Implementing sanitation for informal settlements: conflicting rationalities in South Africa

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

From 1994 to 2008, South Africa's national government disseminated numerous policies, laws, regulations and strategies to support its objective of providing basic sanitation access to the urban poor by 2014. The state has yet to attain this objective - ostensibly due to poor municipal execution of national policy. This thesis challenges this assessment, as it overlooks how non-municipal actors have shaped implementation and ignores possible weaknesses in policy. After assessing the delivery of sanitation services in Cape Town informal settlements, I found that disputes among municipal implementers, policy beneficiaries and social advocates about broadly framed policy, as well as policy gaps in servicing informal settlements, contributed to the City's failure to achieve national objectives. The local actors'differences and policy gaps necessitated the re-formulation of sanitation policy and programmes in Cape Town according to conflicting rationalities that accommodated the'lived' and 'practical' realities of servicing informal settlements. In light of these circumstances, this thesis argues that there is a disproportionate focus on turning national policy into practise - for this viewpoint misses how policy oftentimes is re-formulated according to local actors' perspectives and experiences. Understanding the complex interplay between policy rationales and implementation realities can contribute to more constructive means of effectively providing sanitation services for South African informal settlements.

Includes bibliographical references