Paying for Clean Water in South Africa
Along the Dolphin Coast a private company, Saur International has been granted a 30 year concession to run the water services. Earth Report finds the poorest of the poor returning to the polluted streams for water.
Paying for Clean Water in South Africa
Narrator: Further north of Durban along the Dolphin Coast, thousands of
people in the poorest townships now have their water supply by a
private multinational. A French company, SAUR International has
been granted a 30 year concession to run the water services.
But here, the poor are cutoff from the start. These standpipes
prevent people from accessing water until they pay 60 rand for a
card. They then pay extra for water on top of that. Just like
promises of free water, many people simply can't afford the cards.
Norah Nzuza: The card is a problem because now, their subsidy is over. So, they
need now to go and buy a card for 60 rand without water. That
causes a lot of problem. They are complaining everyday. Some
people really do not have this money. Now, they fetch water from
the river you see.
Narrator: With recent increases in the price of water, people are forced to
risk using water from a nearby stream.
Dr. David Hemson: Now, there is a situation where people actually are very
dissatisfied because the tariffs have risen really quite appreciably
in the past process. There are 101 reasons why this should happen
but critics of privatization said, “There we are, that’s exactly what
has happened.” And well I happened and it has happened. The six
kiloliter free water to the urban communities has not taken place.
So, people have to pay for every liter of water that they get and
when I made a study of the community recently, I found that the
poorest of the poor were going back to the polluted streams to be
able to get water not only for washing but also for drinking. So, it
is hardly an ideal situation.
Female: The honeymoon now is over. We are starting to feel the pain. Now,
the company is starting to charge us increment and there’s a lot of
Narrator: The Company running the Dolphin Coast water SAUR
international is based here in Paris, France, home to three of the
worlds largest water mountain nationals. But SAUR argues that it’s
not responsible for the increase tariffs.
Male: We are not making more profits after this increase in prices. We
had to face over costs. Over costs coming from reasons out of our
reach, such as inflation, such as the bulk water price that we buy
and such as a decrease in urban development. So, you have reasons
which are links to really the local life. The second point is how you
reflect these increasing costs into the tariffs and this is a political
decision. I mean that the sharing of these efforts between the
poorest of the poor and the medium class has to be decided by the
Narrator: The entry of the private sector into water management in the
developing world is proving to be highly controversial but is being
embraced by many governments as a way of mobilizing finance.
Ronnie Kasrils: I want to make it clear right from the start and I say so with my
socialist background and my involvement in the National
Liberation revolutionary struggle that the private sector must come
to the party and our position in South Africa is to create an
environment and enabling the environment for the private sector to
participate, yes in water, as well as in other areas of our economy
and our needs because they help us to mobilize the investments for
client massive investments if we are to deal with the water and
Female: It is ridiculous to privatize water especially when it comes to poor
people. Privatization is a profit making system. So, how can you
make profit out of poor people? People can't afford to pay for
water services and now, if you privatize it, the prices are definitely
going to increase. People are going to starve and die. They aren’t
going to die of thirst. As it is, people can't pay for water and yet the
price is low but they can’t afford. Unemployment rate is high and
people don’t have money to pay. If we privatize then people are
definitely going to die.
Narrator: There’s been a lot of dramatic talk about water wars between
nations, but the real conflict is an internal one that repeats itself a
million times a day and these cases represent just the tip of the
iceberg. World leaders meeting at the 3rd World Water Forum in
Japan will again be pressed to endorse the right of every human
being to an adequate supply of water. But it won’t mean much
unless the wherewithal is found to make that right a meaningful
one. Otherwise, people will still be forced to steal to survive.
Christina Manqele: I have decided not to go back there again to open the water. I go
myself again and open the water because I’m telling now, if I open
the water now, I’ll open; I need the water because God will give us
water. If we pray, He gives water. What must I give? It’s bad
enough for the light. I'll take a stick. I can burn a fire there but for
the water, where do you get water now? If they close the water,
they never give even a drop of water. I said “Okay, never mind.” If
you want to close the water, give me a drop. A little bit left so I can
drink a cup if I’m feeling thirsty. To drip cup, it’s okay, she don’t
want and then me I’m open again there.
Paying for Clean Water in South Africa
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