211670 Impact of scarcity of water on public health in rural Eastern Cape, South Africa

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:30 PM

Nonceba Lubanga, RN, MPH , Office of Child and Family Health, NYC Administration for Children's Services, New York, NY
South Africa is one of the few countries in the world that enshrines the basic right to sufficient water in its Constitution. However, much remains to be done to fulfill that right. After the end of Apartheid, the South African newly elected government inherited huge service backlogs with respect to access to water supply and sanitation. In 1990, about 15 million people were without safe water supply and over 20 million without adequate sanitation services. According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint monitoring program, the share of the population with access to an improved source of water supply only increased from 83% in 1990 to 88% in 2004. After the cholera outbreak in 2000, the African National Congress promised free basic water. In 2001 a revised tariff structure was suggested that included 6 “kilolitres” (cubic meters) of free water per month (4 liter/capita/day for a family of five or 25 liter/capita/day for a family of 8). Putting the policy of free basic water in practice proved a challenge. Pre-paid meters were introduced in Johannesburg in other cities which cut off water supply above the 6 cubic meter monthly limit if no payment was made thereby denying the poor access to adequate water. In April 2008, the South African High Court stated that the practice of shutting off water was unconstitutional. However, because of the privatization of basic services such as water and sanitation in South Africa, the actual impact of service delivery by the government is seen as questionable.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify ways in which the local and provincial governments can address the lack of a properly trained water supply service. 2. Identify ways that government policies can be implemented that provide communities with clean water and basic public health services. 3. Analyze the role of the national government in assisting provincial and municipal authorities to improve the infrastructure and delivery of water and sanitation to rural areas.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have presented research papers and authored resolutions at various APHA annual meetings. I moderated a session in 2008 at the APHA annual meeting in San Diego.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.