Rural Communities in the Eastern Cape, still forgotten by the ANC led government

14 May 2008

Wednesday 14 May 2008 by Ahmed

The Coalition Against Water Privatisation was invited by the Masifunde Education Development Project Trust to come to the Eastern Cape to share lessons and experiences in the implementation of campaigns for water.

The Coalition has been organizing in the province since 2006 and has led a number of marches and held workshops to raise awareness in communities of their constitutional right to water and how to challenge and engage the local government to make sure that they fully realize this right.

In a workshop held at Pikoli (Ngqushwa) community hall that started on 13 May 2008, different rural communities and organizations in the Eastern Cape looked at developing a plan of action for access to water and housing which is a serious problem in the province. The CAWP will be giving a presentation on Thursday, 15 May 2008 and will also give a report on the court victory against Johannesburg Water, the City of Johannesburg and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Though they don’t have prepaid meters, rural communities have become interested in the court case and how it may assist their struggle for access to clean and safe water.

According to Statistics South Africa, 64% of households in the Eastern Cape had no running water in their homes in 2005-2006. The majority of these people are in the former homelands areas. It has been estimated that more than 3.7 million people have no access to safe water. The DWAF consolidated Water Services Report of October-December 2007 states that a third of the households in the Eastern Cape are still without basic sanitation services. The extent of the water crisis in the province was made tragically clear with over 80 children dying in Ukhahlamba municipality since October last year as a result of contaminated water.

We cannot afford a situation where infant mortality is the earliest warning signal for contaminated water. It shows up Ukhahlamba, as one of possibly more water service authorities in a province plagued by poor water delivery, to be callous. The CAWP calls on all municipalities in the Eastern Cape to fulfill their statutory obligations to the people who rely on the services they provide.

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