Report on Sanitation by the Mvula Trust

Water and Sanitation

20 June 2001
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


20 June 2001

Ms BP Sonjica (ANC)

Documents Distributed :          
Breaking the Rules Manual
Mvula Trust Marketing Pack
Guidelines for Faecal Waste Management
The Use of Dry Sanitation in the Urban Environment (see Appendix 1)
Report on Rural Sanitation Programme in SA (see Appendix 2)
Kraaipan Case Study – North West Province

Currently approximately R20million is available for the provision of sanitation services but this amount has not been utilised. The Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry invited the Mvula Trust, a Non-Governmental Organisation concerned with the provision of basic sanitation services, to the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to establish why the services have not been provided considering that the Ministry of Water Affairs and Forestry has provided the funds.

Mvula Trust made a presentation which sought to explain why R20 million made available for sanitation purposes has not been utilised.

Report on Sanitation by the Mvula Trust
Ms Dikego Mathule (Mvula Trust) explained why Mvula Trust should deal with rural sanitation problems. The Mvula Trust, a Non-Governmental Organisation, was established in 1993. The sole purpose of the trust is to support water and sanitation projects especially in rural and peri-urban areas. This is part of an overall strategy to alleviate poverty. To do this, they test and advocate new models that will provide better sanitation. The Trust is also involved in supporting local government sanitation programmes. Mvula Trust places great emphasis on community empowerment.

Mvula Trust has worked in 478 communities. This work has led to the provision of sanitation services in 100 schools. 85 policy, advocacy and training projects to develop rural and peri-urban areas have been completed. In addition, the Trust has developed a unique community management model for the implementation of projects.

Ms Mathule explained that sanitation is not only about building toilets but also about improving the quality of life. If one no longer has to spend money on health care services as a result of poor sanitation facilities, one can use that money in other areas in order to improve quality of life. Sanitation is also about people’s dignity as poor sanitation facilities can humiliate people.

The Draft Policy of Sanitation (May 2000) includes a broad definition of sanitation. The definition of sanitation includes the following :
- adequate hygiene at home
- adequate environmental hygiene
- protection and use of water sources
- safe disposal of human faeces
- food hygiene
- water hygiene
- personal hygiene
She emphasised that sanitation is also very important for an AIDS patient. These patients require very hygienic conditions because their immune systems are so weak. In addition, many of these patients have diarrhoea and need toilet facilities. For those that are bed ridden, their diapers must be disposed of efficiently.

Ms Mathule described the current project implemented by Mvula. Villages are identified by Municipalities. This means that Project Agents are introduced by the municipalities.

She listed the the governing principles of Mvula Trust. These are as follows :
1) A Demand Driven Approach
Rarely do people prioritise sanitation. Awareness is needed so that people understand its importance. There are contributions from community members to open bank accounts. Subsidies for the programme are deposited into these accounts. This includes half the cost of building the toilets and improving the environment. In addition, there are household registration fees and household contributions.

2) Community involvement and participation
Management is done through a Committee elected by the community. This Committee is capacitated to identify sanitation needs, to plan, to implement projects, and to manage the process. The community is solely responsible for this. There is no outside controlling body.

3) Level of Service
There is a belief that the Mvula Trust favours the apartheid level of service. This is incorrect as the organisation provides options to the community, and the community decides which level of service it wants. The Community is only encouraged to be realistic, that is, to choose a sustainable level of service. Technological choices are made using the ‘Sanitation Ladder’. This requires one to realistically look at the sustainability of the project. Choices are given to the community and not forced upon them. Using the ladder, it is more sustainable to begin at the bottom and move to the top. Thus one can move from using the bush to a toilet and improvements can be made later on.

4) Local Economic Development
There are economic spin-offs for rural communities. Communities are encouraged to use local labour. Approximately R200 to R250 per toilet is paid to the builder. In addition, community members are capacitated into village health workers who will be employable in the future. The community is also encouraged to use local materials. An element of entrepreneurial development also exists because local hardware stores will also benefit.

5) Subsidy
Ms Mathule insisted that R600 is not a lot of money. This can appear unfair considering urban areas have better facilities. However, the reality is that South Africa cannot afford to give a 100% subsidy to everyone because this is not sustainable. The principle of ‘some to all’ rather than ‘all for some’ is followed. Thus each household receives between R0 and R600. In addition, household contributions can be in trade. The community will then decide how to structure their subsidy in order to achieve maximum benefit.

Mr DS Maimani (ANC) asked whether the Trust could explain where the government had gone wrong considering the fact that government had researched the problems.

Mr R Holden (Mvula Trust) replied that the biggest problem is the lack of continuity of funding. Flow of funds is irregular and unstable. The approach is correct but because of the gains from local economic development, people leave to find income elsewhere. Therefore, once a programme has begun, there will be breaks and this drives up costs. He reiterated that more continuous funding with less fluctuation is needed.

Ms Mathule (Mvula Trust) added that sanitation must be looked at broadly, and this must be kept in mind when funding. In addition, progress must be measured in terms of improvement and not in terms of the number of toilets built.

Mr Maimani (ANC) remarked that subsidies are assumed to be in reference to private toilets. He asked if the state was obliged to provide public toilets and how public toilets related to the issue of subsidies.

Ms Mathule (Mvula Trust) explained that the Trust is implementing the project for the government. It is strictly a household matter and not for public institutions such as Churches. A community can advise public bodies on how to build a proper structure. However, as a general rule, public institutions are not subsidised.

Mr Maimani (ANC) asked how the word ‘community’ is defined because it is referred to so often.

Ms Mathule (Mvula Trust) replied that the group of community members in the Committee is accountable to the entire community, as this is a community programme. The programme is implemented at household level so ultimately the Committee must be in contact with the entire community.

Mr Maimani (ANC) asked how much the material would cost, and whether the subsidy covered these costs. He also asked if people had to provide their own labour.

Ms Mathule (Mvula Trust) responded that costs differ from community to community. Labour costs are between R200 and R250. This means that the community can subsidise materials. An average toilet will cost R1200 and of this, R200 goes to labour and R1000 to building. Mr Holden (Mvula Trust) added that where there is an existing structure, costs will be cheaper. Therefore, it is difficult to give an exact cost, but he said that Mvula can provide toilets at R600. The cost depends on what government chooses.

The Chairperson said that the Committee’s general concern relates to the demand led approach. She asked if the approach could be improved because it has delayed the delivery of sanitation services.

Mr GBD McIntosh (DP) asked how the Education Department is involved in the programme given that sanitation services for schools was mentioned. He also wanted to know what role the schools played in teaching children, especially in rural areas, about sanitation and health.

Ms Mathule (Mvula Trust) said that the programme operates on a household level only. The European Union is funding programmes aimed at creating sanitation in schools. She added that the programme encourages communities to enter schools and give sanitation advice.

Mr McIntosh (DP) asked why farmers in the Northern Cape received R700 subsidies, and not R600 as was received elsewhere.

Mr Holden (Mvula Trust) replied that the Northern Cape had strong ties amongst district councils and the Department of Local Justice. He explained that farm dwellers are identified as a necessity. Therefore, district councils provided more money using personal funds. Farmers are viewed as special cases because they have no access to resources. This decision was made by the district and local municipalities.

Mr Maimani (ANC) pointed out that all communities fall under local government. He asked how this factor was taken into account in the strategy. He agreed that the demand approach is a weak approach.

Ms Mathule (Mvula) explained that the approach to water and sanitation is adopted at district municipality level. It is no longer a broad provincial programme and is not operated per district.

Mr E M Sigwela (ANC) asked whether Mvula Trust was making any efforts to network with other NGOs involved in health care. Further, he asked if the Trust has any interest in the government budgetary process. He pointed out that there may be funds in other government Departments geared at community development.

Ms Mathule (Mvula) replied that sanitation is the responsibility of a number of Departments. Although up until now, it has primarily been the responsibility of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.

The Chairperson asked if Mvula was a national organisation.

Mr Holden (Mvula Trust) responded in the affirmative.

Mr Maimani (ANC) asked what the problems are with regards to funding. He reiterated that sanitation is a concern for various government Departments and asked how co-operation was initiated amongst different Departments at a local level. He also asked members of the Mvula delegation how they would deal with sanitation problems if they were holding a Ministerial position.

Mr Dau (Mvula Trust) replied that the Trust is working with the Health Resistant Trust with regards to the promotion of health and hygiene. 15 different Departments are co-ordinating the new sanitation programme in Mpumalanga. 175 health promoters and environmental health officers have been trained to use participatory methods. They are co-ordinated by the Department of Health. This programme is in the initial stages only. He contended that these projects do indicate co-ordination amongst different department.

Jacobeth Mabeo (member of the Kraaipan community) argued that the demand approach did work. Jaque Cloete (member of the Lilifontein community) took the same position.

The Chairperson highlighted that awareness is necessary for the demand approach to work. However, some communities are too poor.

Mr Holden (Mvula Trust) said that although people want sanitation they have no knowledge of how to get it. The demand approach does not reflect uniform results throughout the Republic. At present costs are running between R40 million and R50 million. He argued that these costs indicated demand. He said that Mvula believes that the approach is working. He went on to say that using a supply-side approach, it would take approximately 45 years using current funding to supply sanitation to all who need it.

The Chairperson stressed that sanitation is needed urgently. It must be provided faster than it is at present.

Mr Holden (Mvula Trust) said that there is a distinction between funding sanitation and water. The Ministry has projected to spend R100 million, but not all of these funds have been allocated. At present, the Trust has a R30 million budget. Mrs Tamie Mpotulo (Chief Director of Water Services) explained that a budget is allocated to various provinces. The province can decide whether or not to use the Mvula Trust. The R100 million will be given to various communities according to their needs, and not all the funds will go to the Mvula Trust. It is up to the District Council to choose the agency. Over previous years, there have been leaky funds rolling over. This means that these funds have to be transferred to needy areas. NGOs are used by the different regions if the District Councils decide to use them.

Mr Maimani (ANC said that funding is not being used properly. He wanted to be informed of the problems so that he and other policy makers could be efficient. In conclusion he said that the impression is that money is not being used when it is available and this, he argued, affects the efficiency of the demand approach.

The Chairperson asked why there are rollovers. She asked whether the demand approach is the correct approach considering that there are still rollovers even though the need for delivery is great.

Mr Holden (Mvula Trust) responded that the biggest rollover occurs in the Eastern Cape because no approved implementing plan exists there. If a business plan is not prepared, money will not be spent. This is what happened in the Eastern Cape. Even if the business plan is approved, there is a struggle to use the funds properly. The full allocation in the North West province was spent in half a year. This shows that the delay is from the Department because money is given to the District Council who then decides how the money will be spent.

Mrs Tamie Mpotulo (Chief Director) interjected and clarified how business plans operate. They are generated at a local level and they have to be approved by the District Council. The Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Northern Province have the capacity and the authority to approve their own business plans. Therefore, not all business plans are done on a national level. The national level is approached only for noting. Business Plan approval is required because accountability is essential.

Mrs Mpotule (Chief Director) added that only some regional officers have the capacity to approve business plans. However, this capacity is not the capacity to run the project. Capacity means that the need to approach national government for approval is removed. This saves money and time. In order to have capacity, it is necessary to consider the steering Committee. This is why some regional officers do not have capacity.

Mr Maimani (ANC) insisted that the matter be solved. He said that there appeared to be very little organisation. He said that the presentation gave the impression that the work had been done but that somewhere impediments existed. Individuals have visited the provinces and all made their own observations. He emphasised that despite having this information available for policy making, the policy will not be effective if the problems are not clearly identified. He repeated that the demand approach may not be appropriate for the sanitation programme.

Ms Mathule (Mvula Trust) introduced various speakers who explained their sanitation needs to the Committee.

Mayor Gert Maarman from Namaqualand explained that his area includes 15 small settlements and 2 big towns. Settlements are 100 to 200 kilometres apart. There are 50 to 200 households in a village. The Namaqualand area is a semi-desert with about 150mm of rain per year. People are dependent on boreholes and municipalities are challenged to manage the ground water. These factors make service delivery expensive and difficult. There is also a lot of unemployment, making it difficult to bring infrastructure to the area. Whilst struggling to manage water projects, sanitation was also recognised as a need. Mvula Trust introduced options to the community. There are new sanitation projects in 13 villages and most households now have toilets. Mayor Maarman stressed that toilets are not enough and that health and hygiene projects must also be introduced. The project has been based on community participation. Another advantage is that builders have developed skills. These skills can be used for different projects such as housing projects. There were many obstacles in the process but the council finally succeeded.

Ms Jacobeth Mabeo, a member of the Kraaipan Sanitation Committee, explained how the sanitation project was implemented in Kraaipan with the Mvula Trust acting as implementing agent. Kraaipan is in the North West Province and has between 2500 and 3000 households. Mvula Trust emphasised the importance of community participation and told the community that it must make its own decision. Previously, approximately 6 toilets per month were built, but with the new project and the assistance of Mvula Trust, close to 20 toilets per month were built. When the Committee took over, the community became interested. In addition, local materials are now used. Previously there were no public toilets. However, the community has taken the initiative, and has, without any subsidies, built public toilets.

Neighbouring villages are also asking Kraaipan for access to the project. Nurses working in Kraaipan have realised that medical cases are less than in other villages. Demand has also increased after a community health week was held. The Committee went from section to section making people aware sanitation. Local nurses and health officers were also invited. The result is that the demand for toilets has increased greatly. The sanitation Committee realises that prices are rising. In this light, they revisited the subsidy and added to it, for instance, by providing more sand. The subsidy is usually for materials that are not particularly accessible to the household. People are not forced to buy new structures, as whatever is available will be used. Toilets cost about R500. These include costs such as bricks, digging holes and getting sand. A builder is paid R200. Ms Mabeo concluded by saying that she has benefited in terms of skills, and now she can reconcile books by herself. She is also used to train other communities.

Jaque Cloete from Tweerivier (Namaqualand) explained that the project involves a learning process. In 1999, Mvula Trust appointed the Namaqualand Water and Sanitation Support Group (NWSSG). Previously, fly by night consultants would make many promises to the community and leave. The community met Mr Holden and became acquainted with the Mvula group. This created trust, said Mr Cloete, and cannot be likened to a "fly by night" situation. He stressed the need to make people aware and to involve the community in the whole programme. People were given choices and were told how to sustain their choice. In the beginning he was only a field worker, but now he is fully involved in the community. He feels that this is one of the most successful projects in Namaqualand. Neighbouring villages have been stimulated by the success. The Premier of the Northern Cape, visited the area and approved of the dry sanitation scheme.

Mr GB McIntosh (DP) asked why, despite the activity of NGO’s, they were unable to deliver sanitation in rural South Africa. He commented on the successes of Lesotho and Zimbabwe in this area. He wanted to know what Mvula Trust, as an implementing agent, believed were realistic targets and mechanisms for the project.

Mr Holden (Mvula Trust) explained that Lesotho and Zimbabwe have had a head start. The pit toilet originated in the mid-1970s in Zimbabwe with Peter Morgan through the introduction of the Blair toilet. The idea was then introduced in Lesotho. The culture of toilet building is so firmly embedded in those areas that people do it anyway. In addition, knowledge is so deeply embedded in the communities that less assistance is required. In Zimbabwe the subsidy is only for four bags of cement. In some areas in South Africa there is rock underlying the soil. People have the knowledge now to circumvent these impediments. In effect, delivery is speeding up, albeit at a slower pace. Progress is also the result of increased awareness.

The Chairperson gave a short summary of the meeting. She explained that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss why approximately R20 million, allocated for sanitation services, had not been spent. The Committee sees itself as stakeholders representing the broader constituency of South Africa. The Committee feels that service delivery must occur at a faster pace. She said that although she initially found the demand led approach to be problematic, the presentations by the speakers, made her realise that there were successes. She stressed that community involvement and awareness are instrumental in the success of the program, because educating the community would stimulate demand. She pointed out that there are shortcomings in the process that cannot be neglected. Funding is a serious problem and lack of funding is causing delays. There are also delays in the approval of business plans. She added that members of Parliament have a role to play in disseminating information. Municipalities are aware of this and they are working on making linkages at this level. She emphasised the need to progress in other areas. The Department must monitor the progress and duplicate the programme elsewhere. She added that the argument given for paying farmers a higher subsidy did not convince her. Farmers in the Northern Cape receive R700 whilst those in the Western Cape receive R1200. She said that one would expect a smaller gap.

She concluded by listing 7 areas identified by the ANC as needing sanitation. These included informal settlements, rural settlements, farm dwellers, schools (especially rural schools), small towns still using buckets, homeless people in cities, highways and roads.

Ms Mathule (Mvula Trust) said that acknowledging the problem of unspent funds is a starting point. However, she said that quick fixes are not sustainable. Mistakes were learnt through water projects, and should not be repeated in the sanitation projects. She said that the process must start at a local level by encouraging people to give serious thought to sanitation problems. She saw the process as more of a ‘bottom-up’ approach. She concluded that a longer and more sustainable approach is required rather than a fast and unsustainable one.

The Chairperson added that in order to stand a chance at re-election, there must be delivery. Therefore, an unsustainable approach cannot be followed.

Mr Holden reminded the Committee that the projects are about communities.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1
The Mvula Trust
 The Use of Dry Sanitation in the Urban Environment

Dry sanitation and the recycling of greywater in Bellevue East, Johannesburg have been incorporated into urban home in to demonstrate that it is possible to maintain a high standard of living whilst keeping monthly municipal service costs to a minimum.  The secret of this lies within the use of appropriate technology and the household participating in the maintenance of the systems. 

Convention wisdom maintains that in the urban environment waterborne sewage is the only solution even when full pressure house connections are provided.  Experience then showed that the communities and municipalities could not afford the operating and maintenance costs.  This has resulted in large-scale pollution from overflowing sewer systems and huge arrears by consumers.

The work of the Mvula Trust in the rural and peri-urban areas had demonstrated that this was not necessarily the case.

The problem was that all the work had been carried out in the poor communities and understandably the politicians viewed the technology as somewhat second rate. 

Inspired by the involvement of Premier Mannie Dipeco in the Northern Cape Water Services Programme and the initiative of the communities of Namaqualand and Weiler's Farm in Johannesburg’.  The Technical Manger of the Mvula Trust converted his house to prove that within the city it is possible to have a high standard of living without need for municipal sewers and high monthly municipal service costs.

Thus in January 2001 a greywater recycling system was installed followed by the removal of the en-suite flush toilet and replacing it with dry sanitation in February 2001.

Re-use of Greywater
In an urban area the disposal of greywater presents the biggest problem and this has been the one of the main reasons for the installation of sewers.  Also when mixed with the blackwater from the toilet it is carrying pathogenic material which is harmful.

To demonstrate that a municipal sewer connection is not required the first stage was to separate the blackwater from the greywater. The outlet pipes from the kitchen and the main bathroom, collecting approximately two thirds of the household consumption, were led to a sump.   A simple submersible pump with a float control pumps to a normal garden sprayer to irrigate the garden.  Spraying the water aerates it as well as distributing it enough to prevent damage to the vegetation from the soaps and fats.  Spraying also ensures that the combination of evaporation, transpiration and permeation prevents saturation of the ground.

The result a green garden without the use of municipal water.  The only effort required is the cleaning of the filter every second week and moving the sprayer.  The water could also be re-cycled through flush toilets for additional water savings

The cost of the installation was approximately R1,000.  This could have been lower, and the whole house put on the recycling system, if the installation was planned when the house was built.  Unfortunately the house was built in 1910 precluding this.  The cost saving depends on the  block tariff that a consumer is paying but payback should be between 1 and 2 years.

Dry Sanitation
A waterborne sewage reticulation is often seen as the ultimate solution for sewage disposal.  If one does not want to handle faeces and has the money to pay for the system then perhaps it is.  However any waterborne system carries the risk of blockages and overflow, as the people of Sandton can testify, and is just a way of passing the problem onto someone else.

If one is prepared to handle desiccated faeces then a dry sanitation system offers enormous advantages over waterborne sewage in terms of capital investment, service costs and risk of pollution.  To anyone who is prepared to participate in faecal waste management a dry sanitation system can be seen as the ultimate.
The use of dry sanitation together with recycling of greywater totally removes the need for a municipal sewer connection.  The house incorporates a system called urine diversion, which separates the urine from the faeces.  This type of toilet is used in the same manner as normal toilets except a man must sit down to urinate.  The urine is led into a container and the faeces falls into the pit below.  A mixture of soil and ash is then thrown down the pit to help kill off the pathogens and dehydrate the faeces.  This system was chosen as it can be built inside the house and is easy to maintain.

The pedestal is made using a fibreglass mould into which a sand cement mixture is cast.  After finishing and painting the toilet looked no different to a ceramic pedestal.  The cost if made by oneself R30.  Even if it is made commercially the production is so simple it can be made in the community promoting local economic development.

On this particular toilet the urine, which is a fertiliser, is removed once a week and poured into the compost heap and around the garden and every 6 months the dried faeces is removed from the rear of the toilet, a simple 15-minute job.  The faeces are then disposed of within the compost heap to ensure pathogen destruction.  Since the faeces is partly desiccated and mixed with soil and ash it can be handled with a rake and spade and is totally inoffensive.

Composting is an essential part of the process as the heat generated within the compost heap ensures destruction of the more hardy pathogens such as worm eggs. 

The house garden is purely ornamental.  However, as has been shown by various international organisations, if the greywater, urine and faeces are used for crop production the results are hugely beneficial.  For poor people improved food production can lead to better health with the surplus crops being sold for cash.

If dry sanitation and recycling of grey water are incorporated in the planning of a residential development the savings are significant.  Since there is no need for reticulation, bulk sewers or treatment works it is conservatively estimated that there is a capital saving of R5,000 with a reduction in monthly service costs of R100 per month.  Although some of the capital cost is offset by the need for the pump the cost saving is still in the order of R4,000.

In up market housing this is not that significant but in RDP housing could result in a significant improvement in the quality of house and standard of living without a household incurring unaffordable, monthly municipal service costs.

The decision by a household on whether to install wet or dry sanitation depends on a number of factors.  These are:
1)Whether the household is prepared to be involved in the maintenance of the system;
2)If the system involves outside maintenance whether they can and are prepared to pay for this;
3)Whether there is the institutional capacity to support the chosen system; and
4)If water is required whether or not there is a sufficient supply.

In many areas the conditions imposed by 2), 3) and 4) are not met and a wet system cannot be installed.  This does not mean that dry systems are limited to these areas.  As has been shown in Bellevue East even when the above 3 conditions can be satisfied a dry system is still a viable option providing exactly the same level of service and convenience as a wet system so long as the household accepts the first condition.

Appendix 2
Status Report on the Rural Sanitation Programme in South Africa

Presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry
June 2001

In October 1994 the South African Rural Sanitation Programme commenced with the adoption on the White Paper on Water and Sanitation.  The main principles contained in this policy document are:
1.Development should be demand driven and community based;
2.Basic services are a human right;
3.“Some for all” rather than “All for some”;
4.Equitable regional allocation of development resources;
5.Water has an economic value;
6.The user pays;
7.Integrated development;
8.Environmental integrity.

Between 1994 and 1997, the Mvula Trust implemented eleven pilot rural sanitation projects to test and develop an implementation strategy.  In 1997 the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) allocated substantial amounts to sanitation and provincial implementation programmes were commenced.

Since then the programme has gradually expanded and has improved the situation of over 26,000 households in 491 villages.

Experience gained from the rural sanitation programme has shown that, in general, the biggest problem faced by households in improving their environmental sanitation is not unwillingness to change or a lack of recognition of the problem, but a lack of:
1.Knowledge i.e. not knowing how to build a VIP or urine diversion toilet;
2.Finance.  To date many of the options proposed to the community are simply unaffordable even with the government subsidy;
3.Access to water (both in quantity and quality).  It is no good telling people to wash themselves more often if the water source is over 1 km away;
4.Knowledge of the routes of transmission of disease.  Even if the routes are known people are not shown how, within the constraints in which they live, to improve the situation; and
5.Lack of belief in themselves.  This stems from the apartheid system and official constantly telling people what to do.  This results in people not believing that they can do anything to improve the situation themselves.

The rural sanitation programme has, thus far, focused on providing finance (in the form of subsidy of up to R600 per household) to people to improve their toilets.  This has been done in a demand responsive and participatory way and thus has addressed the issue of lack of belief in themselves.

2. Prevention of Transmission of Disease
Diseases such as shigellosis and cholera are transmitted through the faecal oral route.  The main barriers to prevent such transmission are:
1.Containment of faeces by burying or the building of a toilet:
2.Provision of an adequate supply of water for personal hygiene.  This includes body washing, washing of cooking utensils and laundry; and
3.The provision of safe water for drinking and cooking.

A single barrier on its own is insufficient to prevent the transmission of disease but the introduction of multi-level barriers, as is done in water treatment plants, significantly reduces the risk of transmission.  Also in the event of a barrier failing there is backup in the second or third barrier.

The rural sanitation programme by concentrating on the first route of contamination and only having improved the situation of 1% of the population at risk, is failing in its objectives to reach the greater population.  There are many reasons for this some of them being:
1.The subsidy being targeted at an improved toilet, making this the main Key Performance Indicator for the Programme;
2.Lack of capacity in the sector; and
3.Lack of appropriate technology to address the issues of personal hygiene and improved quality of water when the tap is situated at 200m or further.

The issue of the subsidy has been gradually addressed by:
1.Not increasing it for the last 5 years;
2. Making it a fixed materials and/or labour subsidy; and
3.Now that the knowledge is in the community, people improving their toilets without waiting for the government subsidy.

The issue of lack of capacity has been addressed over the past 4 years and now we have a core group of professionals dedicated to the sanitation sector.

The lack of affordable options for toilets has been overcome by the introduction of
1.The Archloo, which at the present moment can be built within the R600 subsidy;
2.The introduction of a modified Sanplat from Mozambique, which allows the construction of a strong slab without the need for reinforcement;
3.The introduction of a methodology for the moulding of pedestal seats from Mexico, which allows for the construction of durable effective pedestals within the community;
4.The introduction of urine diversion technology , which caters for situations where ventilated improved toilets are not appropriate and where people would like dry sanitation inside there house; and
5.The incorporation into the programme of all the ideas and successful experiments generated from the community.  This has included children’s toilets, hand washing facilities, single pit urine diversion etc.

The issue of lack of appropriate technology for personal hygiene and improving the quality of water has also been addressed over the past 4 years. 

At present there are 3 affordable and water efficient hand washing facilities available.  These are
1.The “wine tap” model.  This uses a the wine tap found on the box wines fixed onto any suitable container;
2.The “squeezy” model.  This is created by making a small hole in the bottom of a 2-litre beverage bottle.  When the top is opened water comes out when it is closed surface tension prevents the water coming out.
3.The “self closing” model.  This requires a special top to be made which fits on a 2-litre beverage bottle.  The advantage of this model is that it is the simplest one for a child or old person to use.  However it requires the special manufacture of the top.

In the case of water quality, EWAG, the Swiss federal research institute, have undertaken trials to demonstrate that solar disinfection (SODIS) is an effective way of improving the quality of water.  All that is required for SODIS is a supply of 2 litre transparent beverage bottles, a black surface and sunshine.  All of these components are readily available in South Africa.

Surveys in similar areas have shown that symptoms of disease are often not recognised and either incorrect treatment given or medical assistance sought too late.  This component of the programme will seek to identify the diseases prevalent in the area and assist households and care givers to recognise symptoms and treat accordingly.

It is felt that conditions are now ready for the gearing up the rural sanitation programme to introduce hand washing and SODIS thus ensuring that the 3 main barriers to the transmission of disease are in place and that there is better care thus ensuring a better standard of living for all.

3.Implementation Strategy
Although the White paper was published in 1994 the funding of sanitation remained restricted to a small number of individual projects until 1997 when the Department started to fund Provincial Sanitation Programmes.  The one exception to this was the Inqualabutho Sanitation Programme based on Mosvold Hospital, Ingwavuma, Northern KwaZulu-Natal. 

The Department’s provincial offices in Northern Province, North West, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal asked the Mvula Trust to submit provincial business plans (the Northern Province was split with the CSIR and later with Metsico, the BOTT consortium which the Mvula Trust is responsible for sanitation).

At a later stage the AquaManzi Consortium in KwaZulu-Natal became involved in the provincial sanitation programme and in Mpumalanga the Mvula Trust was asked to prepare District Sanitation Business plans.  By this time it was a requirement of the Department, as a result of the Division of Revenue Act that local government approve the Business Plans before they could be implemented.

In Eastern Cape the only 9 individual projects, implemented by the Mvula Trust, were approved by the Department.  This did change in December 2000 when the Alfred Nzo District Municipality requested the Mvula Trust to be its implementing agent for the Department’s sanitation programme and in March 2001 a District Municipal Business Plan was passed covering 107 villages.

The results to date are as follows


No of Toilets Built

No of Villages

Comment on 2000/2001

Northern Province



Spent Allocation

Eastern Cape







Nearly spent allocation




Late approval by councils

Northern Cape



Spent allocation. Combining efforts with DH&LG to ensure integrated approach

North West



Spent allocation even though BPs were only approved in October




Project stopped as no further funs were allocated to it.


26 543



This has been achieved for a total expenditure of approximately R100 million or at a cost of less than R4000 per toilet.  Since this cost includes liaison with Provincial sanitation task teams, councils and other stakeholders, training workshops, capacity building etc.  In comparison Durban Metropolitan Unicity Municipality has just priced a supply side approach to building double ventilated improved pits in Mzinyathi and for the construction costs alone have calculated a price of R4,500 per toilet.

However the 29,543 toilets represents 160,000 people served, less than 1% of the population without adequate sanitation and it has taken 4 years to achieve.

Only in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga were the sanitation allocations not spent in the financial year 2000/2001.  It demonstrates that in the remaining provinces, where according to the Departments policy a Demand Responsive Approach has been followed, there is sufficient demand for sanitation.

Even if costs can be reduced the question still remains, is there sufficient money allocated to sanitation even with an allocation of R100 million per year? The table below illustrates this point

Estimated No. of people still without adequate sanitation: 18 million
Estimated No of Households to be served: 3 million

Cost per Toilet

Estimated Cost of Programme (millions)

No. of Years to Complete Programme


R13 500



R10 500



R7 500



R4 500


The answer is a categoric no!  Moving to a supply side approach will further worsen the situation, which would concentrate the benefits on a few people.

A supply side approach has already been tried and failed in the Rustenburg District of the North West Province.  Under the Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Programme a number of villages were selected to receive toilets.  The following occurred:
·The households were not consulted over the toilets and frequently came home to find the pits being dug on their property without permission.
·The toilets were of precast concrete, manufactured in Gauteng.  This resulted in
-The villages received no economic benefit from the manufacture of the toilets; and
-Not being able to move the structures when the pits were full (the cost of emptying the pits is beyond the resources of the municipality and the households)
·No further funding was available to continue this programme but adjacent communities demanded free toilets.  This delayed the Departments sanitation programme in the district for 2 years whilst the residents and councillors were convinced that the money would not be forthcoming.

4.Analysis of the Problem and Recommended Solutions
Many hard and bitter lessons have been learnt over the past 4 years as theory has been put to the test and demolished in the face of the practical realities on the ground and on coming to understand communities needs.  Many of these lessons have been incorporated into the sanitation programmes but it has been an ad-hoc approach due to vagaries of the business planning process.

The main problems with the recommended solutions are as follows:
Perceived Lack Of Household Demand For Sanitation At National Level And Consequent Lack Of Support For Sanitation Programme

If there is no demand for sanitation at a household level why do over 80% of households in South Africa have some form of sanitation facility and why did the implementing agents in 4 out of 6 Provinces spend their financial allocation last year?

Most households understand the importance of containing faeces and wish to have a toilet for the privacy it offers.  With the resources and knowledge they have they often come up with the most economic solution (A tin top-structure which can be moved when the pit is full.  Where the soil is stable and larger pits are possible, which last longer, it is common to find brick top-structures).  Where no structure exist the overriding factor is poverty preventing the households improving the situation.  In both KwaZulu-Natal, EG Kei and the Mohale Programme in Lesotho as soon as material support was offered households were prepared to invest sweat equity in improving their facilities.

The sanitation programme has bought in new ideas venting of toilets, fly screens, lining of pits, new construction techniques and new technologies.  Households have readily adopted these to obtain a toilet, which gives not only privacy but also comfort, dignity and status.  Once these ideas are firmly established in the community it has been found people adopt them without the need of a subsidy.  The subsidy, if available, can then be targeted at the poorest members of the community.

These principles are well understood in many of the Departments Provincial offices, by local government and in one case by the Provincial Government of the Northern Cape.  Premier Mannie Dipico after visiting the communities and listening to their problems supported them in their proposed solutions.

Recommendation: Decision and policy making should occur at provincial and local level with the national level co-ordinating efforts.

Two Phased Approach To Sanitation Implementation And Lack Of Continuity Of Funding

Most sanitation projects adopted a Phase A & B approach in their implementation.  The result was that projects would complete Phase A (The training of committees, creation of awareness and building of the first toilets) only to wait for the Phase B to be approved, often under another Business plan.  Even when Phase B was approved insufficient money would be allocated to complete the project and a further Business plan would be required to access further funding.

The result was that committees and builders gave up and looked for employment elsewhere resulting in retraining when the projects were restarted.  Also many communities lost faith in the process

Recommendation: That once a village has been approved to receive funding it should continue to receive funding so long as there is sufficient demand within the community to for improved sanitation.  This should be applied retroactively to all villages on the current business plans.

Village Based Rather Than Area Based Approach

In the first sanitation programmes consultants were appointed per village.  Projects were also found to be far apart and therefore economies of scale were not achieved.  Later consultants were appointed to cover a group of villages in close proximity to each other.  This achieved economies of scale and greatly reduced costs.  In 1999/2000 the North West province implemented this to great effect by increasing the number of projects from 22 to 157 within 6 months.

This approach still has its problems as often demand is created from households in adjacent villages not named in the Business Plan, yet this demand cannot be satisfied until a new business plan is approved.  If it were allowed for these households to access subsidies, through an adjacent village committee, even greater economies of scale would be achieved and the programme could target many more people.

Recommendation: That local municipalities form the basis of the business plans. rather than individual villages.  However, the local council would still prioritise which villages should be targeted within that area and statistics would be reported per village.  This is in fact the basis for the Water Services Development Plans, as required by the Water Services Act.

A well constituted Water Services Development Plan should in fact form the basis for the release of capital funding to the Water Services Authority and this should be the objective of the Department.

Unstable Funding Flows
It is extremely difficult for all parties involved in the implementation of sanitation to plan when it is not known from one year to the next what the funding allocations will be, that they vary so much between the financial years and that the finical allocation is not known until May or June and even then it can be changed during the year.

For example in 1998/99 budgets were severely constrained, in some provinces, due to budget constraints then expanding in 99/00 leaving implementing agents struggling to increase capacity.  At present in Mpumalanga and EG Kei we do not know the financial allocation for this year, even though there are approved business plans, and therefore cannot plan spending to ensure there is continuity into the following financial year.  In Northern Cape in 2000/01 originally there was an allocation of R438,000 to sanitation.  Ultimately R5,519,592 was spent due to an increased allocation.  Changes like this lead to ineffective spending of resources

Recommendation: Have 3 year rolling budgets with a guaranteed 80% allocation of the previous years budget.

Lack Of Capacity Within The Sector

Until 1994 very few people had worked with communities in a Demand Responsive Approach.  The approach was for a government department to decide that toilets needed to be built, appoint a consultant to design and supervise the work and appoint a contractor to build them.  The result toilets in the veld or proprietary systems which did not work.  To involve households and communities in the process involved skills, which many professionals did not possess.  These skill have had to be built and even today it is a struggle to find the necessary professional skills though this is being overcome with the use of community to community training.  The added advantage of community to community training is that the money for professional fees is retained within the community thereby fostering local economic development.  In Namaqualand this approach has been used to great effect resulting in 10 community people providing support to other communities.

It needs to be recognised that all stakeholders are striving towards a common goal, sustainable sanitation services for all.  This happens in an atmosphere of co-operative governance, which is set out as a principle in most of the legislation.  This is best achieved in an atmosphere of co-operation and mutual support, rather than confrontation and an us and them attitude.  In some provinces this is being achieved but rarely is this witnessed between the provincial and national offices of the Department.

Recommendation: Expand the programme slowly and ensure that skills are transferred to community people.  Be prepared to pay for training and to rigorously analyse the performance of departmental staff, local government, implementing agents and consultants. Monitor, evaluate, mentor and support to achieve maximum results.

Approval Of Business Plans At National Level

A significant delay has been in the approval of the business plans with up to an 18-month delay in the approval of the business plans. 

It is significant that the delays have occurred in Provinces, which do not have authority to approve business plans.  In contrast in the Eastern Cape the EG Kei Sanitation Programme Business Plan was written and approved within 2 months as a result of concentrated teamwork between the Council, Mvula trust and the Department’s Eastern Cape office.  It must be stressed that this co-operation exists in other provinces but they do not have the support of their colleagues at national level and who often have no experience in the sanitation sector.

A further problem is the number of organisations required to approve the business plan before it can be submitted and that the rules are changed during the writing of the BPs.  These are:
1.The Municipality.  Since the Water Services Authority functions often sit at District Municipality level this involves obtaining 2 council resolutions. (A letter from the Municipal Manger is not acceptable).  Council resolutions require political support and for a Council meeting to take place.  This can take several months.
2.The Provincial Sanitation Task Team.  This is a non-statuary co-ordinating body.  Not all provinces have such a body and in some cases it is difficult to obtain signatures.
3.The communities.  On average it takes 8 hours per community to obtain this letter of support.  In the EG Kei where 107 villages were targeted this represents a cost of R214,000.  Although we have been informed that money is available for the preparation of Business Plans we have never been able to access this and when such a budget is presented we are told it is too expensive i.e. the department wants the letter of support but is not prepared to pay for it.  Also due to the delays between the submission of the Business Plan by the Provincial office of the Department and approval by the National Business Plan Approval Committee all momentum is lost and the process must be restarted.

Recommendation: The provincial offices of the Department understand the sanitation process and have been involved in the development of the business plans.  They, should, therefore have the authority to approve the Business Plans.  The quality of the business Plans can be monitored at a national level by someone who has had experience in the implementation of sanitation programmes.

The only approval required should be from the District and local Municipalities in the form of a Council resolution. It is unconstitutional for a non-statutory body Provincial and regional Sanitation Task Teams) to have a right of veto over the Councils and it is too expensive to obtain local community approval.

Changing Local Government Environment
Local Government is tasked in the constitution to provide access to water and sanitation.  However, in most of the areas in which the Departments sanitation programme is targeted local government was only established in 1995.

Councillors and officials have struggled to come to grips with the legislation developed by all the national departments when they do not have adequate resources.

In the early stages of the sanitation programme we were often faced with councillors, fresh from classroom based training, who insisted that the council would perform certain functions without having the resources to carry them out.  After a few disasters, such as the collapse of the bucket collection system in the Leliefontein TLC, a more practical approach was adopted by the Councils, which resulted in them becoming involved in the programmes, understanding the issues and solving the problems in the field.  This required ongoing mentoring and support from the programme in contrast to the once off classroom based approach. 

This approach was starting to bear fruit when the demarcation of the new councils occurred together with the elections.  The confusion that this has caused is still being sorted out.

 A second issue is the lack of capacity at local government level.  This does not necessarily mean a lack of understanding of the issues but more often the lack of financial resources and personnel to undertake all the tasks given to them by National and Provincial government.   Often decisions taken at national level take the form of an unfunded mandate to local government. The decision has severe financial implications for local government but at no stage were they consulted on how they would fund this decision.  The result has been an ad-hoc approach to development as the local government responds to outside demands rather than an integrated approach where external support is sought when the council is unable to manage.

All training must include ongoing mentoring and support to be effective.
Programmes need to take into account the changing environment as well as political considerations during election time.
Financial and human resources need to be transferred to local government to enable them to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities; and
National government must apply the principle of co-operative governance so that collectively national departments do not place unsustainable demands on local government.

The rural sanitation programme has strengthened and improved over the past 7 years.  A wealth of experience has been gained and a far better understanding of the problems facing rural people in improving their sanitation.

The Mvula Trust believes that if the above recommendations are followed it will drive down the costs of the programme to R1500 per toilet or under.  This is still looking at 45 years to service all households with inadequate sanitation at the current level of funding of R100 million per year.

However it has been shown that with proper awareness creation and training of local people, households will improve their toilets without waiting for a government subsidy.  In the Tugela Valley and at Mseleni two builders are in the process of developing businesses which are founded on this principle.  As awareness grows it is hoped that more business will become involved.

The sanitation programme can then concentrate on developing awareness and targeting the subsidy to poorer areas and individuals.  Within 20 years and the same funding it should then be possible to ensure that the entire population of South Africa has access to sustainable sanitation services.


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