Black Sash Media Statements

'Sash presents findings to SAHRC hearings on water and sanitation - Black Sash, 14 March 2012

Black Sash Media Statement - 'Sash presents findings to SAHRC hearings on water and sanitation'

For immediate release: Wednesday, 14th March 2012

The Black Sash has presented a national monitoring report on the quality of basic services in South Africa at the SA Human Rights Commission’s first national hearings on water and sanitation in Cape Town today. The public hearings to commemorate this year’s Human Rights Month follow the Commission’s investigation into the erection last year of unenclosed toilets in Makhaza, Cape Town and Rammolutsi township in the Free State.

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager Elroy Paulus says he was asked to present the findings of their national Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project or CMAP which was set up in 2010 in a bid to improve government service delivery, especially to poor and vulnerable communities. “Poor service delivery still denies millions of people in our country a dignified lifeand undermines the impact of government spending. Our findings are based on the experiences and opinions of nearly 487 respondents from 6 provinces – thus far. Our monitors are selected by civil society networks, community based organisations and faith-based organisations and then trained to monitor selected public services using standardized monitoring tools. We looked at the efficiency and quality of the service provided by the various municipalities, municipal service entities, and public entities, specifically asking people about their access to, and the quality of water, electricity, sanitation and, refuse collection services,” explains Paulus.

The Black Sash found that 5% of those questioned did not have access to water. Of those that did, 12% had access in their homes, 22% in their yards, 19% within 200m standpipe, 32% more than 200m away from their home, 3% in a river or well which was a distance away and 5% had access by way of water-trucks. The respondents who didn’t have access to water gave various reasons, including that their water was cut off due to a non-payment of a bill (0.4%); their water was on a drip imposed for non-payment (1%); there were no pipes (1%) or there were pipes but no water (2%). Of the 95% of households that did have access to water, a significant 11% of the respondents indicated that the water was not drinkable.

Paulus says that although these initial findings require further scrutiny and comparisons, it does highlight the fact that government reports don’t always accurately reflect the lack of access to quality drinking water by indigent and poorer households. “Government figures often hide the huge inequalities as they use averages. We have recommended that the Human Rights Commission, concerned institutions and Parliament establish mechanisms to highlight such important considerations,” insists Paulus.

The community monitors also found that just over 25% of those interviewed had flush toilets but the majority used pit latrines. Paulus says this indicates that significant work needs to be done by government to provide an acceptable form of sanitation. “We also asked respondents to specify where their toilet was situated. Nearly 70% said their toilet was located in the yard and only 7% had a toilet in the house. 10% had access to a toilet less than 200 metres away, with nearly 2% having access to a toilet more than 200 metres away. Our government has a Constitutional duty to uphold the right to dignity and progressively realise our right to water and sanitation. We believe providing quality basic services is something we must tackle urgently as a society, even at a time of economic recession. We all need to take responsibility for holding our government responsible in fulfilling its mandate and promise, that includes providing affordable, appropriate, effective services, and with dignity as promised in policy frameworks, legislation, party manifestos and service delivery norms and standards,” insists Paulus.

Read the full preliminary Black Sash CMAP National Basic Services Report - Jan 2011 to Feb 2012

For interview requests, please contact:

Elroy Paulus

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

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Cell: 072-382 8175

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Nicklin

Black Sash Media Officer

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Cell: 073-150 9525