Wednesday, June 25, 2008

S2A2 Week 2

I did some more background research this week about different projects that the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) is involved with, and decided to pursue work with the water management devices. The devices are being installed mainly in homes of people who have arrears, although it's supposed to be on a voluntary basis. The amount of water distributed to homes with the devices is preset and turns on at a specific time each day. It's been really interesting learning about prepaid water metres and their use in various places, including the United States, mainly in migrant communities.

There's a policy in South Africa known as Free Basic Water, whereby every household is supposed to get up to 6 kL of free water, after which they can pay for more. That amount divided into daily portions is distributed by the water devices, which in theory is supposed to be good since people can monitor their water usage with the device and will not go over the free limit if they cannot afford it. Unfortunately, there will always be circumstances when people need more water, especially if there is a sick person or a funeral so an inflexible daily water limit is really problematic. Especially if there is a fire, which happens really frequently in townships. It comes back to a longstanding argument about whether water and water services should be commoditized in such a way. Learning more and more each day, but many questions still remain...