The water crisis in Cape Town has made a number of senior government officials in Gauteng ask very serious questions about the province's ability to deal with any potential water security issues. In late March 2018, the Gauteng premier David Makhura hosted a Premier's Coordinating Forum where the premier and mayors of all municipalities met to discuss various important issues, including water security. After the meeting, the premier established a "water war room" (where senior technical and political officials across the province can meet to engage on important water related issues) and requested that a panel of experts develop a strategic plan for dealing with water security in Gauteng.
On 5 July 2018, a review panel was assembled to consider and provide strategic input into the second draft of the strategic plan on Gauteng's water security in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. SERI's director or research and advocacy, Alana Potter, participated in the review as a water expert. Others who participated in the review included the Gauteng City Regional Observatory (GCRO) and the Pegasys Institute (these two organisations constitute the drafting team), the Gauteng planning department and the premier's office.
Potter's review highlighted a number of faultlines in the current provision of water services in Gauteng. In particular, SERI's presentation underscored that chemical toilets don’t meet the standards for adequate levels of human dignity and privacy. Accordingly, chemical toilets should not be used for more than three months according to the Emergency Housing Programme (EHP). This means that they don’t meet basic, let alone, improved standards. SERI's presentation also emphasised the need to address the backlog of households who still do not have access to safe, reliable water in Gauteng. Despite the significant gains that have been made since democracy, water and sanitation services delivery remains profoundly unequal with over 280,000 people who still do not have access to safe, reliable water in the province. These people are the most vulnerable and poorest, and primarily live in rural municipalities and informal settlements. Addressing this backlog is an urgent priority.
Based on the review, the Gauteng Water Security Plan will be finalised and taken back to the “water war room”. Thereafter, the premier’s office will host a two-day water summit with all stakeholders to be engage with interested parties, business and civil society.