Poor service delivery contributing to gender inequality

Poor service delivery contributing to gender inequality

In her most recent report[1] the Auditor-General confirmed that the Free State is in dire straits. The continued state of poor financial management and project planning has severely impacted the consistent process of providing quality basic water and sanitation services throughout the Province.

The Constitution enshrines the right to water in section 27(1)(b), which states that “Everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water” and section 27(2) confirms that “The State must take reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights”. In an effort to give effect to this right, the State enacted the Water Services Act, 108 of 1997. In section 3(1) of the Act it states that “Everyone has the right to access to basic water supply and basic sanitation”.

Amnesty International South Africa aptly stated in a press release on Women’s Day in 2021, that women and girls are most severely affected by service delivery failures especially when it concerns issues of water and sanitation. When communities do not have access to a safe water supply inside the home, women are often burdened with the task of collecting water for the household. Women also experience the real fear of assault and harassment when then they do not have access to toilets inside their homes, as they are required to leave their homes to relieve themselves at night.

Various research has been conducted on factors that contribute to the escalation of GBVF. However, there is very little data available on how poor municipal service delivery can be a catalyst which fuels GBVF and more so how victims of GBVF who need to access GBVF response services may be hindered from accessing such services due to the impact of poor or lack of service delivery. For example, if a municipal road is not maintained properly, emergency services may find it difficult to reach victims timeously or if there are continued interruptions to water supply, services by healthcare facilities can be affected.

During the CGE “Back to School” Campaign during the 2022/2023 financial the Free State Provincial office visited four schools in three districts. These visits unearthed the effects of poor to limited water supply to these schools. Poor toilet facilities, water buckets to wash hands and temporary water tanks to combat the consistent interruption of water supply, were some of the observations made.

The Constitutional Court said that ‘no one should be condemned to a life below the basic level of dignified human existence.’[2] When service delivery at local government level fails, South Africans are bound to suffer. Mainstreaming of vulnerable groups, constant monitoring and the implementation of consequence management at local government level is imperative to combat the unswerving failure to provide quality basic services.

Leandi Esterhuizen is a Legal Officer at the CGE