|dc.description.abstract||The South African government is engaged in providing 'water for all' especially to rural areas.
This is done by developing accessible, potable, safe drinking water systems. Safe drinking
water is classified according to its quality and quantity factors. These factors are an
important aspect in the consumers' perception of a rural water service. It is the intention of
the Free Basic Water Policy (FBWP) to provide a service that addresses these factors by
issuing a water service that is affordable.
Little is known about the way in which these services are experienced, received and
perceived by the beneficiaries in the rural communities. It is also not clear whether the FBWP
has had the intended effect on its recipients. Therefore the main aim of this study was to
determine the consumers' perceptions and household utilization of a rural water service
through an exploration of consumers' perceptions of the water quality, water quantity, FBWP
and household water utilization.
This study was done by employing a qualitative strategy, making use of focus groups and
semi-structured interviews. Data collected with these methods, revealed that consumers rely
on physical qualities and performance of water when evaluating a water service. Water
quantity was defined through availability and accessibility of which distance has direct
economic implications. The FBWP was perceived to be non-beneficial; however its intended
purpose is to improve the quality of life of its beneficiaries.
It is suggested that the water service stakeholders be informed about the consumers'
understanding and daily experience of these water aspects. It is proposed that this
understanding can be achieved through the use of a systems perspective, as it illustrates the
interaction and interdependence that exists among the consumers, consumer behavioural
processes and service providers. This interaction is considered as an important improvement
of quality of life.||