Growing up in Evaton, Themba Msukwini had to use the bucket system with no access to a flushing toilet. Like many in Evaton, Msukwini struggled to live a dignified life due to lack of access to basic sanitation services.
But all that has changed and things have turned out for the better for Msukwini. He now owns a home with a flushing toilet inside his house, thanks to a multi-billion rand project the government has introduced to help people like Msukwini.
The Sedibeng Regional Sewer Scheme (SRSS), a project expected to cost around R4.2 billion, is set to change many lives in the municipal area of Sedibeng.
The SRSS was identified by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Council (PICC) and approved as a Strategic Infrastructure Project (SIP) – 18 projects that should bring solutions to raw sewage spillage, unlock job opportunities and improve service delivery in the Sedibeng District Municipality area.
The upgrade of the SRSS will not only improve the state of sanitation and human settlements in the Sedibeng District Municipality, but will also serve as a source of employment and poverty alleviation for the unemployed and less privileged.
About 6 000 jobs are also expected to be created for the duration of construction. The job opportunities include the appointment of suitable local sub-contractors, local people and also assist unemployed youth qualified in the relevant engineering field by giving them relevant work experience. The project is expected to be completed in the next three years.
Msukwini, says he is impressed with the SRSS project because it will not only create jobs for the community but people will also be equipped with skills development.
“The most exciting part about this project is that people will also be trained on various skills like plumbing. This will benefit the community since we have a huge problem of leakages due to old water pipes, which were installed early in 1970s.
“The project will further fast track the building of low cost houses because you can’t build houses without a sewer system. The sooner the sewer system is installed, houses would be build and people will finally have houses with basic needs,” he says.
Msukwini also understands and acknowledges strides by government in ensuring that people have decent sanitation.
The main thing to monitor, he says, when the budget is allocated from national to provincial government, the money should be managed well by employing people with appropriate skills to deliver quality work.
“This will help government to avoid unnecessary spending on repairs due to shoddy work.”
The Department of Water and Sanitation had declared May Sanitation and Hygiene Month to remind South Africans about the importance of decent sanitation and good hygiene practices.
This year’s Sanitation and Hygiene Month was observed under the theme “It’s Not all About Flushing”.
The aim is to raise awareness and the public profile of sanitation and to encourage local governments to prioritise sanitation, health and hygiene as key issues towards a healthy nation.
Meeting the Millennium Development Goals
South Africa had successfully met the deadlines for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals of halving the proportion of population without basic sanitation well before the target of 2015.
In 201415 financial year alone, South Africa successfully eradicated 20 560 bucket systems.
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the department intends to conclude the eradication of the bucket system programme in formal areas by December 2015.
However, she acknowledges that the challenge of access to water and sanitation continues to characterise the daily life of many people.
Statistics show that the country has been increasing access to sanitation. But the pace of delivery remains a concern.
According to the 2012 National Report on the Status of Sanitation Services, approximately 11% of South African households do not have adequate sanitation services.
Some of the challenges in sanitation can be traced to urban migration and the proliferation of unplanned informal settlements.
Minister Mokonyane says the country has committed to join the world towards enhancing and fast-tracking programmes and developments to fulfil the international commitment to eradicate sanitation backlogs by 2015.
“In response to the global sanitation related challenges, the South African government has set out higher targets and committed itself to ensuring that all buckets in formal established settlements will be eradicated as soon as possible.”
Minister Monkonyane says the current methods of disposing human waste through flushing toilets that utilize drinking quality water are both unwise and unsustainable.
The department is currently looking at numerous technologies that will assist to eliminate the use of clean drinkable water to dispose of human waste.
“We are determined to introduce low-water and no-water solutions as part of our efforts to deliver sanitation. Dry sanitation solutions must become the reality we work towards in both low and high-income households going forward.”
Working with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and National Treasury, the department has adopted the Back-to-Basics programme aimed at supporting municipalities with resources accompanied by capacity to bolster performance in the delivery of water and sanitation.
Through this programme, 27 District Municipalities and the Nelson Mandela Metro have been identified as areas in need of interventions.
Bold interventions have also been made in areas including Makana Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape, Ngaka Modiri Molema District in the North West Province, Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, Sedibeng in Gauteng and Jozini in Kwazulu-Natal.
Partnering with provincial governments through Premier’s, the department has put in place community based initiatives as part of a people centred approach to ensure communities are a part of the developments in their respective areas.
The establishment of Community Water Forums is a direct result of the interventions the department has undertaken in communities and the affirmation given to communities and their leaders as partners in the department’s programmes.
The department has also initiated the ‘Adopt a River’ programme which has since been launched in a number of provinces as a community driven initiative.
Source : SAnews.gov.za