Stories of Social Justice In Action
Putting pressure to clean toilets
How to stay safe of COVID-19 can be very tricky when you don’t have access to pumped water, and enough toilets?
This is the challenge for the estimated five million people who live in a crowded informal settlements across the country.
Sharing few too communal toilets means they are not only dirty but become blocked and can lead to the outbreak of disease.
International Budget Partnership South Africa has been working to improve service delivery to poor communities by acting as watch dog to Government’s budget and spending priorities. When the lock down came they realized they needed to use their network to make sure the poorest people were not forgotten. Initially they created health and hygiene messages in multiple local languages but they realized they needed to do more to make sure people had adequate access to sanitation and services were being delivered.
The initiative they created Asivikelane, “Let us protect each other” in Zulu was to mobilize settlement residents to monitor failures in delivery of critical hygiene services and report the problems. To date, they are working in 135 informal settlements in six municipalities. The reports on the conditions of toilets are packaged into a weekly press release that can be used to bring attention to the city agencies and if they didn’t respond they would seek out the National body coordinating COVID-19.
While initially the first few weeks indicated a lack of cleaning, the collective pressure has forced action and the situation has improved. Encouragingly for the future, it has strengthened the relationship between residents in informal settlements, helped to give voice to their concerns and bridged the gap between local councils and government departments, who often aren’t always willing to take responsibility. The plan is with additional support IBP can build lasting improvement to local service delivery and keep everyone healthier.