The burden of water-related disease is closely related to both the socio-economic situation and public health issues like access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services. Poverty eradication, through improved access to water and sanitation, is the South African government's major priority. This is partly achieved through subsidising the cost of water and sanitation provision to the poor in rural areas. Whilst the new policies have made a remarkable impact on improved access to water and sanitation services, a general problem since the new approach in 1994 has been the lack of integration of policies for water and sanitation and health. This paper analyses the policies concerning rural water supply and sanitation in South Africa. It considers the structure of institutions, the division of responsibilities and legislated and financial capacity of the South Africa's water sector. A more integrated approach for the policies aiming at water access, sanitation and health is needed. In addition, as the local government's capacity to implement different programmes is limited, a review of the financing system is necessary.

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