Programme Director, Deputy Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation, Ms Pamela Tshwete
Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane,
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Senzo Mchunu
All MECs who are here
Executive Mayor of eThekwini Cllr Nxumalo
Business and community leaders,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to address this National Sanitation Indaba.
This gathering demonstrates that, working together, we can find innovative solutions to enhance human dignity.
Our democratic Constitution places dignity as a cornerstone value and as a substantive right.
By ensuring that sanitation is central to our national development effort, we reaffirm our commitment to dignity, equality and social justice.
Our country joined many nations of the world on July 2010, when the UN General Assembly adopted a groundbreaking resolution officially recognising sanitation – access to water and related facilities and services – as a human right.
This was held to be so because denying access to sanitation is denying basic human rights.
Lack of sanitation obstructs the right to life and health.
Lack of sanitation hampers the right to education.
Many school days are lost every year due to sanitation and water related issues.
Inadequate school sanitation facilities are a serious barrier to school attendance, especially for girls.
Lack of sanitation thwarts the right to dignity.
Sick and elderly people face a loss of dignity when sanitation facilities are not available in the near vicinity.
Lack of sanitation hurts and kills.
Twenty one years of democracy has demonstrated that the restoration of our people’s dignity cannot be achieved merely through budgetary allocations.
It cannot be achieved through a model of service provision in which the people who use the services remain passive recipients.
It requires a deep sense of human solidarity and the full commitment and involvement of all social partners.
To succeed, we must ensure that the solutions we pursue take into account local dynamics, our history, culture, geography and aspirations.
All stakeholders must demonstrate a willingness to explore new sanitation delivery models.
This must be done with careful planning and engagement with our communities.
But we cannot compromise the constitutional guarantee of every citizen’s right to dignity, privacy and a clean environment.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The challenge of providing adequate sanitation has become a global phenomenon.
Our country has done well to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the population without basic sanitation well before the target of 2015.
However, we still have a lot of work to do.
The statistics show that our 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.
At least a quarter of households in formal areas have sanitation services that do not meet required standards.
Some of the challenges in sanitation can be traced to urban migration and the proliferation of unplanned informal settlements.
Inadequate sanitation reflects the extent to which apartheid spatial geography, underdevelopment, poverty and inequality continue to affect the day-to-day lives of ordinary South Africans.
The conditions in the former homelands, on farms and in informal settlements tell a sad tale.
It is a tale of daily humiliation for many of our people.
The lack of adequate sanitation encourages the transmission of many infectious diseases including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, cryptosporidiosis, and ascariasis.
Diarrhoea – a disease directly related to poor sanitation – it is said, kills one child every 20 seconds.
This is more than 4,000 children every day worldwide.
This amounts to more deaths than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
This is a tale of diseases that are easily spread and young lives that are needlessly lost.
The lack of adequate sanitation exposes women and children to potential harm.
As the Human Rights Commission recently noted:
“Safety issues are particularly important for women and children, who otherwise risk sexual harassment and assault when defecating at night and in secluded areas.”
Many in our country are desperate for safe, reliable and private sanitation.
Working with our partners, the government is therefore hard at work to develop solutions that enable effective, appropriate and environmentally sustainable removal of human waste.
We are becoming more innovative in the use of our natural resources.
Through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer programme, South Africa is emerging as a leader in the use of wind and solar power for electricity generation.
There are lessons in this programme for how we conserve water and how we manage waste.
The City of Johannesburg, for example, will incentivise and regulate the installation of low-flush toilets and water-saving urinals as a standard feature in homes, offices and commercial sites.
It aims to harness energy from the water flowing through its pipe system using in-pipe turbines.
It is diverting organic waste to bio-digesters to harvest gas for fuel and energy.
Like many others, the city is doing things differently.
To ensure sustainable sanitation for all, we have to do things differently.
As this Indaba asserts: “It’s not all about flushing.”
If we continue to use the old flushing methods we are placing huge pressure on our scarce water resources and the environment into which we flush our waste.
We need to generate new sanitation solutions that are sustainable and will meet our current and future needs.
It is therefore commendable that the Department of Water and Sanitation is taking the lead through such a technology fair and summit.
It will go a long way in generating awareness, stimulating innovation and promoting greater usage.
It will help to challenge conventional notions about sanitation and dispel concerns about the efficacy and reliability of new technology.
We must acknowledge that sanitation is not merely about engineering.
It is also about psychology, culture and social expectations.
Unless we address the human side of sanitation provision, we will struggle to implement even the most innovative of solutions.
This is a task in which we cannot afford to fail.
If we fail in the provision of adequate sanitation, we will be consigning many of our people to lives of hardship and poor health.
We will be violating their basic human rights further.
We will exacerbate poverty and entrench inequality.
We must therefore work together to succeed.
Those who today throw stones in frustration at the pace of service delivery must use those stones to build better communities.
Those who lead communities must mobilise the resources of the state and harness the energy of the people to attend to the most basic needs of those they represent.
It is an undertaking that involves all three spheres of government.
National government is responsible for drafting policy, high level planning and administration of the Bulk Infrastructure Grant and the National Sanitation Programme.
Provincial government undertakes provincial level planning and ensuring the achievement of targets set for sanitation service delivery.
Authorised district and local government institutions are responsible for providing sanitation services to people.
This is an undertaking that requires cooperation and collaboration between these state institutions and the various development agencies, NGOs and commercial enterprises working in this field.
This Sanitation Indaba seeks to develop stronger partnerships to produce innovations that can have real impact on the ground.
This partnership between communities, technology developers and decision-makers is necessary if we are to achieve a sanitation revolution.
We seek a common outcome and so we need to align our efforts more effectively and exchange information more readily.
This is an opportunity for all of us to use our talents, our creativity and our energy to give all South Africans a chance at a better life.
Let us join hands and start a sanitation revolution!
I thank you.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS