Differences in Water Policy Efficacy across South African Water Management Areas

Thierry Coulibaly, Mihoko Wakamatsu, Moinul Islam, Fukai Hiroki, Shunsuke Managi, Bingqi Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The legacy of the inequitable water policy under apartheid continues to impact water services in economically less developed and rural areas in South Africa. Previous studies typically examine this relationship either by using aggregated data at the national level for large-scale research or by using data collected at the provincial or municipal level only for a specific locality. This study attempts to perform nationwide analysis using fine-scale data to give a spatial representation of the efficacy of water policies in South Africa. We used satellite night-time light data as a proxy of economic development and surface water quality at a quaternary water area level to investigate any income or racial inequality regarding water pollution, controlling for the spatial dependency of the observations. We found a spatial discrepancy in the relationship between water quality and economic development: economic development improves water quality in western provinces and in former white-dominated areas, whereas it generally degrades water quality in other regions of the country. These results suggest the inability of the government to equitably provide the same standards of water policies nationwide and the presence of inequitable policies as legacies of apartheid at the lowest level of water policy implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106707
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


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