Service Delivery

Statistics don’t tell the full story about bucket toilets and their use

By Sandisiwe Shoba 30 August 2019

Siqalo Informal Settlement during service delivery protests on May 02, 2018 in Mitchells Plain, South Africa. Siqalo residents took their anger over poor service delivery to the streets in violent protests that affected hundreds of commuters from Mitchells Plain and surrounding areas, the demonstrations erupted late last night, an ATM at a filling station, along with a shop and vehicle came under attack. (Photo by Gallo Images/ Netwerk24 / Jaco Marais)

A report released by StatsSA showed an overall decline in the provision of bucket toilets to residents by municipalities. Although municipalities are giving out fewer bucket toilets to indigent households, it does not mean that fewer of the poor are using buckets as their primary ablution facility.

The Statistician-General of South Africa, Risenga Maluleke released the 2018 Non-financial Census of Municipalities (NFCM) report at a press briefing in Pretoria on 29 August 2019.

The numbers should always illuminate where there are successes and challenges,” said Maluleke.

According to the annual census which measures service delivery in all 257 municipalities the number of bucket toilets distributed to residents across all municipalities decreased by close on 30% from 60,557 to 42,612 consumer units between 2017 and 2018.

The findings, however, do not necessarily reflect the number of households actually using the bucket system, it merely highlights which municipalities are still providing poor households with bucket toilets.

According to the 2018 General Household survey , 38,000 households across the country use bucket toilets which were not provided or emptied by the municipality.

According to the NFCM report, the largest number of bucket toilets were located in the Setsoto municipality in the Free State with 8,213 of the 42,612 reported found there.

There are a lot of positions by government and by municipalities that they want to eradicate the bucket system, but your biggest challenge is that when there is a new informal settlement emerging, there are health challenges and a need for ablution facilities, so municipalities have to respond a lot more speedily,” said Maluleke explaining why the bucket system is still an option for some municipalities.

The North West saw the sharpest decline in the provision of bucket toilets with just under 82% whereas the Northern Cape saw half a percent increase in the provision of bucket toilets. Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo reported zero provision of bucket toilets.

The findings also show an overall increase in the provision of flush toilets connected to the public sewerage system of 306,805 consumer units between 2017 and 2018.

Other key findings showed increases across the board in the provision of water (3.7%), sewerage and sanitation (3.6%), electricity (3.1%) and solid waste management (2.4%). DM



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