DWS to prioritise eradication of pit toilets in rural areas

The UN says 4.2 million people in South Africa do not have access to clean drinking water. Picture: File

The UN says 4.2 million people in South Africa do not have access to clean drinking water. Picture: File

Published Jul 2, 2024


Newly appointed Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation Sello Seitlholo says he will partner with institutions of higher learning to come up with new ideas for eradicating pit toilets in rural areas.

Seitlholo said prior to that, he would like to familiarise himself with the projects that were currently under construction.

“Once we familiarise ourselves with the projects that are ongoing, we will be able to see the smooth operation of those projects, without any hindrance. I would also want to work with higher education centres in order to come up with new innovations on how we are going to deal with pit toilets, particularly in rural areas,” the deputy minister added.

Seitlholo said he intended to garner all stakeholders who would be able to make a necessary contribution.

He said as a department they will be listening and inviting every South African who wishes to make changes in the country.

His comments comes after the UN reported that about 4.2 million people in South Africa did not have access to clean drinking water, and about 21 million don’t have proper sanitation.

The country has been plagued with water shortages since the year 2015. The shortage of water in the country is attributed to climate change, which caused rainfall delays that eventually decreased dam levels, leading to droughts within the country.

However, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said it was one step closer to establishing the National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency (NWRIA) in ensuring a sustainable, equitable and reliable supply of water from national water resources infrastructure.

The NWRIA Bill was recently adopted by the select committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements and the National Council of Provinces.

This followed the bill’s adoption by the portfolio committee on water and sanitation and the National Assembly.

According to DWS, the bill sought to establish the NWRIA, which would result in the ownership of national water resources infrastructure, as well as its asset management and revenue collection-related functions being integrated under one entity.

Departmental spokesperson Wisane Mavasa said the agency would raise funding for the development of national water resources infrastructure.

“The NWRIA Bill was initially drafted in late 2021, after which it received preliminary certification from the Office of the Chief State Law Adviser in April 2022.

“The certification set the wheels in motion for the Department of Water and Sanitation to commence with the Cabinet process and seek approval to conduct public consultations.

“The department had comprehensive, all-inclusive public consultations for a period of 120 days aimed at soliciting meaningful inputs from the public, as the key water sector stakeholders, to enhance the legislation and echo the voices of South Africans,” Mavasa explained.

He said the department received over 80 comments, and these include comments from the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), National Treasury, labour unions, and Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), a departmental entity responsible for financing and implementing bulk raw water infrastructure projects.

Mavasa said all the comments were taken into consideration when the bill was being refined, and in June 2023 the Cabinet approved the bill for introduction to Parliament.

“Now that the bill has been adopted, this means that we will submit it to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his sign-off. Once that happens, the bill will become law, which will entail that we move with the establishment for the agency,” Mavasa said.

The Star

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