Some ten years ago, South Africa's newly elected government inherited huge services backlogs with respect to access to water supply and sanitation. About 15 million people were without safe water supply and over 20 million without adequate sanitation services. Since then, the country has made remarkable progress with regard to accelerating the pace of services provision and restructuring and refocusing the entire water sector. Having ensured access to an additional population of over 10 million people, South Africa is well on track to wipe out the infrastructure backlog for basic water supply by 2008, exceeding the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target. But first, with respect to sanitation for which the national target is universal access to a functioning facility by 2010, the picture is somewhat different. Second, substantial challenges remain in addressing historical inequalities in access to both water supply and sanitation, and in sustaining service provision over the long term.

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