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Estimating the cost of sanitation infrastructure for selected sites in Khayelitsha in City of Cape Town

Authors: Conrad Barberton, Jonathan Carter, Matthew Townshend
Date: 2016-04-19

Download the full report.
Download the model.

The South African Constitution identifies access to sufficient water as a right. There is no similar right of access to sanitation. However, the South African Human Rights Commission holds that access to sanitation is integral to realising “other rights including rights to dignity, education, health, safety and the environment.” Based on the fact that “the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resource to achieve the progressive realisation of the right” to have access to sufficient water, it is reasonable to expect that a similar obligation rests on the state with regards to providing access to an acceptable standard of sanitation in light of its close connection to the realisation of other rights.

The sanitation backlog in Cape Town has different dimensions, but where it relates to access to full-flush toilets, it is almost entirely confined to the informal settlement areas. The CoCT is faced with the challenge of meeting the increasing demand for sanitation services arising from urbanisation, natural growth and changes in household size. The population growth was roughly 20 percent between 2001 and 2011 in Khayelitsha alone.

In 2011, 90.2 percent of households in Cape Town had flush toilets connected to either the sewerage system or a septic tank. This means 9.8 percent of households in Cape Town did not have access to flush toilets in 2011; many had no access to toilet facilities, or only access to a bucket toilet. Section 153 of the Constitution places an obligation on municipalities, and therefore on the CoCT, to “structure and manage its administration and budgeting and planning to give priority to the basic needs to the community”. Sanitation is undoubtedly a basic need. Communities in Cape Town that do not have access to acceptable sanitation services can therefore have a reasonable expectation that the CoCT should prioritise the eradication of the sanitation backlog, and ensure that all households have access to adequate toilet facilities.

The analysis considers the following constraints in relation to each of the available toilet technologies:

  • social acceptability – this covers a range of issues such as dignity and privacy, equality and safety, as well as households’ aspirations;
  • the practicality – are there any geographic constraints, or constraints linked to location, that make the implementation of a particular technology impractical in a given context;
  • health and environmental considerations;
  • the cost and financial sustainability of the toilet technology; and
  • the balance between immediate measures and longer term solutions.

The following figure summarises the constraints against each type of toilet considered in the report.

Furthermore, constraints that can affect the roll-out of sanitation services to informal settlements include:

  • Practical and zoning constraints
  • Zoning constraints where there are health and safety risks to households
  • Zoning constraints where there are no risks to households, and
  • Other constraints, such as private land ownership.

It needs to be emphasised that the primary output of this project is the Sanitation Costing Model itself – this report is complementary to the model, describing it and illustrating how the information emerging from the model can inform discussions on the rollout of sanitation services.