Today, SERI is launching the last of four cases in the Claiming Water Rights in South Africa research series, "Maluti-a-Phofung - a community doing it for themselves". The research project was launched in a Water Rights Webinar Series held in partnership with the Mail & Guardian. The research forms part of the global #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign initiated by End Water Poverty

uMgungundlovu Case Study COVERThe case study, “Maluti-a-Phofung – a community doing it for themselves” documents the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes - who, in the face of continued poor service delivery, took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure, largely at their own cost.

The case study, “Maluti-a-Phofung – a community doing it for themselves” documents the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes - who, in the face of continued poor service delivery, took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure, largely at their own cost.

The Harrismith Water Heroes formed following a water outage that lasted for at least 40 days in July 2018. Local farmers had stepped in and supplied water, but many businesses closed. Petrus Claasen van Eeden (a local farmer) and Sam Twala (a community leader from Intabazwe) went to the Nuwejaarspruit Pump Station to investigate the nature of the problem and this chance encounter sparked an unlikely coalition.

The provision of basic services in Intabazwe, Harrismith and surrounds has deteriorated steadily over the past decade, fuelled by political in-fighting, crippling debt and the collapse of governance and administration within Maluti municipality. Difficulties around access to water in Maluti-a-Phofung date back to the early 2000s. Residents of Intabazwe organised two major protests in 2004 and 2009, blocking the N3 in response to municipal failure to provide water services. By 2016, water services were increasingly difficult to access.

The Maluti-a-Phofung municipality is by no means unique, and increasing numbers of residents in rural areas, informal settlements and small towns across the country rely on self-provisioned water supply as municipal services fall into deeper disarray. A growing number of municipalities are being placed under administration because they are dysfunctional. 

Water report UmgunundlovuMarikanaMakana SQUARE COVERS

On 6 October 2020, SERI launched the synthesis report entitled “Claiming water rights in South Africa” as well as the case study of the Marikana informal settlement entitled “Residents of Marikana informal settlement use expropriation as a tool” which is the second of four case studies. On 20 October 2020, SERI launched “Farm dwellers fight for access to water in uMgungundlovu district municipality” and on 3 November 2020, SERI launched the third report in the series entitled "Makana local municipality – provincial intervention in a municipal crisis".

 

 

The publications are:

  • Case study 2: Residents of Marikana informal settlement use expropriation as a tool (launched on 6 October). This is a seminal case because it illustrates how expropriation in terms of the Housing Act can be utilised as a tool to widen access to urban land for poor people and to provide them with services where they already live. The experiences of the residents of Marikana also illustrate how important it is to tackle the struggle for tenure security, services and ultimately a dignified life, using a range of mutually reinforcing strategies including community organisation, engagement, protest, self-supply and litigation.
  • Case study 4: Maluti-a-Phofung - a community doing it for themselves (launched on 17 November 2020). The last case study reflects on the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders in Maluti-a-Phofung – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes – who, in the face of continued poor service delivery by local government took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure.