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TIPS for Sewering Informal Settlements
Expanded Title:Informal dwellings tend to be laid out in a manner that is not conducive for retrofitting drainage according to conventional engineering standards. Coupled with unfavourable ground conditions (ranging from settlements in flood-prone areas to discontinued landfills), retrofitting and/or installing conventional sewerage in such conditions is inherently problematic, particularly in situations where residents refuse to relocate (even temporarily) for fear of further marginalisation. Alternative approaches to providing sewerage to informal settlements were investigated in order to determine whether there are other means of providing these areas with low-cost wastewater collection systems. This report builds on South African research into alternative sewerage systems (Du Pisani,1998a, b; Eslick & Harrison, 2004; Van Vuuren & Van Dijk, 2011a, b) by presenting the outcome of their utilisation and management in three Western Province applications: simplified sewers and vacuum sewers in two Cape Town informal settlements and settled sewers in the formal areas of Hermanus. The progress in planning a pilot settled sewer project for the Cape Town informal settlement of Barcelona is also presented. The four case studies reported upon in the document endeavour to illustrate a variety of socio-political and risk factors that cause sanitation facilities and projects to succeed or fail, especially in informal settlements. A significant amount of ‘best practice’ literature and discourse were also reviewed on how best to develop alternative sewerage schemes and participatory approaches as a means to possibly improve urban sanitation conditions in South Africa’s high-density informal settlements. What follows are the major technological, institutional, social and servicing lessons learnt from the research study on the implementation of alternative sewerage systems by South African municipalities. Technology: Implementing alternative sewerage The most common technical challenge with applying alternative sewerage technology in South Africa has been the lack of experience and familiarity of designing, constructing or operating such infrastructure in densely settled informal areas. Institutions: Establishing responsibility for municipal toilets South African municipal officials have reported the failure of shared sanitation facilities despite residential leaders’ ‘promises’ to manage them (Mjoli et al., 2009; Taing et al., 2011). Generally in practice, shared toilets are mismanaged because neither the local authorities nor users accept responsibility for them. From the users’ perspectives, as noted by Beauclair (2010) and Taing et al. (2011), ‘community-managed’ toilets often fall into disrepair because the users do not want to ‘take ownership’ of shared toilets. Instead, residents generally expect that government-funded full-flush sanitation toilets should be accompanied with a government-funded janitorial and operation and maintenance (O&M) service. People: Coordinating contributions Many WSAs are fragmented by severe decentralisation that has resulted in uncoordinated delivery of services from municipal departments, as well as the occasional ad-hoc duplication of roles and tasks. This subsequently makes it difficult for officials to establish clear lines of accountability in projects and coordinate services across rigid departmental management and budget silos. Participatory approaches have had merits in demonstrably building consensus between service providers, users and civil society organisation representatives, as well as obtaining users’ input into and consent of technical designs. The popular theory that residents’ sentiments of long-term ownership and responsibility will develop, however, is flawed in that such sentiments are not guaranteed as a result when managing municipally funded services, despite engaging beneficiaries in a participatory process. Services: Transitioning from ‘community-managed’ facilities to municipal services WSAs – when fulfilling their FBS obligations – should only offer sanitation services in which they will be responsible for ensuring that toilets function as designed from the facilities’ set-up phase to its eventual decommissioning. While not the focus of this report, it bears mentioning that many of the problems linked with sewerage can also be tied to the shortcomings of stormwater infrastructure and solid waste management. Even when formal stormwater drainage is provided, high volumes of litter often fall into catchpits and block drains. The location and design of solid waste skips and collection systems can also have an impact on the functionality of sewerage. Conclusions More cost-effective and flexible sewerage than conventional systems are needed to sewer South African informal settlements, and this need can potentially be met through alternative technologies such as simplified, settled or vacuum sewerage. These technologies are technically proven to work elsewhere in the world; however, the South African research to date has reached the conclusion that the ability of sewers to function as designed is closely related to how sanitation technologies are planned, managed and used. In other words, the social processes that underlie the planning, provision and management of sewerage systems are just as significant as technology choice.
Date Published:23/08/2013
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Wastewater Management - Domestic, Wastewater Management - Sewers, Sanitation - Waterborne sanitation, Sanitation - Hygiene
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Technical
WRC Report No:TT 557/13
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0412-0
Authors:Taing L; Armitage N; Ashipala N; Spiegel A
Project No:K5/1827
Organizations:Urban Water Management Group; University of Cape Town
Document Size:3 743 KB
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