South Africa – Half a million have no loos
More than 100 000 households, or half a million people, in Cape Town do not have access to basic sanitation. According to a research report by international initiative Water Dialogues South Africa, about 37 percent of the 128 000 city households living in informal settlements have no access to any sanitation system.
While more than two thirds of these residents have been supplied with bucket sanitation options, including the black bucket and Porta-Pottis toilets, the report notes that the servicing of these toilets falls “far short” of required standards. Karen Goldberg, who prepared the report, said the figure of 100 000 households with no sanitation at all was not reported in any of the city’s official reports.
The city’s reported sanitation backlog of 47 650 households only refers to households without any form of sanitation. The 80 500 that reportedly have some form of sanitation have to rely on the bucket system, which is not considered a basic form of sanitation. “It is clear from the research that the data available is not being properly interrogated. This is leading to misreporting which has significant implications for planning.” The city has about 3,3 million people or 884 000 households and population growth is estimated to be 1,65 percent annually.
This includes an influx of about 48 000 people each year to the province. The city has been under fire recently for its provision of basic services. A furore erupted when the ANC Youth League complained about open toilets in Khayelitsha. The city said there was an agreement with residents that they would build the enclosures if the council provided the toilets.
The report criticised the city for “falling short” of its monitoring and regulation responsibilities. Goldberg said the officials in charge of the contracts did not make sure that the service providers adhered to their contracts. “The only regulation that currently appears to be occurring is through reporting mechanisms which is grossly insufficient and open to abuse.” Goldberg said the city had an “ad hoc” approach to sanitation service provision and that planning for informal settlements was “haphazard”.
She said this was partly because of the city’s perception that informal settlements were temporary and not worthy of long-term investment or planning. She said the city’s strategy was to provide emergency levels of service to all informal settlements, and to improve these services over time. Goldberg’s report noted that only 2,6 percent or 64 staff of the city’s water and sanitation department worked in informal settlements.