Are Roof Tanks Pro-Poor Service Levels? A Case Study from Ethekwini (Durban), South Africa

N. Brunner, L. Essl (Austria), T. Gounden, S. Mbatha, N. Ngubane (S. Africa), and M. Starkl (Austria)


Affordability, sustainability, tariffs, townships, watersupply


Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind all other regions in the world concerning water supply with only 58 percent of the population having access to improved water sources. Even though there exists a wide range of technical options for water supply and conservation, limitations of know how and skill, management capability, finance and adaptability constrain the implementation of water infrastructure. Municipality of eThekwini (Durban) tried to implement roof-tanks (semi-pressure system) as a pro poor water supply service level. However, there were frequent problems observed with paying and correctly using this service level (illegally this service level was often upgraded to a full pressure system), which showed that people were not satisfied with it. The general perception of roof tanks as inferior, which does not acknowledge the benefits of the roof tanks, have been identified as a main reason for their failure. The lacking enforcement of the tariff-regulations have in addition led to unfairness: Users with full pressure pay less than those with semi-pressure, large household (that may use more water) pay not significantly more, than small ones. In the success case of semi-pressure, user education had a significant impact.

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