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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.