Original Research

COVID-19 and the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation) in South Africa

Beauty Zindi, Elvin Shava
Journal of Local Government Research and Innovation | Vol 3 | a58 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jolgri.v3i0.58 | © 2022 Beauty Zindi, Elvin Shava | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 January 2022 | Published: 10 June 2022

About the author(s)

Beauty Zindi, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, Bisho, South Africa
Elvin Shava, School of Public Management, Governance and Public Policy, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 demands that countries globally provide clean water and sanitation to their citizens. The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic triggered various obstacles to the attainment of this goal, especially in developing states that struggle to render clean water and sanitation to their ever-growing populations.

Aim: The aim of the study is to analyse the effects of COVID-19 on the attainment of SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) in South African municipalities.

Setting: Several South African municipalities.

Methods: The article utilised expansive documentary sources on the SDGs, United Nations and World Health documents, journal articles and textbooks on water service provision in South African municipalities for analysis. Qualitative thematic analysis based on documents was employed to examine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the attainment of SDG 6 in South African municipalities.

Results: The study indicates that local municipalities struggled to provide clean water to informal settlements where water supply infrastructure is not even available. Results also revealed that some urban municipalities in Gauteng Province are grappling with the provision of clean water supply to their informal settlements, which poses a risk of an outbreak of COVID-19 and a delay in the attainment of SDG 6 in general.

Conclusion: The study concludes that the South African government needs to embrace a truly bottom-up approach as opposed to a trickle-down approach to water service provision. This is because local authorities have greater proximity and thus a better understanding of the social and economic challenges within their communities and can effectively implement strategies towards addressing these challenges of providing clean water to communities.


Sustainable Development Goal 6; COVID-19 pandemic; local municipalities; African resilience; water; sanitation


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Crossref Citations

1. Pragmatic implementation and promotion of good governance principles in realizing Sustainable Development Goal Six (6) in South Africa
John Mamokhere
International Journal of Research in Business and Social Science (2147- 4478)  vol: 11  issue: 6  first page: 20  year: 2022  
doi: 10.20525/ijrbs.v11i6.1921