Informal settlements are hotspots for infection because they don’t have enough taps and toilets, and these communal facilities are not cleaned often enough. Picture: Se-Anne Rall
Informal settlements are hotspots for infection because they don’t have enough taps and toilets, and these communal facilities are not cleaned often enough. Picture: Se-Anne Rall

The plight of the shackdweller: We have masks but no sanitiser or running water

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jul 31, 2020

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Durban - More and more people living at informal settlements across the country have heeded the President’s call to wear a mask when leaving the house.

However, according to a survey conducted by Asivikelane, a campaign initiated by partners International Budget Partnership-South Africa (IBP-SA), Planact, Afesis-corplan, South Africa SDI Alliance, Development Action Group (DAG), Social Justice Coalition (SJC), 1to1 and Grassroot, residents in informal settlements are still in desperate need of soap or hand sanitiser.

Many did not have access to clean, running water - especially in metros like City of Johannesburg, City of Cape Town and City of Ekurhuleni.

Results from the study showed that more than half of the Western Cape’s Covid-19 infections were from people living in informal settlements.

“Informal settlements are hotspots for infection because they don’t have enough taps and toilets, and these communal facilities are not cleaned often enough,” the survey found.

While all metros have responded to the immediate crisis, Asivikelane results point to longer term service delivery challenges.

“For example this month we changed our water question to ask if there was enough water for all residents in the settlement, and as a result scores for Cape Town, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni dropped from previously higher levels,” one of those who took part in the survey, said.

More taps and toilets, along with regular cleaning of these facilities should therefore be a key aspect of the government’s Covid-19 strategy to protect informal settlement communities.

In the non-metros, residents are surveying improved access to basic services, but Emalahleni and Msunduzi fell short in provision across all the services.

The survey found that what was most concerning in these two municipalities was the limited water access, the lack of sanitation and lack of toilet cleaning where residents do have access to municipal toilets.

“This exposes residents to a huge health risk,” the survey found.

Some good news is that Msunduzi municipality is currently installing 90 VIP toilets in Ezinketheni informal settlements.

This, according to the survey, has been long-awaited and will improve living conditions.

Witzenberg saw a significant improvement in toilet cleaning over the last few weeks.

Asivikelane received responses from 581 residents from 200 settlements in the following municipalities:

City of Johannesburg

City of Ekurhuleni

Buffalo City Metro

City of eThekwini

City of Cape Town

Mossel Bay

Witzenberg

Knysna

Msunduzi

Emfuleni

Cederberg

Emalahleni

Residents from the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Municipality are now also participating in Asivikelane and a traffic light for the metro will be included in future releases.

IOL

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