A community-based approach for the operation and maintenance of shared basic water and sanitation services in informal settlements within the municipal jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town
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Access to basic water and sanitation services in South Africa is considered a basic human right, and constitutionally, local government is responsible for the provision thereof. However, in the informal settlements in towns and cities, residents continue to be exposed to environmental health risks that result from poor and inadequate basic sanitation provision. Municipalities are under pressure to address the sanitation backlog according to the national target that is based on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The provision of infrastructure alone does not account for the provision of an improved, safer and more hygienic environment for its users. A badly managed sanitation facility is an environmental health risk, and it encourages inappropriate and unsafe sanitation practice. Municipalities cannot claim to meet the sanitation backlog targets unless appropriate and effective management systems are in place to operate and maintain the basic sanitation facilities provided. Through the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) process, local government is encouraged to develop partnerships to promote economic development and job creation, particularly in areas of extreme poverty and high unemployment through the delivery of services. Public participation, social learning, empowerment and sustainability are the key components of the people-centred development approach that currently guides the delivery of municipal services South Africa (Davids,I. 2005). The White Paper on Local Government advocates municipalities to work with communities to find sustainable ways to meet their needs through an approach that is driven by formulating linkages between development, service delivery and local citizen participation (Mogale, T. 2005:219). It is also argued that the only way to effectively link poverty reduction strategies and improved service delivery is through the formation of partnerships that are based on meaningful participation (Mogale, T. 2003). Public participation also allows for an opportunity for increased community buy-in and support that is essential for the sustainable delivery of services to informal settlements so as to reduce incidents of misuse and vandalism. Communication and collaboration across municipal departments is also required, as sanitation service delivery in its broad definition, falls across the Water Services, Health and Solid Waste Departments. Hence the need for an integrated and inclusive approach to planning is required. Using a participatory action research (PAR) process, this study proposes to investigate whether there are local community-based opportunities for the procurement of some of the operation and maintenance tasks for the recently refurbished public ablution blocks in an informal settlement within the City of Cape Town. Public ablution blocks are one of the sanitation technology options available for the provision of shared basic sanitation services provided to informal settlements within the City of Cape Town. The research is divided into three stages. The first two stages serve as the building blocks for the third stage of the research. The objectives are to obtain an improved understanding of the “local knowledge” at community level, to obtain an understanding of the operation and maintenance activities in informal settlements currently being undertaken by City of Cape Town, and to initiate contacts and develop relationships with key stakeholders for their participation in the focus group discussions in the third stage. The third stage of the research proposes to adopt a participatory approach involving key stakeholders to identify the opportunities and make recommendations to the City of Cape Town to consider for the development of an operational plan for the operation and maintenance of the Khayelitsha Ablution Blocks.