Monitoring SDG6 on water and sanitation

South Africa

Water and sanitation highlights

South Africa, the largest country in southern Africa with about 56 million inhabitants, is among the driest countries in the world and has an unevenly distributed rainfall. Most of the western regions have a desert climate with as low as 100 mm rainfall per year and severe water scarcity in many cities. The highland plateau Highveld in the mid-east sees some 1000 mm of rainfall every year, which sustains the country’s most populous province as well as a large portion of its commercial farmlands. Consequently, water conservation and water demand management are top priorities to improve water security.

The right of everyone to sufficient water is enshrined in the constitution, and the country has achieved a high level of access to drinking water services. In 2017, the country launched the Blue/Green/No drop initiative, to incentivize municipalities to comply with regulations on drinking water quality, wastewater services and water use efficiency.

Work on SDG 6 and monitoring

South Africa has nationalized SDG 6 by incorporating it into the existing programmes of the Department of Water and Sanitation. The country have 11 different monitoring programmes in place to control and report on the state and use of their water resources. For SDG 6 monitoring, in 2017 they created a task team for each of the global indicators to drive the process, as well as two additional task teams for community involvement and sector-wide communication. One of the challenges experiences related to the many parts of the government involved, which have inter-dependent programmes but not well-integrated monitoring systems. Further, drought, floods and vandalism pose risks to monitoring infrastructures, as dose the lack of operation and maintenance.

Data are used to inform the following:

  • Water restrictions
  • Water allocations and use authorization to different sectors, based on data on water availability
  • Operating rules for water supply systems use data
  • Exploration of boreholes, based on data on waste dumps including toilet proximity
  • Planning for water resource development

Involved institutions

Department of Water and Sanitation; Department of Environmental Affairs; Department of Human Settlements, South African Weather Services, Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Council for Science and Industrial Research; Water Research Commission, Water utilities, Catchment Management Agencies.

While the Department of Water and Sanitation is the leader of water sector, the National Statistics Office is the national custodian of data. Monitoring is done by all water sector partners to inform the various requirements of their operations.

Cape Town. Photo credit: Martina H79, Creative Commons Attribution

Learn more…

…about South Africa’s work on SDGs by listening to the interview below, and by exploring the poster to the right.

Talking to Moloko Matlala from South Africa at the Global workshop for integrated monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation, November 2017 in The Hague