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Citation Information

Type Conference Paper - he 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, 19 – 23 July 2015, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Title Modes of Failure of South African Local Government in the Water Services Sector
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
URL http://www.systemdynamics.org/conferences/2015/proceed/papers/P1115.pdf
Water service delivery crises are increasingly prevalent in post-apartheid South Africa.
This paper builds on earlier research into the challenges faced by local (municipal)
government in the provision of water services, as demand grows and as infrastructure
ages. The system dynamics modelling endeavour reported here was undertaken to clarify
and explain the on-going socio-technical problems. Six interlinked ‘modes of failure’
were identified. These include the underinvestment in, and over-extension of, water
supply infrastructure; the lack of pro-active infrastructure planning combined with the
lack of systematic maintenance; the enforced ‘fire-fighting’ reaction of municipal staff
to service delivery crises; and inadequate financial means, infrastructure capacity, and
technical staffing capacity. These modes of failure resonated with the experiences of
technical officials from the Sundays River Valley Municipality who had participated in
the case study between 2011 and 2015. In addition, the model proved to be an effective
tool in communicating the causes of local water services systems failure at national
policy level.

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