[Debate] Community volunteers clean up Duncan Village sanitation
okhela at iafrica.com
Wed May 27 07:40:49 BST 2009
Suburb's sanitation: 'risk to whole of East London
27th May 2009
ARMED with scrubbing brushes, rubbish bags and disinfectant, community
volunteers and non-governmental organisation members yesterday got down to
the task of cleaning up the public toilets in the East London suburb of
With volunteers clad in protective gloves and face masks, the clean-up was
part of National Sanitation and Hygiene Week, a campaign meant to highlight
the shocking conditions endured by citizens forced to use public toilets .
The Duncan Village effort was organised by the Civil Society Support
Programme (CSSP), overseen by the Eastern Cape NGO Coalition, and was funded
by the German Development Co- operation.
Last week the Dispatch reported how residents were being forced to pay
"rent" of up to R50 a month to use flushing toilets in private homes. The
shocking sanitation situation in Duncan Village was also revealed in a study
on sanitation in Duncan Village by the coalition.
"Interacting with people from Duncan Village has been a real eye-opener,"
said coalition advocacy co-ordinator Duduzile Radebe .
She said people, especially women and children, were afraid to use public
toilets because of security .
"There are open drains and rubbish everywhere," she continued.
"Duncan Village's sanitation facilities are a serious health risk to the
whole East London community, and a violation of poor people's right to
Elizabeth Jongilanga , one of the residents who yesterday volunteered to
clean a public toilet near her shack, said the main problem with the toilets
was lack of water.
"There's no water so they don't flush," she explained.
"We decided to help - as the community - because the municipality doesn't do
anything about it.
"They just come and roam around outside the toilet and pretend to be doing
something. It's 16 years that I've been living here . all that stench flows
Badikazi Ncobo , another volunteer, said the toilets had been in a bad state
"They've been like this ever since they were built," said Ncobo.
Gerhard Kienast , the German organisation's service adviser, said they had
given about R500000 to the coalition to be spent on training and mentoring.
"But we are just here (at the clean-up) to show solidarity. The clean-up is
nothing sustainable; we can't come here every week, and the municipality
can't organise a continuous service.
"The idea is that citizens hold their public representatives accountable,"
At night most people use buckets as toilets in their homes;
l These buckets are not always emptied in the toilet;
l People with little disposable income are choosing to spend what little
they have on renting toilets from individuals with toilets in their homes;
l Some people resort to using the surrounding bushes;
l During rains, sewage - including maggots - flows into houses;
l People are disturbed by the constant smell of the toilets and drains; and
l Health is affected by the general standard of cleanliness, and the
prevalence of flies.
Buffalo City spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said plans to solve the problem in
the short- term were afoot.
"The city has invested in getting transportable blocks of toilets as a pilot
project for the area and we are hoping to have local support to maintain
"At this stage we cannot divulge the details until all the internal
processes have been adhered to."
Ngwenya added that the main issue was housing and alleviating congestion in
the area "so as to properly manage all the challenges that face the area". -
By BABALO NDENZE
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