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City of Cape Town to pilot sanitation units that use climate-resistant technology

Toilet units in an informal settlement in Cape Town.

A pilot project has been launched to provide sanitation units that use climate-resistant technology. File Picture: Courtney Africa/ANA

Published Sep 14, 2023


The City of Cape Town has launched a pilot project to provide sanitation units that use climate-resistant technology.

The project is in partnership with the Water Research Commission (WRC).

The modular units offer full recycling of water and are low-energy suitable for use during disaster relief or for servicing low-income communities residing in areas where traditional infrastructure is inaccessible.

Currently, the City of Cape Town said it spends more than R300 million in annual servicing costs of toilets in informal settlements. This includes 15,000 chemical toilets, 10,800 container-based toilets, 26,000 portable flush toilets and 175 conservancy tanks.

It has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the rollout of the Community Reinvented Toilets will be trialled in up to five different high-density settlements across Cape Town.

Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation, Zahid Badroodien said the pilot project has come at just the right time when sustainable and dignified sanitation is imperative.

He said that partnerships like these were “invaluable” adding that by joining forces with organisations such as the Water Research Commission and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they were not merely providing a service.

Badroodien said they were enhancing human dignity and the project illustrated how collective action could propel them “towards a more equitable and sustainable future for all”.

He said its project team will develop site selection criteria to identify eligible pilot sites, followed by a technical feasibility assessment to confirm suitability of each site in terms of the proposed technologies.

“A key component which will determine the success of the project is the level of support from the beneficiary communities, particularly where demonstration units are placed,” Badroodien said.

“The City intends to use a portion of the grant to appoint service providers tasked to facilitate meaningful engagement with affected residents. A detailed community engagement plan will be developed and adjusted as required, taking into account feedback from all relevant stakeholders.”

Badroodien said the intention was to initially pilot, and then scale up the implementation of the innovative sanitation technologies in the long-term pipeline for informal settlement development.

He said the three-year agreement comprises a demonstration of technologies verified through the WRC’s approved innovation platform (SASTEP) or through the City’s Water and Sanitation Directorate.

“The signing of the Grant Agreement between the City of Cape Town and the BMGF, as well as the Memorandum of Agreement with the WRC as the research and technology demonstration partner, is a significant milestone in the objective set out in the City’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP), to provide access to dignified basic services for all,” Badroodien said.

“The generous investment and dedication by our partners may be the turning point, for a better quality of life for approximately 18.6 percent of households currently living in informality in the City.”

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