Bucket System Eradication: Progress Report by Department

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

22 February 2007

Rev P Moatshe (ANC, North West)

Documents handed out:
Bucket eradication progress
Bucket eradication status and action plans
Presentation Status report on bucket eradication programme. North West


The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the provincial Departments from the Free State and North West presented a progress report on the eradication of the bucket sanitation system, which was targeted for end of December 2007. Government aimed to eradicate the bucket sanitation system from all formal settlements by end December 2007 and the Department had given strong guidance and management to local governments who were implementing the system. There were still backlogs, with the worst being in Free State, Eastern Cape and North West, although they had made tremendous progress. The backlog was currently 132 671. The difficulties included non availability of water, appointment of contractors, the need for provinces to augment the budget allocation and resistance by some communities to anything other than water borne sanitation. Free State municipalities had some capacity problems. The North West province and some of the municipalities had secured a loan from the Development Bank, but there would still be funds needed to fund bulk infrastructure. Questions asked by members related to under spending, the alleged extension of the date for eradication by some municipalities, the validity of the figures presented by DWAF, and the non connection of some new toilets in Mpumalanga. Further questions were asked whether sufficient budget had been allocated, whether the target could be met, whether there was sufficient capacity, support and creation of jobs for local communities, and monitoring of municipalities. The Department stated categorically that it would meet the target of December 2007 and would furnish the Committee with this and the figures in writing.

Bucket Eradication Progress Report:
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF)
Ms Thandeka Mbassa (Deputy Director General, DWAF) stated that there was strong determination from the highest echelons of government for the eradication of the bucket sanitation system by the end of December 2007. She hastened to add, however, that the eradication of the bucket system would only be in formalised structures and therefore excluded squatter camps and other informal dwellings. She stated that DWAF had given strong guidance and management, although the implementation and delivery was happening at the local government level.

Ms Tamie Mpofulo (Chief Director, DWAF) stated that when the programme to eradicate the bucket system commenced in February 2005 there were 242 254 buckets in use in South Africa. The highest backlogs were in the Free State (127 658), Eastern Cape (48 417) and North West (35 189) provinces respectively. She added that owing to the fact that these provinces had allocated some of their budgets to eradicating the bucket system; almost double the number of buckets were replaced in 2006 as compared to 2005. She added that 1500 buckets had been eradicated in the Eastern Cape in 15 days during January 2007. The current backlog was reported to be 132 671, with 67% being in the Free State, 15% North West and 13% in the Eastern Cape. The difficulties faced by the Department were articulated and included: water unavailability in some areas, the slow process of appointing contractors, and the shortfall in the funding provided by the National Treasury, which the provinces were expected to augment. She stated however that in an attempt to alleviate the problems experienced, 26 engineers had been deployed to regions where required. Some communities were insisting upon water borne sanitation

Mr Malefetsane Mafereka (Free State MEC Local Government and Housing) asserted that as the Free State suffered most during apartheid this was why it had the highest backlog of buckets nationwide. He stated that the Free State had already eradicated 71 209 buckets in the period from 2004 and 2007 although there were capacity problems in some of the municipalities. The MEC said that municipalities should also dip into their coffers and help fund this project. He further stated that many people wanted water borne toilets as opposed to the ventilated improved pit latrine system (VIPs) and that this was a problem where there was no readily available source of water. He stated that water borne sewerage was a long term solution and that a short term solution was required at present.

The Senior Manager: North West Department of Local Government and Housing apologized that the provincial Head of Department had been delayed, and was asked to give the presentation. She stated that as at August 2006, the North West had a backlog of 25 124 buckets. Owing to financial constraints the province, together with some of its municipalities, had secured a loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to help fund the bucket eradication programme. She informed the Committee that with this funding they had managed to eradicate 6 822 of the 25124 buckets and would have eradicated them all by June 2007. There was a need for R140 million to fund bulk infrastructure.

Ms H Matlanyane (ANC, Limpopo) asked the Department what the initial agreement with the community in the Chris Hani municipality was regarding water borne and VIP toilets.

The Chairperson said the MEC would report on this matter the following day when he would be present.

Ms H Matlanyane asked the delegation from the North West how they could secure a loan from the DBSA when they had funds in their budget allocated to the eradication of the bucket system that had not been spent

The Senior Manager stated that the R76 million she had referred to when speaking of under spending did not only apply to the North West, but to all provinces. She added that taking out the loan was an example of initiative shown by the province.

Ms H Matlanyane asked why, although the eradication of all buckets was to be completed by December 2007, some municipalities seemed to be extending this to 2008

MEC Mafereka stated that the province had reversed the decision that had been taken by some municipalities to extend the bucket eradication into 2008

Mr A Watson (DA, Mpumalanga) questioned the validity of the figures presented by DWAF owing to the assertion that all the buckets in Mpumalanga had been eradicated. He stated that the new toilets built in Secunda had not been connected and that in some instances pit latrines were now used in place of the buckets.

Ms Mbassa asserted that the problems with buckets in Mpumalanga had been resolved and that they had been eradicated. She furthermore stated that there were problems with the water supply and a plan had been put in place by both the province and DWAF.

Mr L Van Rooyen (ANC, Free State) asked DWAF how it expected the provinces to eradicate the buckets if it had not allocated enough money. According to his calculations it would cost R9000 to eradicate a bucket, yet the budget was not sufficient. This was evidenced by the fact that the North West had to take a loan.

Ms Mbassa stated that the initial allocation of R1, 2 billion had not anticipated the bulk infrastructure improvements needed due to increased urbanization. An example was Mokwase, where the closest water source was 65 kilometres away. She stated that there were bound to be errors, but reassured the committee that the national government and DWAF were hands-on in eradicating the bucket system. She assured the Committee that the target for the eradication of buckets would be met by the end of 2007.

Ms Mpofulo stated that an additional R600 million had been given in this year’s budget to aid in the eradication of the bucket system. The costs associated with eradicating a bucket ranged from R4000 to R18 000 depending on the conditions in the area. She attested that the available budget was sufficient to cover the backlog.

Mr L Van Rooyen asked if DWAF had the capacity to support the provinces

Ms Mbassa stated that DWAF was hands-on, had provided engineers to aid provinces and municipalities, and was certain the target of all buckets eradicated by the end of 2007 would be met.

Ms H Lamoela (DA, Western Cape) asked why the North West had a moving target and what the cutoff date was in eradicating all the buckets as new settlements were always springing up

Ms Mbassa stated that only formal settlements were targeted for eradication of buckets under the current programme. New informal settlements did not meet the definition and would not be included in the targets.

Mr F Adams (ANC, Western Cape) asked what efforts were made to involve local communities and thereby create jobs

Mr L Van Rooyen (ANC, Free State) continued to query the figures supplied by DWAF and asserted there was still a shortfall of R1, 2 billion.

Ms Mpofulo stated that the figures were indeed correct and that there was not a shortfall of R1, 2 billion as asserted. She stated that there was R1 billion left to fund the eradication project this year, of which R600 million had been given to the Free State.

MEC Mafereka confirmed receipt of the R600 million and added that it would be sufficient to eradicate buckets in the Free State, as his department had calculated the shortfall at R566 million.

Mr F Adams asked if the situation in the Machabeng municipality had been resolved as there was chronic under-spending and only 6% of the budget to eradicate buckets had been spent.

MEC Mafereka replied that the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) together with the provincial government were now hands-on and no longer depended on reports given by the municipalities, but wrote their own reports after having assessed the situation. Moreover, DWAF officials were ensuring that the municipality is spending.

Mr Watson asked whether Limpopo had started with the eradication of buckets before other provinces, as it seemed not to have any backlog.

Ms Mpofulo again reiterated there were no buckets in formal structures in Limpopo. She stated that pit latrines and water borne sanitation were more common.

The Chairperson asked DWAF whether the figures they had provided were correct

Ms Mpofulo stated that the figures were indeed correct and that there would be enough money available to eradicate buckets by the end of 2007,

Mr Van Rooyen requested that DWAF put its figures in writing and state categorically that there would be enough funds to complete the eradication of the bucket sanitation system by the set date.

Ms Mbassa assured the committee that there would be enough money to complete the project, but confirmed that this would be put in writing. She asserted that the date of December 2007 was non negotiable and that the Minister and DWAF were taking it seriously.

The Chairperson enquired as to how realistic the figures given by municipalities were if it took them longer than 3 months to complete tenders.

MEC Mafereka again stated that the DPLG, DWAF and provincial departments were monitoring the municipalities, wrote their own reports and no longer depended on incorrect reports given by municipalities.

Mr Adams stated that people in informal settlements also expected the buckets in their areas to be eradicated and suggested that the Department go on a publicity campaign to make them aware that only formal structures had been serviced initially.

The Chairperson concluded that hopefully the Department would have eradicated all the buckets by the end of 2007 in accordance with the President’s wishes.

The meeting was adjourned.



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