Original Research

Water service provision and social equity in a South African rural district municipality

Clarity Hutete, Modeni M. Sibanda
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 10, No 1 | a641 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v10i1.641 | © 2022 Clarity Hutete, Modeni M. Sibanda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 March 2022 | Published: 19 December 2022

About the author(s)

Clarity Hutete, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, Bisho, South Africa
Modeni M. Sibanda, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, Bisho, South Africa


Background: Equitable water governance is at the centre of sustainable development. Nevertheless, achieving this goal requires the application of social equity lenses with a focus directed to all dimensions of social equity. Social equity often places more focus on distributive equity, than other equity dimensions, which equally have a profound impact on ensuring universal water access (sustainable development goal 6).

Aim: This study aimed to explore social equity dimensions in water service provision and how they affect water provision in rural municipalities.

Setting: A rural district municipality in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa.

Methods: A constructivist exploratory qualitative case study research redesign was used. Data were obtained through in-depth interviews, participant observation and focus group discussions from a purposefully sampled participant (n = 34) and data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Findings suggested that less attention was given to other dimensions of equity than distributive equity in the area under study, which undermines the district municipality’s efforts to eradicate disparities in water governance.

Conclusion: The study concluded that achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda of 2030 in water service provision demands full attention to the procedures, quality and outcomes as they are intertwined and significantly impact overall societal goals in public service provision.

Contribution: There is still a need to address disparities in water governance and ensure social equity in rural municipal water service provision. However, to achieve this, equal attention must be paid to all dimensions of social equity, which necessitates collaboration and participation from all stakeholders.


social equity; procedural fairness; distributive equity; district municipality; water governance


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