Prior research on South African municipalities reveals that there is a continuing decline in public participation at the local level often resulting in poor service delivery, tension between decision-makers and communities as well as a rise in violent service delivery protests. The purpose of this research was to explore innovative ways of improving water and electricity service delivery. The study was conducted in Nyanga, a township in Cape Town. The study employed a qualitative research methodology that consisted of 12 focus groups with community leaders and municipal service officials in the water and related departments. In addition, an in-depth review of relevant literature was conducted. The participants for the focus groups were selected to comprehend the potential contribution of increased public participation towards promoting joint decision-making to improve service delivery. An extensive literature review complemented the findings from the focus group discussions. This article concludes that citizen-focused service delivery can be enhanced by promoting citizen public participation which focuses on increasing collaboration between communities and municipal officials at the policy implementation stage. However, this should be done without neglecting participation in other phases of the policy cycle. The findings from this article make a valuable contribution towards understanding public participation strategies at the municipal level which can promote joint decision-making to provide effective and efficient service delivery. Consequently, recommendations are proposed to enhance access to water through effective community and city official engagement.