Bucket Eradication Programme & Access to Water Targets: Progress briefings

Water and Sanitation

09 October 2007
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Meeting report

WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 October 2007
BUCKET ERADICATION PROGRAMME & ACCESS TO WATER TARGETS: PROGRESS BRIEFINGS

Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Department Presentation: Strategy for Implementation of Water Access Target 2008
Provincial Water Supply and Sanitation perspective
Progress on Bucket Eradication Programme
Free State Province Presentation: Bucket Eradication (Status) 30 September 2007
North West Province Presentation: Progress on the Bucket Eradication Programme
Northern Cape Progress report on bucket eradication
Gauteng: Progress on the Bucket Sanitation Eradication Programme

Eastern Province Cape: Bucket Eradication Progress
Bucket Eradication: Kwazulu Natal Portfolio Committee for Water Affairs
Bucket Eradication Programme: Western Cape Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs

Audio recording of meeting [Part 1] [Part 2]& [Part 3]

SUMMARY
The Committee heard presentations by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Free State Province, North West Province, Gauteng Department of Local Government, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Kwazulu Natal provinces on the progress of the bucket sanitation eradication programme and access to water targets. The Department expressed concerns about the limitations on the delivery trends to achieve targets, particularly the lack of funding in this regard. The main plan of the department was to take action on all matters that included providing proper water and sanitation to people. Each province focused on the challenges faced, citing backlogs and lack of funds as particular problems, and highlighted what progress had been made. Eastern Cape reported to the Committee on their collaboration with different Departments to try and alleviate some of the problems. Kwazulu Natal told the Committee that they had had to deal with two Municipalities, and they were close to reaching their objectives, with one of the projects complete, and the other 85% complete. It had also eradicated some of last year’s backlogs. The Western Cape highlighted their targets, as well as the challenges they have had to deal with.

Members were generally concerned with the amount of time being taken to complete the programmes. The Western Cape in particular was questioned on bucket systems in informal settlements, and whether any progress had been made in the area. The Committee also wanted to know why all the provinces seemed to have a problem meeting the deadlines for eradicating backlogs, especially the Eastern Cape

MINUTES
Strategy for Implementation of Water Access Target 2008: Briefing by Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF)
Ms Thandeka Mbassa, Deputy Director General, DWAF, focused in her briefing on various issues regarding challenges around water targets, delivery trends, household sanitation and funding. Factors that had influenced and defined the moving target were mentioned, which included demographic changes, progressive inclusion of the housing backlog in the formal backlog figures, reduction in household sizes, with associated increases in the number of households and service needs, increased project failures and comebacks due to poor maintenance and management and ageing infrastructure and a growing need for infrastructure replacement. Ms Mbassa also focused on the high-risk provinces and gave examples of several interventions and plans proposed for hands-on assistance to the municipalities. Sustainability of infrastructure, operation and maintenance had in the past been given little attention, yet underlined the main causes of problems affecting access to basic water. Meeting the specified targets demanded additional funding and the only way to move forward towards greater sustainability was to adopt a more integrated planning approach by Municipalities, based on existing funding. Ms Mbassa recommended that there was to be only one memorandum to Cabinet, which would link basic services and housing in informal settlements. The current draft was to be amended and re submitted. Guidance must be provided to the Portfolio Committee to implement these targets.

Free State Province Presentation: Bucket Eradication (Status) 30 September 2007
Mr Joel Mafereka, MEC for Local Government and Housing, Free State Province, presented on the status of bucket eradication set in the Provincial Sanitation targets. Various intervention strategies were in place to deal with the issues of funding and try to ensure that all buckets were to be eradicated by the end of December 2007. The reasons for the current shortfall were explained. Water sanitation, lack of bulk water supply, underlying rock formation and funding remained as the major sources of challenges. Funding emerged as the most significant problem particularly in the Nketoana Local Municipality. Also in places such as the Mohokare Local Municipality, the community rejected alternative sanitation. It was indicated that there were shortfalls to eradicate in certain named municipalities, but he stated that municipalities were not being encouraged to take out loans to overcome the service delivery challenges. Rather, the deadline would be shifted so that it could be met by the end of the following fiscal year.

North West Province Presentation: Progress on the Bucket Eradication Programme
Mr Howard Yawa, MEC for Public Works, North West Province, presented
on the progress of performance on the bucket eradication programme to date. He indicated that 94% of the current backlog was under construction. The high risk provinces were highlighted, and key challenges in these regions and various intervention strategies were introduced. Insufficient funding remained as the most serious challenge to the realisation of targets. However, DWAF claimed to switch from the bulk infrastructure and instead use its internal funds to overcome this obstacle. Geotechnical challenges necessitating extensive rock excavations, rejection of “dry sanitation” options by communities, and inadequate capacity to do monitoring and evaluation, as well as lack of technical capacity, were named as other challenges.

Mr Yawa then proposed an intervention plan for the successful completion of the eradication programme in line with the December 2007 target. He proposed that a joint technical team of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, and Provincial and Local Government (DPLG), were to supervise and guide the national support team. The action plan implemented by these parties would hopefully lead to meeting the December target. DWAF and DPLG managers were to provide hands-on assistance in the Provinces to provide strategic guidance to the programme. It was concluded that although some provinces continued to pose risks, cooperation and creative actions between and within municipalities could increase delivery to the required levels.


Gauteng Department of Local Government Presentation:
Progress on the Bucket Sanitation Eradication Programme
Mr Kenraj Ojageer, Director: Municipal Infrastructure: Gauteng Provincial Government, presented on the current progress of his province’s bucket sanitation eradication programme. He gave detailed responses to the recommendations given to DWAF by the Committee. He also reported on the kinds of action the department had taken and would take in the future in terms of systems used to replace the buckets. A new type of installation was introduced, and there was now a new integrated communication strategy involving all community stakeholders, with a common goal to improve health and hygiene of the community. The success of the programme depended on the level of community acceptance. Mr Ojageer also pointed out the dedicated funding for bucket eradication provided by DWAF to the province. However, an effective maintenance plan and action was required from the municipality in providing an efficient cleaning service for the newly installed sanitation systems. A success strategy for water and sanitation was currently in a draft.

Discussion
Mr M Swathe (DP) wanted to know how responsible the Department was for the shortfall of the targets.

Mr M Sibuyana (IFP) made a comment that the successful realisation of these combined targets in fact involved too much work. He suggested that each target should rather be handled individually.

Mr J Arendse (ANC) posed a question regarding the ratification. He inquired about the level of readiness of the current infrastructure. It seemed that there was currently construction happening in Free State; but it was unknown as to what made it necessary for the provinces to take over more than 3 000 buckets, and what was required for the acceleration.

Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) raised issues concerning the target dates and relative funding. He said that although the target dates had been highlighted during the planning stage, there was no integration between such dates and the Department’s funding allocated for these projects. These funds had to be adequate for the projects. Cases had been cited in various places, including Kwazulu-Natal, in which the Department apparently gave no consideration although it was obvious that target dates could have been possibly met. Mr Ditshetelo also commented on the policy changes within the government. An integrated approach could supply the Department with proper guidance on how resolve the problems.

Mr B Mosala (ANC) asked whether the new challenges had been met and how the provinces planned to take over the problems.

The Chairperson asked for more clarification on what guidance could be given to municipalities on provision of water. She requested that the DWAF provide the members with a supply and demand chart, which would clearly indicate the supply in relation what resources were available. Such a chart would give the members a better idea of the likely results, the current and future demands, where the resources came from, and the kind of plans available.

Mr M Swathe (DA) asked what would happen to the old buckets to prevent them from being reused.

The Chairperson also enquired about considerations regarding urbanisation and sanitation, and the type of planning that could help achieve economic expansion. Measurement of the extent of the problem around funding, and where additional funding should emanate, were also to be discussed.

The Chairperson suggested that the Members reserve their questions in the future so that they could benefit from all upcoming presentations.

Delegates responded in general to these questions and comments.

Mr S Simmons (UPSA) expressed his confidence that 20 municipalities would reach the target. Many municipalities simply would not be able to reach these targets, perhaps as a result of technical and physical construction problems.

Mr Ojageer responded that the placement of water tanks was reprioritized, based on the research that provided information on what places needed the most water. He confirmed that there were dumping spots in regard to eradication of the buckets. It was surprising to find out that people claimed ownership of the buckets. In some provinces, people who owned the property still preferred to use their own buckets. It was necessary for the Department to formalise an agreement with these owners on their responsibility to provide new buckets for themselves and for their tenants.

Ms D van der Walt (DP) inquired about the possibility of accommodating the needs of people in wheelchairs. She also enquired whether training sessions would be held prior to fitting the facility, and suggested the need to involve the Department of Health on hygiene training.

Mr Ojageer responded that brick toilets were built to accommodate people with wheelchairs. However, the number of these facilities was limited. The Department had identified and resolved the problem where the toilets were located at far distances.

Mr Ojageer further commented on the Health Department’s support on the pre-implementation stage. The Department had made a visit to these communities to see which toilets were functional, to provide training on how to use these facilities and also to get feedback. The Department provided proper training as to how to utilise and clean the facilities, and people had gained confidence in the Department and in themselves and achieved a collective sense of ownership with these toilets. Teaching sanitation techniques would only happen over time, but the Department’s strategy so far had proved itself as a success.

Mr B Mosala (ANC) commented on the road infrastructure that did not go through the municipalities.

The Chairperson commented on the challenges arising out of the need for additional funding. She asked what mechanisms were available and what projects had to be considered to make the target a reality. She noted that the health situation in the municipalities was critical because an unhygienic bucket would easily spread disease around to the neighboring ones. The Department had experienced why these targets were not being made. She was disappointed in the progress. Whether the additional funding would be provided remained as an uncertainty. Those specific issues needed further clarification.

Northern Cape comments
Mr Louis Synders, Regional Director, DWAF: Northern Cape, made a comment on the sanitation plan coupled with the water structure. He noted that even after the allocation was met, additional funding would be required due to the technical problems.

Mr Bradley Swartland, Acting Chief Director, Local Government, DWAF: Northern Cape, further commented on the 700 households with no access to water, despite the initiatives. In July 2007, the Committee made it clear that targets could not be met without additional funds. A new infrastructure needed to be built to provide additional water. In the Northern Cape, the same situation arose; and the community accepted the dry system for sanitation. Additional water was provided and the community was very content. Additional funding, if made available, could possibly contribute to building of a new structure. On the other hand, Mr Swartland said that communication with a consumption company had indicated that it was not possible to complete construction by the end of this year, only by the end of the following financial year.

Free State Comments
Mr Tsediso Ntili, Regional Director, DWAF: Free State, commented on the progress. Different municipalities issued different responsibilities. In a meeting in July his province asked for additional funding for the implementation of the project. The province managed to allocate different techniques and different costs for different municipalities and deployed civil society in the communities and municipalities also to assist. The province was currently waiting for a response as to what to do to resolve issues.

Eastern Cape Department Briefing
Mr Sindisile Maclean, Director: Department of Housing, Local Government, and Traditional Affairs presented on backlogs the Eastern Cape Municipalities had faced, funding, expenditure, support and critical project challenges.

The backlogs still to be eradicated in September 2007 existed in the Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo, Ikwezi and Kou Kama Municipalities. The remaining municipalities had some of their backlogs eradicated between August and September of this year.

Some of the challenges that were faced with the Bucket Eradication Programme (BEP) included the high expectations of the communities, against the Department’s strict time frame. There was also inadequate technical and project management capacity with the BEPs, as well as some projects still being in a pre-construction phase, although the deadline was December of this year. The factors that had caused delays included environmentally sensitive sites, and hard and rocky sites that caused financial escalation. High tendered amounts that contradicted the projects’ budgets, and the termination of contracts due to poor performance were further factors.

Mr Maclean highlighted the fact that the programme had received hands on support from different Departments, such as DWAF, the provincial departments and DPLG. All these Departments supplied the BEP with technical support, decreasing some of the delays. He then presented a situation analysis of the different Municipalities, which examined the number of projects, the initial, eradicated and remaining backlogs, and the stage of various projects. Mr Maclean concluded that that a forum had been established with the different Departments, ensuring the progress of the BEP.

Kwazulu Natal (KZN) Provincial Department Briefing
Mr Andre Evetts, Manager: Municipal Infrastructure, Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs, KZN, stated that his province had a small bucket system problem, and that there had been progress in eradicating the system in their municipalities. 192 buckets were eradicated in the Indaka Municipality, and 100 were to be eradicated in Umzimkhulu, with 85% of the project completed. Mr Evetts pointed out that in both Municipalities flush toilets fully connected to sewers were in use.

The problems in backlogs included basic sanitation and water in households, as well the cost of eradication. The progress included the rectification of past years’ backlogs, including water, sanitation and electricity. Mr Evetts examined the likely situation in 2009 in connection with informal settlements. He stated that the progress on eradication of buckets was directly related to the progress on housing delivery. He also mentioned that universal access to potable water by 2008 was under risk because of the current funding provisions.

Western Cape Provincial Department Briefing
Mr Andreas Fourie, Director: Professional and Project Management Services, Department of Local Government and Housing, Western Cape, told the Committee that there were six projects for the Western Cape, five of which were under construction. Heidelberg was the only municipality still in the planning stage. The Theewaterskloof and Kannaland Municipalities faced the main challenges. In Theewaterskloof, the problems included dealing with the use of conservancy tanks as opposed to water-borne sanitation in some areas. In Kannaland there was a problem in taking on tenders due to lack of funds, of around R11 million Rand.

Discussion

Ms E Lishivha (ANC) asked why the Eastern Cape had to re-tender units three times in Lady Frere

Mr Maclean replied that it was due to poor performance

Ms S Maine (ANC) stated that she was worried about the Western Cape. The presentation seemed to imply that the province did not have any problems, when in fact it has more shanty-towns than any other province.

Mr Fourie stated that it was important to note that the BEP was targeted for formal settlements, but the project was also beginning to focus on shanty-towns and informal settlements. He acknowledged that there were too many informal settlements in the province.

Mr B Mosala (ANC) asked how the Eastern Cape had managed to include other Departments to alleviate their problems.

Mr Maclean replied that other Departments were involved in the BEP through a forum, where they could all communicate, as well as discuss the contributions they can make.

The Chairperson asked if the Ward Committee addressed issues around service delivery. She could not understand why the Eastern Cape was struggling with addressing the issues surrounding backlogs, and queried if this meant that the ward committees were not functioning. She also inquired when the contractors had begun to face the rock formation problems that delayed their work, and what interventions had taken place.

Mr Maclean said the contractors would discover rocky faces whilst they were continuing with work already started, and that was why those at the municipalities received the message only later, because this problem was identified whilst contractors were attempting to drill to eradicate the buckets.

Mr M Sibuyana (IFP) asked for clarity on the statement that the accessibility of water was at risk from KZN.

Mr Evetts said that the slide was not his personal perspective; it was part of a study. He wanted to clarify that this did not mean that the population would have no water by 2008; the problem was that the community lacked basic levels of service.

Mr Sibuyana stated that two years ago the Committee had gone on a site visit to KZN, and they discovered that people were still competing for water at streams with animals. He asked if this situation had changed.

Mr Evetts said that he did not mean to imply that the province did not face problems, and a situation like that was of high priority. The problem was that some of these difficulties were happening although the Municipality was not informed of them.

The Chairperson suggested that KZN refer to the Committee’s reports on their site visits, and address these problems.

Dr Moshibudi Rampedi, Acting Director-General, DWAF, stated to the Committee that the session had been useful, because the presenters dealt with these issues daily. She told the Committee that some communities had been waiting for water for longer than 13 years, and this was a problem that needed to be solved urgently. She admitted that she had been unable to answer many of the questions posed by the Committee

The Chairperson told Dr Rampedi that she could still respond to questions in writing. She expressed her appreciation to the presenters.

The meeting was adjourned.



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