Domestic Water Supply

The choice of technology in the urban areas is embedded in the actor knowledge frameworks of urban living standards. These frameworks imply independence, individuality and symbolise the affluence of the location, which is linked to the willingness and ability to pay for the service and the standard of service expected. However, these symbols are affected by the capacity to operate and maintain the technology whether by the community or a water supplier. The technology installed also impacts the social organisation within a community. It possesses underlying responsibility for the end user as a community or an individual. Thus it supports a particular structure of social organisation within the communities, independence and individuality in urban areas and communal relations in peri-urban and rural areas. The local social organisation allows the modes of resource appropriation to be analysed (Trottier 1999). Each point has regulations for access affected by the theoretical frameworks of the actors installing the technology emphasising the potential benefits of analysing local access modalities and their transfer; Figs. 4 and 5 show some of the technology and infrastructure installed.

The individual taps are mostly found in the high and medium cost urban residential centres connected to the main reticulation system that is managed by the Local Authority or a Commercial Utility. The individual connection usually restricts the

Fig. 4 Communal Tap in a Peri-Urban Area

Fig. 4 Communal Tap in a Peri-Urban Area

use of a particular tap to the household where it is located. The occupant pays the bill and monitors the use of their tap. The supply is usually constant at the individual taps and the quality of water meets the standard set by the responsible institution at national level; it is usually supplied by trained personnel at established institutions. The type of water source is related to the location and the end uses. It is also related to technological suitability; most rural residents prefer boreholes and protected wells as these are easier to maintain and are considered dependable sources of clean water.

The selection of technology in domestic water projects resembles the procedure followed in irrigation projects. The decision is more biased towards technical considerations and long term mechanical durability. The technical considerations sometimes result in the installation of technology that cannot be maintained by the local actors without assistance from external actors such as urban water suppliers. Hence, the selection of technology supports a structure of domination that empowers the urban water supplier with local actors depending on them, effectively making the local actors more vulnerable to decisions made by the water supplier in the operation of the water scheme. The technology installed in water supply includes individual taps, communal taps, boreholes and protected wells.

Communal taps are installed in high density, low cost urban, areas where arguably the individual connections were deemed unfeasible or costly. The criterion for feasibility and affordability is based on the affluence of the residents in these areas. Communal taps are cheaper to install and maintain compared to individual connections. Their use is determined by the residential proximity to the point and payment by each user. Communal taps ideally increase the interaction at community level since the residents negotiate and agree on the tap opening times. The residents also collaborate to prevent vandalism to the infrastructure in their areas. However, the collaboration makes use of already existing neighbourly relations. The boreholes and protected wells are based on the same principles of communal interaction and community cohesion in rural and peri-urban areas.

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