No more bucket system, promises sanitation director-general

2015-03-11 16:31

She has put her head on a block that, by next year, the bucket system will be eradicated in all 88 127 of the households in formal settlements that still use them.

Margaret-Ann Diedricks, director-general of the department of water and sanitation, gave this task to members of the parliamentary portfolio committee of water and sanitation this morning.

“As far as the obliteration of the bucket system in formal settlements goes, I am putting my head on the block,” she said.

Statistics from the department indicate that there are 140 148 informal households in five provinces – the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, North West and the Free State – in informal settlements that still use the bucket system. Figures were not available for Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Diedricks explained that the department was focusing on the bucket system in formal settlements.

The department was currently busy replacing 43 000 bucket systems. The target was to eradicate the rest by April 1 2016.

An estimated 2.2 million households use sanitation that is under the basic level, Diedricks told members of Parliament.

The “under basic level” category does not include pit latrines, septic tanks, chemical toilets or places where there are no sanitation facilities.

The so-called troika – departments of human settlements, water and sanitation, and cooperative governance and traditional affairs – decided last year that “dry toilets” such as pit latrines wouldn’t be installed in formal settlements any more. Flushing toilets would be installed in these areas.

“This has implications in itself because money had to be spent on bulk services, water reticulation services and waste water management,” Diedricks said.

No research has been done on the targets that should be set for the eradication of the bucket system in informal settlements.

According to Diedericks, temporary solutions such as chemical toilets in informal settlements should not be regarded as bucket toilets.

“If you plan to eradicate informal settlements it means that these settlements will eventually become formal settlements. Putting a sanitation system in place when people don’t live there would be an unnecessary expenditure.”

Due to a lack of norms and standards, the costs of the toilets differed.

“We are still deciding on the appropriate delivery agents. Remember, the department also has its internal construction unit. If it is more effective, and we have the capacity, we will do it. We are busy building big dams and infrastructure, so we might not have the capacity for it. If that is the case then we will get contractors in to do it,” said Diedricks.

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