Tokenistic water and neoliberal sanitation in post-apartheid Durban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Within the international water sector, Durban's municipal practitioners have been widely celebrated, for innovations in retail pricing, new product development, creative service delivery and community participation. However, in a society as divided as South Africa, with a high degree of neoliberal public policy influence from international sources, the myriad social, economic and environmental contradictions have reached deep into Durban's water and sanitation politics. Distant parts of the city were neglected when it came to ‘uneconomic' water and sewage pipe extension. Tokenistic supplies of water were given to poor people, but in a manner that left them with one-third lower consumption levels. In surveys, the no-flush toilets were overwhelmingly rejected by hundreds of thousands of recipients. It is in the destruction of older water and sanitation policies, and the creation of new ones for poor and working-class black Durban residents, that adds new meaning to critical analysis of ‘roll back' and ‘roll-in’ neoliberalisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-293
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Contemporary African Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Durban
  • roll-back neoliberalism
  • roll-in neoliberalism
  • sanitation
  • urine diversion
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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