National Sanitation Task Team Progress Report: briefing

Water and Sanitation

31 August 2005
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Meeting report


31 August 2005

Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)

Documents handed out:
National Sanitation Task Team briefing

The Department gave a progress report on the national sanitation task team since its previous report in October 2004. It reported on:
- progress in achievement of targets,
- sector collaboration and co-ordination progress in the establishment of provincial and local task teams,
- institutional development and performance in terms of capacity building,
- challenges in the roll-out of the sanitation programme, and
- critical success factors in the way forward.

Members were concerned about
- the dry sanitation system,
- the functioning of water summits,
- educating communities about water,
- implementing foreign models for water sanitation,
- inter-departmental collaboration,
- compatibility of sanitation systems to different social, physical, cultural and religious needs,
- the need for a national breakdown of sanitation services,
- hygiene hazards to schools and clinics, and
- the monitoring of municipalities.

Mr Jabulani Sindane, Department Deputy Director-General: Regions and appointed as Director General as of 1 September 2005, gave an overview of national sanitation with regard to targets, sector collaboration and co-ordination and progress in establishment of provincial and local task teams; capacity building progress and challenges in the roll-out of the programme with a budget of R200 million for 2005/2006. The challenges facing the sanitation programme were community preference for waterborne sanitation, costly higher levels of service to urban areas, low prioritisation of a sanitation programme by municipalities, limited service provider capacity, inadequate equitable share funding to operate and maintain infrastructure, procurement policies at municipal level not in line with local available skills, and municipalities adjustment to new internal systems and procedures.

The critical success factors that were identified as necessary for effective rollout was the use of feasibility studies and proper planning, funding strategies to meet the backlog, sector benchmarks and collaboration, sector support within Project Consolidate, the synchronisation of the Capacity Building Grant and Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), the use of appropriate technology, reliability of statistical data, and monitoring and evaluation.

Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked whether the water summits had determined first class levels of service for everyone in South Africa. Mr Sindane replied that there were different levels of service and that the best one was ‘waterborne service’. He added that some areas could never receive first class services, because of the nature of the geographical area and settlement. It would not be practical to provide waterborne sanitation. He admitted that the Department made sanitation choices based on available resources. Consultants and companies influenced the Department through their presentations on a variety of systems and structures.

Ms September enquired whether municipalities had taken into account the different needs for sanitation services across gender, the elderly, religious and the disabled. The Swedish model seen on oversight visits was a European model and not an African one. Mr Sindane answered that the department had taken a long time to implement user-friendly structures. They had not factored user-friendly structures into their planning, design or implementation. They had been under pressure to meet new targets and put in new structures.

Mr G Martins, Education Department National Director: Physical Resource Planning and Infrastructure Development, added that all new schools had been made disabled-friendly to meet sanitation requirements. Existing sanitation infrastructure at schools were more challenging to change. The inadequacy of sanitation infrastructure at schools were termed ‘unsafe structures'. These needed to be replaced.

Ms September questioned whether municipalities had databases to deal with sanitation roll-out. She felt that there was a variance of expertise and that the pool of expertise should be linked. Mr Sindane said that the municipalities had databases where expertise had been compiled and audited. The Department could assist with updating these databases. There was a lack of sharing of expertise and facilities between municipalities. The Department could provide guidelines where necessary.

Ms September asked what drove municipalities to make the choices they did regarding sanitation services. Mr Sindane replied that it was ‘money’ and the conditions under which these services were provided.

Ms September enquired how local skills were applied to the roll-out of sanitation services, especially with regard to the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP). There were huge backlogs in sanitation. Mr Sindane answered that a seminar on job creation had exposed the extent to which local labour could be employed. Skills had been developed through training programmes of the Department of Labour. The idea was that these skills could be used in other areas as well. Ms Molatelo, Chief Director: Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) added that the National Skills Development Act stated that skills needed to be accredited. A pool of expertise was needed.

Ms M Gumede (ANC) enquired whether a breakdown per province could be provided to see how R25 million had been spent on sanitation in the provinces of Limpopo, Mpumulanga, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North-West. Ms M Molatelo responded that there had been delays between the Department and the municipalities because of logistical problems.

Ms Gumede stressed the need for education in schools about sanitation and the need to assist political leadership at local level in this regard. Ms Molatelo assured her that the WASH programme and health and hygiene education had been implemented to address this issue.

Ms Gumede needed clarity on sanitation money given to municipalities by provinces. It was noted that that structures at provincial level were part of the provincial MIG. Ms T Mpotulo, Department Manager: National Sanitation Programme, added that there were sanitation task teams at provincial and at district levels. The provincial task team involved the departments of Health, Education and Public Works. There were certain agreements between these departments.

Mr D Maluleke (DA) raised his concern about dry sanitation and that the communities found the system unacceptable. There was no difference between the dry sanitation system and the bucket system. Ms Mpotulo agreed that dry sanitation was not acceptable. The system had been designed for four to six members per family. Sometimes there were six households housed in one yard. Municipalities had made the choice between the different systems. Municipalities used the dry sanitation system but it had proved to be unpopular. There was no money to provide a different level of service. The situation needed better communication to speed up assistance.

Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) asked whether the Department had a time frame to address the inadequacies in schools and clinics. Mr Sindane said that they were doing ‘too little too late’ so the progress was not visible.

Mr T Ramphele (ANC) questioned the value of being a sector leader. Mr Sindane responded that a sector leader was unable to give other sectors instructions.

Mr Ramphele asked whether training was happening at municipal level. Mr Sindane admitted that things were not integrated at local level.

Mr Arendse remarked that 23 000 jobs would be made available in the short-term. What were the long-term projections? Mr Sindane explained that jobs would be created in sanitation and water services. He would provide a breakdown of short- and long-term implications.

Mr Arendse asked whether there had been any other problems besides funding which was hampering progress. Mr Sindane replied that capacity had been another factor. Local economic development was a long process because work quality proved challenging. Bigger companies, on the other hand, provided a quicker service.

Mr Arendse requested a list of contact persons for the next oversight visit. Mr Sindane said that he would comply with the request.

Ms September asked whether the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) and South African Local Government Association (SALGA) supported the integrated plan. She felt that housing and sanitation went hand in hand. Municipalities planned facilities in isolation. Mr Sindane replied that they needed a different forum to engage local government. They had been constrained by environment and resources. The Department would assist SALGA. Ms Molatelo added that access to land was a long process and impacted on housing, infrastructure, etc. Fund allocation was higher in urban areas because they had access to the MIG and the housing fund. The task was to deal with equity and disparity of grants.

Ms September commented that municipalities wanted to shift the targets set for water and sanitation from 2008 to 2010. What support had the Department given in this regard? Mr Sindane stated that the choice and technology of services provided rested with municipalities. The Department would set standards to achieve this.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) enquired whether municipalities were monitored. Mr H Magerman, SALGA councillor, admitted that more time was needed to discuss the various challenges facing municipalities to enhance decision-making and monitoring.

The meeting was adjourned.


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