As South Africa grapples with the looming threat of a water crisis, the national government is pushing forward with ambitious plans to broaden water sources. However, amidst these efforts, experts caution that merely expanding supply systems without addressing underlying issues will prove futile in the long run.

The State of Water Provision in South Africa

The Deputy Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), David Mahlobo, recently underscored the urgent need for diversified supply management, including groundwater production, desalination plants, and water reclamation. These interventions are seen as critical given projections indicating a significant water deficit by 2030.

Yet, the current state of water provision in South Africa paints a dire picture. Reports released by the DWS reveal concerning statistics: poor water quality, ineffective wastewater treatment, and significant water losses due to leaks and inefficiencies. The root causes of these challenges are manifold, including inadequate infrastructure investment, mismanagement, corruption, and a surge in demand exacerbated by population growth and economic development.

While supply management interventions are crucial, experts emphasize that addressing these systemic issues is equally vital. Dr. Ferrial Adam of WaterCAN stresses the importance of prioritizing the repair and upgrade of existing infrastructure, enhancing water conservation efforts, and improving municipal water service delivery.

Root Causes of Water Challenge


Local governments, in particular, play a pivotal role in this endeavor. However, many municipalities face financial constraints and operational inefficiencies, leading to poor billing practices, maintenance neglect, and mounting debt to water boards. Professor Adesola Ilemobade from the Wits School of Civil and Environmental Engineering highlights the need for intervention from the DWS to enhance leakage reduction and improve municipal water systems.

Legislative Developments and Future Outlook


Moving forward, a holistic approach that balances supply and demand management is imperative. Ilemobade advocates for an integrated strategy encompassing education, awareness campaigns, technology adoption, and tariff implementation to reduce water consumption. Similarly, initiatives such as water reuse, desalination, and rainwater harvesting must complement efforts to enhance supply capacity.

Moreover, recent legislative developments signal a commitment to addressing water service deficiencies. The establishment of the South African National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency aims to attract private investment, enforce accountability, and provide reliable water supply nationwide.

Considering the state of the water infrastructure in South Africa, we’re seeing an increased number of inquiries regarding water solutions across the value chain, and we, as Decusatio Impact Investment Solutions, look forward to engaging with partners on further projects. For further information please Contact Us or Emma at