1999 Winner
Western Cape Province, South Africa
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
South Africa
This is a collaborative effort between the Greater Hermanus Municipality and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry which offers a package of incentives and disincentives aimed at promoting equity, efficiency, and sustainability in the supply and use of water in this coastal town. The Project was developed in response to the rapid increase in the demand for the limited water supplies in the area, and to ensure that the area has a long-term water supply.

The Programme consists of 12 strategies, which aimed to achieve an overall water saving of 30% in every dwelling. The central principle of the programme was "the more you use the more you pay". In addition, all the Programme's activities are guided by the all the important ideals for sustainable development demanded by South Africa's new socio-political reality.

New tariffs were imposed, supplying the first 5000 kilolitres of water is supplied free, and increasing the tariff for increased consumption. Households are provided with an billing system, including with graphs depicting the amount of water used and the effect on their water bills under the new sliding scale. In addition pre-payment meter have been installed in homes, giving residents the opportunity not only to pre-pay but to obtain greater control over water use, and to budget their monthly water usage. Consumers are encouraged to take proactive steps to conserve water, including the installation of water-efficient devices, such as dual flush toilets. A further aspect of the programme addressed water-loss, which targeted faulty equipment and theft of water.

Water wastage is a huge factor in gardening practices, and extensive education and communication has been put into promoting water-wise gardening methods through the use of indigenous vegetation. In addition, the use of grey water (tap-, bath- and shower-water and water from industrial plants) was encouraged in food gardening, and the benefits of food gardening in a water-efficient way were encouraged in poorer parts of the community. The Programme also focused on schools in the area, getting all children in Greater Hermanus to undertake water audits at their schools, and encouraging them to reduce their consumption.

The result has been a 32% reduction in per capita peak-demand for water. Revenue from water sales has increased by 20% despite the decreased demand. Water is now available and affordable to the poor members of the community. The programme has built governance, created jobs and contributed to building a sense of community, while ensuring the provision of water on an affordable basis to the poorer sections of the community.

"This is a role-model for real transformation in access to resources, and the conservation of those resources" Dr Guy Preston, Programme Leader.

Innovation: The 12-point programme is the first of its kind in the country, and provides a good model for a range of innovative strategies to ensure the reduction of water consumption and ensure more controlled, efficient and effective usage. The programme provides access to water for poor communities, while at the same tie preserving water resources. The Programme was the first to introduce a sliding-scale tariff for water.
Poverty impact: The project has ensured access to water resources for poor communities by providing a set minimum amount per month for no charge. The Programme has resulted in some job creation in the areas.
Replication: The project is capable of replication in any municipal area with sufficient commitment from local government.