Umgungundlovu District Municipality Water and Sanitation Programme

The uMgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM) is one of the eleven district municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal. It is the water service authority (WSA) and water service provider (WSP) to six of its seven local municipalities, namely Richmond, Impendle, Umngeni, Mkhambathini, Mpofana, and Umshwathi.. uMsunduzi Local Municipality is serviced directly by uMngeni Water.

UMDM is the second largest district in the province, with uMDM’s economy contributing nearly 12% to value of goods and services produced in KwaZulu-Natal. Manufacturing remains the second major economic driver, contributing 22% to total gross value added (GVA) in the province, after community services (including government services). Manufacturing activities are driven by aluminium processing, clothing and textiles, and agro-processing (sugar milling, animal feed and leather and footwear production). In recent years, the construction and finance, insurance, real-estate and business services and transport sectors have shown an increasing growth although these sectors are still small.

The unemployment rate within UMgungundlovu district is estimated at 26%, compared to 22% in the province and 25% country-wide. It has consistently declined from the level of 44.2% as per 2002 estimates. The Human Development Index (HDI) is currently estimated at 0.602, which has shown a continual improvement from the level 0.549 in 2003.

Data published by Stats SA in its 2011 census indicates that the UMDM is still faced with some water and sanitation backlogs as follows:

  • 9% of the population has no access to potable water although this was an improvement from the 16% backlog as at 2001
  • 3% of the population has no form of toilet facilities whatsoever, a substantial improvement from the 6% backlog as at 2001.

Although significant progress had been made between 2001 and 2011 in the reduction of the water and sanitation backlogs, the UMDM had been experiencing a population growth rate of about 1% between 2001 and 2011. The demand for services in the UMDM remained high due to inward migration. In 2012, the UMDM estimated that the water and sanitation backlogs will require about R3.3 billion to eradicate, whereas the annual MIG allocations over the MTEF were about R300 million.

It is in the above context that the UMDM formulated a district-wide water and sanitation infrastructure development programme backed by a council decision to raise external loan funding (with the pledging of its MIG allocations) in order to expedite the eradication of the water and sanitation backlogs. 

Following approvals received from National Treasury, the UMDM eventually entered into a loan agreement with the DBSA for R200 million. The DBSA supported the UMDM with project implementation support through the Project Implementation Support Unit (PISU).

Programme description

The objectives of the UMDM Water and Sanitation Programme are to:

  • Accelerate the reduction of the water and sanitation backlogs
  • Improve the healthiness of community members by increasing household accessibility to basic water and sanitation services 
  • Create employment opportunities through the projects implementation
  • Alleviate poverty in the local communities

The scope of the programme comprised the identification, prioritisation, planning, design and implementation of the 24 water and sanitation projects in the six local municipalities within the UMDM area. 

The initial project list comprised of 39 projects, however this was reduced to 24, based on the implementation readiness, availability of the budget and construction period (to be within the loan availability period).

In general, the bulk water infrastructure projects comprised the construction of abstraction points, upgrades to water treatment plants, reservoirs, bulk water pipelines and associated reticulations. The projects were implemented in various areas of the district municipality. The main phases in these projects are project initiation, planning, design and implementation.

Development impact

As a result of the implementation of the 24 projects funded by the DBSA on the MIG front-loading, the following development impact has been achieved to date:

  • A total of 13 133 households have benefitted from new or improved access to water and sanitation services comprising:

- 4 259 households that benefitted from new or improved access to water supply services 
- 8 874 households that benefitted from improved access to sanitation services – mainly through the implementation of VIP toilets.

  • 989 temporary job opportunities were created as a result of the implementation of the MIG front-loaded projects

It is anticipated that significantly more temporary job opportunities will be created and more households will benefit from new or improved access to water and sanitation services upon the completion of the implementation of the full programme portfolio of projects.

The business case for the UMDM MIG front-loading was based on the following anticipated benefits:

  • Faster completion of projects than would occur if the projects were implemented through the normal (business and usual) fiscus funding cycle
  • Delivery of services (e.g. water connections) to communities ahead of time
  • Reduced cost of projects executed.

Despite unforeseen delays and challenges encountered during the implementation of the programme, the UMDM was able to use the available portion of the MIG front-loaded funds (R200 million) to complete eleven projects, undertake detail design of seven projects, with five projects undertaken from planning to construction stage and one project under commission stage.

Lessons learned

The following lessons were learned during the implementation of the UMDM Water and Sanitation Programme:

  • It is important to engage with, involve and obtain the commitment of key stakeholders such as DWA, CoGTA, KZN DEAT, and National Treasury (NT) up-front and prior to the implementation of the MIG front-loaded projects. The involvement, commitment and alignment of the key stakeholders around the programme were critical for the successful implementation of the programme and for the resolution of the challenges encountered
  • Bulk infrastructure needs to be in place in order for successful water and sanitation reticulation to be achieved. The UMDM correctly prioritised the development of bulk infrastructure as well as the bulk water resources and gave the due priority and attention to these elements in order to lay a good foundation for successful service delivery in the municipality
  • A challenge encountered during implementation of the projects was insufficient detailed project planning, which resulted in some projects not being implementation ready at the time of the approval of the MIG front-loading. This meant that the detailed planning had to be done first, thereby detracting somewhat from the acceleration of the delivery of the projects as contemplated under the MIG front-loading arrangement
  • As the implementation of some projects were delayed due to prolonged procurement processes, it is important to improve the efficiency, timeliness, effectiveness and completeness of all procurement, administrative and project-related processes by the relevant municipal structures so as to avoid delays caused by prolonged procurement and contracting processes
  • The UMDM initially identified too many projects for implementation (39 projects) with limited funds (R200 million). This was reduced to 24 projects, which was still too many. This had an impact on the completion rate as resources were spread out too thin. Project prioritisation is important where funds are limited. It is considered preferable to prioritise a few projects for implementation and completion rather than spreading the limited funds thin over many projects and not completing them 
  • Project implementation support by the DBSA to UMDM was useful in enhancing the capacity of the UMDM to resolve the challenges encountered during projects implementation
  • The DBSA’s continuous engagement with UMDM’s technical team on the programme led to the awareness that the water losses in the UMDM are relatively too high (in excess of 40%). The management of non-revenue water losses remains a serious challenge in UMDM.