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Taking Parliament to People, and People to Parliament
The aim of this report is to summarise the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings.
Water affairs and forestry Portfolio Committee
26 September 2001
PROGRESS REPORT ON SANITATION
Chairperson: Ms B. Sonjica
Documents handed out:
National Sanitation Programme: Bringing Sanitation up to Speed (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry)
Framework for National Sanitation Strategy: Bringing Sanitation up to Speed (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry)
White Paper on Basic Household Sanitation 2001 (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry)
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry reported on the progress they had made on the issue of sanitation. The Department also noted that Cabinet had approved the White Paper on Basic Household Sanitation. The Committee was given a chance to comment and ask questions relating to the White Paper.
The Chairperson, Ms B. Sonjica (ANC), initiated the meeting by welcoming the Committee members and suggested that the workshop that was supposed to be held the following week be postponed as she felt that the Committee Members were not yet ready for it. The Chairperson also stated that Mr D. Hanekom (ANC) was proposed to be the member responsible for handling the workshop and she asked if other Members were comfortable with the proposal. There were no objections from other Members. Ms Sonjica proceeded to introduce Mr J. Potloane, Deputy Director General of Regional Operations and Water Services, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, and asked him to make his report on the progress on sanitation.
National Sanitation Programme
Mr Potloane stated that Cabinet had approved the White Paper on Basic Household Sanitation. He further stated that since the 1994 White Paper, nothing had happened on sanitation until Cabinet's approval of the White Paper. Mr Potloane stated that there had been a lack of access to basic sanitation and added that out of three million households, one million did not have access to any sanitation facilities. There was furthermore no knowledge of hygiene. He added that of the other two million households, they only had access to certain sanitation facilities which were below the basic level. He also highlighted that the cholera epidemic in Kwazulu-Natal had heightened awareness of the importance of sanitation. He stated that sanitation programmes created an opportunity for local economic development through skills transfer and job creation.
The Department's vision was to improve health, dignity and quality of life for all South Africans through improvements in sanitation and hygiene. He added that their purpose as a Department was to define the National Sanitation Strategy for accelerated delivery of sanitation with a focus on rural households, peri-urban areas and informal settlements, as well as institutional sanitation. He stated that all sanitation planning should happen through the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) process. The projects would be prioritised and funding would be made available based on the IDPs submitted by local municipalities. He said that the programmes and project management structures should be in place at national, provincial and local levels. He also mentioned that the different Departments involved were currently funding the households and sanitation. Mr Potloane stated that in order to clear a backlog within the next ten years, Government needed to increase the funding for the sanitation programme drastically and that new approaches and methods needed to be looked into. He mentioned that as a guide, a subsidy of R1200 per household was proposed which would mean that R3.6 billion would be needed to clear the national backlog. In the areas where households already had sanitation facilities, they would be assisted to ensure that it was safe and hygienic. The use of existing housing would be encouraged.
Mr Potloane noted that the Department had two options in fulfilling the above function. The first was to clear the backlog within five years using the contractor driven approach and with an annual budget of R720 million. He added that the number of jobs created would be approximately 150 000. The contractor driven approach would reduce health benefits as the approach was driven through infrastructure delivery without taking into account the health imperatives of the programme. The second option would be to aim to clear the backlog within the next ten years using local capacity to build the infrastructure and do an intensive health and hygiene promotion and education programme. He added that this second option would need an annual budget of R360 million. He also stated that while the time taken with this approach was long, the sustainability benefits would endure. In conclusion, he stated that the Department recommended that Integrated Developmental Plans should include sanitation and all sanitation projects should be part of IDP. The Department had recommended a ten-year target to clear the backlog and to give equal priority to health and hygiene awareness and promotion.
Ms M. Masala (ANC) wanted to know if other Departments were also involved in the sanitation process.
Mr Potloane stated that the Departments of Health, Education, Environment and Housing also took part.
Mr J. Van Wyk (ANC) and Mr J. Arendse (ANC) asked what the Department was going to do to strengthen the capacity of local government because they thought the national government did not always deliver where necessary.
Mr Potloane responded saying that local governments should submit their business plans and the allocations would be made based on the business plan and the availability of funds.
Mr D. Hanekom (ANC) wanted to know how far the Department had gone with public participation as it was mentioned in the presentation that the process was based on the White Paper that was published in 1996. He also mentioned that the Department could not finalise a policy in which the public had not participated since 1996 adding that a great deal had happened since 1996 to help build the capacity.
Mr Potloane admitted that the public had not been given an opportunity to comment on the new White Paper but stated that pilot projects had taken place and the methods applied had proved appropriate.
Ms Sonjica wanted to know what was driving sanitation in the absence of policy before the cholera epidemic arose.
Mr Potloane responded that sanitation initiatives were carried out by individual households and added that the lessons from pilot projects exposed these sanitary practices.
Ms Sonjica expressed a concern over Mvula Trust, which complained that there was a delay in allocation of funds and also asked when the Committee should expect the new White Paper to be officially released.
Mr Potlane responded stating that the issue of the Mvula Trust was an internal matter and that Mvula Trust did not appear to have complied with the various rules. On the issue of the White Paper, he stated that the White Paper had been completed and approved but was in the process of being printed. He expected it to be ready for release in three weeks.
The meeting adjourned.
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