Tag Archives: South Africa

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

How a new toilet programme sets off in Moretele Local Municpality

Jan Habig is an independent civil engineer in South Africa. He is showing a group of civil society people from Southern African countries around in a new sanitation programme involving 1,000 toilets in Moretele Local Municpality in North West Province, a 90-minute drive out of Pretoria.

Mr. Habig is here as project manager for G.R. Makopo CC Construction that won a contract for the Cyferskuils Basic Sanitation Phase 2 project, involving 1,000 Amalooloo toilets. The company falls under the Upcoming Black Economic Empowerment companies programme to increase income from 250,000 Rand to the next level.

Mr. Habig advises the company on tender documents and cash flow programmes and checks the quality of work. He also has international health and safety accreditation. In an interview on the site with IRC’.s Dick de Jong he explained how decentralization of this sanitation programme works.

How is this programme funded?

“This programme is funded from the central Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) that comes through local municipalities. This comes with conditions. One third of the construction of the toilets has to be given to local contractors. It is part of a bigger programme of 4,000 new toilets in this area.”

How does this work out here?

“There are three local contractors involved with 10 teams of two women and four men each. They are paid 130 Rand [13 Euro] each per structure. On average a team does 2 ½ structure per day. There is 88,000 Rand in the budget for training of which 30,000 was used to train 20 local people for five days in brick laying. Other trainings that are still to come:

  • orientation training for 10 Community Liaison Officers;
  • orientation course for a Project Steering Committee that has been appointed, but is not yet operational;
  • a basic street-by-street short hygiene course for households that includes explanations how to operate and maintain the toilets, including not throwing rubbish in the toilet, not using newspapers and showing how the raking of the feces goes when the pit is full.”

Not as dry as claimed

“The Amalooloo toilets we heard about and saw at the Betram company and at the new project site in the field are not as dry as claimed by the company. In the field we also saw that the construction of the upper part of toilet was not water tight and missed grips for the disabled. As we are also getting these toilets in Zambia I hope that you keep us informed about these problems on the ground”, Mr. Elisha N’gonomo, Director of a large civil society organization Village Water in Zambia, asked the South African participants on the last day of their Civil Society Learning Journey and Capacity Building Workshop in Roodeplaat, Pretoria, South Africa.

See the full story and pictures.

World Cup – unaffordable extravagance – proper sewerage vs state-of-the-art stadiums

South African columnist Greta Steyn believes that the money spent on building stadiums for the 2010 Fifa World Cup could have been better spent on sanitation. She points to the open toilets in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and the dismal state of the country’s sewerage systems.

Open toilets

The real meaning of the World Cup was made clear to me when Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said on e-TV news that he was removing the open toilets because he didn’t want this kind of footage to be beamed across the world. The whole issue is an example of the rainbow nation dream which underpins the World Cup crashing down. Amazingly, the toilets were removed.

Plato, who is from the Democratic Alliance (DA), decided to remove them after ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members led the charge in tearing down the tin shelters erected around the open toilets in recent days. The ANCYL is demanding that concrete shelters be built.

Plato’s only worry seems to be for the BBC and CNN not to film the open toilets, but the dispute might well make international news.

Apparently, this hasn’t happened on a wide scale – besides the Christian Science Monitor, few western media have reported on South Africa’s “toilet wars”.

Toilet Wars headline in South African newspaper Cape Argus

The point is that we are trying to portray a country that doesn’t exist. The fact is that those open toilets have been in Khayelitsha for months, and that the tin shelters were a recent development – probably prompted by the looming soccer spectacular.

The ANCYL is obviously wrong in breaking the tin shelters down. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that there were open toilets in the first place.

I don’t know how much the Cape Town municipality spent on the World Cup. Grant Thornton says cities and provinces spent a total of R9bn. But if the city of Cape Town can afford a world class stadium, surely it can afford closed-off toilets? Which would you rather have, if you were a resident of Makhaza in Khayelitsha?

Proper sewerage vs state-of-the-art stadiums

I mention this as one example of the extreme poverty in this country that exists just kilometres away from these wonderful stadiums. In the February Budget, it was disclosed that government had spent about R33bn in preparation for the tournament. This doesn’t include spending such as the Gautrain and the freeway improvement projects, which aren’t directly related to the World Cup.

The DA recently leaked the government’s Green Drop report on the country’s sewerage infrastructure, which government had hoped to keep quiet. The findings were scary, with the report finding that 55% of municipalities’ sewerage facilities were “inadequate”.

The leaking of the Green Drop report in April 2010 greatly irritated Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica. She said the report had been delayed while the department had consulted with affected stakeholders, including municipalities, rather than, as the DA claimed, because its contents were not pleasing. “Our intention as regulator of the water sector is to put things right by supporting where we can, hence the reason for extensive consultations,” Sonjica said.

Only 7% were rated as excellent. Even worse, the actual level of non-compliance is likely to be higher, as only 53% of the country’s 852 treatment plants were assessed in the Green Drop report. Many simply didn’t reply. The backlog in sewerage infrastructure is R23bn – which could have been covered by the money spent on building beautiful stadiums.

You may wonder why I’m spending so much time talking about toilets. The point is, SA hasn’t even got the basics right and yet thinks it’s great to spend massive amounts of money on a soccer spectacular. There’s also the R75bn backlog in roads and R27bn backlog in electricity distribution infrastructure.

One point that should spoil the euphoria about the World Cup is the fact that foreign journalists aren’t stupid – they’ll find the poverty and portray it to the world. No matter that beggars have apparently been removed from Durban’s streets (and put where, I wonder?). The British Financial Times this week ran a story based on Durban with the headline: Poor cry foul over World Cup in Durban.

The SA that Cup supporters want to portray exists only in dreams and television commercials. Booking our place in history indeed – but not in the way that you think.

Source: Greta Steyn, fin24.com, 09 Jun 2010

Dry sanitation system for Cape Town’s informal settlements

Alternative sanitation specialists Enviro Options
has been awarded a two-year tender by the City of Cape Town to provide informal settlements with a dry sanitation system. This system does not use water or electricity, is odourless and is designed with the user’s health, as well as respectability, 
in mind, says Enviro Options MD Mark la Trobe.

The Enviro Loo

Enviro Options has installed the first series of Enviro Loo dry sanitation units for the City of Cape Town. The unit is 
designed to separate solid and liquid waste as it enters the system. The separate waste is 
exposed to continuous airflows 
that dry it. Air is drawn in through the toilet bowl and inlet pipes and out at the top of the vent pipe. The system uses wind and heat to maintain airflows only into the bottom and out the top of the system, making it odourless. It does not use water so waste volumes are kept to manageable levels. When the waste is removed, it is about 5% of its original volume.

Water-borne sanitation is commonly installed in municipalities that have existing sewerage systems. Rural and periurban municipalities that do not have existing sewerage systems are the principal markets for the stand-alone system. The Department of Education and Limpopo province’s Department of Health use the Enviro Loo system in
their rural schools and clinics 
respectively, and are the biggest clients of the company. Currently, the dry loos are being installed in schools in Limpopo, he says.

The recession and the loss of orders to Dubai have meant that sales of Enviro Loos have 
decreased during the past year. However, the company received an increased number of contracts to operate and maintain the units during the same time. The City of Cape Town’s tender included a maintenance contract for the system with Enviro Options.

The company usually creates a small business within the community to operate and maintain the system. This creates employment and keeps the system operating and maintained. Users and owners of the system are 
educated in its use and the people employed by the small company to maintain the systems supplement this through regular interaction with users and owners.

“Where we established formal maintenance crews, we find that users are very positive about the product because it operates 
continually and is not another failure,” La Trobe says.

Enviro Options communications manager Wendy Mdaki says that maintenance of the system is critical. She says that municipalities must follow up on infrastructure projects that they have completed to ensure that main-
tenance is done on existing infra-
structure. Maintaining the infrastructure creates jobs but also keeps the infrastructure effective.

La Trobe agrees and adds that, if maintenance is not done, the public sees the failure of the system as a problem with the product and not as result of lack of maintenance.

The Enviro Loo system cannot use chemical detergents and the company provides an organic detergent with which to clean the system. Biodegradable substances can safely be used in the toilet.

Enviro Options received the Intel Environment Award in 2005
from the Tech Museum, in the US, for its waterless dehydration/evaporation Enviro Loo. Fifty thousand units are in use throughout the world and the company recently exported a number of systems to France and one to the US in March 2010.

Interest in the system has 
increased since the award was 
received. La Trobe says that Enviro Options is part of the drive to halve the number of people without access to sanitation by 2015. 
The company plans to expand its sales into provinces where its products have not been installed before. There are new inquiries from the Middle East region with the easing of the global recession.

Source – Envineering News

South Africa: Toilets without walls – residents lodge complaint with human rights commission

For some residents in Makhaza, Khayelitsha [an informal township on the outskirts of Cape Town] , answering the call of nature means huge embarrassment – they have to relieve themselves in full view of the public because their toilets have no walls.

The situation has led to the ANCYL [African National Congress Youth League] lodging an official complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). [Note, Cape Town is run the opposition party Democratic Alliance - the title of an article in Times Live on the same story was ""DA has no regard for blacks: ANC".]

Ward 95 Development Forum chairperson Andile Lili warned unless the matter was addressed there would be a repeat of last year’s violent protests.

In his letter to SAHRC chairperson Lawrence Mushwana, ANCYL Dullah Omar region deputy chairman Chumile Sali said residents had to cover themselves with blankets when using their toilets.

“The conditions to which residents are subjected are tantamount to crimes against humanity. Our plea to the SAHRC is to compel the city council to build toilet walls to ensure the rights, dignity, privacy and freedom of residents of Ward 95 are protected, to charge the council with violations of human rights – and to take it to task for disregarding the constitution and the Bill of Rights,” Sali wrote.

Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said the open toilets were an arrangement residents had agreed to and that each household was responsible for building their own enclosures.

“The city’s new housing department initiated the installation of 1 250 toilets in Town 2 and Makhaza as part of the serviced sites provided as agreed upon. The city initially installed the concrete enclosed toilets on a ratio (five plots to one toilet) as this is only a temporary measure until the RDP houses are built,” Plato said in a statement via his office.

“These toilets were rejected by the community and after negotiations it was agreed on a toilet per erf and that the community would build their own enclosures. Once the houses are built these toilets will become redundant. Individuals agreed to build their own enclosure.”

Makhaza grandmother Ntombentsha Bheja said she felt humiliated every time she had to use the toilet. “I was not there when this thing was agreed upon. I want a wall around my toilet but just can’t afford it. I get a grant. I’m 75 and I feel disregarded as an old person. I expected better treatment by the government,” she said.

Resident Sive Jiane said: “I wait until it is dark because during daytime everybody sees you. This makes us feel that low and it is wrong.”

City council manager for new housing, Herman Steyn, said the city would see how it could assist. “We’ll go there and look if there is a way we can maybe help them with second-hand building materials.”

Lili said: “You won’t see this in coloured or white areas. It’s as if blacks don’t contribute to the city. If the council does not respond positively we will make this ungovernable. We’ll destroy council property. Yes, it is breaking the law, but what you see here undermines our democracy.”

Mushwana’s office confirmed that it had received the ANCYL complaint.

Source: Aziz Hartley, Cape Times, 21 Jan 2010

USAID & Coca-Cola Alliance for Water & Sanitation in South Africa

Water and Development Alliance Brings Sanitation and Clean Water to Rural South Africa

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) have partnered through the Water and Development Alliance (WADA) initiative to bring more than 12,000 people in Ramotshinyadi Village of South Africa access to clean drinking water.

The WADA project aims to shift the way Ramotshinyadi villagers experience and conceptualize healthcare provision, and therefore will emphasize how clean, running water promotes good health.  Family Health International South Africa (FHISA), Mvula Trust, and Re-Solve are collaborating to implement the program in Ramotshinyadi.

Malik Jaffer, USAID/Southern Africa HIV/AIDS technical officer, expects the WADA project to improve health in the region. “USAID wants to help South African children and their families get the basic essentials they need to lead happy, healthy lives,” he says. “Without clean water and sanitation, these kids don’t stand a chance.” WADA is investing a total of $1.6 million over a three-year period to build the appropriate water infrastructure in Ramotshinyadi Village — a priority health district in Limpopo Province — and two other villages, ensuring that every street has water pipes.

“The Bophelo Ka Metsi project further demonstrates Coca-Cola’s commitment as a company to contribute towards the development of our communities. Our continent’s chronic water shortage also prompts us, together with strategic partners such as NGOs and government, to act immediately in overcoming this challenge,” said Tulisiwe Mkatshwa, community affairs manager for Coca-Cola South Africa. Water and health education and knowledge sharing exhibitions showed residents how to practice good hygiene and illustrated the consequences of drinking dirty water. These events culminated in the formal WADA launch on Nov. 27, attended by representatives of the Limpopo Provincial Government; the Greater Tzaneen Municipality, led by Mayor Mushwana; donors USAID; Coca-Cola; Family Health International; and traditional leaders.

All attendees pledged to work together to ensure the sustainability of the project. WADA is a joint initiative between USAID and The Coca-Cola Company that operates in 22 countries worldwide, contributing to protecting and improving the sustainability of watersheds, increasing access to water supply and sanitation services for the world’s poor, and enhancing productive uses of water. The Alliance is a positive example of how public-private partnerships can give localized support to those with the greatest needs for water and sanitation services, ensuring that water resources are managed to serve future generations.

Source – PR News Wire

South Africa: towards the realization of free basic sanitation

The provision of a Free Basic Sanitation Service to all households in South Africa is not financially viable for all categories of municipalities, a new study by the Water Research Commission concludes.

Mjoli, N., Sykes, G. and Jooste, T. (2009). Towards the realization of free basic sanitation : evaluation, review and recommendations. (WRC report ; no. TT 422/09). Pretoria, South Africa, Water Research Commission. xviii, 91 p. : 16 fig., 8 tab. ISBN 978-1-77005-900-9

Download full publication (free registration required)

The aim of this study was to assess the experience of municipalities in South Africa in the implementation of free basic sanitation (FBSan) services and to develop economic and financial models for sustainable FBSan service. Based on the findings of the study recommendations were made for improving the delivery of FBSan services to poor.

The study involved a review of national and international literature, and an evaluation of FBSan services in South Africa through eight municipal case studies and a survey in 17 district municipalities.

Two separate modelling exercises were undertaken to explore different aspects of implementing the FBSan strategy:

  • using the case studies to investigate the funds likely to be available to the sanitation service within the context of the entire municipal suite of services, and
  • using the results of the first modelling exercise, together with desktop cost analysis, to inform a national analysis of the projected operational costs associated with current service level decisions under different operational assumptions.

A review of international and national experience on the provision of subsidized sanitation services to the severely marginalized individuals and groups was conducted to identify good practice. The findings of this review were used as a basis for the development of guidelines for sanitation subsidies for the severely marginalized individuals and groups.

The study provides recommendations for:

  • institutional and policy aspects
  • demand-side aspects
  • subsidy targeting issues
  • operational considerations
  • financing free basic sanitation services
  • technical considerations
  • further research

The overall conclusion from the study is that the provision of a Free Basic Sanitation Service to all households is not financially viable for all categories of municipalities. However, FBSan service for poor households is possible in metros because of the strong revenue base and the possibility of cross-subsidies. District municipalities that serve large poor rural populations cannot afford to provide FBSan services because they do not generate sufficient revenue from the user charges, combined with very limited ability to generate local revenues to meet their municipal service obligations.

The findings of the study were presented in 2008, in a paper and a Powerpoint presentation entitled ‘Free Basic Sanitation Services- South African experience’, at the IRC symposium ‘Sanitation for the Urban Poor: Partnerships and Governance’ that was held in Delft, The Netherlands, 19-21 November 2008.

South Africa – Monitoring Hygiene Behaviour Change Through Community Health Clubs

Click on title to view/download:

South Africa – Monitoring Hygiene Behaviour Change Through Community Health Clubs, 2009. (pdf, 366KB)

Juliet Waterkeyn & Jason Rosenfeld, Africa AHEAD Association.

Umzimkhulu Municipality in Kwa Zulu Natal Province has one of the lowest levels of development in South Africa. The base-line survey highlights that only 15% of households have access to a safe water source whilst the remaining households have to use open ground water, usually in the form of unprotected springs. Sanitation usually consists of a household pit latrine. Although the coverage is high at 90%, around 50% were unhygienic and attracted flies. A health promotion campaign was introduced to build the capacity of the community, with the objective of developing a community-led demand for improved water and sanitation. As the Community Health Club Approach is known to be capable of achieving high levels of behaviour change (Waterkeyn & Cairncross, 2006) it was chosen as the strategy for a health promotion campaign in nine wards of Umzimkhulu. Although Africa AHEAD has initiated Community Health Clubs in informal settlements in Cape Town, this is the first pilot project in South Africa to be implemented in a rural community.

South Africa or India: who holds the world record for handwashing?

South African children have set an official new Guiness World Record for the most number of people washing hands at one location, but a simultaneous event in India attracted more than eight times as many students.

About 15,000 students from 23 schools in Chennai converged under the blazing sun in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to celebrate Global Handwashing Day and break the previous record held since 22 October 2008 by Bhiddwa School Niketon of Dhaka, Bangladesh with 1,213 participants.

Photo: Indian Express

Photo: Indian Express

The programme in Chennai began almost an hour late. Luckily, the dignitaries kept their speeches short. Large screens placed in the stadium aired demonstrations on how to wash hands.

Soon after the speeches, the whistle blew and the children got into the act. They had bubble bottles, soaps and paper napkins all in place. And in less than 10 minutes, the event was over.

Though the children liked the idea of coming together and assembling in the stadium, the scorching heat posed a problem. “Our teachers insisted that we came, otherwise we would not have bothered about this,” said a group of children from a Corporation high school.

On the other hand, some students were really excited to be part of the event. “We knew that we are going to be part of a record-setting event. Despite being a bit tired, we find it great to be here,” said Saravan and friends from a school near Choolai.

The students were brought together by the government, World Health Organization and Lifebuoy to promote the habit of washing hands as a measure to prevent disease.

Bryan Habana washing hands with the children. Photo: Bongani Nkosi

Bryan Habana washing hands with the children. Photo: Bongani Nkosi

At the same time in South Africa, local rugby hero Bryan Habana and 1,802 Gauteng schoolchildren were staging their own record breaking attempt.

Habana is part of the Gimme 5 for Germ-free Hands campaign led by Protex, an anti-bacterial soap brand, owned by Colgate Palmolive. The campaign has visited more than 1,200 primary schools throughout the country. On Global Handwashing Day about 1-million children from schools around South Africa washed their hands under the auspices of the brand.

The South African was officially recognised as a Guinness World Record by adjudicator Carl Saville, who flew out from the UK for the occasion.

Source: Indian Express, 16 Oct 2009

South Africa, Cape Town: basic services needed to save babies

Toddler Sanele Qaqa should have been running around his home by now. Instead, his family is grieving his death, which could have been prevented. Sanele, the youngest of six children, died in March [2009], just two weeks ahead of his second birthday.

[...] A shocking 37 city children younger than five died of diarrhoea in February, March and April [2009] – deaths that could easily have been avoided. In 2005, more than 100 children, most of them from poverty-stricken areas, died, statistics show.

But health officials are making headway in the war on this disease. According to the Department of Health, the main contributors to the death rate are lack of access to potable water, and inadequate sanitation, sewerage services, and hygiene practices. The deaths earlier this year were largely concentrated in informal settlements where access to clean water was limited.

[Cape Town] has said that although it spends R10-million a year installing sanitation infrastructure, it is costing it R60m a year to repair infrastructure that has been damaged.

Broken toilets, stagnant pools of dirty water and human waste are common in informal settlements. These are the conditions in which disease thrives.

[Sanele Qaqa died on 28 March 2009, two days after falling ill]. One week earlier, on March 17, one-year-old Unabantu Mali died, tied to the back of his grandmother, as she made the two-hour walk home after allegedly being turned away from three health-care centres at which she had sought help for the boy, who had diarrhoea. A probe later cleared the facilities of wrongdoing.

Sanele was one of 3 586 children admitted to hospital for diarrhoea in the past year. Provincial health department spokeswoman Faiza Steyn said there was no accurate picture of deaths from diarrhoea that occurred outside hospitals.

[...] Of the 37 children who died, four had malnutrition and 12 were HIV-positive. Dehydration was the direct cause of the deaths of 14 of the children, said Steyn.

[...] According to Jaco Muller, of the City of Cape Town’s water and sanitation department, the capital expenditure for these services was R23m, while operating expenditure was R80m. The city has 223 informal settlements. The number of toilets needed was 27 052. In May, there were 2 078. The required number of standpipes providing potable water was 5 148, compared with the 4 402 that were in place.

“If all families were to have ready access to clean potable water, the risk of contamination would be considerably reduced,” said Steyn. “The risk would be further reduced if water was stored in clean containers that were cleaned regularly.”

While 37 deaths in three months is high, the mortality rate has improved since 2005, when more than 100 children in the metropole died. The provincial and city health departments have tried to curb the number of deaths through, among other things, awareness campaigns.

From April 1, [2010], a new vaccine is to be introduced that can reduce the incidence and severity of diarrhoea.

Source: Esther Lewis and Lavern De Vries, Cape Argus / Mercury & Independent Online, 05 Oct 2009