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Supporting Improved Water Services Management Efficiency in the Eastern Cape via Municipal Priority Action Plans

South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) facilitates an annual process across all 152 municipal Water Services Authorities (WSAs) of establishing the baseline vulnerabilities affecting water services performance, via a Municipal Strategic Self-Assessment (MuSSA), and supports the resolution thereof via a Municipal Priority Action Plan (MPAP), with the key objective of rectifying weaknesses via a collaborative sector supported process.

Emanti, together with DWS and other partners, are already facilitating completion of MuSSAs/MPAPs by all WSAs in KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng and selected WSAs in North West, Limpopo and Free State. Emanti has now been appointed to do similar in the Eastern Cape, thuis assisting all WSAs in the province with identifying key water services vulnerabilities and developing an MPAP to address these identified challenges. Through the tracking of current and likely future performance, the key areas of vulnerability identified, allow municipalities to effectively plan and direct appropriate resources that will also enable DWS and the sector to provide more effective support. More importantly as the MuSSA is forward-looking, these proactive measures will in turn contribute to the alleviation of the key areas of vulnerability and support achieving effective municipal service delivery beyond 2014.

Critical analysis of the progress made with MuSSA over the last 3 years has shown that whilst nearly all municipal participants and sector support partners (including DWA, National Treasury, Office of the Presidency, etc.) find the outputs of the MuSSA to be accurate and of significant value, many municipal water services entities are often taxed to positively harness the outcomes of the MuSSA, and a risk exists that below par performance will continue despite the exercise. What has become evident is that, in the current South African context, for such performance monitoring to be effective, the extension of the M&E component to include a complimentary “supported planning process” is required in many instances to ensure the desired continual improvement cycle, i.e. the MPAP.

Figure 1: The combined MuSSA / MPAP supported planning approach

In stage 1 the WSA confirms its current situation and key vulnerabilities (via the MuSSA). Thereafter, in stages 2 and 3, via the complimentary MPAP process, a set of strategies and associated actions to mitigate prioritised vulnerabilities are agreed to. Finally, stage 4 monitors and provides feedback to all parties via updated MuSSA. A key benefit arising from the MPAP component of the activity is that the MPAP encourages aligned decision making across appointed and elected municipal officials, the Sector Leader and Regulator (DWA), and other key stakeholders such as South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and National Treasury.

As the MuSSA and MPAP support the Master Planning and WSDP process, WSAs should ensure that both MuSSA and MPAP are completed and supported by Council, and subsequently included within their WSDP. This will ensure that the WSDP (which forms of the IDP) will include an appropriate allocation of resources to systematically address the prioritized vulnerabilities, which will lead to an improvement of the overall water services business health of the WSA.

The Emanti team is currently engaging with WSAs in the Eastern Cape and arranging kick-off meetings to workshop the MuSSA and associated MPAP per WSA.

For more information on MuSSA and/or MPAP, please contact us.

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