Govt urged to expedite sanitation access to meet UN 2030 Goals

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The Department of Water and Sanitation says the government needs to fast-track its access to proper sanitation mandate in order to meet the United Nations 2030 sustainable goals.

Authorities have marked the annual World Toilet Day at the Chester Williams informal settlement in Paarl on Thursday. This is to raise awareness about the daily struggle of people who do not have access to sanitation services and the health and hygiene challenges that come with a lack of proper sanitation.

Chester Williams Informal Settlement is one of the 43 informal settlements in the Drakeinstein Municipality that is plagued by a lack of sanitation and access to water.

Over 84% of the people nationally have access to proper sanitation, with the Western Cape leading at over 90 percent. But despite this, many residents here are yet to have access to water and proper sanitation.

Fredricka Classen, a resident at Chester Williams Informal Settlement, says it is very difficult for people who live in the informal settlements who do not have access to water and sanitation, but she managed to build her own toilet.

“I built my own toilet. I made water for myself so that I could be comfortable. It is difficult; you must wash three times a day when you have your periods during the month. And to carry buckets of water, it’s difficult for women, especially for women without men. For single women and single mothers, it’s difficult to take water from one place to another.”

Another resident, Peter Afrika, has called for the government to build more toilets. His house is next to an area where some of the residents dump faeces.

“In my opinion, I just want to ask them to maybe build public toilets—maybe four, you see. And the drains are here, and people are coming. There are people working at 5 o’clock in the morning. They don’t have taps at their places. They come here in the morning, and you have not even eaten yet, but you must come and see stuff that doesn’t go against your system.”

Department of Water and Sanitation, in partnership with the Drakenstein Municipality and other stakeholders, are joining forces to improve service delivery in sanitation:

More than 100 families live at the Chester Williams Informal Settlement. Drakenstein Municipality Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Rita Andreas, says plans are underway to upgrade all 43 informal settlements in the municipality. However, she says they are awaiting funding to start the process.

“Remember, we have 43 informal settlements in Drakeinstein. We are not going to start. It all depends on the money we get from the government. We have only received money now for nine informal settlements, but we are going to start with Chester Williams and Lovers Lane. The upgrading. 120 families here, so we have to start here, and I believe if everything goes smoothly and we have that money, we can start next year with the upgrade of Chester Williams.”

Wester Cape Provincial Deputy Director for Sanitation Services, Mchumane Hlazo, says the mushrooming of informal settlements is providing a challenge to providing proper sanitation to residents. Hlazo says they need to move rapidly to meet the United Nations 2030 sustainable goals.

“So we are coming to celebrate with the community of Chester Williams in Drakenstein in Paarl to just say we are aware of the challenges they are faced with. We are aware of the pace at which the government is moving, but we need to accelerate, run faster, and ensure that people have access to basic sanitation and water. That is why we chose this area. They have access to sanitation, but it’s not adequate. We still have to do more.”

The Department of Water and Sanitation in the Western Cape says it will take the commemoration of World Toilet Day to other areas in the province.