Black Sash Media Statements

Black Sash launches 'Right to Water' campaign as part of World Water Week - Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Black Sash has begun collecting ‘water testimonies’ from all over South Africa as part of its ‘Right to Water’ campaign. The drive aims to raise awareness, especially amongst poor and vulnerable communities, of our Constitutional right to access sufficient water and of the obligation for water authorities (including municipalities) to deliver effectively. The campaign has been launched to coincide with World Water Week 2011 which was officially celebrated in Cape Town this week. 

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager Elroy Paulus says the human rights organisation will use the testimonies to engage community leaders, municipalities, Parliament, the private sector as well as the South African Human Rights Commission, to push for a more rapid realisation of the fundamental right to water. “We aim to clarify who is responsible for the delivery of water in different communities and to work with these communities to monitor factors influencing access and the quality of water. The Black Sash advocates for the sustainable and equitable provision of safe drinking water to everyone who lives in South Africa,” says Paulus.    

On Human Rights  Day earlier this week, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) released a rapid assessment report focussing on the grave impact of urbanisation on the capacity of African cities to provide water services. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) warns that approximately 98% of water in South Africa has already been allocated and that our supply of water will become even further stretched in coming years, going from a situation of water stress to water scarcity.  

Paulus insists that as a ‘water scarce’ nation, much more needs to be done, and with greater urgency, to secure and manage our water resources with a particular focus on the needs of the poor. The Black Sash is concerned that inappropriate restrictions are being placed on poor households  because of their inability to pay for water despite the fact that these households only utilise just over one percent of our water. "Water cut-offs and drip systems have dire consequences for the health and quality of life of our people, leaving poor communities very vulnerable and undermining the fundamental concept of water as a human right,” insists Paulus. 

The Black Sash says those who wish to take or give ‘water testimonies’ (or report a failure by a municipality to provide clean water to a community) can visit the Black Sash website or call the Black Sash Helpline on 072 66 33 739 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Black Sash also provides FREE paralegal support and advice to those struggling with their municipal water accounts.

Find out more about our ‘Right to Water’ testimonies campaign 

Read our Information Sheet about Water Rights

Download and distribute our ‘You and Your Rights: Water’ flyer


For interview requests, please call:

Elroy Paulus
Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

Cell: 072-382 8175

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Nkosikhulule Nyembezi

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

Cell: 082-429 4719

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.