Tag Archives: South Africa

Dying for a pee – Cape Town’s slum residents battle for sanitation

Dying for a pee – Cape Town’s slum residents battle for sanitation | Source: Reuters, Oct 12 2016 |

Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township is seen

Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township is seen in this picture taken October 4, 2016. Picture taken October 4, 2016. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Johnny Miller

CAPE TOWN (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Siphesihle Mbango was just six years old when her friend, Asenathi, begged her to go with her to the toilet then ran outside alone – and was never seen again.

Now 12, Mbango tells the story with an intense, unflinching gaze but her hands, fidgeting nervously as she speaks, show the trauma is still raw.

“We were at the crèche and she wanted me to go with her,” but I told her I was busy, I was playing, I didn’t want to go and she went out by herself,” she said, at her home in a Cape Town slum.

“It was a long time she was away and when the teachers asked me, I told them she went to the toilet. They looked and looked for her for a long, long time. But then we lost hope. We never saw her again.”

Mbango shares a one-room shack with her grandmother and two younger siblings in Endlovisi, a vast sprawl of more than 6,600 corrugated iron shacks perched precariously over the sand dunes on the southeastern edge of the South African city.

Part of Khayelitsha, one of the world’s five biggest slums, Endlovini is home to an estimated 20,000 people who share just 380 or so communal toilets.

However, the family live in an area where there are no easily accessible toilets at all – and according to the community, residents have literally been dying for a pee.

Read the complete article.

Enabling factors for the existence of waste pickers: A systematic review

Enabling factors for the existence of waste pickers: A systematic reviewSocial work (Stellenbosch. Online) vol.52 n.1 Stellenbosch 2016. Authors: Rinie Schenck; Derick Blaauw; Kotie Viljoen.

The paper reports on a systematic review research process to determine the enabling factors for waste pickers to operate in the informal economy in South Africa. Twenty-eight South African journal articles, theses and position and policy papers were sourced and appraised.

The results indicate that recognition of the waste pickers in the waste system is the most enabling factor for them to operate. The concept of recognition is analysed, described and explained as assisting waste pickers to become more visible, having a voice and to be validated.

Sometimes you don’t make enough money to buy food: An analysis of South African street waste pickers income

Sometimes you don’t make enough money to buy food: An analysis of
South African street waste pickers income:, 2016. Economic Research Southern Africa Brief.

Authors: By JMM Viljoen, PF Blaauw and CJ Schenck

Local governments however, can play an important role in protecting and enhancing the income-earning opportunities of street waste pickers. Local governments should create an environment in which higher quantities of quality waste are made accessible to the street waste pickers.

One such initiative is the ‘separation of waste at source’ initiative. The benefits of a well-considered system of ‘separation at source’ will provide street waste pickers access to bigger volumes of semi-sorted waste, as well as higher quality waste which will enhance their income-earning opportunities.

Local governments should further facilitate infrastructure such as Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs), sorting facilities, and more efficient BBCs to assist street waste pickers to collect and sell higher volumes of waste. It is difficult for street waste pickers to sort and clean the waste properly without a place or space to sort the waste. Therefore, there is an urgent need for sorting and storage space to enable street waste pickers to sort the waste they have collected properly as better-sorted and higher quality waste reach higher prices.

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Deadly toilet trips for women in Cape Town’s informal settlements

Deadly toilet trips for women in Cape Town’s informal settlements | Source: Times Live, May 25, 2016 |


RISKY BUSINESS: A woman walks back to her shack after using a toilet in Khayelitsha

Women in Cape Town’s informal settlements are at high risk of rape for 15 minutes every day as they walk to and from toilets.

The finding, by researchers at Yale University in the US, comes as an international monitoring organisation said the City of Cape Town’s budget for installing toilets in informal settlements has been virtually unchanged for a decade, despite the fact that one-fifth of households are in informal settlements.

Yesterday, hundreds of Khayelitsha residents marched to the Civic Centre to hand over a petition demanding improved sanitation in informal settlements.

“Using a toilet in many informal settlements is one of the most dangerous activities for residents,” the petition read.

“Women, children and men of all ages are frequently robbed, raped, assaulted and murdered on the way to relieve themselves in a toilet, bushes or empty clearings often very far from their homes.”

Yale’s researchers quantified the link between sexual assaults, the number of sanitation facilities and time spent walking to the toilet.

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Meet the bin scavengers saving SA R750-million a year

Meet the bin scavengers saving SA R750-million a year | Source: Sunday Times/South Africa, May 8 2016 |

His name is Peter May, and the collars of his dapper blue shirt have been ironed flat.

“I have the same name as an English cricketer,” he says, pulling a trolley that bulges with rubbish bags.


Peter May knows his bins Image: Ruvan Boshoff

But he is not a cricketer, and for him the waste inside the bags is not garbage. It is his livelihood: bundles of white paper, cardboard, newspaper and light steel sifted from bins and landfill sites across Cape Town.

May is one of the country’s 60 000 to 90 000 waste pickers who, in a recent surprise finding, save our municipalities up to R750-million a year.

They divert recyclables away from the landfills at no, or little cost. Now their fate hangs in the balance as the waste economy sets off on a new path.

According to a report by the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the waste and recycling sector “is on the brink of change” thanks to mandatory extended producer responsibility, which means producers will be responsible for the waste they generate. This often takes the form of a reuse, buy-back or recycling programme.

The CSIR has done research to see if waste pickers can be incorporated into the formal economy, and Professor Linda Godfrey, who led the study, said: “The most surprising finding for me was when we started to attach financial values to the savings by municipalities as a result of informal waste pickers.”

Read the complete article.

How Durban set the global standard for providing water and sanitation for the poor

How Durban set the global standard for providing water and sanitation for the poor | Source: Keith Schneider, Citiscope.org, Feb 18, 2016 |

DURBAN, South Africa — Arguably the most elegant aspect of an inelegant subject is how this city of 3.2 million residents, South Africa’s second largest, is solving monumental water and waste challenges in its jammed informal settlements.

The eThekwini Municipality Water and Sanitation department, Durban’s water and waste management provider, avoided paying for huge and expensive equipment, big pipelines, and complicated sewage disposal practices of centralized water and sanitation systems. Instead it deployed a decentralized strategy and less expensive tools that worked.


At a cost of about US$65,000 each, Durban has funding to build about 80 more ablution blocks per year. (Keith Schneider)

The centerpiece of Durban’s program is the “community ablution block” public washroom. It’s an ordinary marine cargo container refitted inside with running water in sinks and wash basins, toilets and showers. Durban has 2,500 ablution blocks installed in many of its nearly 500 informal settlements, where homes made of scrap wood and corrugated metal don’t have running water or toilets. There’s sufficient public funding to fabricate and install perhaps 80 more ablution blocks annually.

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Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India – what’s next?

Several technologies displayed at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India “will be field tested in coming months in cities across India and Africa”, writes Doulaye Koné in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) blog “Impatient Optimists”.

These include reinvented toilet technologies, pit latrine and septic tank emptying technologies, as well as sludge-to-energy processing technologies. Some of the participants at the fair in New Delhi, like the President of the Fecal Sludge Emptying Association from Senegal, wanted to buy some of the technologies on display on the spot. He was very disappointed to learn that we still need to do additional testing to validate their performances before commercialization but we were thrilled about his excitement.

Beside the field testing, the BMGF has announced a collaboration agreement with the South African government on sanitation innovation solutions. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has committed ZAR 30 million (US$ 2.7 million) to test and promote toilet technologies being developed by BMGF grantees in schools and rural communities in South Africa. BMGF is contributing US$ 1 million to support the testing of technologies selected. South Africa’s Water Research Commission is the implementing agency.

“In terms of rural school sanitation, the technologies will be demonstrated in the Cofimvaba district in the Eastern Cape as part of the Technology for Rural Education Development project,” the department said. “The technologies will also be demonstrated in the 23 district municipalities that have been identified by the government as critical in terms of service delivery.”

More information on BMGF sanitation grantees is avaialable on SuSanA.org.


  • Doulaye Koné , What Happened at the “Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India” and What’s Next?, Impatient Optimists, 11 Apr 2004
  • South Africa, Gates Foundation to ‘reinvent the toilet’, SouthAfrica.info, 28 Mar 2014