Ten reasons South Africans don’t have proper loos

2013-06-19 10:00

It’s been nearly two decades since South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, but millions of people living in this country are still dreaming of the day they will have a proper toilet in their homes.

Even to those who have some form of sanitation, access to flushable toilets remains a luxury for many who use either the bucket system, pit latrines or chemical toilets.

The latest census painted a grim picture of the status of sanitation services in South Africa, showing that as many as 18?million people don’t have access to adequate sanitation.

A closer look at the findings revealed that 5.2% of homes in this country don’t have toilets, 2.1% were using the bucket system, 28% were using pit toilets that were either poorly ventilated or not ventilated at all, while a further 2.5% of households were using chemical toilets.

There are many factors behind the slow pace of sanitation delivery, but here are some of the main drivers according to two sanitation experts, Trevor Mulaudzi of Mulaudzi Toilet Cleaners and Stephan van Wyk of VW Sanitation Services:

1 There is no political will to improve sanitation in South Africa – politicians have access to proper toilets and see no urgency in ensuring universal access to proper toilets;

2 There is poor coordination?between municipalities and water services providers;

3 Tenders to build infrastructure are awarded to people who have no idea what they are doing and end up doing shoddy work;

4 There is no single national authority that monitors whether municipal sanitation services are delivered, including the monitoring of construction of infrastructure;

5 Municipalities don’t have the necessary technical capacity to plan, implement and manage infrastructure effectively;

6 Poor financial planning and management is rife in municipalities and often leads to inadequate budget allocations for maintenance and the inappropriate use of allocated funds;

7 Rapid growth in informal settlements, particularly in urban areas, forces municipalities to provide bucket system toilets;

8 Service delivery backlogs – the waiting list for toilets keeps growing because of poor planning and tenders being awarded to companies who still have to subcontract;

9 Refurbishment backlogs caused by the lack of technical capacity at the municipal level, which means infrastructure is not maintained and therefore deteriorates; and

10 Extension backlogs – existing infrastructure needs to be extended to provide sanitation to new households.

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