Bucket toilets still foul issue for many

2011-04-16 16:57

The government has failed thousands of poor South Africans who continue to use bucket toilets ­despite promises to end the ­practice four years ago.

Unlike in the 2006 manifesto when it promised to wipe out bucket toilets within a year, the ANC has made no new promises to deal with the problem except to note that municipalities have “gone a long way towards eradicating bucket toilets”.

But residents of poor areas in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and ­Northern Cape still continue to use buckets to relieve themselves.

Human settlements spokes­person Mandulo Maphumulo said government had eradicated the majority of bucket toilets – the ­pre-1994 toilets in formalised ­settlements – across the country.

Those that remained, Maphumulo said, were the result of a “lack of water resources, bulk infrastructure or difficult ground conditions” in three provinces.

She added that a rural household infrastructure programme to ­eradicate water and sanitation backlogs started this month and would run until 2014.

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza defended the governing party, blaming the 2008 recession for its failure to deliver on some of its 2006 promises.

“The global economic meltdown had a huge effect on government programmes,” he said.

This resulted in government lowering its expectations as ­projections were made on the basis of economic growth patterns.

“This meant that deadlines for some government programmes couldn’t be met.”

Khoza also said government had to reprioritise some projects based on the “needs on the ground”.

The 2010 Soccer World Cup was cited as an example by Khoza. He said government channelled funds into building infrastructure for the month-long tournament.

Government figures showed that R1 billion was spent to remove more than 273?000 bucket toilets between 1996 and 2007.

But by 2009 there were still 147 000 bucket toilets among the country’s poor, according to Stats?SA.

In an answer to a parliamentary question, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said in September 2009 that the figure had dropped to below 8 000 in ­formal settlements.

By October last year, in Kokosi and Khutsong?– both fall under the Merafong local municipality in Gauteng?– there were 225 ­households still using bucket ­toilets.

Residents of Ratanda in Heidelburg, less than an hour’s drive from ­Johannesburg, were using at least a further 52 bucket toilets.

In Northern Cape, there were nearly 700 666 bucket toilets for residents under the municipalities of Siyancuma (Douglas) and Tsantsabane (Postmasburg).

Other provinces claimed that they had eliminated all pre-1994 bucket toilets – 610?000 across the country – and were dealing with those obtained after democracy.

The sanitation section of the ­water and environmental affairs department – which was moved to the human settlements department – was responsible for finalising and confirming backlog figures for water and sanitation in all ­municipalities.

In its 2011 to 2014 strategic plan, the department admitted that a huge backlog in regional bulk ­water and sanitation infrastructure, including water treatment and waste water treatment plants, had developed.

The department estimated the cost of the backlog at R110?billion, but only set aside R5.4 billion for the next four years to reduce the backlog.

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