Saturday, November 8, 2014

Solving the poo problem in South Africa

Miriam Mannak in Access to toilets for Cape Town's growing urban poor is a regular flash-point, featuring angry demonstrations and hurled allegations by competing political factions. The city - and the Western Cape province in which it is located - are governed by members of the Democratic Alliance. Most of the South Africa's people live in areas governed by the ruling African National Congress, which won over 60 percent of the votes in recent national elections.

But whoever is in charge, South Africa shares a practical and political headache with urban areas around the world: providing sanitation to an influx of people, primarily from poor rural communities. "On current evidence," writes Richard Palmer in a blog post carried on the Future Cape Town website,  "it seems the truth of the matter is that providing basic sanitation services to South Africa's poor seems too big a challenge for our major cities, regardless of who governs them."

A report by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), published in March, doesn't leave much to the imagination. According to researchers, members of 1.4 million South African households don't have access to sanitation and are therefore forced to relieve themselves in the open. The bulk of them live in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Eastern Cape.

Additionally, 26 percent of all South African households, 3.8 million in total, only have access to below-standard sanitation infrastructure. These facilities have crumbled and deteriorated to such extent that they can be considered unfit to be used....

A view of Soweto, shot by Medpro, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons 2.0 license

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