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Industry news for the Water and Sanitation Sector in South Africa


 The Mvula Trust latest updates

'Value creation provokes spontaneous partnership' 'Value creation provokes spontaneous partnership'
Youth urged to embrace water and sanitation learnership programme
Limpopo cooperatives benefit from the skills development programme

TMT gears up for the year ahead

The Mvula Trust (TMT) set aside three days (16 – 18 May 2016) to retreat from the office environment and vanished into the bushy and invigorating Entabeni Safari Conservancy for a strategic planning session. This was a not-to-be-missed opportunity for a leading Non-Governmental Organisation of The Mvula Trust’s magnitude and calibre to gather and map out ways on how to strategically steer the ship in the right direction. According to John F. Kennedy, former President of the United States, the “efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” This statement fittingly echoes the basis for The Mvula Trust to make planning sessions one its annual traditions – with a view to consciously instil a sense of explicit purpose among its personnel. Attendees comprised the executive and management members as well as other employees who are at the core business of the organisation across all The Mvula Trust’s regional offices. Speaking during the opening of the strategic planning session, The Mvula Trust’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Silas Mbedzi emphasised that the organisation (The Mvula Trust) was not going to accomplish its five (5) year strategic plan by default. “In an ideal corporate environment all organisations convene strategic sessions to reflect on their performance, collectively engineer future plans and their sustainability. It is also about how organisations satisfy market needs. We are therefore not immune in this instance,” said Mr. Mbedzi. Apart from the focal point, there were other multiple team-building activities that employees partook of, which were directly linked to how strategies could be successfully and collectively executed with a common and shared vision. The Mvula Trust is... read more

COO delivers a message of support at the Limpopo Provincial Education Summit

In the move to create conducive environment for teaching and learning in the schools across the province, the Limpopo Department of Education convened a two-day summit on the 09 – 10 May 2016 to woo key stakeholders from different quarters of society to rally behind the initiative. This well-attended summit was held at the Meropa Casino, few kilometres outside the city of Polokwane. As one of the unparalleled implementing agent for diverse government projects and a leading non-governmental organisation in South Africa, The Mvula Trust was invited among other sponsors to participate in this function. The focal point of the summit was “putting teaching and learning at the centre of all activities”. Different speakers, among them academics and experts, were invited to address attendees on how to schools could improve learning outcomes; the role stakeholders and communities to create a learning environment for school children as well as ICT utilisation and effective learner involvement and support in the whole approach. Delivering the message of support to the Limpopo Department of Education during the summit, The Mvula Trust’s Chief Operations officer, Ms Julia Mmushi, reiterated an unwavering support and commitment the organisation is offering to the department in relation to the delivery of water and sanitation in schools across the Limpopo province. During the event, The Mvula Trust committed to deliver water and sanitation to two schools in the province at no cost. “As The Mvula Trust, we are pledging to provide water and sanitation facilities at two schools that will be identified by the Limpopo Department of Education,” said Julia Mmushi. The summit was officially opened by the Premier... read more

Learners On The Brink Of Decent Sanitation

The partnership between The Mvula Trust and Limpopo Department of Education (LDoE) continues to deliver decent sanitation to schools in the province. The MEC for Education, Mr. Ishmael Kgetjepe, accompanied by the acting Head of Department, Ms Ndiambani Beauty Mutheiwana, led a sod-turning ceremony on Friday, 11 September 2015 at Klaas Mothapo Secondary School, Ga- Mothapo village.

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How To Use Water For Poverty Alleviation

It is undeniably true that majority of rural households in South Africa continue to live in abject poverty on daily basis. In an effort to tackle this scourge, former President Thabo Mbeki once posed a question to residents in one of the rural villages: “How are you using water to be economically active?”

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National WATER Week [press release]

The 16th of March 2015 marked the beginning of the South African National WATER Week, a Department of Water and Sanitation initiative. This campaign is a great device in reiterating and escalating the importance of WATER, the value for continued management of this scarce resource and the role WATER plays in eliminating poverty and under-development in South Africa.

The Department of WATER and Sanitation’s theme “WATER has no substitute” is a welcomed theme and one that finds us prepared and ready for National WATER Week action as The Mvula Trust. A substitute is something or someone acting on behalf of another. WATER is a resource that cannot be substituted or replaced.“ WATER has no substitute” to those people and communities that have to walk for kilometers just to get a few liters of WATER daily.

WATER is no substitute for those who are calculated in the 400 Million people with severe WATER shortages. WATER is no substitute for the 2 Billion people without access to safe supply of drinking and cooking WATER. WATER as a resource cannot be simply explained as WATER for those who do not have the privilege of access to it through the simple turn of a tap.

To these people, these communities, and these lives “WATER has no substitute”. We as The Mvula Trust say along with the Department of WATER and Sanitation we are holding hands and joining in the plight to fight and work together to bring awareness to communities, lives and people. Together we say “WATER has no substitute”. The National WATER week campaign seeks to continue building on the ongoing awareness creation within the broader South African community.

This awareness creation is coupled with the responsibility that every citizen must take in ensuring the integrity of our WATER resources and its efficient use. Particularly, the linkages between WATER services, supply, resource management, poverty eradication, social and economic development are emphasised in a number of innovative ways. The campaign has been influenced by local needs and international sectoral trends.

Although it is a known fact that about 70 percent of the earth is covered in WATER, only a fraction of this amount is made up of freshwater. If all the earth’s WATER were stored in a five-liter container, the available freshwater would not quite fill a teaspoon. “Water for thought”, with that said The Mvula Trust has invented a “memorable phrase” that not only represents the importance or the value of this statement and WATER as a resource, but also illustrates the unity amongst a people who rely solely on its existence.

“Behind WATER, behind Life, Behind People” is our memorable phrase.

This phrase points to a stimulating chapter in the organisation’s life. The phrase, simply conveys our over 21 years of service delivery contribution, our continuous growth development and implementation of WATER supply to rural, peri-urban and urban communities across South Africa. The WATER scarcity problem is real, it is also extremely serious and a major global challenge. With the effects of pollution, over consumption and relentless population growth, The Mvula Trust’s memorable phrase, “Behind WATER, behind Life, Behind People” is being used as an instrument to awaken people’s interest in WATER and its conservation methods.

Our WATER and Soil conservation and Spring Protection Programme are amongst the numerous projects that The Mvula Trust is connected with in affiliation with this National WATER Week and eradicating poverty in our country.

The WATER and Soil Conservation programme’s main aims are to protect the most important elements of our earth which is WATER and Soil. The Spring WATER Protection Programme covers the rural areas and local municipalities. The programme addresses the WATER services backlog, improvement of service levels and contributing to sustainable development. The objective of the programme is to improve the quality of life (health & hygiene), to eliminate poverty in rural communities in South Africa, to ensure the employment of local workers, capacitates and empowers emerging contractors, to provide opportunities to local suppliers and the transfer of long-term skills to local workers.

To commemorate this world event, on 20 March 2015, all The Mvula Trust staff will be wearing their “Behind WATER, behind life and Behind people” either T-shirts or caps to work first to commemorate and second to signify the importance of WATER.

The Mvula Trust
A leading developmental NGO

National WATER Week Celebrations

As The National Water Week comes to a close The Mvula Trust participation to a cause they are deeply invested in has been nothing short of sensational. All garbed in their “The Mvula Trust” branded Caps and T-shirts with a Water bottle in-hand, they are truly reflecting the importance and the value of this scarce resource. What are you doing to ensure the protection of water so that we may continue living a sustainable life?

Rural Women are a major contributor to the rural economy

“Women should be thought of as strategic users of water. They manage the use of water for preparing food, for drinking, bathing and washing, for irrigating home gardens and watering livestock. Women know the location, reliability and quality of local water resources. They collect water, store it and control its use and sanitation. They recycle water, using grey water for washing and irrigation. Their participation in all development programmes should be given priority. Policies and programmatic interventions such as Water Allocation Reform need to factor this in to achieve the desired end results” (Water for Growth and Development Framework, 2009).”

The Strydkraal and Apel villages in the Fetakgomo Local Municipality, which is part of the Sekhukhune District Municipality in Limpopo Province, was the subject of a study undertaken by The Mvula Trust in order to explore multiple water use strategies of rural women in two different rural villages.

Funded by the Water Research Commission, the study also sought to test the adequacy of current policies and practices against the reality and aspirations of women and their families in the two rural villages, as well as examine whether both the water services and resources needed by women in rural villages are made available, or could be made available to them.

The two villages are very poor, have high unemployment rates, and have a high rate of male, migrant labour due to poor employment prospects in those villages. The local municipality has no water function, whilst the district is the water services authority. Lepelle Northern Water Board is the water services provider. The two villages are faced with major water challenges including operations and maintenance related water cut-offs, low water supply, induced water sharing, as well as capacity and institutional challenges in operations and maintenance. Moreover, the two villages are naturally water scarce areas as a result of limited rainfall. All of this negatively affects the women of Strydkraal and Apel in their livelihood activities, which are centered around agriculture and consequently heavily dependent on water availability.

The research study found that the rural reality in Strydkraal and Apel, being that women are in the forefront of creating sustainable livelihoods and are using water as a crucial and scarce resource for those livelihood strategies, was not reflected sufficiently in water policy and legislation.


The research study proposed, among others, that:

  • Sector legislation should provide for the needs of emerging entrepreneurs in the rural areas, as it is currently bias towards domestic use.
  • The implementation of water resources institutions as stated in the National Water Act should assist in giving rural women a voice regarding their water needs for productive purposes.
  • Water institutions should be accessible to rural communities.
  • District and local municipalities should adequately incorporate women and their local economic development (LED) planning.
  • Improved communication is needed between the water services authority and water service provider for the promotion of information sharing on operations and maintenance.
  • The ward committee system should be capacitated to deal with water services and water resource management issues.
  • The water services authority needs to introduce water conservation and water demand management in order to ensure that supply-side water savings occur as a means of meeting demand.

The linkage between water as an economic means for rural women and local economic planningshowed that the role of emergent productive water users such as the women of Strydkraal and Apel are not appreciated or adequately supported. This comes despite the fact that rural women are a major contributor to the rural economy in terms of food security, income generation, livelihood strategies and employment opportunities.

Training and Capacity Building for Water Services Provision

Since the responsibility for water and sanitation services provision is that of local government, sector stakeholders (including national government, water boards and non-governmental organisations) see their role as one of support to local government in both project implementation and ongoing services provision.

Support is most often defined as capacity building and training where capacity building covers the full gamut of support from advising, training and mentoring, through to organisational systems development and adequate resourcing of the organisation.

The Mvula Trust support strategy

To assist local government in its challenging role as Water Services Authority, the Mvula Trust has adopted a three-pronged support strategy:

  • Formal training through participatory workshops and presentations.
  • Development of supporting tools and documents (e.g. model contracts, monitoring checklists, outcomes-based institutional and social development contracts, Water Services Provider selection rating checklists, tools for assessing Water Services Authority and Water Services Provider capacity for sustainable water services provision, etc.); and
  • Interfacing with local government at local level through policy, pilot projects and infrastructure project implementation support.
  • Over the past two years Mvula has provided training and capacity building support to district and local municipalities in Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Northern Province, North West, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Training courses and materials

Training materials and courses have been designed in the following key support areas:

  • The legislative and policy framework for water services;
  • Institutional arrangements for sustainable rural water services;
  • Project sustainability support; and Public-community municipal services partnerships.

Methods used include interactive plenary slide presentations; small group work, including discussions and working with checklists or rating scales or problem scenarios; developing visual models for conceptual issues; as well as more creative-expressive methods such as role play and drama.

Principles for training

Based on lessons and experience gained through initiatives to date, the following methodological principles for training have been identified:

  • All training should be designed to address the gap between existing and necessary skills and capacity to fulfil identified roles and functions i.e. training should be needs- and capacity-based rather than driven by modules and supply.
  • Local government should be engaged in identifying its own training needs within the framework of its functional requirements.
  • Training methodologies should build on and make effective use of the knowledge and skills participants bring to the training situation.
  • Training methodologies should be driven by both the content and the outcomes to be achieved.
  • Training must allow for as much interaction and learning from other participants as possible.
  • The timing of training is significant in that opportunities for applying and practising skills and knowledge gained are critical for reinforcing learning.
  • Materials for reading are an important adjunct, but should not be overloaded. Training materials should therefore be brief, accessible, clear and user-friendly.

Role of national government and others in developing support strategies

The Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) is driving a process to ensure that local government capacity building and training strategies across sectors are aligned. The then Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) now Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), The Mvula Trust, water boards and others have engaged both with DPLG and the sector to develop a water services support strategy.

The draft DWAF Water Services: Local Government Capacity Building and Training Support Strategy (June 2001), defines capacity development as: the process to developing human resources, water services structures, as well as institutional and legal frameworks, so that the ability of the individual Water Services Authorities is enhanced to enable effective, efficient and sustainable performance of water services functions.

The Mvula Trust provided extensive comment and recommendations for aligning the DPLG and the then DWAF strategies by comparing them across a number of dimensions, including how the strategies are located with regard to mandate and proposed institutional linkages; definitions of training and capacity building; purpose; target audience; principles; vision; problems or gaps to be addressed; areas of support proposed; objectives to be achieved; indicators of successful implementation; and how the strategies intend to mobilise the necessary resources for its implementation.

In terms of their principles, both strategies believe that effective, efficient capacity development should be relevant to local government’s legislative roles, responsibilities and functions. They must be incremental and aligned to the capacity gaps or needs of the municipalities, acknowledging that this capacity gap is different for different municipalities.

The draft Water Services Strategy will be integrated into the DWAF Human Resources Water Sector Capacity Building Strategy which, in turn, will form part of DPLG’s overall capacity building strategy.

Capacity development is an ongoing process through partnerships and interventions arising from these strategies. It must be competency-based, performance-based, needs- based, integrative, and allow for transfer of learning.

Lessons and recommendations

It is imperative that the following lessons and recommendations are taken into account in the development of these and individual municipal support strategies:

  • There should be an increased focus on the development of tools for decision-making, problem solving, and contracting and monitoring service providers.
  • Training initiatives should forge relationships and develop partnerships with local stakeholders such as NGOs to co-ordinate interventions. The links between formal training and other capacity building interventions are critical. They should be designed in tandem to achieve proactively identified capacity objectives and outcomes, allowing sufficient time for skills and knowledge to be integrated and applied.
  • Training should be evaluated against clear objectives and outcomes (linked to existing and required capacity) to be achieved rather than numbers of training sessions conducted.
  • Training courses and methodologies should be approved through a central body such as the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) or the Local Government Water and related services Sector Education Training Authority (LGWSETA).
  • Councillors and officials must be conversant with the legal and policy framework in the water supply and sanitation sector.
  • Municipalities must understand the distinction between Water Services Authority regulatory and planning functions, and the service provision functions (to be undertaken by the Authority itself, or by a Water Services Provider on contract to the Authority).
  • Training providers must demonstrate commitment to developmental approaches (and this should be a selection and approval criterion).

The Mvula Trust commitment

The Mvula Trust remains committed to working in partnership with municipalities, government both at national and local level and in continuing to provide them with a high standard of training and capacity support. It will do this in partnership with other reputable training providers, and in keeping with the overarching principles of the strategies of DPLG and DWS.

National Water Week 16 – 22 March 2015

WATER is life: that was the theme for the 2014 National WATER Week. The National WATER Week is an awareness campaign championed by the Department of WATER and Sanitation. It serves as a powerful mechanism reiterating the value of WATER, the need for sustainable management of this scarce resource and the role WATER plays in eradicating poverty and under-development in South Africa.

The Mvula Trust is an active participant in contributing to and delivering dedicated actions to eradicate the challenges and short comings of WATER access in our country and Africa as a whole. Our strategic objectives represent the forward thinking statement of specific intended outcomes, anchored and reinforced by WATER as an important commodity. These and other strategic objectives have held anchor and contributed in supporting both national and local government in the delivery of sustainable, reliable and affordable WATER and Sanitation services in schools with a view of enhancing learning and education.

This year’s National WATER Week represents and showcases once again our commitment as an organisation to our country, and to the continent of Africa as a whole. We are positioned to support and be an active organisation, a vocal mouthpiece and a “weigh anchor” for this national initiative and campaign. As our value add contribution to the campaign we are going to be doing a nation-wide activation in all our regional offices to bring awareness and assist government as dictated by our strategic objectives of supporting and partnering with government at all levels in WATER and Sanitation delivery across the country.

Our annual occupational theme as The Mvula Trust, which is our overarching communication theme for 2015 is “continuing growing values”. This theme has been adopted and will feature in all our activities and actions for the year 2015. This theme guides our overaching commitment to the South African rural landscape, as well as our stakeholders for continuing with our vision as dictated on the founding of the organisation in 1993, where the organisation committed and envisioned a South Africa in which all enjoy safe and affordable WATER and Sanitation which contributes to good health and productive livelihoods.

Inside this theme is our “memorable phrase” coined particularly for National WATER Week. You might ask what is a “memorable phrase”, a memorable phrase is The Mvula Trust’s continuing reminder of our commitment and forms a sub-divider of our overarching theme. It dictates the activities that outline our actions around a particular programme such as in this case National WATER Week.

So, in celebrating and focusing on this year’s National WATER Week, we have tried to capture the hearts of our internal and external stakeholders yet keeping our occupational undertaking and commitment at the centre of that undertaking. We hope you take pleasure and bring value and share value with this National WATER Week.

At The Mvula Trust, our “memorable phrase” for this year’s National WATER Week is; “Behind water, behind people, behind life”. This “memorable phrase” points to a stimulating chapter in the organisations life. The phrase, simply put, conveys our over 21 years of service delivery and our continuous growth development and implementation of water supply to rural, peri-urban and urban communities across South Africa as a whole.

Our proudest contribution to this year’s National WATER week and in support of the Department of Water and Sanitation’s National WATER Week is in showcasing our achievement as a result of implementing the “Spring WATER Protection” project.

This Spring WATER Protection programme benefits an entire school, the implementation of alternative energy usage through solar generated power, a stellar consideration and care for the environment and undisturbed Spring WATER flow, which benefit livestock, sanitation and drinking water which uplift and bring dignity to the community.

This Spring WATER Protection Programme will be unveiled on 20 March 2015 which is a WATER Day as an electronic copy in our executive Park.

World WATER Day was declared an international day in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly and was first celebrated in 1993. Clean WATER is essential to the health and sustainability of the environment, people and agriculture. The increase in demand for good quality WATER requires careful management. By celebrating World WATER Day and National WATER Week, we are, along with other stakeholders, focusing our attention on the current contribution that our government and country is making to rural, peri-urban and urban communities and also to bring an increased public awareness about the importance of conservation and protection of WATER resources; and increase the participation of non-govenmental organisations and the private sector’s in World WATER Day celebrations.

On 20 March all The Mvula Trust staff will be wearing their “Behind water, behind people and behind life” T-shirts and caps to work to signify the importance of WATER.

The Mvula Trust –
Behind water, Behind life, Behind Community Development.
Celebrating National Water Week 2015

Raising the Citizens’ Voice in the Regulation of Water Services

The Citizens’ Voice Programme’s main objective is to raise the citizens’ voice in the regulation of water services and to provide means for the public to provide meaningful input into the planning for and implementation of service delivery and the regulation thereof. It aims to improve communication on water related issues in municipalities; achieve an increased role of citizens in the regulation of water services; and to establish a working relationship with the communities and CSOs in a structured manner.

The process is an integral part of National Government’s drive to improve the regulation of services. Citizens’ Voice is a tool whereby the aims of public participation in strategic planning for service delivery, as well as in regulation of services can be fulfilled.

Regulation means making sure that rights are met and that service providers provide at least a minimum level of service and deliver on promises in accordance with the rules. Citizens need to know who to go to if problems are not fixed and they need to be able to organise with others to solve problems collectively.

The long term aim of the Citizens’ Voice is to improve in quality service delivery. The short term objective is to educate councilors, citizens, and CSOs about water services and how to engage with council. The medium term objective is to facilitate citizens in playing a monitoring role and the long term objective is for society to engage at the strategic level to influence policy.

The Citizens’ Voice process includes a training programme comprising 12 modules which are delivered to Councilors, Officials, CSOs and communities. This is followed by the setting up of forums to enable ongoing sustainable interaction between citizens and the municipality in order to improve service delivery.

The modules include the following topics:

Module 1 – Introduction and people’s rights (includes legislation and how it can be utilized and the budgeting process).

Module 2 – The different spheres of Government.

Module 3 – The life cycle of water from dams to taps to toilets.

Module 4 – Using water wisely and meter reading.

Module 5 – Sanitation and hygiene.

Module 6 – Pollution abatement and water quality.

Module 7 – Tariffs, billing and meter reading.

Module 8 – Poverty and affordability.

Module 9 – Regulation,monitoring and evaluation.

Module 10 – Identifying gaps and planning the way forward.

Module 11 – Energy and water.

Module 12 – Biodiversity and water.

The Citizens’ Voice programme was piloted in the Ethekwini Municipality in 2010 where The Mvula Trust delivered the initial training to Councilors and Civil Society and established the first user forums where there could be ongoing interaction between the municipality and members of the public. The Ethekwini Municipality went on to establish forums in each of its 17 zones and the process is still ongoing. In 2010/11, the training programme was delivered successfully to Councilors, Civil Society and Communities in the Msunduzi Municipality with support from the Department of Water Affairs. However, other priorities prevented the setting up of platforms for ongoing interaction with the public as planned.

An evaluation of the Citizens’ Voice programme in 2011 outlined its main successes as:

  • The building of greater trust amongst critical stakeholders;

  • a greater willingness to engage at local level;

  • Better service delivery as a result of stakeholders working together at local level. (This was particularly important in Ethekwini as important changes were made to increase the free basic water allocation in response to interaction at the forums);

  • The development of a programme that is replicable for other municipalities;

  • The establishment of a CSO user forum was a success in that it enabled significant relationship building between the municipalities and the city’s CSOs. There was frustration, however, expressed by the municipality at the level of engagement not being thoroughly based on community positions and by the CSOs as they did not have the resources and capacity to establish community positions and do basic community research. The CSO forum has since been integrated into Ethekwini’s area-based forums.

The Embassy of France supported the process by funding a programme training Civil Society Organisations to conduct community research and enable a higher level of interaction with the city. The Embassy of France’s support also enabled the Citizens’ Voice process to be extended to include biodiversity and environmental resources and energy issues in the Citizens’ Voice training manual.

This initiative has utilized a public education method for strengthening public accountability. The building of trust amongst stakeholders that have hitherto been antagonistic is a significant achievement and lays the foundations for good governance in the delivery of water services. Part of the success of this initiative has been that it is only part of a larger thrust of eThekwini Water Services’ commitment to public outreach. The political will from the administration has been the pillar in making these successes possible. The active role of an NGO in facilitating community engagement has also contributed to the trust building that has been a pre-requisite to taking things forward.

The Mvula Trust offers Citizens’ Voice programmes which are specifically tailored to the needs of a particular municipality and can design courses relating to specific aspects of the programme.

For more information, contact: Virginia Molose or Lindy Morrison.

The impact of The Mvula Trust on Water and Sanitation

Water and Sanitation are vital parts of human life. We need water to survive, and it has other numerous uses which are a part of daily living. It is therefore unfortunate that Water and Sanitation are not equally available to all communities throughout the world. For some, it is a daily struggle, while for others, Water and Sanitation are a given resource which one does not even have to think twice about. In this article, we will be looking at the situations throughout the world, on both a global and national scale, regarding access to Water and Sanitation. We will then also discuss how The Mvula Trust is helping to alleviate this situation by increasing access to sustainable water, sanitation and related services.

More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world. The global water and sanitation crisis results mainly from poverty and inequality, as poorer communities do not have access to clean water, so this results in deadly diseases.

The Mvula Trust, South Africa’s largest Water and Sanitation NGO, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people in rural and peri-urban communities in South Africa by increasing the amount of access which these communities have to clean water and reliable sanitation facilities. The Mvula Trust has a number of ways of doing this, including a Community-Based Approach.

This program aims to get communities to become active and involved in managing their own development, and it aims to educate the community, as well as employ them.

The Mvula Trust believes that the best managers of sanitation delivery are people within the community. This Community-Based Approach involves various programs aimed at educating people. For example, the Msunduzi Municipality Household Sanitation Project- Rural Household Infrastructure Programme, sourced all labour directly from the community. This meant that the community was actively involved in improving Water and Sanitation facilities. It also meant that many households received much-needed sanitation facilities.

Another focus of The Mvula Trust’s Community-Based Approach is to empower women with regards to Water and Sanitation, as they are the ones who are actively going out to collect water for their families. Women are also the ones who are using the water for cooking, washing and other activities.

The Mvula Trust also addresses Water and Sanitation challenges in informal settlements, using this same Community-Based Approach. Informal settlements have clearly emerged as a crucial and urgent policy challenge for the water sector, as indeed it is for other sectors.

In South Africa, many rural and peri-urban households do not have access to safe and hygienic toilets. According to the STATS SA General Household Survey 2013, only 12.1% of poor households receive free basic sanitation. It was found that a key issue with access to water is the poor quality of infrastructure, with 22.1% of households using sub-standard toilet facilities and 14.8% of households using water supply infrastructure less than the RDP standard.

Due to The Mvula Trust’s successful sanitation projects, safe, attractive and hygienic toilets are built for these communities who need them. More than 70 000 toilets have been constructed, with the majority being ventilated pit (VIP) toilets, using a range of designs and materials.

The Mvula Trust Sanitation services goes far beyond just building these toilets. It also provides information to households to strengthen links between good sanitation, safe drinking water and sound hygiene. One of the program’s key objectives is to increase the job creation, local economic growth and skills development impact of the MIG rural sanitation delivery programme, to support sustainable livelihoods and shared growth.

In summation, The Mvula Trust plays a vital role in alleviating the situation of poor Water and Sanitation in rural and peri-urban communities of South Africa. Although The Mvula Trust is active in assisting government to provide communities with clean water and building hygienic sanitation facilities, what sets us apart is our people-centered approach which focuses on involving and educating the people of the community with regards to Water and Sanitation improvement. With this approach, community members benefit greatly and ensure on-going delivery.

Thanks to these efforts, a huge difference is being made one step at a time.

Sanitation: Some lessons from The Mvula Trust’s 20 years of experience in household delivery

The aim of a household sanitation project is primarily to address public health. After this comes dignity, convenience, environmental health, sustainability, job creation and local economic development. The aim of a household sanitation project is primarily to address public health. After this comes dignity, convenience, environmental health, sustainability, job creation and local economic development. The primary beneficiaries are the household and the community. They are entitled to safe and sustainable sanitation facilities in accordance with at least the minimum standards. From this comes improved health, an increase in productivity, fewer days absent from school for children, and improved quality of life. It is important to ensure that the household and the community have these needs addressed as the highest goal in the project delivery and that these services are not neglected.

Job creation at community level and the promotion of local economic development are also important components of household sanitation delivery, however should not be prioritized before the health and sustainability components are addressed.

The goal of The Mvula Trust, in a sanitation project, is to meet all of the above – provide households (as the primary beneficiaries) with safe and sustainable sanitation while maximizing the community benefits from delivery, implementation and utilization.

Household Sanitation delivery, compared to delivery of a community hall, or a road, offers a very valuable opportunity to get to know every household in a community. Besides the Water Services Authority as the client, The Mvula Trust’s clients are every single household in the community.

Most of the work in a project involves the co-ordination of the delivery of concrete blocks, cement, sand, toilet components as well as a builders, quality assessors and health and hygiene educators to households all at around the same time. A particularly daunting set of logistic arrangements is required especially when households are scattered and there are two on the top of a hill, one across a river, one at the bottom of a steep hill. While the community benefits from sanitation delivery, sanitation delivery also benefits from the availability of local labour and the intricate knowledge of a community that local workers have.


The Mvula Trust model of implementation depends highly on local level workers and their intricate knowledge of a community. In each community, local involvement includes: a number of builders; builders assistants; a quality assessor; health and hygiene and operation and maintenance trainers; a co-ordinator; a labour controller; a storekeeper; a health and hygiene co-ordinator; local security personnel, local transporters and local suppliers. Up to 60% of a project budget is spent at community level on wages and materials.

All of the above-mentioned workers at community level are paid per task and the programme is designed on an outcomes basis where everybody, including The Mvula Trust is paid against means of verification of work. The means of verification of work are from the extensive quality management system developed by The Mvula Trust to ensure quality and include: acceptance certificates (signed by the householder, the builder and the quality assessor on the satisfactory completion of a toilet); health and hygiene monitoring forms, and forms so that at all times responsibility is taken at community level for materials on site.

Some lessons learned in The Mvula Trust’s 20 years of sanitation delivery experience include:

  • That it is possible to achieve faster project progress utilising community-based structures than utilising technical consultants. This is because of the local knowledge of the community members and their ability to rapidly mobilise resources.
  • Payment per task with verifiable indicators is a very important success factor and this, combined with an outcomes approach, ensures no overspending on project budgets.
  • That the closer the interaction between the implementing agent and the community, and the fewer the “middle men” the more control there is over ensuring direct community benefits.
  • That the use of separate ISD and technical consultants makes the project more expensive, reduces control over aspects of the project and leads to unreliable reporting.
  • That the separating of ISD from technical job descriptions is a very big mistake. Sanitation projects are driven by social needs and interaction in and communication with communities. They should therefore not be driven by a technical approach. Where the responsibility for the social aspects of the projects is separated from the technical, it can result in a lack of overall accountability for all aspects of the project. (Technical teams blame the ISD teams for not educating the householder properly in the utilisation of the technology, and the ISD blame the technical teams for not taking the needs of the community into account and installing unsuitable technology).
  • That it is important to pay everyone per task and to pay them immediately. Mechanisms have to be put in place to pay community level workers as soon as they produce the work. This is essential in order that the community buy-in and enthusiasm for the project is not lost and the trained builders are retained.
  • That including the community in the choice of infrastructure and ensuring that they commit upfront to the sustainability strategy and their role in it is essential for ongoing sustainability of the project and can reduce the burden on a municipality considerably.
  • That follow- up Monitoring and Evaluation, preferably utilising community members that were trained during the project, for a period of three years after a project, pays considerably in terms of on-going proper maintenance of toilets,
  • Similarly, follow up reinforcement of health and hygiene messages has a similar benefit and will extend the public health outputs of the project considerably, particularly if school children are involved.
  • That, by utilising an approach where community participation is maximised, it is possible to deliver sanitation better, faster, with more community benefits, more sustainably and for a lower cost.
  • In view of the high community involvement and high level of opportunity a household sanitation project creates at community level, it is recommended that national guidelines to municipalities on how to contract for sanitation work be developed and rolled out in order to ensure that the policy objectives are met.
  • It is recommended that reviews be conducted regularly to reinforce budget guidelines and to reinforce the “some for all” principle of sanitation delivery as there are currently large regional differences in sanitation budgets and this variance should be reduced.

The future of Sanitation

The above-mentioned sanitation delivery is in the context of a government driven subsidy approach and a high prioritization of sanitation as a development objective at national level. South Africa is a specific case with regard to sanitation delivery. It is time and context specific and the huge investment made in sanitation delivery is largely owing to the co-incidence of the millennium development goals and the removal of apartheid and the need to address the huge inequality and backlog in services created as a result of this horrendous policy and practice. While it will take many more years to address the backlog and South Africa should not consider at this time reducing its investment in sanitation, the best practice in other countries in Africa and the world is very different in the absence of availability of funds.

Community led total sanitation is a concept that is being introduced to the policy debate. This is “a revolutionary approach in which communities are facilitated to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open- defecation (OD) and take their own action to become open defecation free (ODF)” (Robert Chambers 2010). This approach works very well in certain contexts and puts sustainable sanitation in place at a low cost. South Africa is not ready for this approach, and neither is it directly applicable now, however, we need to be thinking ahead to a time beyond a post-apartheid addressing of backlog and taking the best lessons learned internationally and, without placing the burden of addressing public health on the poorest of the poor, develop a policy which is self- sustaining and incorporates the best lessons from both our capital driven approach and alternative approaches.

The growing number of municipalities which are in debt remind us that a perpetual public works programme requires perpetual funding and perpetual dependence and that this cannot go on forever in South Africa. In a normal development cycle, as the population densifies, the need arises for systems to prevent the spread of diseases as a demand, and this demand is met by entrepreneurs. This in turn leads to local economic development, wealth creation and job creation. We need to consider models which support the development of an economy around meeting sanitation needs- perhaps a model in which the poor are well aware of the benefits of sanitation and may support subsidised local businesses in addressing their sanitation needs at a very low cost. From The Mvula Trust’s experience, above, it is evident that the best managers of sanitation delivery are people within the community. Communities can, with reducing amounts of support, take responsibility for on-going delivery, themselves. Alternative ways of resourcing this activity need to be thought of years ahead of implementation.

The Mvula Trust National Staff Workshop

From getting down on the dance floor to exploring the scenic views, The Mvula Trust National Staff workshop proved to be an unforgettable occasion for many of the staff members in the organisation.

After what seemed to be endless hours of travelling, the first order of the day was putting our culinary skills to the test with the Potjiekos competition which unravelled hidden talent within the organisation. There were spills, cuts and lots of running around, negotiating for ingredients. However, fun was had and tummies were filled.


At The Mvula Trust, we don’t only play hard but we work hard too, as our CEO, Mr. Silas Mbedzi provided an overview of where the organisation is and where it should be heading. As stated by the CEO in his presentation, with planning and hard work, The Mvula Trust is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. After a day of sightseeing and exploring, people scrubbed down and took to the red carpet for the Gala Evening. Dresses and suits of all colours came out to play and I must say TMT staff clean up nicely! Congratulations to all those who received recognition for their hard work and dedication to the organisation. It just goes to show that hard work and dedication goes a long way. The Elephants were announced as being the winners of the Potjiekos competition, so well done to them. After all the formalities, it was time to get down on the dance floor and oh boy, did people get down on the dance floor!


The competitive spirit came out in full force during the survivor challenge where we saw everyone battle to be victorious during various challenges and war cries. The team that proved victorious was the Elephants. A big congratulations to them!


Later that evening, we saw angels gather at the all-white gala evening where there was good food, and the drinks were flowing. We’d like to give a special shout out to Lloyd, our very own knight in shining armour, who came to our rescue and kept everyone on the dance floor.

A special thanks to Warren of Discovery who provided some useful information and the Discovery team for availing themselves for testing that took place, Andrew who came out for the photo-shoot that took place and captured those special moments, and mostly to the entertainment committee whom without them we wouldn’t have been able to bond and make new memories.


Corporate Governance in the NGO Sector

At The Mvula Trust, we pride ourselves in being a leading developmental NGO in South Africa, and we embed Corporate Governance Practice in the organisation. In this article, we discuss the meaning of Corporate Governance, and what it means to us at The Mvula Trust.

Corporate governance is defined as a system of rules, practices and processes by which a company is directed and controlled. Corporate governance guidelines for the Non-Profit sector are outlined in the Department of Social Development’s Code of Good Practice for South African Non-Profit Organisations 2001; the SANGOCO’s Code of Ethics for Non-Profit Organisations of 1997; Independent Code of Governance and Values for Non-Profit Organisations in South Africa and the King III practice note published by IODSA on the guide to the application of King III for the non-profit organisations.

Although it is not mandatory for non-profit organisations registered in the terms of the NPO Act to adhere to the Companies Act 2008, it is important that provisions dealing with annual financial statements, in addition to the requirements of the NPO Act, duties and liabilities of directors, as well as processes to be followed in conflict of interests be incorporated by the NPO in its founding document.

Non-Profit Organisations exist solely to serve the common good, and promote a public benefit, rather than to achieve individual profit or advance self-interest, which is the normal purpose of a for-profit entity. This is precisely the aim of The Mvula Trust.

The three voluntary codes all emphasize the following: The ethical role and effective leadership that the Board, as the governing body of the NPO must display; Compliance with South Africa’s accepted accounting and auditing practices; Conducting annual financial audits; Establishing an effective contracting or tendering system; Directors/Trustee to be remunerated only if the founding documents so permits; Annual Financial statements to disclose such remuneration individually; Conflict of interests to be avoided by Trustees/Directors; Trustees/Directors to disclose the nature and extent of personal/related interests; mandatory disclosure where there is a material interest in a contract or business opportunity to be considered at a Board meeting; and the conflicted Trustee/Director to recuse herself/herself from the meeting; Board to ensure compliance with statutory and regulatory prescripts applicable to the NPO; The Board to conduct annual reviews; and Induction training for newly appointed Trustees/Directors.

In terms of the NPO Act, registered NPO’s must submit audited Annual Financial Statements and an annual narrative report describing the activities of the NPO during the preceding period on an annual basis.

The benefit of a NPO, such as The Mvula Trust, applying King III’s guidelines is that, among other things, sound corporate governance builds reputation and trust so that an organisation is able to source funding and recruit experienced persons to serve on its governance body. Governance is one of the key measures of an organisation’s health and accountability in this regard, and is imperative for the achievement of an organisations long term objectives.

Here at The Mvula Trust, we are a leading developmental NPO in South Africa, and our Board of Trustees is assisted by a Company Secretary who acts as a gatekeeper to ensure that good corporate governance practices are implemented by the Board as well as management. Furthermore adherence by The Mvula Trust to all applicable pieces of legislation such as the Trust Property Control Act, the NPO Act, the non-binding code of the King III report, relevant sections of the Companies Act, and complying to the the Fourth Amending Trust Deed is paramount.

All Trustees of The Mvula Trust are required to declare their financial interests annually as well as to declare any conflict of interests in matters in line with the Trust Deed and the Companies Act.

We believe that corporate governance practices should be embedded in the rules, policies, and procedures of a NPO such as ourselves, in order to ensure effective and efficient delivery of themain purpose of the Trust thus ensuring sustainability.