For municipalities to thrive in serving their communities, stakeholder involvement is required. Stakeholders have diverse interests in the provision of public services; hence, they support municipalities in responding to communities’ basic needs by engaging them in decision-making and in offering development support. This article will highlight the support required from public and private sectors.
Understanding Municipal Services
The South African Constitution states that municipalities have the responsibility to make sure that all citizens are provided with services to satisfy their basic needs. Organisations can participate in many consultations and decision-making processes at local level – for example, development finance institutions, ward committees, budget consultations, ward meetings, Integrated Development Planning Forums, and so on. If you want to represent people and fight for their interests, it is very important to understand the level of services that are available, the ways services can be delivered, and the choices for how to deliver services that your municipality faces. Many municipalities, however, are unable to deliver services to residents. This might be because of a lack of finances or a lack of capacity to provide a good service at an affordable price. Such municipalities should find other ways to ensure that the services are improved and reach the people most in need of them. Let’s take a look at some achievable services and at which levels the municipality and stakeholders will need to upgrade them:
- Water: Basic water access can be achieved with communal sandpipes, which will allow residents to access water from one place. A step up would be introducing yard taps and tanks, and an even better measure is installing taps in homes
- Sanitation: Just like water, it can start from a sewage collection and disposal and upgrade to fully functioning water and sanitation services in all homes
- Roads: From gravel to paved, roadworks will better any and every municipality
While there are many problems, the involvement of stakeholders will help curb these challenges by providing the following:
- Free basic services: Municipalities need to introduce free services such as water, sanitation and refuse services for disadvantaged municipalities.
- Accountability: Whoever is being handed the tenders to upgrade municipalities should be placed on watch in order to ensure that all funds are managed well and distributed accordingly
- Job creation: By virtue of them happening, upgrades will also solve unemployment problems that municipalities have and offer the members of those municipalities to work towards making their economy better.
There also needs to be committees formed in municipalities that are made up of government officials, stakeholders, as well as some community members. This way, stakeholders and government will get a sense of the hindrances and needs of the communities and municipalities they serve.
As the Development Bank of South Africa, we are committed to addressing and developing under-resourced municipalities in South Africa and the neighbouring countries. We are driven by our goal to build thriving, integrated and resource-efficient African communities. We understand that we serve a crucial role in supporting the government by leveraging skills and capabilities. We also aim to increase the implementation of infrastructure programmes in the key priority sectors: education, health, housing, as well as various municipal infrastructure programmes.
Public-private partnerships in municipalities help better the communities and drive actual change as more businesses will bring resources to the table. It is important as organisations to stay in the know regarding the communities we are serving in order to know how to help. Together we all can.