Eradication of Buckets & Water and Sanitation Service briefings by Provincial Water Departments

Water and Sanitation

04 May 2007
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

04 May 2007

Ms C September (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Gauteng Department of Local Government presentation
Limpopo Provincial Government presentation on sanitation implementation challenges faced by the WSA’s
Chris Hani District Municipality presentation on water services backlog Northern Cape Province
Western Cape Province : presentation on Water sector plan
Northern Cape: Strategic review of the National water sector backlogs and targets

Audio Recording of the Meeting Part1, Part2, Part3 & Part4


The Committee was briefed by the provincial Departments of Water Affairs from Gauteng, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Western Cape Provinces, and the Chris Hani District Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province, on the status of the water and sanitation service provision, the eradication of the bucket system, the challenges and strategic objectives and the funding requirements of each area.

Questions were raised by Members on the cost of consultants in Gauteng, the funds required to maintain the latrines, and whether Gauteng would be able to meet its targets. It was noted that little information had been given on further sanitation projects, including maintenance plans, and clarity was sought as to what was included in the budgets for Gauteng. The reasons for the backlogs were examined. Questions were asked of the Eastern Cape about the additional funding from the Development Bank. Limpopo was asked to clarify the estimates for eradication of the sanitation backlog and it was clarified that this related to septic tanks. Alternative systems were explained. Concern was expressed whether the current grants were sufficient, and Western Cape said that this was delaying housing projects. Provinces were asked to clarify whether they were providing free basic water and sanitation, how they were addressing future challenges and management of catchment areas, and whether their calculations included rural areas. The impediments to implementation of the objectives were clarified. Members expressed concern about the information and were not convinced that some targets were attainable, and requested details of planning processes. KwaZulu Natal was asked to submit a written presentation.

Gauteng Provincial Department Briefing
Mr Kemmy Ojageer, Project Manager, Provincial Department, Gauteng briefed the Committee on the progress made by the province in replacing the bucket system with ventilated pit improved (VIP) latrines and water-borne sewerage systems.

Mr Ojageer reported that out of a total of 12332 buckets, 11054 were completed and the remaining 278 were expected to be completed by June 2007.  Major challenges faced by the province included the prevalence of dolomitic geotechnical conditions, an inadequate water supply and the lack of suitable land for housing development.

Limpopo Provincial Department Briefing
Ms Mihloti Hetisani, Senior General Manager, Sanitation, Provincial Department, Limpopo briefed the Committee on the development of sanitation infrastructure in the province. She reported that no buckets remained in the province and the focus of the province was on replacing the septic tank system.

Ms Hetisani cited the poor infrastructure, insufficient funding and the use of inappropriate sanitation technologies as the major challenges facing the province.

Eastern Cape Province Briefing
Mr Galelo Mambisa, Provincial Department, Eastern Cape briefed the Committee on the bucket eradication projects undertaken by the Chris Hani District Municipality. He said that a total amount of R150 million was required to replace the 5 856 buckets remaining in the district.

Northern Cape Provincial Department Briefing
Mr JF van Wyk, MEC, Department of Local Government and Housing (DLG&H), briefed the Committee on the backlogs in providing water and sanitation services to the schools and clinics in the province and the progress made in eradicating buckets in the formal settlements.

Mr Van Wyk reported that a total of 6846 buckets remain in the province.  He said that the lack of water in the region and the provision of basic services to the Moshaweng community in particular was a major challenge in the province.

Western Cape Provincial Department Briefing
Mr Harry du Plessis, Western Cape Provincial Department, apologised for the absence of Mr R Dyantyi, MEC of Local Government and Housing, and briefed the committee on the five strategic objectives for water and sanitation service delivery in the province. He said that the provision of housing in the province far outstripped the supply of bulk services, resulting in the need to develop the infrastructure to satisfy the increased demand.

Mr Du Plessis said that between 1500 and 2000 buckets remain in the province and that these were mainly in the informal settlements in rural areas such as the Kannaland and Theewaterskloof municipalities.

Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked how many consultants were used by the Gauteng Province in the provision of water and sanitation services and if the cost of consulting services was included in the budget.

Mr Ojageer replied that consultants were appointed by the municipalities and the costs were included in the individual municipal budgets.

Ms M Manana (ANC) asked what happened when insufficient funding was available to maintain a new toilet.

Mr Ojageer replied that once installed, the maintenance of VIP latrines was the responsibility of the relevant municipality, which would have to ensure that the system remains operational.

Ms M Maine (ANC) asked whether the targets set in 2004 by Gauteng were being met.

Mr Ojageer replied that the Gauteng province would meet its target. Only 278 buckets remained and these would be replaced by June 2007.

Mr Arendse noted that all buckets in the Limpopo province were replaced and asked what plans were put in place to deal with the next phase in sanitation provision.

The Chairperson noted that although figures were provided on the number of buckets, little information was given on how many VIP latrines and other forms of sanitation were in use.
She also commented that the Committee had observed many VIP’s already in a crumbling state of repair and asked what operational and maintenance programmes were in place for other sanitation systems, and if there was sufficient funding in place.

Mr Ojageer replied that the misuse of the VIP’s was a problem and that the province was now reviewing the completed projects to determine the amount of maintenance that would be required in future. He added that the province was investigating alternative technologies for the treatment of sewerage, such as the closed water-borne system used in China.

The Chairperson asked what exactly was included in the budgets for the eradication of buckets.

Mr Ojageer replied that an amount of R2 million was required in the budget for the provision of water and R5 billion for sanitation systems

Mr Arendse suggested that all VIP latrines and other owner-built systems should be counted and included in the provinces’ sanitation plans.

Mr Ojageer replied that solid VIP structures were built. He added that one of the problems was that buckets were retained by residents and re-used after they had been replaced.  He said that it was difficult to establish exact numbers as owners of new houses were erecting backyard structures and re-introducing buckets and long drops.

Ms September asked why buckets had been eliminated in some areas of Gauteng but not in others.

Mr Ojageer replied that there was a housing backlog of 500 000 houses in the province.  Once new houses had been provided the backlog would be eliminated as the new houses were built with waterborne sewerage systems.

The Chairperson asked for an explanation of the funding requirements stated by the Chris Hani District Municipality.

Mr Mambisa replied that the Council had determined that in order to meet the targets set, a R10 million loan from the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) was needed to augment the grants allocated to the municipality.  He said that the loan was repayable over ten years and the repayments were included in the budget. The amount of R73 million still required was determined after the Council had consulted with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) and had found that it may not have sufficient funds to meet the targets set.  He explained that there were both septic tank and bucket systems in the areas being developed and that the focus was on replacing the buckets.  This led to problems with the communities, since water-borne systems were provided for some while others had to retain the septic tanks.

The Chairperson asked for an explanation of the R3.3 billion estimated by the Limpopo Province to eradicate the sanitation backlog in the province.

Ms Hetisani replied that although there were no buckets in the province, the septic tank systems in the Greater Letaba and Marble Hall districts had to be replaced.  The amount of R3.3 billion was based on the assumption that current technology was used.  The province was however investigating alternative systems. This included a model used in India. It was expected that alternative technologies may require less funding.

Mr Arendse asked if Gauteng province was replacing the owner-built systems in the older formal settlements as well as in the informal settlements.

Mr Ojageer replied that services were provided for occupants who owned their own land.  An indigent register was compiled for informal settlements and currently 90% had water, 86% had sewerage and 81% had electricity services.

Mr Arendse expressed concern whether the grants available were sufficient to meet the funding requirements of the provinces, particularly for the development of bulk infrastructure to provide sanitation systems.

Mr Du Plessis replied that the capacity for the provision of bulk services such as water supply and waste treatment had been exhausted in the Western Cape.  As a result, the supply of more housing was being delayed.  He added that the establishment of DWAF’s Bulk Services Fund was a move in the right direction and suggested that DWAF also fund studies in the availability and development of such resources.

Mr Arendse asked how successful the provinces had been in providing free basic sanitation and water services.

Mr Du Plessis replied that the provision of free water and sanitation services was implemented in all the municipalities in the Western Cape.

Mr Van Wyk replied that free basic services had been implemented in all municipalities in the Northern Cape.  He added that a number of households in rural areas and on farms had no access to services yet.

Mr Arendse asked to what extent local governments recognized the realities of limited resources and the need to withhold reserves of resources.

Mr Du Plessis replied that data from DWAF was used to determine the availability of limited resources and that the situation was expected to worsen as a result of climate change.  He added that regular expert studies of resources were being led by DWAF.

Mr Arendse asked to what extent local governments were addressing future challenges, particularly in terms of increased domestic demands.

Mr Du Plessis replied that the new Berg River dam that was built to increase the water supply for Cape Town will start filling this winter.

Mr Arendse asked what was being done in terms of the management of catchment areas.

Mr Du Plessis replied that DWAF was better qualified to comment on the situation in the Catchment Management Agencies.

Mr B Mosala (ANC) expressed concern about the Northern Cape province’s ability to assist those municipalities that were experiencing serious problems.

Ms Maine asked whether the water and sanitation requirements of the rural areas were included in the Western Cape province’s figures.

Mr Du Plessis replied that the rural areas were included in the Western Cape figures.  He pointed out that Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) funds were allocated by DPLG to the municipalities and that the province had no say in the matter.

Mr van Wyk replied that the rural areas of the Northern Cape were included in the figures. He added that most of the problems were in Moshaweng where basic services were non-existent.

Ms Maine asked how the Northern Cape province expected to meet the challenge to provide water-borne sewerage services in such a vast and dry area.

Mr van Wyk replied that a task team was working with DWAF on the issues relating to bulk water supply, particularly in the Kalahari, Sandveld, Namakwa, Richtersveld and Kamieshoek areas.  He added that targets were not met in only two of the Northern Cape municipalities.  He explained that because water was an extremely scarce resource in the province, water-borne sewerage could not always be provided. Although adequate funds were available, the people wanted a higher level of service that could not be provided by the limited water supply.

Mr Louis Snyders, Regional Director, Northern Cape, DWAF, acknowledged that there were major impediments to the implementation of the water and sanitation objectives in the Northern Cape. He cited the lack of expertise and skills as a major challenge and said that only two out of 32 municipalities had a town engineer and many had no technical expertise. He added that the Northern Cape succeeded in having funds allocated to where these were most needed. Mr Snyders added that a forum was established where local authorities could meet on a regular basis and share ideas to address the water resource challenges faced by the region.

Ms Maine commented on the mushrooming informal settlements in the Western Cape and asked if the DPLG&H was able to provide maps and statistics.

A representative of the Department, Western Cape, replied that a master plan for the development of informal settlements was done for Cape Town.

Ms Maine said that she was not happy with the lack of information in the Western Cape province’s presentation. She added that she was not convinced that the province understood the problems arising from insufficient resources and expressed doubt that the targets will be met.

Mr Du Plessis replied that the brief was to comment on five objectives but that a lot of information was available on informal settlements. He added that more emphasis on spatial development frameworks was necessary.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) commented that the issues were not just about meeting targets but also about meeting the expectations of the people.

The Chairperson asked when the provinces started the planning processes to meet their objectives.

Mr Du Plessis replied that planning was a continuous process and that much was done by the Western Cape during 2006 in this regard.  He added that guidance on which aspects were to be included in plans was required from the national level, down to the provincial and municipal levels. He said that there was a need to link local economic development to the development of industry and housing.

Mr van Wyk stated that planning started in 2002 in the Northern Cape and statistics were available to illustrate the progress made since then. A progress study was completed in 2005 to determine backlogs and progress made. A document was submitted to DWAF in December 2006, detailing the backlogs in the province. 

The Chairperson commented that all municipalities were required to uphold the constitutional rights of people to basic services. She asked for more details of the projects in the Western Cape dealing with the eradication of the bucket system.

Mr Du Plessis replied with statistics from the various municipalities and provided the number of buckets still remaining in each district.

A Departmental official from Western Cape added that details of the initiatives and challenges faced by the Western Cape will be forwarded to the committee.

Mr Jabu Sindane, Director-General, DWAF, concluded the presentation by summarising the Department’s activities and achievements in implementing its strategic plans.  He said that it was important to share information on water resources and clarified the DWAF’s policies on the eradication of the bucket system.

He pointed out that funding was available for the projects but the lack of competent service providers remained a problem. He said that there was an unintended consequence of unrealistic expectations being raised when determining backlogs and funding requirements.

Mr Sindane further highlighted concern over the ability of some municipalities to meet their strategic plans. The lack of skills remained a challenge in most areas and there was a need to develop and deploy community workers, particularly in the Northern and Eastern Cape provinces.

Significant amounts had been included in the budgets of the provinces in order to implement their strategic plans. He added that there was a need to correlate the boundaries of municipalities, water management agencies, catchment areas and political regions.

The Chairperson requested that KwaZulu Natal Province DPL&G submit a written presentation to the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.



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