State function in infrastructure planning
- Darlington Mushongera
The efficient and sustainable management of water resources is a key priority for the GCR given its location in a water stressed region. However, water services authorities are hard-pressed to strike the appropriate balance between efficiency, equity and sustainability in the overall supply and management of water resources. Understanding the influence of current water pricing and social assistance mechanisms on water consumption patterns is a key step towards the development and implementation of appropriate methods of water management in the future. Using econometric methods and micro-level data, this project was aimed at critically analysing on a comparative basis, different water pricing mechanisms for domestic supply across selected local municipalities in the GCR, and how they impact on water consumption. Such an undertaking requires availability and access to data on water consumption at household level. The focus of the project was on City of Johannesburg with the hope that the required will accessed from Johannesburg Water, the city’s water services utility.
The initial idea of the project suffered a setback following a decision by Johannesburg Water to withhold their data on household water consumption, which was critical for our proposed analysis. Two options were available for moving forward (1) shifting focus from City of Johannesburg to Mogale City where a prepaid water metering system has also been implemented or (2) reformulating the project in a different but related direction. Option 1 above was chosen and meetings were held with officials from Mogale City and interviews conducted with key personnel and project contractors. Although Mogale City, as a municipality, agreed to make available to the GCRO data on domestic water consumption, this did not happen because the data does not sit with the municipality. Rather it sits with several different private companies contracted by the municipality to manage the various pre-paid water metering projects. These companies did not feel obliged to share this data with GCRO because they are private. These developments caused us to rethink this project. Currently the project focuses on difficulties of accessing the state, and on how key decisions about infrastructure are made with municipalities. The former uses the experiences encountered in accessing water consumption data from the two municipalities to give insights into the challenges of accessing the state. The later involves a deep level analysis of state function in planning and budgeting for service-delivery, with a specific focus on water services.
Key interviews have been completed with a number of important roleplayers involved in local and provincial government, academia, and litigation. Secondary data has also been sourced from a number of places.