An environmental justice perspective on the role of local government in realising the right to sanitation
Geduld, Allison Jade Nicole
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The provision of adequate sanitation is an essential service. In terms of schedule 4B of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 108 of 1996 (the Constitution), such provision is a function of local government. It falls within the developmental mandate of local government in that it is a basic service that contributes to the quality of people’s lives. However, the lack of access to adequate sanitation is a problem in South Africa, as roughly 17 million people are still without access to improved sanitation. This lack has a detrimental impact on people’s lives and merits an enquiry into the role of local government in providing such services. In this study, the legal mandate of local government in relation to sanitation is explored from an environmental justice perspective, as access to sanitation is an environmental issue. Although there is no explicit constitutional right to sanitation, it is argued that such a right is implicitly recognised by means of the provision of other rights in the Constitution, legislation and policy documents. The study further unpacks the mechanisms and instruments available to municipalities to enable them to achieve the objectives of environmental justice when providing sanitation services. The urban and rural landscape in South Africa have different features, and the people who live in them have different needs. For this reason the features and challenges of urban and rural municipalities are discussed separately, thus establishing the different approaches that urban and rural municipalities might have to follow in the provision of sanitation services. The study concludes with recommendations and the identification of the various governance tools that municipalities may use in order to realise the right to sanitation whilst achieving the objectives of environmental justice.
- Law