South Africa has among the most progressive legal and policy frameworks for sanitation services in the world, including a legally entrenched basic minimum standard for sanitation services and a free basic sanitation policy. Yet, on the ground there are numerous problems. In recent years, some of these problems have given rise to protest action and litigation. This chapter provides an overview of the frameworks, realities, and contestation related to sanitation provision (or under- or non-provision) in South Africa. It first outlines the relevant legal and policy frameworks for sanitation services; then analyses the systemic problems of practice and implementation from a human rights-related perspective; and finally examines the emergence of litigation and protest action in response to the ongoing problems related to sanitation services, highlighting how the content, as well as the realization of the right to sanitation is increasingly being advanced through battles on the streets and the courts.

Jackie Dugard

Associated Senior Researcher

Recent CMI publications: