Improving sanitation provision: Department of Human Settlements progress report

NCOP Public Services

03 September 2012
Chairperson: Mr M Sibande (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Human Settlements presented its sanitation report with an update on the achievements and challenges of the past year and an action plan for next year. The presentation given by Human Settlement’s Chief Director of Monitoring and Evaluation outlined progress in building sanitation facilities in the rural areas, the budget, implementing procedures and its management structures and how these had been affected by the move from Department of Water Affairs to the Department of Human Settlements.

The report offered a detailed analysis of 2011/12 expenditure and the progress in services provided. Challenges included difficult ground, excessive rainfall, a lack of building materials and the difficulties in maintaining the latrines. The main concern was decreasing the backlog as sanitation structures become non-functioning and fall into disrepair. An explanation was provided on how these challenges were being overcome. The briefing showed that much progress had been made, that the department was on its way to meeting its Millennium Development Goals; the number of municipalities it assisted had increased from 26 to 56; and the number of VIP toilets built had increased from just over 11,000 in 2010 to a target of 53,000 in this coming year.

Plans for the programme in 2012/13 included service provider expansion with the decision to bring in more contractors for the tenders. Finally discussed was the number of people who had obtained direct jobs as a result of the programme, the desire to use machinery to overcome difficult ground issues and municipalities having to accept responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities.

In the discussion, questions included how municipalities were chosen, who benefited from the job creation, the environmental impact of building of sanitation facilities, the role of the department in building sanitation facilities in schools, whether jobs were long term or temporary and the relationship the department had with local and district municipalities and local tribal leaders.

The Department responded that most jobs were temporary but they were exploring ways to create sustainable jobs. They were closely working with the Department of Basic Education, local and district municipalities, tribal leaders as well as the Department of Water Affairs to ensure the best and most effective service. They did not have a breakdown of figures on who was benefiting from the job creation and which municipalities were chosen but would circulate them as soon as they were available.

There was a great deal of discussion about the distribution of funds and the system of rolling over the budget into the new financial year when there was work in progress and how this affected the levels of sanitation facilities provided. It was suggested that the report was too general and that there were inconsistencies in it.

Meeting report

Rural Household Infrastructure Programme: Department of Human Settlement Progress Report Mr Phillip Chauke, Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, Department of Human Settlements, opened by reminding the Committee of the background to the programme, and the developments that had taken place since the programme was initiated including the duration of the programme, its transfer of function and staff from the Department of Water Affairs, which was formally completed in November 2009. He reminded the Committee that the programme was allocated a R1.2 billion budget over the four years.
He explained that unusually, the programme was not implemented by the municipality but directly by the national department as a complement to what the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) was doing in its main sanitation programme. The National Department of Human Settlements (NDHS) had sourced the services of two implementing agents, Mvula Trust and the Independent Development Trust (IDT), and the annual budgets over the four-year implementation period were outlined. These were:
• 2010/11 - R100 million; • 2011/12 - R231.5 million; • 2012/13 - R479.5 million; • 2012/14 - R389 million.

Mr Chauke noted the objectives of the programme which included:
• to support municipalities to address rural sanitation backlogs
• to improve the quality of life in rural communities
• to contribute to the rural development priority of government
• to contribute to job creation and Local Economic Development
• to contribute towards meeting the basic sanitation MDG targets of South Africa
• to accelerate delivery of sanitation to meet the 2014 target.
He stated that this was in line with Government and the President’s own concern and strong emphasis on upgrading the rural areas, job creation in the rural areas, economic development and the need to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2014.

In terms of the roles, Mr Chauke explained that the programme was under a Schedule 7 grant and was run by NDHS in coordination with the municipalities as they were implemented from the centres where water as well as sanitation was extended to their areas. He emphasized the importance of coordination with the Water Services Authorities and local and district municipalities and the need to ensure that the programme was in line with the municipal Integrated Development Plan (IDP). After implementation was complete, the management of the programme would be transferred to the municipalities so it was vital that they were involved now in the implementation process. He explained that the department attended many meetings and forums with the municipalities in order to coordinate with them.

Mr Chauke explained that although the programme was only being implemented in seven provinces (not the Western Cape and Gauteng), it was important to look at the overall demographics of the country. He drew attention to population distribution across the country (see slide 8 in the presentation).

The department was seeking to reduce the backlog of those needing functional sanitation facilities. He defined backlog as any facility that that did not meet the department’s minimum standards (functional, every day, preserving dignity, totally covered). This could occur when a family had the structure in place but it was no longer functional due to being full or in disrepair. By being unusable, it thus rejoined the backlog. Although new facilities were being built, there was this issue of households rejoining the backlog. Mr Chauke shows that after 1994, there were 5 million households without access to basic sanitation, but by 2011, that backlog had been halved to almost 2.4 million. This met the Millennium Development Goals. Mr Chauke indicated that there were other funding streams which also contributed to this progress such as the MIG.

Mr Chauke outlined the rapid rate of progress: in 2010/11, the target was 11 876 VIP toilets over 26 municipalities. The Department managed 11 652. The discrepancy was due to challenges such as:
• Some Water Service Authorities did not fully grasp the nature of the Schedule 7 grant and delayed signing Service Level Agreements with NDHS as they wanted to implement the programme themselves.
• Excessive rainfall was experienced during December 2010 and January 2011 which caused delays
• Implementing agents struggled to source building material and have it delivered on site
• Some contractors struggled with difficult ground conditions such as hard rock and a high water table.

In 2011/12, the number of municipalities involved increased to 53 and 27 686 VIP toilets were targeted and 24,089 were achieved, making for an 87% success rate. Most were built in the second half of the year. The financial performance for the year showed a rollover of R30 million. Mr Chauke broke down the allocation per province showing that KwaZulu-Natal was allocated the most followed by the Eastern Cape and then Limpopo. The total expenditure did not use the full budget so it requested that Treasury roll over R70 242 080 for the work in progress in KZN, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Mr Chauke moved on to the current year and noted the new set of challenge of an increased budget of R279 million, 56 municipalities and a target of 53 000 units. The department was acting on the advice of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlement and introducing more contractors rather than purely relying on the services of Mvula Trust and IDT. They had to negotiate with IDT and Mvula to reduce their tenders (previously a three-year tender) which ultimately saw them cede half their budget.

Mr Chauke commented on the job creation opportunities within this programme. He showed that in 2011/12, with 53 municipalities and a target of 27 686 VIP toilets, 4 726 jobs were created as direct, primary jobs resulting from the programme.

Mr Chauke outlined the challenges faced in the 2011/12 period:
• The two appointed implementing Agents (Mvula Trust and IDT) could not implement a programme of such a scale and achieve the outcomes set
• The existing SLAs between the NDHS and the Programme Management Support Team (Maxima Global/TranSpace) on the one hand and the Mvula Trust and IDT on the other were not consistent with each other.
• The process of handling the claims of the implementing agents needed to be restructured to assist them with improved cash-flow management.
• The recovery plans submitted in Sept 2011 by the two implementing agents were too optimistic
• The ability of the implementing agents to procure building materials from suppliers in large quantities posed a serious challenge to the outcomes of the programme.
• The scope of work approved for the IDT was at a high risk of not being completed by the end of the 2011/12 financial year
• In December 2011 NDHS re-allocated 7 098 units from IDT and negotiated with Mvula Trust to complete these units by the end of the 2011/12 financial year on 31 March 2012.

On the topic of maintenance, Mr Chauke reiterated the need for functional toilets as well as structural facilities. He explained that there were not any additional funds to assist municipalities in the maintenance of these facilities. Also, additional funding streams provided finances for the building of infrastructure and not its maintenance of operations. The department had advised the Treasury that it was the responsibility of ‘equitable share’ to allow municipalities a percentage of funds to maintain the functionality of sanitation facilities. The responsibility of maintenance was a grey area and the failure of municipalities to maintain the sanitation facilities was causing an increased backlog. He advised that this grey area was a challenge that Parliament had to address because although they were building new facilities, they were not bringing down the backlog fast enough or eradicating it completely.

As a way forward, he had reduced allocations to IDT and Mvula and these were going out for tender and they were held liable for the performance of their tender. They had to synchronize their delivery with the programme manager, as they would not receive payment if the service was not well provided. This was to ensure adequate units on the ground. There was also an emphasis on improving delivery by providing machinery where the ground was too difficult to dig, rather than the usual manual labour. He emphasized that a multi-way approach was needed to improve delivery efficiency.

Discussion
Ms M Themba (ANC Mpumalanga) showed concern about the male dominated department as there were no women in the delegation. She requested clarification on the progress made by province and a breakdown of which municipalities had benefited. This would improve the Committee’s oversight work, as it would show where there had and had not been progress and would allow the Committee to follow up on this more effectively. She asked how the municipalities were chosen. She sought clarity on job creation - a breakdown of who had benefited from job creation i.e. women, youth, people with disabilities. She said job creation meant all minorities groups must benefit. Finally, she asked if the jobs were tempory or sustainable as the job creation should be an ongoing programme.

Mr M Jacobs (ANC Free State) asked how the term ‘rural’ had been defined and how rural were the settlements they were working in. He also asked if the jobs were temporary or permanent and suggested that these people should also be used to service the facilities and it was important to devise a way to create long-term jobs. He agreed that it should be the municipality’s role to service the facilities. He questioned the connection between NDHS and IDT.

Mr H Groenewald (DA, North West) was concerned about raw sewage flowing into the water supply. He showed that in the North West thousands of litres of raw sewage was flowing into the dam and things were dying. What was the department doing about it? He asked how toilets could be built in the rural areas where the houses were so scattered and there was no water. When the toilets were full, how were they serviced? He enquired how the department managed the cost to the environment. He was also concerned about job creation. If the jobs were temporary, people could not plan long-term: people needed permanent jobs. Without permanent jobs, SA would move backwards.
He spoke about the department’s responsibility to schools. In the mountains there were schools without toilets and students used the bushes. NDHS had a responsibility for schools as well as houses.

Mr R Tau (ANC, Northern Cape) expressed regret that the Committee had not had the presentation to hand for the recent meeting with local and district municipalities about sanitation. He suggested NDHS should familiarize itself with the report from that summit as they were raising the same issues. He believed that there was a high level of inconsistency in its report. The Northern Cape was a rural province in some programmes and not in others. He repeated the wish to understand how municipalities were chosen and how the RHIP defined its criteria. He presented the criticism that had been made against NDHS that less than 70% of funds were spent but their statistics show a 98% implementation rate. The media had accused NDHS of failing all its targets and he asked it to address these allegations. He also believed the report was too general such as ‘excessive rainfall was experienced’. He asked in which provinces this was a problem and how they differed. He argued that the district municipalities had a specific role as infrastructure support and asked what the role of district municipalities was in supporting local municipalities.

Mr M Sibande (Mpumalanga ANC) reminded NDHS to attend to the concerns of the Select Committee as they represented specific provinces. He asked for clarity on why the budget was allocated to the NDHS.
He asked how it monitored service delivery and expressed concern with the difficulties of this. He asked what NDHS’s relationship was with traditional leaders as they were highly important in the rural areas; they were stakeholders and own a lot of land. He addressed what he called a policy vacuum: the White Paper dealt only with basic household sanitation but not all issues facing municipality sanitation. He asked NDHS how they dealt with this. He expressed a concern about the contamination of water and water borne diseases. This was often not due to lack of infrastructure but due to bad disposal facilities.
He asked what criteria NDHS used to identify the rural areas to work in and what system they had for allocating people. He emphasized the need to educate people and asked what NDHS did in this area.

In response, Mr Chauke acknowledged that there were many more males than females present and would take this comment back to NDHS. He explained that legislation was never relocated with the location of function. ‘Sanitation’ was registered in the Water Services Act so the Department of Water Affairs had major responsibility for water services. The ultimate concern should be whether the services were reaching the people effectively and not who had management and as long as it was being well run; it achieved its main goal. Most MECs covered both Human Settlements and local government portfolios. Joint meetings were facilitated between local government and MECs. The departments attend forums to synchronize how services were provided.

There was no direct partnership with the tribal leaders but when they made recommendations, it was taken seriously. They recommended which people should benefit from department assistance.
He stated that the White Paper process was being reviewed; it had not been finalized so it could not yet be presented to Parliament. They had been having consultations with stakeholders on this. He explained that only 70% of the budget allocated had been spent by the end of the financial year. However, the work continued as contractors were given tenders so the remaining 30% of funds were rolled over into the new financial year until the 98% delivery level was met.

Mr Tau felt that the presentation was unclear as to where the discrepancies in expenditure and delivery were found. It was also unclear as to where the invoicing was to be found – would it be at the end of that financial year or would it be allocated into the new year when the money was fully spent.

Mr Chauke explained that the invoicing would be rolled over and brought into the invoices for the new financial year.

On which municipalities were chosen and how, Mr Chauke offered to provide a list to Members. He also offered to provide a list of which groups had benefited from job creation. NDHS had targeted informal settlements as upgrading informal settlements was a core aim. When NDHS allocated sites for informal settlements, sanitation facilities were a precondition even if running water and electricity were not available.

With regard to IDT, Mr Chauke said they were attached to the Department of Public Works but were working for the Human Settlements Department and its tender would end at the end of this financial year.

Mr Chauke acknowledged that South Africa had serious issues of contamination of water resources. He claimed that great progress was being made in that area, he could not elaborate but he would source information of what was being done and would send it to the Committee.

Mr Chauke explained that generally families had pit latrines or septic tanks but they need ‘honeysuckers’ to come and empty them but there were not enough which was causing problems.

The issue of long-term job creation was a serious one; NDHS was aware of the need to build factories to provide ongoing jobs in the area of sanitation and provide continual economic activity. They needed to work in small teams of cooperatives and the municipalities should provide maintenance work for the sanitation facilities and have sustainable jobs in these areas.

Mr Chauke acknowledged that NDHS’s responsibility included institutional sanitation such as clinics and schools as well as household sanitation. He recognized that funds were given to Basic Education to build toilets in schools so they were working with Department of Basic Education to provide toilets in schools but he believed that most schools had toilets. He requested the names of schools that Committee members were aware of who were using the bushes. He agreed to provide a report of those specific areas affected by challenges such as rainfall.

On the role of district municipalities, Mr Chauke explained that most water authorities were district municipalities. Most district municipalities had a role to support local municipalities in these areas. The department entered into agreement with the municipalities and met local municipalities regularly. Councillors at the local and district level were vital in identifying households in need of sanitation facilities.

A department official explained how municipalities were chosen to benefit form the programme. The budget was to be spread over seven provinces over a three-year period. This money was not enough so NDHS chose municipalities with the biggest backlog. Their main criterion was the backlog. They assessed how many households did not have access to basic sanitation. Those that were not benefiting from the programme were having water and sanitation issues addressed by funds from the MIG programme and other funding streams.

Mr Tau suggested that the sequence of slides suggested that it was all about allocation of funds and not about delivery. He suggested they address this discrepancy in the slide presentation, as it appeared contradictory. He reminded NDHS of the question of who benefited from job creation.

Mr Chauke responded that he would circulate that information to the Committee as soon as possible.

The Chairperson rephrased Mr Tau’s comment, saying the issue was one of service delivery but the presentation gave the impression that the emphasis was on the distribution of funds.

Ms M Temba asked for clarity on how many jobs were temporary and how many were sustainable. She advised that when NDHS identified challenges they should identify not only the challenges but also how they were overcome or how they were being resolved.

Mr M Jacobs reiterated his questions about the definition of a ‘rural household’.

Mr Chauke responded that most jobs were temporary. He claimed that they were taking the advice to try and find ways to make the jobs more sustainable to support families.

The Chairperson requested NDHS to maintain a constant audit of challenges and that information was sent to the Committee whenever possible. He reminded them to submit requested information. He thanked all in attendance.

The meeting was adjourned.

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