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New SERI publication

On 22 March 2018, the Socio-economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) launched its latest working paper entitled, Turning Off the Tap: Discontinuing Universal Access to Free Basic Water in the City of Johannesburg.

The paper looks at the City of Johannesburg’s March 2017 decision to withdraw the universal provision of free basic water and its implications for the poor and their right of access to sufficient water. Since July 2017, only households registered as indigent can access six kilolitres of free basic water per month, the basic minimum as stipulated in national policy and legislation.

The paper reviews policy and legislation regarding the provision of free basic water services in South Africa and summarises international lessons about narrow versus universal provision of social benefits. The paper concludes that the City should reconsider its decision to withdraw the universal provision of free basic water as it constitutes an unreasonable, regressive step in the realisation of the right to sufficient water.

A copy of the publication can be downloaded below.

For further information on the publication, please contact Edward Molopi, SERI Research and Advocacy Officer, on +27 11 356 5860 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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Sharing the common goal of promoting participatory, effective, accountable and pro-poor local governance, the network strives to provide an interface for civil society organisations to network and share information towards strengthening local democracy in South Africa.