20 Mdantsane families share a toilet

Municipality claims major progress in sanitation

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Photo of woman and child in front of toilet
Asanda Nduvana and her three children share a toilet with 19 other families. Photo: Abongile Ndevu

Buffalo City municipality claims that 98% of households have access to flush toilets 75 metres or less from their homes. But these claims mean little to the more than 20 families in Mdantsane NU1 informal settlement who have to share a single toilet.

Three toilets were initially installed in the area in 2008, but since then the settlement has expanded considerably. Two of the three toilets are blocked.

Residents say they suffer infections and also fear for their children’s health. Sometimes, says resident Buyiswa Bharaza, they have to resort to buckets.

 Zandile Lungile says her husband has built a toilet for them outside her house, putting an old seat over a deep hole in the ground.

Zandile told GroundUp that before building that toilet her husband used the bush and she and her two children used one of the toilets that were abandoned in front of her shack.

Buffalo City Municipality spokesperson Sibusiso Cindi said municipal policy was that flush toilets had to be 75 metres or less from residents’ homes and should be used by only two households or a maximum of 12 people.

But the toilet that is being shared by the 20 families in Mdantsane does not have any pipes or water. Residents must bring their own buckets of water in order to flush the toilet.

Asanda Nduvana, who lives in a two-roomed house nearby, says she and her three children have to use this toilet because the pipes from the toilet in her yard were stolen. She is afraid her children will get sick.

Residents say they have no interest in the August municipal elections.

“It is useless to vote here because there is nothing that this government has done for me. Really, I am not happy about the current situation I am staying in,” said resident Naledi Zwakala.

Several attempts to get hold of ward councillor Landile Vika were unsuccessful. He did not answer his cellphone and the phone in his office was left ringing with no one answering it.

Cindi said the municipality was proud of progress with sanitation. “Over the past term we have increased the proportion of our households receiving Minimum Service Levels and above to 98%, from 76% in 2011/2012. We recognise, however, that the remaining 2% of our population deserves to receive adequate basic services and are quick to acknowledge that in spite of the meaningful inroads we have made in this arena, we still fall short and we will not give up until it is done,” he said.

Asked whether the policy of policy two households or a maximum of 12 people per toilet was applied in informal settlements, he said it was difficult to monitor the population of these settlements as they were growing all the time.

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TOPICS:  Sanitation

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