Making friends with local government

Five years after the start of democratic government in South Africa, local government structures in the Eastern Cape are beginning to take over responsibility for the delivery of basic water services from central government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and village water committees (VWCs). This shift in responsibility has forced NGOs, like the Mvula Trust, to examine their modus operandi and the appropriateness of their existing partnerships with community structures. This paper documents the experience of the Mvula Trust in the Eastern Cape on several programs in which partnerships with new local government bodies are developing. Particular reference is made to the Eastern Cape Premier’s Office programme, the Irish Aid Model Project programme and the DANIDA Contract facilitation programme. The challenges, benefits and problems of working with local government are assessed, and recommendations made as to how more effective partnerships can be developed in the future.