The aims of the new water policies and laws of post-apartheid South Africa are to contribute to the eradication of the country's widespread poverty and to redress historical race and gender discrimination with regard to water. After placing these policy and legal changes in a historical context, the paper discusses their operationalization and impact during the first years of implementation. Three key aspects are highlighted. The first aspect concerns internal changes within the implementing government department, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). The second aspect regards water services and sanitation directly targeted at poor women and men. Lastly, the paper discusses the emerging equity issues in public participation processes, as an illustration of the new approach to integrated water resources management.

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