The Mvula Trust, South Africa’s leading and largest Water and Sanitation NGOEstablished in 1993, The Mvula Trust has created a reputable reputation as an organisation. Our undeviating industry position has and continues to be in transforming and empowering the South African rural and peri-urban Water and Sanitation landscape through quality community improvement and incomparable industry distinction.
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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?”
Research conducted by a non – governmental organisation called the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD) in 13 villages in the Bushbuckridge area showed that where villagers had more water, economic activities of many poor households in the village increased twice. Typical examples of activities included brick making, drinking water for livestock, small businesses such as hair salons, home beer brewing, and ice making as well as backyard or community gardens.
Provision of water enhances local economic development and people’s livelihood – making significant contribution towards community upliftment. In addition, it helps households to generate income, especially when there is a gap in the market for locally produced goods.
Food security and income: A case study of Ms Matshepo Khumbane
The organisation called International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in partnership with Water for Food Movement (WfFM) studied the food production practices of Ms Matshepo Khumbane at her home near the town of Cullinan, located in the north eastern part of Tshwane Metro during 2002 winter season. In their study, IWMI discovered that Ms Khumbane produced almost a ton of vegetables on her small plot, which was laid out in such a way that it led rainwater directly into the vegetable beds every time it rained. In terms of value, Matshepo could sell and earn approximately R2 000 to buy maize meal for her household for the next six months.
She produced even more vegetables in summer, diffusing a notion that backyard gardens were no longer irrelevant.
The importance of rainwater harvesting
There are several sources of water and technologies that can be used to make additional water supply to households. Rainwater harvesting is one of those techniques that is gaining popularity again, after it was neglected for a longer period.
More than 60 different methods of rainwater harvesting are used in East African countries. There are, however, three most popular ways of harvesting rainwater in South Africa:
- To lead rainwater directly into trenched vegetable beds in the backyard.
- To build underground water tanks in the yard to catch and store rainwater for later use. People can build these underground tanks with cement blocks or other materials themselves.
- To channel water in the maize fields into earth semi-circles or bunds, called ‘in-field rainwater harvesting structures’- so that rainwater is concentrated onto the crops. These methods can be used to provide water to households for different purposes.
MUS as a solution to water supply: A case study of Bushbuckridge Local Municipality
In 2005, the Association of Water and Rural Development (AWARD) piloted the implementation of multiple use system (MUS) in Ward 16 of the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality in Limpopo. AWARD used a community-based organisational approach model and worked with closely with, among others, the former Departments of Water Affairs and now Department of Water and Sanitation, Agriculture, and Social Development. This process comprised participatory assessment of water-based livelihoods, water services and water resources available in the local villages.
This approach was known as Securing Water to Enhance Local Livelihoods (SWELL). Based on the assessment, a joint planning process was followed.
Immediate refurbishment of infrastructure was prioritised.
Funds were allocated from the Integrated Development Plan to refurbish the water infrastructure.
One of the sources of water identified was small earth dams for cattle. Many of these dams had silted up. Residents resorted to domestic water systems to provide drinking water for their livestock. In response to this challenge, the Department of Agriculture committed to clean up the dams and residents put anti-erosion measures in place to prevent dams from silting again. Rainwater harvesting was also identified as one of sources that required possible exploration.
The pilot project was used to focus on the implementation and monitoring, working closely with the stakeholders, not only to solve water problems in the area – but also to use the project as a trial with a view to improve the Integrated Development Plan as well as water planning and implementation.
The Mvula Trust has, over the years, piloted and refined its implementation of the Community Based Organisational Approach Model informed by a number of sound principles.
The model focuses on a community management approach through which a local water committee plays a key role in the implementation of a water project.
Our approach for implementation of projects ensures that:
Thorough feasibility studies in technical, social, institutional and financial assessments to ensure the overall viability of proposed projects.
Participatory project planning, where all stakeholders as well as local government and community representatives participate in key decision making.
Decision making is focused on the appointment of legal water services provider (WSP), level of service, choice of technology and roles and responsibilities of service providers.
A holistic project design that addresses all components necessary for sustainability including community needs; choosing appropriate technology ; health and hygiene practices; institutional capacity building; cost recovery, and effective operations and maintenance.
A construction phase that focuses on community awareness, local capacity building, entrepreneurial skills development, and use of local labour.
Operations and Maintenance (O&M) mentoring phase ensures that:
The water service provider has the necessary capacity to effectively fulfil its functions of operations and maintenance, revenue collection, customer relations, monitoring and reporting.
Support mechanisms are in place.
Health and hygiene promotion continues within the community.
Development of partnerships between local government, the community and water services institutions
A monitoring and evaluation phase where information is used to take any corrective action needed.
According to the statistics provided by the Department of Water Affairs (now Department of Water and Sanitation), 1.6 million people in South Africa did not have access to formal water supplies in 2010.
Although these figures may have significantly changed since then, the actual backlog of water supply in the rural areas, among others, is caused by operational and maintenance issues.
This phenomenon continues to happen despite significant investment and interventions by government to provide citizens with clean drinking water.
Our Community Based Organisational Approach Model has been tried and tested in many of our projects we implemented in rural areas across the country.
In addition, The Mvula Trust boasts an international reputation for advancing community based management of water and other developmental projects.
The proper implementation of both the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Water Services Development Plans (WSDPs) should ensure sustainable provision of services to citizens – passing down the legacy to our future generations.
Case Studies: Ga – Rankuwa and Mabopane townships
Ga-Rankuwa, a township located in the north western part of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality had networks of water designed based on the cheapest capital costs.
This resulted in pipes made of asbestos and cement used for water distribution in areas of heaving clay. The aforementioned pipes have many joints, and they are short and stiff.
During rainy season, the clay will get wet and swells; resulting in pipes bursting at the joints.
Negative effects of burst pipes
Maintenance costs: Sending workforce to dig up the pipes and repair leaks.
Water losses: Leaks are not detected immediately and they can run for long time without being noticed
Disruptions: Water supply is interrupted during repair of leakages
Although all water networks have challenges, fifty leaks were identified in Ga – Rankuwa within one week.
Consequently, maintenance of water networks becomes more expensive. Nowadays, it is recommended that organizations use plastic pipes to build new water networks as they are cost effective. The cost of building new water networks can be reduced significantly.
One more problem has been identified in Mabopane, another township based in the Tshwane Metro.
Mid-block water pipes were installed in the backyard of residential houses. through the implementation of the so-called cost saving measures. This setup creates problems when there are maintenance duties that should be carried out on the pipes.
In addition, it makes life difficult for residents; their gardens get damaged during installations and maintenance duties.
It is therefore important to be careful when planning integration of services. Proper assessment of both the capital and operating costs of the infrastructure using life cycle costing and selecting the most appropriate long term solutions is crucial. In the future, service delivery will not only depend on infrastructure; it will also rely on the sustainable provision of services.
The long-term solution to this problem, among others, is to build new water networks in the streets. Unnecessary expenditures could be avoided if life cycle costing can be done properly.
As a result, funds that will be saved through that process could be used to speed up delivery of services to other areas.
Better life for all should not be restricted to merely provision of housing; however, it should be done through the integration of sustainable basic services, which include delivery of water, sanitation and waste removal.
It is on this basis that we advocate long term solutions in the provision of basic services to the public at large and our future generations.