipes and taps must always be properly closed so as to avoid water wastage. Take the time to make sure that this has been done properly. It is important to try and consume at least two litres of water on a daily basis, so we need to pray for rain so as to fill up our water sources. One should always purify water that has not been treated, for example, by boiling or adding a small amount of Jik to it.

As a commemoration of National water week, myself and my colleagues identified a High School, Sophathisana SSS, where we organised a celebration of the National Water Week at the school and invited the Departments of Education, Health, Water and Sanitation; The School Governing Body (SGB); school educators and principal to grace the event with their presence and also to give messages of support over and above the one given by The Mvula Trust.

The event was very successful, and we issued educators with golf shirts branded ‘The Mvula Trust’. We also held a dancing competition for the learners where all four participants were issued with the golf shirts, and the winner was given a R50 cash prize. I was the Programme Director/M.C for the day and I have been told that I lived up to the expectation.

It is my sincere hope that everyone involved was able to gain insight into how important it is to appreciate the value of water by making every day a water day and celebrating it on a daily basis.

Grey Water Re-Use Is Here To Stay

While grey water re-use is common practice in rural South Africa, urban South Africa are still debating the merits of water quality, public health, considering socio-economic factors, community perceptions and hydro- geologic conditions.

What is Grey Water?

Grey water is made up of water from the bath, shower, bathroom sink and washing. It is not advisable to use your kitchen water as it might be damaging to plant life because of the fat content. Grey water also does not include used water from the toilet as that water is called “black water”. Most of the concerns about grey water have to do with the hygiene aspect and the odours of the water, but both these aspects are eliminated if the water is re-used as soon as possible. Allowing grey water to pool for extended times, can lead to contamination.

Where to re-use?

The average suburban garden accounts for about 35% of domestic water consumption in South Africa. It is therefore useful to know that grey water can be re-used for activities such as gardening, agriculture, aquifer recharge, aquaculture, firefighting, flushing of toilets, industrial cooling, parks and golf course watering, formation of wetlands for wildlife habitats, recreational impoundments and essentially for several other non-potable requirements.

The potential reuses of water depend on the hydraulic and biochemical characteristics of wastewater, which determine the methods and degree of treatment required. While agricultural irrigation reuses in general, require lower quality levels of treatment, domestic reuse options need a higher treatment level. The level of treatment for other reuse options lie between these two extremes.

Re-use for indoors

The easiest applications of grey water include washing floors, windows and cars. Washing carpets, as well as wiping off window sills and security gates are other applications for grey water. Often, consumers judge the capacity to re-use water by the colour quality of the water. This should not be the criteria when deciding to re-use water. Should the colour of the water influence its re-use inside the house, it can always be used in the garden.

Re-use for agriculture

The oldest and largest reuse of water is for the irrigation of agricultural crops. If poorly planned and managed, the potential constraints in this type of application include surface and groundwater pollution, low marketability of crops and low public acceptance of crops. The quality of soil and crops, as well as public health concerns related to pathogens in the water should motivate the proper planning of water re-use for agricultural purposes.

Many research studies have however proved that in addition to providing a low-cost water source, other side benefits of using wastewater for irrigation include increase in crop yields, decreased reliance on chemical fertilizers, and increased protection against frost damage.

Re-use for landscaping

The application of reclaimed wastewater for landscape irrigation includes use in public parks, golf courses, urban green belts, freeway medians, cemeteries, and residential lawns. This type of application is one of the most common applications of wastewater reuse worldwide.

Examples of such uses can be found in USA, Australia, Japan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia among others. These schemes have been operating successfully in many countries for many years without attracting adverse comments.

The soap and other residues in the water can provide useful sulphates and nitrates, when diluted and in some instances it can act as a fertilizer and therefore be beneficial to the garden. This type of application therefore has the potential to improve the amenity of the urban environment.

However, such schemes must be carefully run to avoid problems with community health. Because the water is used in areas that are open to public, there is potential for human contact, so reuse water must be treated to a high level to avoid risk of spreading diseases. Other potential problems of application for landscape irrigation concern aesthetics such as odour, insects, and problems deriving from build-up of nutrients.

By segregating the “grey” silage from “black” toilet wastes, the potential for reuse with minimal treatment within the household enhances manifold. There are several different schemes for reusing grey water at the household levels. In California in the United States, systems which use treated grey water have been in use for many years and studies have shown no health problems associated with the use. In non-sewered areas of Australia, a simple valve arrangement for diversion of bathroom grey water for garden watering has been developed.

Several countries around the world, including Japan, the United States and Australian authorities introduced comprehensive guidelines for grey water recycling systems in individual households. The separation of grey water at the household is being implemented by these countries with great success.

The potential ecological benefits of grey water recycling include deep percolation, lower fresh water extraction from rivers and aquifers, less impact from septic tank and treatment plant infrastructure, as well as topsoil nitrification. A reduction in energy use and chemical pollution from treatment, increased plant growth, the reclamation of nutrients and greater quality of surface and ground water are only some of the potential benefits that necessitates policy intervention around grey water use in South Africa.

Closing the Gaps in Agronomic Water

Use Technology in Maize Agriculture

Maize is of particular importance in South Africa, because it is a staple crop. Maize agriculture accordingly plays a pivotal role in food security, constituting of about 70% of grain production in South Africa. It is estimated that 60% of the population directly depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Against this backdrop, it is forecast that the mean rainfall over the next 50 years, will decrease by as much as 5–10% (Durand 2006). The Mvula Trust is therefore undertaking a study that is focused on increasing the water use efficiency in rain-fed as well as irrigated maize agriculture, without decreasing yield productivity in Limpopo province.


Food security is one of the key requirements to long-term and sustainable economic growth in South Africa. The expected imbalance in food demand due to poor crop yields, scarcity in surface water resources, and the projected increase in population pose a great challenge to future economic growth. Just over the last season, maize production in South Africa decreased by approximately 15% from the previous season. It has long been accepted that in order to enhance food security under our dwindling water resources and the changing climate regimes, that a new approach is urgently required. Climate change is upon us and the challenges in water scarcity are developing rapidly. Our ability to develop and apply sustainable water use techniques will therefore determine the state of food security both at present and the future.

Current Scenario

At present, the challenges experienced by farmers include the aridity of the agro-ecological zones, the unreliability at the onset of the planting season as well as at the end of the growing season. In-season dry spells, declining water resources, changing climate, and poor agronomic water use are some of the additional challenges experienced by all farmers.

To date, fixed-time crop calendars are in use that advices farmers on the planting and irrigation process that are linked to specific seasonality, ground conditions and other factors. The variability in the seasonal conditions are however making it impossible to use those calendars. Even under conditions where supplementary irrigation is used, as is the case in most agro-ecological regions of South Africa, precipitation constitutes the major source of water.

The Challenge

Both rain fed and irrigated crops require the efficient use of available soil moisture, but lack of comprehensive cropping guidelines that are adapted to the current changing climatic and other farming conditions; means that the crops will still be exposed to poor germination and low crop yield levels (Hussein, 1987; de Jong, 1993). Considering these challenges, better on-farm operational decision-support systems are needed. It is also important however that these tools are technically simple in order to allow for ease of use by farmers.

The Approach

The research study is dealing with three key aspects that include building scientific knowledge, the development of new water management tools, as well as capacity building. In building scientific knowledge, critical gaps in water budgets in rain-fed and irrigated maize production will be identified, based on different soil types, maize varieties, and climatic as well as the different weather conditions.

The second aspect deals with the development of easy-to-use operational water management tools based on the analyses in aspect one. In this phase, two sets of experiments are taking place for the development of simplified operational weather-based crop calendars and evaluation; based on soil types, maize growing areas, and climatic conditions. The third aspect involves performing field trials with volunteer famers, as well as training farmers on how to use simple, operational, weather-based, cropping calendars for different maize varieties and different soil regimes.

The study includes novel exploratory experiments in order to collect indigenous knowledge, as well as the integration of the findings in order to obtain the guidelines needed to develop operational water management tools. Outcomes of the research study include the development of new maps of agro-climatic zones and the exchange of technology and methods between scientist(s) and farmers. Capacity building will take place at both a personal and community level, the empowerment of farmers with better tools and techniques and the publication of the research results for information dissemination purposes; are other outcomes of the study.

… the empowerment of farmers with better water techniques …

Planning a Sanitation Project

by Kathy Eales, The Mvula Trust and Linda Tyers, DWAF Technical Assistance

Streamlined project business planning simplifies the task of the water services authority (WSA) in securing funds for a project – but unless that project business plan reflects more detailed planning elsewhere, the WSA could run into difficulties which will raise the cost of implementation, and compromise long term sustainability.

Project planning begins with the water Services development plan (WSDP) and municipal Sanitation Strategy. The Project Implementation Plan applies the broad municipal Sanitation Strategy to a defined geographical area, with its own unique needs and challenges. Local consultation and local data verification is essential, as desktop information is frequently inaccurate or out of date!

The municipal Sanitation Strategy should be completed before Project Business and Implementation Plans are submitted – and funds are available from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) to fund this planning.

This Implementation Plan must be approved by both the targeted community and the WSA before submission to the funder. Where DWAF is the external funder, the Sanitation Project Implementation Plan data is easily summarised and entered onto DWAF’s web-based business planning contract document – Per Form Developer. The detailed Implementation Plan is then submitted as an annexure to the web business plan, elaborating on particular items, and explaining why particular approaches will be followed, and acting as a tool for monitoring and evaluating progress throughout project implementation.


I. Baseline survey

The baseline survey profiles the status quo in the targeted settlement. It is comprised of:

1 Settlement profile

  • Growth and development trajectory,
  • Demographic, health and income profile,
  • Water and sanitation facilities and backlogs, and
  • Local representation and leadership structures.

2 Groundwater protocol

A desk top assessment of local geo-hydrological factors which could influence technology options.

3 Technical assessment

What toilet technologies and designs are feasible and appropriate.

4 Training needs assessment

What local skills will be required to support project implementation, what skills already exist locally, and what skills training will be needed.

The baseline survey informs the scope of work (including activities, costs and time frames).

II. Scope of Work

1. Institutional and social development (ISD)

  • Local project representation and management structure – including the role of women.
  • What type of user education will be needed to address local needs?
  • Health and hygiene promotion,
  • Operation and maintenance (O&M) information, and
  • How impacts will be assessed.
  • Skills development programme – for whom, and with what intended measurable outcomes.
  • Synergy with other local development projects, notably water and housing.
  • Project implementation methodology, detailing who will undertake which activities.

2. Construction of toilets and hand washing facilities

  • What type of toilets and hand-washing facilities will be built: household, clinic and schools?
  • Options for designs and materials, with full costing and details of sources of supply.
  • Construction methodology.
  • Arrangements for desludging or relocation when ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilets are full.
  • Local economic development opportunities for local service providers (e.g. block makers).

3. Institutional linkages

  • Linkages with local representation and coordination structures.
  • Linkages with municipal and Department of Health health and hygiene initiatives.
  • Provision for long term O&M support.

4. Management systems

  • Different roles and role players, by department and agency.
  • Coordination and reporting functions.

5. Conformance with policy

Details on how the project will address national policy requirements.

6. Costing

  • Capital cost.
  • Funding plan (sources of funds).
  • Annual and monthly cash flow requirements.

7. Time schedule and milestones

8. Monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment

  • Format, with key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Close out report format.
  • Project audit as required by funders.

III. Annexures

  • Evidence of approval by the WSA and local Project Steering Committee (PSC).
  • Locality map and 1:50 000 footprint of the project.
  • ISD report.
  • Geo-technical information, including groundwater protocol.
  • Technical drawings of toilets that will be built.
  • Schedule of quantities and costing.
  • Cash flow forecast.

IV. Executive summary

The executive summary is a key part of the appraisal process and must be comprehensive:

  • Project location.
  • Summary description of the settlement and beneficiary community.
  • Purpose of the intervention, addressing locally specific needs.
  • Project objectives, including skills transfer and long term sustainability.
  • Quantity, design and technology type of toilet units required.
  • Synergy with other local development initiatives.

National WATER Week [press release]

The 16th of March 2015 marked the beginning of the South African National WATER Week, a Department of Water and Sanitation initiative. This campaign is a great device in reiterating and escalating the importance of WATER, the value for continued management of this scarce resource and the role WATER plays in eliminating poverty and under-development in South Africa.

The Department of WATER and Sanitation’s theme “WATER has no substitute” is a welcomed theme and one that finds us prepared and ready for National WATER Week action as The Mvula Trust. A substitute is something or someone acting on behalf of another. WATER is a resource that cannot be substituted or replaced.“ WATER has no substitute” to those people and communities that have to walk for kilometers just to get a few liters of WATER daily.

WATER is no substitute for those who are calculated in the 400 Million people with severe WATER shortages. WATER is no substitute for the 2 Billion people without access to safe supply of drinking and cooking WATER. WATER as a resource cannot be simply explained as WATER for those who do not have the privilege of access to it through the simple turn of a tap.

To these people, these communities, and these lives “WATER has no substitute”. We as The Mvula Trust say along with the Department of WATER and Sanitation we are holding hands and joining in the plight to fight and work together to bring awareness to communities, lives and people. Together we say “WATER has no substitute”. The National WATER week campaign seeks to continue building on the ongoing awareness creation within the broader South African community.

This awareness creation is coupled with the responsibility that every citizen must take in ensuring the integrity of our WATER resources and its efficient use. Particularly, the linkages between WATER services, supply, resource management, poverty eradication, social and economic development are emphasised in a number of innovative ways. The campaign has been influenced by local needs and international sectoral trends.

Although it is a known fact that about 70 percent of the earth is covered in WATER, only a fraction of this amount is made up of freshwater. If all the earth’s WATER were stored in a five-liter container, the available freshwater would not quite fill a teaspoon. “Water for thought”, with that said The Mvula Trust has invented a “memorable phrase” that not only represents the importance or the value of this statement and WATER as a resource, but also illustrates the unity amongst a people who rely solely on its existence.

“Behind WATER, behind Life, Behind People” is our memorable phrase.

This phrase points to a stimulating chapter in the organisation’s life. The phrase, simply conveys our over 21 years of service delivery contribution, our continuous growth development and implementation of WATER supply to rural, peri-urban and urban communities across South Africa. The WATER scarcity problem is real, it is also extremely serious and a major global challenge. With the effects of pollution, over consumption and relentless population growth, The Mvula Trust’s memorable phrase, “Behind WATER, behind Life, Behind People” is being used as an instrument to awaken people’s interest in WATER and its conservation methods.

Our WATER and Soil conservation and Spring Protection Programme are amongst the numerous projects that The Mvula Trust is connected with in affiliation with this National WATER Week and eradicating poverty in our country.

The WATER and Soil Conservation programme’s main aims are to protect the most important elements of our earth which is WATER and Soil. The Spring WATER Protection Programme covers the rural areas and local municipalities. The programme addresses the WATER services backlog, improvement of service levels and contributing to sustainable development. The objective of the programme is to improve the quality of life (health & hygiene), to eliminate poverty in rural communities in South Africa, to ensure the employment of local workers, capacitates and empowers emerging contractors, to provide opportunities to local suppliers and the transfer of long-term skills to local workers.

To commemorate this world event, on 20 March 2015, all The Mvula Trust staff will be wearing their “Behind WATER, behind life and Behind people” either T-shirts or caps to work first to commemorate and second to signify the importance of WATER.

The Mvula Trust
A leading developmental NGO

National WATER Week Celebrations

As The National Water Week comes to a close The Mvula Trust participation to a cause they are deeply invested in has been nothing short of sensational. All garbed in their “The Mvula Trust” branded Caps and T-shirts with a Water bottle in-hand, they are truly reflecting the importance and the value of this scarce resource. What are you doing to ensure the protection of water so that we may continue living a sustainable life?

Rural Women are a major contributor to the rural economy

“Women should be thought of as strategic users of water. They manage the use of water for preparing food, for drinking, bathing and washing, for irrigating home gardens and watering livestock. Women know the location, reliability and quality of local water resources. They collect water, store it and control its use and sanitation. They recycle water, using grey water for washing and irrigation. Their participation in all development programmes should be given priority. Policies and programmatic interventions such as Water Allocation Reform need to factor this in to achieve the desired end results” (Water for Growth and Development Framework, 2009).”

The Strydkraal and Apel villages in the Fetakgomo Local Municipality, which is part of the Sekhukhune District Municipality in Limpopo Province, was the subject of a study undertaken by The Mvula Trust in order to explore multiple water use strategies of rural women in two different rural villages.

Funded by the Water Research Commission, the study also sought to test the adequacy of current policies and practices against the reality and aspirations of women and their families in the two rural villages, as well as examine whether both the water services and resources needed by women in rural villages are made available, or could be made available to them.

The two villages are very poor, have high unemployment rates, and have a high rate of male, migrant labour due to poor employment prospects in those villages. The local municipality has no water function, whilst the district is the water services authority. Lepelle Northern Water Board is the water services provider. The two villages are faced with major water challenges including operations and maintenance related water cut-offs, low water supply, induced water sharing, as well as capacity and institutional challenges in operations and maintenance. Moreover, the two villages are naturally water scarce areas as a result of limited rainfall. All of this negatively affects the women of Strydkraal and Apel in their livelihood activities, which are centered around agriculture and consequently heavily dependent on water availability.

The research study found that the rural reality in Strydkraal and Apel, being that women are in the forefront of creating sustainable livelihoods and are using water as a crucial and scarce resource for those livelihood strategies, was not reflected sufficiently in water policy and legislation.


The research study proposed, among others, that:

  • Sector legislation should provide for the needs of emerging entrepreneurs in the rural areas, as it is currently bias towards domestic use.
  • The implementation of water resources institutions as stated in the National Water Act should assist in giving rural women a voice regarding their water needs for productive purposes.
  • Water institutions should be accessible to rural communities.
  • District and local municipalities should adequately incorporate women and their local economic development (LED) planning.
  • Improved communication is needed between the water services authority and water service provider for the promotion of information sharing on operations and maintenance.
  • The ward committee system should be capacitated to deal with water services and water resource management issues.
  • The water services authority needs to introduce water conservation and water demand management in order to ensure that supply-side water savings occur as a means of meeting demand.

The linkage between water as an economic means for rural women and local economic planningshowed that the role of emergent productive water users such as the women of Strydkraal and Apel are not appreciated or adequately supported. This comes despite the fact that rural women are a major contributor to the rural economy in terms of food security, income generation, livelihood strategies and employment opportunities.

Training and Capacity Building for Water Services Provision

Since the responsibility for water and sanitation services provision is that of local government, sector stakeholders (including national government, water boards and non-governmental organisations) see their role as one of support to local government in both project implementation and ongoing services provision.

Support is most often defined as capacity building and training where capacity building covers the full gamut of support from advising, training and mentoring, through to organisational systems development and adequate resourcing of the organisation.

The Mvula Trust support strategy

To assist local government in its challenging role as Water Services Authority, the Mvula Trust has adopted a three-pronged support strategy:

  • Formal training through participatory workshops and presentations.
  • Development of supporting tools and documents (e.g. model contracts, monitoring checklists, outcomes-based institutional and social development contracts, Water Services Provider selection rating checklists, tools for assessing Water Services Authority and Water Services Provider capacity for sustainable water services provision, etc.); and
  • Interfacing with local government at local level through policy, pilot projects and infrastructure project implementation support.
  • Over the past two years Mvula has provided training and capacity building support to district and local municipalities in Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Northern Province, North West, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Training courses and materials

Training materials and courses have been designed in the following key support areas:

  • The legislative and policy framework for water services;
  • Institutional arrangements for sustainable rural water services;
  • Project sustainability support; and Public-community municipal services partnerships.

Methods used include interactive plenary slide presentations; small group work, including discussions and working with checklists or rating scales or problem scenarios; developing visual models for conceptual issues; as well as more creative-expressive methods such as role play and drama.

Principles for training

Based on lessons and experience gained through initiatives to date, the following methodological principles for training have been identified:

  • All training should be designed to address the gap between existing and necessary skills and capacity to fulfil identified roles and functions i.e. training should be needs- and capacity-based rather than driven by modules and supply.
  • Local government should be engaged in identifying its own training needs within the framework of its functional requirements.
  • Training methodologies should build on and make effective use of the knowledge and skills participants bring to the training situation.
  • Training methodologies should be driven by both the content and the outcomes to be achieved.
  • Training must allow for as much interaction and learning from other participants as possible.
  • The timing of training is significant in that opportunities for applying and practising skills and knowledge gained are critical for reinforcing learning.
  • Materials for reading are an important adjunct, but should not be overloaded. Training materials should therefore be brief, accessible, clear and user-friendly.

Role of national government and others in developing support strategies

The Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) is driving a process to ensure that local government capacity building and training strategies across sectors are aligned. The then Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) now Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), The Mvula Trust, water boards and others have engaged both with DPLG and the sector to develop a water services support strategy.

The draft DWAF Water Services: Local Government Capacity Building and Training Support Strategy (June 2001), defines capacity development as: the process to developing human resources, water services structures, as well as institutional and legal frameworks, so that the ability of the individual Water Services Authorities is enhanced to enable effective, efficient and sustainable performance of water services functions.

The Mvula Trust provided extensive comment and recommendations for aligning the DPLG and the then DWAF strategies by comparing them across a number of dimensions, including how the strategies are located with regard to mandate and proposed institutional linkages; definitions of training and capacity building; purpose; target audience; principles; vision; problems or gaps to be addressed; areas of support proposed; objectives to be achieved; indicators of successful implementation; and how the strategies intend to mobilise the necessary resources for its implementation.

In terms of their principles, both strategies believe that effective, efficient capacity development should be relevant to local government’s legislative roles, responsibilities and functions. They must be incremental and aligned to the capacity gaps or needs of the municipalities, acknowledging that this capacity gap is different for different municipalities.

The draft Water Services Strategy will be integrated into the DWAF Human Resources Water Sector Capacity Building Strategy which, in turn, will form part of DPLG’s overall capacity building strategy.

Capacity development is an ongoing process through partnerships and interventions arising from these strategies. It must be competency-based, performance-based, needs- based, integrative, and allow for transfer of learning.

Lessons and recommendations

It is imperative that the following lessons and recommendations are taken into account in the development of these and individual municipal support strategies:

  • There should be an increased focus on the development of tools for decision-making, problem solving, and contracting and monitoring service providers.
  • Training initiatives should forge relationships and develop partnerships with local stakeholders such as NGOs to co-ordinate interventions. The links between formal training and other capacity building interventions are critical. They should be designed in tandem to achieve proactively identified capacity objectives and outcomes, allowing sufficient time for skills and knowledge to be integrated and applied.
  • Training should be evaluated against clear objectives and outcomes (linked to existing and required capacity) to be achieved rather than numbers of training sessions conducted.
  • Training courses and methodologies should be approved through a central body such as the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) or the Local Government Water and related services Sector Education Training Authority (LGWSETA).
  • Councillors and officials must be conversant with the legal and policy framework in the water supply and sanitation sector.
  • Municipalities must understand the distinction between Water Services Authority regulatory and planning functions, and the service provision functions (to be undertaken by the Authority itself, or by a Water Services Provider on contract to the Authority).
  • Training providers must demonstrate commitment to developmental approaches (and this should be a selection and approval criterion).

The Mvula Trust commitment

The Mvula Trust remains committed to working in partnership with municipalities, government both at national and local level and in continuing to provide them with a high standard of training and capacity support. It will do this in partnership with other reputable training providers, and in keeping with the overarching principles of the strategies of DPLG and DWS.

National Water Week 16 – 22 March 2015

WATER is life: that was the theme for the 2014 National WATER Week. The National WATER Week is an awareness campaign championed by the Department of WATER and Sanitation. It serves as a powerful mechanism reiterating the value of WATER, the need for sustainable management of this scarce resource and the role WATER plays in eradicating poverty and under-development in South Africa.

The Mvula Trust is an active participant in contributing to and delivering dedicated actions to eradicate the challenges and short comings of WATER access in our country and Africa as a whole. Our strategic objectives represent the forward thinking statement of specific intended outcomes, anchored and reinforced by WATER as an important commodity. These and other strategic objectives have held anchor and contributed in supporting both national and local government in the delivery of sustainable, reliable and affordable WATER and Sanitation services in schools with a view of enhancing learning and education.

This year’s National WATER Week represents and showcases once again our commitment as an organisation to our country, and to the continent of Africa as a whole. We are positioned to support and be an active organisation, a vocal mouthpiece and a “weigh anchor” for this national initiative and campaign. As our value add contribution to the campaign we are going to be doing a nation-wide activation in all our regional offices to bring awareness and assist government as dictated by our strategic objectives of supporting and partnering with government at all levels in WATER and Sanitation delivery across the country.

Our annual occupational theme as The Mvula Trust, which is our overarching communication theme for 2015 is “continuing growing values”. This theme has been adopted and will feature in all our activities and actions for the year 2015. This theme guides our overaching commitment to the South African rural landscape, as well as our stakeholders for continuing with our vision as dictated on the founding of the organisation in 1993, where the organisation committed and envisioned a South Africa in which all enjoy safe and affordable WATER and Sanitation which contributes to good health and productive livelihoods.

Inside this theme is our “memorable phrase” coined particularly for National WATER Week. You might ask what is a “memorable phrase”, a memorable phrase is The Mvula Trust’s continuing reminder of our commitment and forms a sub-divider of our overarching theme. It dictates the activities that outline our actions around a particular programme such as in this case National WATER Week.

So, in celebrating and focusing on this year’s National WATER Week, we have tried to capture the hearts of our internal and external stakeholders yet keeping our occupational undertaking and commitment at the centre of that undertaking. We hope you take pleasure and bring value and share value with this National WATER Week.

At The Mvula Trust, our “memorable phrase” for this year’s National WATER Week is; “Behind water, behind people, behind life”. This “memorable phrase” points to a stimulating chapter in the organisations life. The phrase, simply put, conveys our over 21 years of service delivery and our continuous growth development and implementation of water supply to rural, peri-urban and urban communities across South Africa as a whole.

Our proudest contribution to this year’s National WATER week and in support of the Department of Water and Sanitation’s National WATER Week is in showcasing our achievement as a result of implementing the “Spring WATER Protection” project.

This Spring WATER Protection programme benefits an entire school, the implementation of alternative energy usage through solar generated power, a stellar consideration and care for the environment and undisturbed Spring WATER flow, which benefit livestock, sanitation and drinking water which uplift and bring dignity to the community.

This Spring WATER Protection Programme will be unveiled on 20 March 2015 which is a WATER Day as an electronic copy in our executive Park.

World WATER Day was declared an international day in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly and was first celebrated in 1993. Clean WATER is essential to the health and sustainability of the environment, people and agriculture. The increase in demand for good quality WATER requires careful management. By celebrating World WATER Day and National WATER Week, we are, along with other stakeholders, focusing our attention on the current contribution that our government and country is making to rural, peri-urban and urban communities and also to bring an increased public awareness about the importance of conservation and protection of WATER resources; and increase the participation of non-govenmental organisations and the private sector’s in World WATER Day celebrations.

On 20 March all The Mvula Trust staff will be wearing their “Behind water, behind people and behind life” T-shirts and caps to work to signify the importance of WATER.

The Mvula Trust –
Behind water, Behind life, Behind Community Development.
Celebrating National Water Week 2015

Raising the Citizens’ Voice in the Regulation of Water Services

The Citizens’ Voice Programme’s main objective is to raise the citizens’ voice in the regulation of water services and to provide means for the public to provide meaningful input into the planning for and implementation of service delivery and the regulation thereof. It aims to improve communication on water related issues in municipalities; achieve an increased role of citizens in the regulation of water services; and to establish a working relationship with the communities and CSOs in a structured manner.

The process is an integral part of National Government’s drive to improve the regulation of services. Citizens’ Voice is a tool whereby the aims of public participation in strategic planning for service delivery, as well as in regulation of services can be fulfilled.

Regulation means making sure that rights are met and that service providers provide at least a minimum level of service and deliver on promises in accordance with the rules. Citizens need to know who to go to if problems are not fixed and they need to be able to organise with others to solve problems collectively.

The long term aim of the Citizens’ Voice is to improve in quality service delivery. The short term objective is to educate councilors, citizens, and CSOs about water services and how to engage with council. The medium term objective is to facilitate citizens in playing a monitoring role and the long term objective is for society to engage at the strategic level to influence policy.

The Citizens’ Voice process includes a training programme comprising 12 modules which are delivered to Councilors, Officials, CSOs and communities. This is followed by the setting up of forums to enable ongoing sustainable interaction between citizens and the municipality in order to improve service delivery.

The modules include the following topics:

Module 1 – Introduction and people’s rights (includes legislation and how it can be utilized and the budgeting process).

Module 2 – The different spheres of Government.

Module 3 – The life cycle of water from dams to taps to toilets.

Module 4 – Using water wisely and meter reading.

Module 5 – Sanitation and hygiene.

Module 6 – Pollution abatement and water quality.

Module 7 – Tariffs, billing and meter reading.

Module 8 – Poverty and affordability.

Module 9 – Regulation,monitoring and evaluation.

Module 10 – Identifying gaps and planning the way forward.

Module 11 – Energy and water.

Module 12 – Biodiversity and water.

The Citizens’ Voice programme was piloted in the Ethekwini Municipality in 2010 where The Mvula Trust delivered the initial training to Councilors and Civil Society and established the first user forums where there could be ongoing interaction between the municipality and members of the public. The Ethekwini Municipality went on to establish forums in each of its 17 zones and the process is still ongoing. In 2010/11, the training programme was delivered successfully to Councilors, Civil Society and Communities in the Msunduzi Municipality with support from the Department of Water Affairs. However, other priorities prevented the setting up of platforms for ongoing interaction with the public as planned.

An evaluation of the Citizens’ Voice programme in 2011 outlined its main successes as:

  • The building of greater trust amongst critical stakeholders;

  • a greater willingness to engage at local level;

  • Better service delivery as a result of stakeholders working together at local level. (This was particularly important in Ethekwini as important changes were made to increase the free basic water allocation in response to interaction at the forums);

  • The development of a programme that is replicable for other municipalities;

  • The establishment of a CSO user forum was a success in that it enabled significant relationship building between the municipalities and the city’s CSOs. There was frustration, however, expressed by the municipality at the level of engagement not being thoroughly based on community positions and by the CSOs as they did not have the resources and capacity to establish community positions and do basic community research. The CSO forum has since been integrated into Ethekwini’s area-based forums.

The Embassy of France supported the process by funding a programme training Civil Society Organisations to conduct community research and enable a higher level of interaction with the city. The Embassy of France’s support also enabled the Citizens’ Voice process to be extended to include biodiversity and environmental resources and energy issues in the Citizens’ Voice training manual.

This initiative has utilized a public education method for strengthening public accountability. The building of trust amongst stakeholders that have hitherto been antagonistic is a significant achievement and lays the foundations for good governance in the delivery of water services. Part of the success of this initiative has been that it is only part of a larger thrust of eThekwini Water Services’ commitment to public outreach. The political will from the administration has been the pillar in making these successes possible. The active role of an NGO in facilitating community engagement has also contributed to the trust building that has been a pre-requisite to taking things forward.

The Mvula Trust offers Citizens’ Voice programmes which are specifically tailored to the needs of a particular municipality and can design courses relating to specific aspects of the programme.

For more information, contact: Virginia Molose or Lindy Morrison.