The importance of measuring inequalities in sustainable development is reflected in the requirement to disaggregate national data for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this paper, piped water access, water use and water stress are mapped and reported at national, provincial, district, municipal, town and ward levels, and urban and rural areas. The results show that although 45% of the population has water access in their dwelling this ranges from 0.07% to 100% at ward level, with a high level of inequality (Gini index of 0.36). National per capita water use is 208 litres per person per day (l/c/d) but ranges from 8 l/c/d to 2,414 l/c/d at town level, with a Gini index of 0.27. The analysis shows that social factors, such as water access and income, and not natural factors, such as rainfall or runoff, have the greatest influence on per capita water use. The paper provides the first in-depth analysis of per capita water use at the local level across South Africa and suggests new water indicators that could support equitable allocation of water resources and SDG reporting.

Supplementary data

You do not currently have access to this content.