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Orange Farm
Water Crisis

Floods in


Kyoto Gamble

Orange Farm Water Crisis
Prepaid Water Meters

A Video Documentary


Images by Friction Films and Isblack Crew

Leaflet distributed at a public meeting in Orange Farm township, Johannesburg, South Aftica, September 2002: 


We the community Orange Farm reject the installation of prepaid water meters.

These prepaid water meters are not in the interest of the community.

We have 10 reasons why we reject a prepaid water service:

  • A prepaid meter is a municipal solution to reduce arrears.

  • It makes access to water an individual and community responsibility when it is the local authorities who are supposed to be responsible.

  • With a prepaid meter you have to pay upfront for water before you can use it. The one-month's grace period has been removed. Homes with more than one prepaid system will need to pay for all the prepaid services way before they use them.

  • In this way the municipality can both limit how much water you use and have you use only what you pay for.

  • Under a prepaid system money equals access, it is not how much water you need, it is how much you can afford. They have a fancy way of explaining this “budgeting, managing your money better”. No money equals no water. The meter will cut-off your water supply when there are no more units.

  • You cannot go to the council or ask them to reconnect or even negotiate payment in stages. According to the council you are responsible for your own supply. So when you don't have money you cut yourself off. They call this a “self-inflicting” cut-offs.

  • You cannot negotiate with a meter in instances where for some reason your personal circumstances change, you have visitors, or there is a funeral or wedding or you are on short time or retrenched. You cannot negotiate payment or ask for grace like you do with the municipality. It's payment upfront or water cut-offs.

  • The municipality talks about emergency water, emergency water does not mean access to water in emergencies. It means a few litres on credit. Don't be fooled. They will trick you in the beginning by presenting emergency water as water on credit to prevent you from experiencing the harsh reality of self-inflicted cut-offs. Once you accept the meters they can change the terms and by then it will be too late.

  • Under this system the strategy of non-payments or with-holding payments in instances where the community is dissatisfied with the council's service is taken away. If you don't pay you don't have access under a prepaid system and in the case of water, you can't live without it.

  • This also means that the council will be able to increase the tariffs for the service as they please and the communities will have no tool to resist them. You will be forced to use less and less water.

Prepaids are not in the interest of poor communities, it is a municipal solution to a municipal problem. We do not accept a prepaid water service.

We say NO! to prepaid meters! We won't allow the municipality to shrug their responsibilities towards community!

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