Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Law
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Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Law

Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Miriam Alfie Cohen, Jose Juan Gonzalez Marquez, Albert Mumma and Susan Smith

This timely book explores the complex relationship between the alleviation of poverty and the protection of the environment. There is every reason to believe that these issues are in many ways interdependent. However this book demonstrates that there are situations where alleviation of poverty and the protection of the environment appear to be in a fraught relationship. The contributing authors illustrate that the role played by law in this relationship, whether at the international or national level, will vary depending on the situation and will be more successful at pursuing environmental justice in some cases than in others.
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Chapter 3: The Right of Access to Water in South Africa

Michael Kidd


Michael Kidd We live in a society in which there are great disparities in wealth. Millions of people are living in deplorable conditions and in great poverty. There is a high level of unemployment, inadequate social security, and many do not have access to clean water or to adequate health services. These conditions already existed when the Constitution was adopted and a commitment to address them, and to transform our society into one in which there will be human dignity, freedom and equality, lies at the heart of our new constitutional order. For as long as these conditions continue to exist that aspiration will have a hollow ring.1 3.1 INTRODUCTION In 2008, only 70.9 per cent of South African households had access to water on site, and 7.7 per cent had no toilet facilities (Statistics South Africa, 2008). Most households lacking water and sanitation are black, mainly living in periurban and rural areas. Women and children, who spend time and effort in fetching water, are vulnerable to avoidable diseases resulting from inadequate sanitation and lack of clean water (DWAF, 1997). Clearly, one of the manifestations of poverty is inadequate access to water and the resolution of this problem is one step towards alleviation of poverty. Not only is inadequate access a symptom of poverty, but it also further entrenches existing poverty and disempowerment (Barrett and Jaichand, 2007, p. 544). The right to water is acknowledged in some international instruments and is recognized in the South African Bill of Rights (s....

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