Although many issues affect the water and sanitation sector, this Working Paper focuses on the access to those services. An in-depth assessment of the progress made in providing water and sanitation services can help inform various stakeholders and decision-makers about the need for renewed effort towards universal access. Against this backdrop, the objective is to meaningfully understand the extent of access and the quality of access to water and sanitation services at the household level in South Africa.
To avoid a one step forward, two steps backwards scenario, which would erode gains already made, the situation demands renewed effort, coordination and collaboration by various stakeholders, supported by significant resources targeted towards the unserved as well as paying attention to those already served. It is imperative to focus on both the quantity and quality of access to water and sanitation services, as neglect of one will further reinforce the overall backlog. This is particularly relevant with the increasing need to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases and the spread of new and less known pathogens and diseases such as coronavirus disease (COVID-19). These demand well-functioning water and sanitation systems that allow proper washing of hands as well as cleaning of contaminated items and spaces. In this regard, embracing the systems and multidimensional view on access to water and sanitation will contribute to improved, appropriate, and sustainable access to water and sanitation services for all.