“The water that kills our babies”: A Case of Water Services Crisis in The Ukhahlamba District Municipality

Year Published 2009
Business unit: Institutional Development Support (IDS)
Resource type: Case study
Province: Eastern Cape, Eastern Cape
File type: PDF
Theme(s): Public Service & Administration, Public Works, Water & Environmental Affairs


“These babies are dying because of the dirty water they drink.” That’s how Siyanda Manana, director of communications at the Eastern Cape health department in Bhisho described the deaths of 140 children in the Ukhahlamba District Municipality (UkDM). The purpose of this case study is to document the multi-sphere institutional system for water services and how the district municipality (UkDM) responded to the situation of the baby deaths. In addition, the case tracks the status of water service management in the district nine months after the crisis. Key lessons are drawn from the crisis focusing mainly on water services and partially on health services at local government, raising issues of accountability of waters services authority and providers, communications with communities, strengthening co-operative governance, coherent health care services, among others.

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