The 2008 -2009 cholera outbreak which killed almost 4000 people is a constant reminder of the danger of poor environmental service delivery. Yet local authorities are increasingly becoming unaccountable despite relying on rates paid by residents. Some services are not equitably distributed between high income and low income areas. In many cases, the views of residents in budgeting and planning processes are not taken into account. There is simply limited social accountability in service delivery and unresponsive local governance systems.
The 2008 -2009 cholera outbreak which killed almost 4000 people is a constant reminder of the danger of poor environmental service delivery.
The other challenge is that there is limited knowledge and capacity amongst residents to demand for adequate and equitable provision of services. Sometimes knowledge is resident within the resident associations themselves and not the generality of the people. This challenge is concomitant to limited community awareness of the right to live in a clean and healthy environment, access to information and participation in decision making processes. Therefore, the combined effect of poverty, poor service delivery and lack of knowledge about environmental rights and how to claim them has generated a serious decrease in quality of life for many. While the political and economic meltdown adversely affected service delivery, it also generated fear and lethargy amongst residents to actively identify, monitor and take action on cases of environmental injustice related to service delivery and unaccountable municipalities. Limited inclusive community consultation and dialogue between residents and local authorities also perpetuates injustice.
In the next five years we will use our area of expertise, environmental justice and law, in implementing several social accountability activities aimed at promoting accountable and democratic governance systems at the local level. We will use environmental and social service delivery issues as a window to promote good governance and democracy at the local level. We will do this by partnering residents associations and other groups.