Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal: factory workers denied proper sanitation

Workers in many clothing and textile factories in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal are denied proper sanitation facilities, a trade union survey has found.

Workers were not supplied with toilet paper and being forced to use pieces of fabric, SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) secretary Chris Gina said. […].

“Workers are expected to place these fabric off-cuts in bags or boxes next to the toilet… which are often only removed once a week, resulting in filthy, smelly, and unhygienic conditions,” he said in a statement.

“At almost all companies that we surveyed workers are not supplied with toilet paper.”

Factories that did supply toilet paper, made workers pay for it and deducted the costs from their weekly wages.

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South Africa: call to cancel US$ 82 million sanitation contract

A parliamentary committee wants to cancel a 550 million Rand (US$ 81.7 million) rural sanitation contract with an NGO for its failure to deliver services on time. The ministers of Public Works and of Human Settlements want to give the NGO, Independent Development Trust, a second chance.

The parliament’s human settlements portfolio committee wants to cancel the second and third phases of the Trust’s contract to build pit and flushing toilets in 25 rural municipalities. The Independent Development Trust was to have completed the first phase of its three-year contract, worth 100 million Rand (US$ 14.8 million) in April 2011, but it only spent 46 million Rand ((US$ 6.8 million) on 8368 pit toilets – a third of which were delivered after the deadline.

The committee plans to table a report in parliament calling for Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde to cancel the rest of the contract. Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale pleaded with the committee to give the development trust more time and not to hand the contract over to the private sector.

However, MPs told Sexwale that they had been trying for 10 months to get the trust to deliver and tender documents indicated that it had no experience in sanitation and should not have been given the contract..

Source: Anna Majavu, Times Live, 27 Jun 2011

South Africa: Harvesting Nutrients That Are Flushed Away

Durban — It might seem unusual for a waste utility to be concerned with the goal of ending world hunger, but that’s part of the mission of the Water and Sanitation department in South Africa’s second largest city of Durban. AllAfrica’s Julie Frederikse spoke with Neil MacLeod, who heads this department for the municipality known by its Zulu name, eThekwini.

“Intensive agriculture requires fertilizers, whose main component is phosphorus, yet where does our phosphorus go after it goes into crops and is digested?” said eThekwini Municipality Water and Sanitation director Neil MacLeod. “Into a toilet. And then it goes into a treatment works, then into a river, and it gets washed into the sea.”

With an estimated 30 percent of household water used to flush Durban’s toilets – water which the city has paid to pump and purify – MacLeod sees flushing toilets as unsustainable technology. Like much of Africa, South Africa is water-scarce, with water restrictions expected soon for this city of 3.7 million, whose population is swelling by some 150,000 people per year.

MacLeod sees salvation in an alternative toilet that uses no water at all. Called the Urine Diverting (UD) toilet, it separates urine from faeces so that nutrients can be recovered and returned to the earth. Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus – aka NPK 5:3:1 – is an excellent fertilizer for growing vegetables.

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South Africa: landmark ruling on right to sanitation ends Cape Town “toilet wars”

With a high court ruling supporting South Africa’s constitutional right to sanitation, Cape Town’s “brutal – and farcical – toilet wars” have come to an end. Protesters from the Makhaza neighbourhood of the black township Khayelitsha, that was at the centre of the dispute, greeted the court decision with cheers.

Activists queue outside the Cape Town mayor Dan Plato's office on Freedom Day, 27 April 2011 to demand better access to basic sanitation in Khayelitsha and other informal settlements. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht / Sapa

On 29 April 2011, the Western Cape High Court ruled that the city government must build enclosures around government-provided toilets in Makhaza, ending a two-year dispute that had become a heated political issue between the country’s two largest political parties.

It might seem like a small matter, but with local elections planned for May 18 [2011] across the country, the court decision is likely to become a matter of national political discussion, if not significance. Cape Town is run by South Africa’s second-largest political party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), an opponent of the ruling African National Congress (ANC)

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South Africa: in Durban it pays to pee

A new initiative in South Africa is testing practical, community-scale ways to use urine as a fertiliser. The initiative is part of new project funded by the Gates Foundation.

Urine-diverting dry toilet in Umlazi, near Durban. Photo: Eawag

After installing about 90 000 urine-diversion toilets in home gardens, the port city of Durban now wants to install 20-litre (quart) containers on 500 of the toilets to capture urine, which can be turned into fertiliser.

Although a news item about the initiative claimed that the municipality would be paying households about around R30 (US$ 4.40) for a week’s supply of urine, the project coordinator Bastian Etter from Eawag, says that this is “an invention of a journalist of Agence France Presse (AFP) and not the strategy of the eThekwini Municipality”. “Neither the eThekwini Municipality nor our research team has set up a compensation scheme for collected urine”, Mr. Etter said in an e-mail.

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South Africa – Review of sanitation policy and practice

WRC – REVIEW OF SANITATION POLICY AND PRACTICE IN SOUTH AFRICA FROM 2001-2008.

Download Full-text (pdf)

Report to the Water Research Commission, 2010

A study conducted by DWAF (2005) to audit the sustainability of the sanitation projects implemented from 1994-2003 found that a significant number of these projects were not sustainable. This problem of poor sustainability could be due to a lack of common understanding and interpretation of the national sanitation policy by municipalities and other implementing agents.

The Water Research Commission initiated this study to examine the understanding and interpretation of the national sanitation policy and programme by municipalities and to identify aspects of the policy that were poorly understood and/or misinterpreted and to make recommendations for bridging the gap between policy and practice.

South Africa, Cape Town: escaped hippo shipped out of sewerage works

A young hippo has been shipped out of a Cape Town sewerage works, where he made his home after fleeing a nature reserve where he had clashed with his father.

The four-year-old nicknamed “Zorro” fled the Rondevlei Nature Reserve outside Cape Town in February 2009 for the lush grass and abundant water of the Cape Flats Waste Water Treatment Works (CFWWTW). He got his nickname due to the zigzag scar on his back, caused by his father’s tusks during fighting.

The Waste Water Treatment Works adjacent to Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei is part of the False Bay Coastal Park, a core area in the City’s Biodiversity Network. The hippos at Rondevlei are a keystone species in Rondevlei, one of the City’s 24 nature reserves.

Thieves had made off with part of the reserve’s fence, creating an opening for 1 200-kilo Zorro to escape.

Reserve staff put up an electric fence around 22 hectares to contain him around a water pan and baited a capture “boma” enclosure, said Dalton Gibbs of the city’s nature conservation department.

Once Zorro had entered the capture boma, staff loaded him into a crate and moved him to his new home, a private reserve in nearby Worcester.

“The natural cycle is the dominant male will chase out younger males out of the herd,” Gibbs said about the hippo’s escape. “It’s a fairly normal process.”

Zorro is not first hippo to have escaped from the Rondevlei Nature Reserve. In 2004 there was another escape artist, who was nicknamed … Houdini.

Zorro the hippo at the pans in Strandfontein. Photo: Shelley Christians

Source: Sapa-AFP, Cape Argus, 06 Jul 2010 ; City of Cape Town, 19 Feb 2009