Why is service delivery important?

Service delivery is essential to the enjoyment of basic human rights.

The right to access to water, housing, and sanitation are not only rights in and of themselves but feed into other rights such as the right to dignity. Yet almost 20 million people do not have access to safe, sufficient, reliable water and 14 million people to basic sanitation. There is a housing backlog of up to 3.7 million households that is growing at a rate of 178,000 a year. These are the basics that have immeasurable consequences for people’s well-being and quality of life, including that of the youth. We as the youth are demanding #DignityNOW through quality, timely and progressieve service delivery.  

As young people, we place great value on social well-being. We understand the implications insecure access to safe, sufficient, and reliable water, basic sanitation, and adequate housing have on mental health. Communities across the world, including South Africa, have expressed trauma from the lack of access to water and sanitation. Women and girls have also reported emotional distress over when, how and where to practice open defecation and a subsequent fear of rape and/or sexual assault. On the extreme end, poor service delivery has led to loss of life and left families grieving avoidable losses. One study found that the water fetching activities of children constitued child labour in three out of the four communities  in South Africa. In areas with improved access to water, children spent less time fetching water and reported positive changes in their lives and in their outlook towards life.  

Thus, the youth Amnesty International South Africa interacted with called for the need to consistently uphold and safeguard our human rights. We, as the youth of South Africa, believe that through electing officials that are truly in power to serve all members of the public, and through those leaders consistently leading in human-rights centric manners; through genuinely including the youth in all democratic proceedings and through concentrating leadership to immediately prioritise the delivery of these basic we all ought to live a life of dignity, as is our constitutional right.

Thus, as the youth of South Africa, we demand from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, #DignityNOW by calling you to lead, operate in an accountable, transparent and human rights-centric manner. 

We hope that you enjoy the fifth edition of our youth newsletter. If you, or anyone you know, would like to be featured in the newsletter, please send us a one-pager telling us about yourself to, and who knows, you could be featured in the next You(th) for You(th).

We look forward to hearing from you! Phambili Phezulu (Onwards and upwards!)



Youth Activist, Pretoria

“What I have noticed is that resources are there. We witness now with the upcoming LGE [local government elections] that suddenly things are being renovated… street lines being repainted… trees being groomed… It’s not that resources are not there but rather that the will to get services to the people isn’t.”  

Watch what Jaclyn has to say about how service delivery impacts women, young and old, in South Africa.

Alwande Khumalo

Youth Activist, Sandton

“Living in a privileged suburban part of Johannesburg, I thought I was one of the lucky few to not have my quality of life negatively altered due to my access to services. But then I realized that it is our right to consistently have access to our services, it is our right to consistently live a dignified quality life and it is our right to demand dignity right now for those who are ruled by a government that constantly promise services and tends to fall short on delivering them and thus fall short on upholding their governmental responsibilities”


Tara Boulle

Amnesty UCT, Observatory Cape Town

“Every time I walk to the shops, I pass a leaking tap. I am unable to tighten it because it is locked behind a cage to prevent theft. I believe this is indicative of a fundamental failure of those in power. Water is a right for all, not a luxury for some.

“I wish to see an end to the spatial apartheid planning which continues to enlarge racial divides in my city. This starts with a fundamental restructuring of the way in which the system deals with homelessness and with service delivery in low income areas.

“We will never be able to end the gender imbalance in STEM without providing adequate sanitation facilities to schools nationwide.”

Lesego Setou

Youth Activist, Gauteng

“We need to go back to ethical leadership, where people see serving as a privilege and not as an opportunity to steal, where excellence is a value and integrity is a matter of character, not a popularity contest.”

Phumelela Cacela

Youth Activist, Eastern Cape

“When the new dawn of democracy came in 1994 the people of this country were filled with so much hope, a hope of a government that is for the people. A government that is dedicated to improving the lives of ALL South Africans. This is not the democracy the people of this country were promised, this is not the life the people of this country should be subjected to.”



#DignityNOW Activist Training

Youth activists participated in a training session to determine campaign activities for Amnesty International South Africa’s #DignityNOW campaign.

From this training, activists came up with several campaign initiatives that were implemented as part of the campaign, to ensure youth representation on the campaign.

#DignityNOW Youth Debate

Amnesty International South Africa  in collaboration with the South African Schools Debating Board hosted a youth debate on service delivery ahead of the 2021 local government elections. The debate aimed to facilitate dialogue on service delivery among the youth. The debate’s main objective was to find solutions to the lack of service delivery in South Africa. 

Motion: This house would privatize all municipal services (water and sanitation) 

Proposing team:  Amnesty International South Africa activists (Itumeleng Selialia; Lesego Setou and Phumelela Cacela)

Opposing team: South Africa Schools Debating Board debaters (Marcus Cordeiro and Tsheamo Maleaka)

Watch the full debate and share your thoughts in the comments section on YouTube



Pledge to Interrupt gender-based violence with Amnesty International South Africa.

It seems like an impossible task to change systematic realities – where does one start? What does one do? How can you make a difference? Pledge to be an interrupter of gender-based violence by taking the following pledge on Amnesty International South Africa web page


Amnesty International Academy has launched an online course on children’s rights. The course is titled An Introduction to Child Rights.

The course is estimated to take 90 minutes to complete. It is also self-paced and once completed the scholar will receive a Certificate of Participation. 


Human Rights Pulse has invited creatives to possibly showcase their human rights-centric form of art (be it photography, film, poetry, or more about human rights issues).


Amnesty International South Africa’s #DignityNOW campaign calls on the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to ensure that all municipalities fulfil their constitutional mandate to provide basic services to everyone in South Africa by prioritising:

 Accountability: To commitments made at all levels of local government to ensure the equitable delivery of basic services. This includes monitoring the progress of municipalities in reaching service delivery goals by being responsive to the needs of communities, creating opportunities for active community participation and providing services in a timely, progressive and sustainable manner.

Transparency: To ensure there is accountability for the abuse of power and the mismanagement of public funds at all levels of local government during the pandemic and going forward. This includes prioritising reforms that improve financial management systems; hiring skilled personnel; ending impunity for crimes of corruption; promoting good governance and access to information, particularly when it comes to decision making.

Access to information: To ensure that municipalities adhere to the legal requirement to consult with communities and provide information and feedback on budget and plans. This includes running robust awareness campaigns on accessible platforms that promote the active participation of communities.

Take action here and call on the South African government to give people #DignityNOW.


Become a part of the change and support human rights. Amnesty International South Africa invites you to join the movement.

Take Action on any of our campaigns here

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