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Strengthening municipal systems for inclusive and sustainable water and sanitation in South Africa

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Tracy Ledger, Kate Tissington

15 November 2021



uKESA Librarian 3

Research report

South Africa

This research report focuses on the delivery of water and sanitation by municipalities in South Africa. The overall purpose of the assignment was to provide informed recommendations to improve municipal water and sanitation services through systems strengthening interventions and approaches.


The three main research questions posed in this research project on strengthening municipal systems for inclusive and sustainable water and sanitation in South Africa were:

  • Why has the delivery of basic water and sanitation services not met expectations?
  • Why have efforts to improve outcomes resulted in so little success?
  • What are the recommendations for strengthening these systems, considering the high failure rate of previous initiatives?

An analysis of the relative efficacy of different strategies and programmes employed to strengthen or revitalise the municipal delivery of basic services provides useful insights into the constraints prevalent within the wider basic services ecosystem. The aim of such an analysis was to identify binding constraints on municipal service delivery and distil implications and lessons from an analysis of how and why institutional capacity building efforts to date have had a limited effect.


From these implications and lessons, the report has set out recommendations for systems strengthening interventions and approaches to address the systemic underpinnings of municipal services delivery failures, specifically in the provision of accessible, equitable, affordable and sustainable water and sanitation services. 


There is also an executive summary that can be accessed here


Abstract based on source.


Website References


Environmental management


Human settlements



Service delivery

South Africa


Water and sanitation

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