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Free basic sanitation in informal settlements: An ethnography of so-called communal toilet use & maintenance
Expanded Title:This study presents evidence, based on ethnographic research focused on the provision of janitorial services in three informal settlements (two in CoCT and one in Overstrand). In order to do that work, the ethnographic study had necessarily to include in its purview: the residents whom the respective municipalities regarded as the likely users of the toilets taken care of by the janitors, because housing and service delivery are inextricably linked, especially since service provision policies are often seen as an interim solution in a process aimed at addressing the country’s overall housing-provision crisis. The specific aims of the study were to interrogate the introduction and/or provision of janitorial services in public flush toilet facilities in three Western Cape informal settlements, which meant documenting, analysing and understanding imperatives for and obstacles to providing and managing public flush toilets in informal settlements. This was for the purpose of providing suggestions to guide local authorities regarding sanitation service provision and management in informal settlements related to compliance with national standards and meeting residents’ demands in light of municipal constraints Key findings from the research indicated that all role-players involved in using &/or providing informal settlement municipally provided sanitation services: • Experience health & safety risks which led to their being fearful & which affected their access (i.e. having the right to enter, get near, or make use of something) to toilets/sites. • Experience difficulty reliably coordinating the various interests/processes associated with cleaning/managing sanitation services. • Have diverse & thus different expectations of what constitutes a free basic sanitation service, and of what should comprise the associated responsibilities of users & of various kinds of service providers. • Influence municipal policy through practice. • Lack of guidance from national policymakers when providing services for informal settlements. • Municipal incapacity & inflexible institutional processes impede effective service delivery. • Residents’ alternative sanitation practices negate the aims of the state’s Free Basic Sanitation strategy. • Officials tended to set-up, in preference, centrally-administered & standardized systems, whilst janitors & residents preferred to have initiatives that were tailored especially to their particular situations. • Municipal authorities & contracted workers (e.g. service providers & janitors) are held legally accountable/responsible for delegated tasks, whereas resident users cannot be legally bound to fulfill O&M responsibilities. • ‘Public’ janitorial services are generally more effective/reliable than ‘community’ systems in informal settlements because: o Officials & residents had similar expectations of who could access the facilities & who is responsible for the services. o Despite being under-resourced, municipalities seemed better equipped than residents to manage cleaning services.
Date Published:01/07/2014
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Wastewater Management - Domestic, Sanitation - Hygiene
Document Keywords:Municipality, Policy and regulation
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:2120/1/14
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0551-6
Authors:Taing L; Vice K; Schroeder M; Spiegel A
Project No:K5/2120
Organizations:University of Cape Town
Document Size:6 335 KB
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