Basic services such as electricity and energy, water and sanitation, refuse and waste removal are critical services to improve the lives of people. In South Africa government has committed to providing a basic amount of free water and electricity to poor people. Sanitation and waste removal will also be provided where it is possible.
What is in this guide?
This guide provides government policy on basic service provision in the areas of electricity & energy, water and sanitation, refuse & waste removal. It has the following sections:
- Free basic services: Universal access and Government policy
- Energy and electrification policy: Intended outcomes
- Progress report: Affordable energy to all
- What does the provision of Free Basic Electricity (FBE) entail?
- FBE provision: Questions and answers
- The National Water and Sanitation Programme
- What does the Free Basic Water (FBW) policy entail?
- Water services: Current state and future plans
- Sanitation: South Africa’s problems
- Outcomes of the basic household sanitation policy
- We are all responsible for better sanitation
- Selecting appropriate toilets
- Funding for sanitation improvement
Free Basic services: Universal access and Government policy
One of the key features of a developmental state is to ensure that all citizens – especially the poor and other vulnerable groups - have access to basic services. The Constitution of the country places the responsibility on government to ensure that such services are progressively expanded to all, within the limits of available resources. Government policy on most of these issues is therefore to progressively move towards Universal Access. Basic services include:
- Health care,
- Social welfare,
- Electricity and energy,
- Sanitation and Refuse and waste removal.
The first four are covered in other guides and this guide will concentrate on the last three, which are a core part of the mandate of local government.
1990 – 1994: The policy approach to basic services since 1994 has been that government funded the capital costs of new services infrastructure while the users covered operation and maintenance costs. Towards the end of the 1990s, it became clear that poverty, unemployment and the high running costs of many schemes meant that poorer people could not afford the charges and so this arrangement would not be adequate to ensure either sustainability of services or equity of access to services. A substantial and important part of the population was being denied access to basic services.
2000 – today: There is general agreement that due to their economic conditions, the poor majority cannot afford to pay the full price for essential municipal services. The adoption of the policy in 2000/1 to provide a basket of free basic services to all, linked to an indigent policy which targets the poorest sections of communities is an integral part of the programme to alleviate poverty among poor households. The basket of services includes solid waste, water, sanitation and electricity. Since the introduction of the policy by government in 2001, the emphasis has been on the provision of a basic amount of free water and electricity, though work has started over the last year or so on sanitation and solid waste.
Many municipalities have also developed indigent policies to ensure that households with little or no income can be identified and can still get basic municipal services.
In most areas all users get a certain amount of free water and electricity – enough for their most basic needs. Those who use a lot must pay higher rates. In this way people with big houses and gardens who use a lot of electricity and water pay more and the poor who use very little, pay nothing or very little.
Energy and Electrification policy: Intended outcomes
The RDP (1994) identifies energy as a ‘basic need.’ It went further to state that “although Eskom has excess generating capacity, only 36% of South African households have access to electricity, leaving some three million households unelectrified. Furthermore, some 19 000 black schools (86% of schools) and around 4 000 clinics are currently without electricity. Little attention has been paid to utilizing sustainable energy sources…” (Section 2.7.1)
The democratic government introduced an energy and electrification policy aimed at:
- Addressing the inequalities and backlog in access to energy of the majority;
- Promoting economic development through energy provision;
- Managing the environmental and health impact of energy provision and use.
To reach these aims, the energy sector had to be fundamentally restructured. South Africa’s energy sector historically is based on the availability of vast amounts of relatively cheap coal in the country and closely linked to the mining sector, which needed vast amounts of cheap energy.
Sources of energy in 1999
Electricity from coal
Biomass (wood, charcoal)
SOURCE: Department of Minerals and Energy, quoted in NER Quarterly Journal, Issue 1, 2002
The apartheid government in the 60’s and 70’s implemented huge power station projects, leading to Eskom having excess capacity into the 90’s. South Africa, with its electricity generated from locally mined coal, continues to have amongst the lowest energy prices in the world. Energy supply to households in 1999 made up only 17% of total energy use, whereas industry used 40% and transport used 27%.
Progress report: Increase of access to affordable energy to all
Progress to 2004 and plans for the future
Increase access to affordable energy to all
National electrification programme.
*Since 1994, 3,803,160 households were connected to the electricity grid. Seventy percent of the population now has access to electricity.
*The national electrification programme continues, with about 300 000 new connections per year. *Thousands of schools and clinics areconnected since 1994.
* * Arising from the ANC 2000 local government elections manifesto , the policy of Free Basic Electricity was decided on by government in 2001 to address access of the poor to electricity (). Steps are being taken to speed up implementation of this policy.
*Process of restructuring of the electricity industry is continuing, with the planned implementation of Regional Electricity Distributors (REDs).
Non-grid connections (i.e. non-coal electricity) especially use of solar energy (energy form the sun) for domestic use.
*Programme to connect 350 000 households in mainly rural areas to solar home systems
*Government has agreed on a subsidy, and private providers contracted by the National Electricity Regulator have started installations.
*This programme is the largest off-grid programme in the world.
Other sources of energy
Making gas accessible as another source of affordable and safe energy.
*The Gas Act was passed in 2000
*Government set up a parastatal iGas to implement the policy contained in the Act.
*We have bilateral agreements and investments with Mozambique and Namibia to develop the gas explorations in their countries and to lay pipelines to SA.
Zero VAT on paraffin
Since many poor households continue to use paraffin as the main source of energy, in April 2001 VAT on paraffin was abolished, to make it more affordable.
Biomass – coal and wood
*Management of woodlands, so that we use our trees in a sustainable manner.
*Promoting improved wood fuel stoves.
*Implement guidelines for thermal housing – e.g making sure that homes do not require too much fuel to heat.
Other sources of energy such as nuclear and windmill technology are mainly for industry, including agricultural and commercial use.
*The DME White Paper on Renewable Energy (200?) provide a framework for supporting other forms of energy, such as a national solar water heating programme, solar cooking programme and solar water piping programmes. *This will be implemented mainly through donor funding.
*The DME and ESKOM also supports programmes to utilize wind energy through wind farms.
*ESKOM is implementing a programme to expand nuclear power, focusing on the production of nuclear pebble bed reactors for exporting.
Southern African Power Pool
SADC countries are working together, as part of NEPAD to coordinate the provision of sustainable electricity and energy. Major projects include the gas explorations in Mozambique and Namibia and the Grand Inga hydro scheme in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Managing health and environmental impact
*The generation of electricity from coal creates massive air pollution, resulting in a variety of respiratory and other diseases. The DME with Environment and Tourism department are working with the industry to clean up the sector.
*Large numbers of people are dependant on paraffin for domestic use, with serious safety issues – such as the impact on health; accounting for 95 000 cases of poisoning amongst children and 50 000 burn cases and displacements and loss of property due to accidents linked to its use. The Paraffin Association has launched a public safety campaign around the use of paraffin.
Free Basic Electricity (FBE): What does it entail?
Free basic electricity is the amount of electricity, which is deemed sufficient to provide basic electricity services to a poor household. This amount of energy will be sufficient to provide basic lighting, basic media access, basic water heating using a kettle and basic ironing in terms of grid electricity and basic lighting and basic media access for non-grid systems. The levels of service are 50kWh per household per month for a grid-based system for qualifying domestic consumers, and 50W per non-grid connected supply system for all households connected to the official non-grid systems.
FBE provision: Questions and answers
(SOURCE: Department of Minerals and Energy, Frequently Asked Questions on Free Basic Electricity. www.dme.gov.za)
How much is 50kWh and what can be done with this amount of electricity?
The 50kWh is equivalent to energy necessary for a month of basic lighting, small black and white TV, small radio, basic ironing and basic water boiling through an electric kettle for grid-connected consumers.
For pre-paid meters a household will be provided with a non-interchangeable voucher or token loaded with free basic units per month. When the free units have been used up, the consumer will need to buy additional units at the prevailing approved rates.
For credit-metered customers, the total units consumed will be reduced by the amount of free basic units. For credit-meter customers, it is not easy to see when the free units are exceeded.
Who is responsible for the provision of the free basic electricity?
National Government will provide policy and guidelines in respect of free basic electricity. Local Government will be responsible for implementation of the FBE with the aid of guidelines from National Government
How will non-grid electricity customers benefit from the free basic electricity policy?
Of all available non-grid systems, only Solar Home Systems that are currently installed as an alternative to grid electricity under the National Electrification Programme. Solar Home Systems (non-grid) are unique in the sense that they produce energy on site from sunrays. Most of the cost of Solar Home Systems goes towards maintenance and operation. A capped maintenance and operational cost of R48 per month will be made available to subsidize households connected to Solar Home Systems under the National Electricity Programme. Consumers will be expected to pay the balance between the subsidy and the prevailing tariffs. Other technologies are still being investigated. Criteria for other systems like mini-grids and hybrid systems will be developed as such systems are approved.
What will be done with people who do not have the infrastructure to get the free basic electricity?
Presently the Department of Minerals and Energy is progressing with the electrification of households in un-electrified rural and urban areas in order to achieve the goal of Universal Access to electricity under the Integrated National Electrification Programme. The free basic electricity policy is intended for consumers who are already connected to electricity systems. It is worth noting that Value Added Tax (VAT) has been removed from paraffin to provide affordable alternative energy for poverty relief to un-electrified poor households.
When is the free electricity going to be provided?
It is not intended to provide free electricity but free basic electricity. Free Basic Electricity commenced in a phased manner from July 2003, after Municipalities had received their funds from the Department of Provincial and Local Government.
What will happen to areas where Eskom is the provider (not Municipalities)?
Local Government is responsible for the provision of basic services in its area of jurisdiction. Eskom is providing a service on behalf of Municipalities. Even in a case like this, Municipalities will still be responsible for funding the provision of free basic services. Where Government grants are paid to municipalities, these must be paid to Eskom to cover the cost of providing free basic electricity to the targeted households.
How will the service providers deal with non-payment of electricity by customers who consider themselves as poor, yet consuming more electricity?
Unless otherwise stated, the provision of free basic electricity should neither be an excuse for non-payment of previous debt, nor should it be an excuse for future debt accumulation. The FBE is about poverty alleviation not free electricity as it may be misunderstood. Municipal terms and conditions regarding non-payment for services will not be affected by the provision of free basic service to the targeted households
The National Water and Sanitation Programme
Before 1994: There was no single national government department responsible for water supply and services, responsibility was divided amongst local governments in the previous four provinces and to ten nominally autonomous homelands, resulting in very different levels of service. Most of the then white local governments offered standards equal to those in industrialised countries. In the rural areas there were often no services, while in black urban areas the situation was mixed. Both urban and rural services for black people were often in a state of disrepair.
In 1994: About 15.2 million South Africans, (12 million who lived in rural areas) did not have inadequate access to safe water. The RDP committed Government to the short term aim of providing every citizen with adequate water. A national water (and sanitation) programme which aims to provide all households with a clean, safe water supply of 20 – 30 litres per capita per day was put in place. the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) was given the responsibility to ensure that all South Africans had equitable access to water supply and sanitation. The White paper on Community water supply and sanitation adopted in November 1994 provided the framework. The basic water supply was defined as 25 litres per person per day, within 200 metres of the home.
In 1996, as the capital works programme expanded rapidly, DWAF recognised that progress was constrained by a shortage of delivery capacity. It started four partnerships with private-sector consortia to undertake BoTT (Build, Operate, Train and Transfer) contracts in the four provinces (Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo) where the backlog of services was greatest. The aim was to speed up delivery by minimising bureaucracy, and by using the resources of the private sector to achieve the vision. These partnerships had mixed results.
1994 – 2004: During the first decade of freedom, new water services were constructed, giving access to clean water to 9 million people. In the absence of a local government planning framework in 1994, prioritization was done through the setting up of Water Project committees, later led by elected local government representatives. Some funds for stand-alone projects in small (less than 5,000 people) communities were channelled through the Mvula Trust, which had developed community management delivery models.
What does the Free Basic Water (FBW) policy entail?
According to the FBW policy, to be implemented by Local Government, households are entitled up to 6000 litres (or 60kl) of clean water every month at no cost. Those who use more than this volume of free water must be responsible for the costs.
Served with FBW
SOURCE: www.dwaf.gov.za as on 1 February 2004
The above figures indicate that substantial progress has been made to implement the policy of free basic water. However, less than 50% of poor households, who are the main target of the policy, have been reached. Reasons for this include weak capacity of municipalities in poorer areas, weak financial base to support the policy and these are also often the areas where no water infrastructure exists as yet. It has also been noted that the policy does not cover large numbers of farm workers, who live on private land.
Very often, councils have difficulties with implementing the system in the context of their existing billing for water. The department has developed guidelines on the steps towards implementing this policy, available from the department or on its website - www.dwaf.gov.za.
‘FBW: A simple guide for councils”. June 2001
“Assessment of free basic water in a Rural Context
Free Basic Water Implementation for Farm dwellers
Water services: Current state and future plans
Water services refer to water supply and sanitation services and include regional water schemes, local water schemes, on-site sanitation and the collection and treatment of wastewater. Organisations currently involved in water services include the following:
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF)
Responsible for sector policy, support and regulation. Operates water resource infrastructure (such as dams), some bulk water supply schemes and some retail infrastructure (providing services directly to consumers). DWAF water services assets are currently in the process of being transferred to water services authorities.
Water services authorities (metropolitan municipalities, some district municipalities and authorized local municipalities)
Responsible for ensuring provision of water services within their area of jurisdiction.
Operate some local water resource infrastructure (such as dams and boreholes) and bulk water supply schemes, supply water and sanitation to consumers (households, businesses and industries) and operate wastewater collection and treatment systems.
Operate some water resource infrastructure, bulk potable water supply schemes (selling to municipalities and industries), some retail water infrastructure and some wastewater systems.
Manage some small water schemes in rural areas.
Publicly or privately owned companies
Provide some water services. For example, Johannesburg Water is a public water utility wholly owned by the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. The direct involvement of privately owned companies in the operation of water services in South Africa has been limited (only five) to date. Section 21 companies provide water services (for example, the Midvaal Water Company). Two Long-term concessions have been contracted with private companies, namely the Dolphin Coast and Nelspruit concessions.
In 2001 there were 44.8 million people living in South Africa, all of whom used domestic water services of some kind, but 5 million (11%) had no access to safe water supply and a further 6.5 million (15%) did not have to defined basic service levels. (2001Census).
Government has set itself the target to eradicate the current backlog of between 5 & 6 million people without access to water by 2008. It further aims for the next ten years to ensure that all families have the convenience and dignity of having water in their own yard, with each household having its own toilet and, in time, hot and cold running water in the house.
Sanitation: South Africa’s problem
In 1994 an estimated 21 million people did not have access to a basic level of sanitation. Today, there are still 18 million people (in 3 million households) who do not have access to basic sanitation at present. An estimated 15% of clinics and 11, 7% of schools are without sanitation. Many other schools use pit latrines that are inadequate, dirty and unsafe. This all adds up to a potential health time bomb. The government will therefore support communities and households in wiping out the sanitation backlog by 2010.
Sanitation means collecting and getting rid - in a hygienic manner - of waste, including human excreta, household waste water and rubbish. If this is not done, neighbourhoods become dirty and people get sick. Sanitation is vital for good health. In South Africa we already have 1, 5 million cases of diarrhoea (runny stomach) each year in children under 5, as well as outbreaks of cholera. Other health problems associated with poor sanitation include dysentery, typhoid, malaria, bilharzia, worm infestations, eye infections, skin diseases and increased infections in HIV positive people. Good sanitation leads to increased life expectancy.
South Africa’s sanitation problem has two main causes:
- Lack of infrastructure (no toilets and no water for hand washing).
- Poor hygiene (many people don’t realize that they need to wash their hands after defecating or changing nappies, and many think it’s fine to use the veld as a toilet),
Providing improved toilets is one part of the answer. At the same time we must improve community knowledge of health matters, improve hygiene and community participation in sanitation programmes.
Outcomes of the basic household sanitation policy
Government has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that all South Africans have access to adequate sanitation. Key target areas will include rural, peri-urban and informal settlements where the need is greatest. Government has made a commitment to get rid of all bucket toilets by the end of 2007.The policy focuses on:
- Providing adequate sanitation for households, schools and clinics;
- Improving household waste collection and disposal, and
- Educating the public about hygiene.
We are all responsible for better sanitation
The improvement of sanitation is everybody’s business. Role-players include communities and households (first and foremost); community-based contractors; local, provincial and national government; the private sector and NGOs. The Constitutional responsibilities for ensuring access to sanitation rest with government, local government must provide access to basic sanitation, and national and provincial government must support municipalities with legislation and other measures.
Responsibilities of the different role players
Local government planning takes place through the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) - of which the Water Service Development Plans (WSDPs) are a component. To implement sanitation improvement programmes, local government must budget and source funding for this purpose. The funding arises from various sources, including revenue collection and provincial and national government. Local government must also plan and budget for the operation and maintenance of sanitation systems. It is also responsible for assisting households to provide their own sanitation and to build their own toilet facilities. Specific responsibilities include:
Providing access to sanitation.
Making communities aware of the importance of sanitation in terms of health.
Launching, together with the communities, health and hygiene promotion programmes.
Monitoring the health of communities.
Assisting households to operate and maintain sanitation facilities.
Provincial government must provide finance, human resources and technical support to local government. It must also ensure compliance with national policy, develop enabling legislation, co-ordinate regional planning and monitor progress.
National government must establish legislation and standards; guide, co-ordinate and monitor national programmes; provide support to other levels of government; regulate service provision and intervene where there is lack of capacity.
Households and communities
Households and communities are responsible first and foremost for their own health, a clean environment and improved sanitation. Wrong hygiene practices can endanger their own health and the health of the community and the nation. The following steps can be taken to improve hygiene practices:
Washing hands after using the toilet, before handling food and after changing babies’ nappies.
Spreading the message of good hygiene and the importance of sanitation.
Making local government aware of sanitation-related needs.
Assisting local government in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating sanitation projects.
Reporting faulty sanitation systems and sanitation risks to the environment to local government.
Ensuring that toilet facilities are always clean and in good working order.
Households have to provide their own sanitation facilities. Local government will assist households to do this through:
Community-based programmes whereby local builders are trained to build safe and hygienic toilet facilities. These local builders will assist households to construct their own toilet facilities.
Supplying the essential components to ensure that the toilet facility is hygienic, safe and accessible.
Local government will provide guidelines for households to dig their own pits and build their own top structure.
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
Custodian of the nation’s water and lead department in the sanitation sector. It develops sanitation standards, support provinces and municipalities in developing sanitation services, monitor outcomes, build capacity, provide financial support, undertake pilot projects in low cost sanitation and make sure that sanitation is implemented in a co-ordinated manner. DWAF supports local government to develop their Water Services Development Plans as part of their IDPs.
Department of Health
Co-ordinates information on public health, create a demand for sanitation through hygiene awareness programmes, prepare health norms for sanitation, support municipalities, provide training materials and educate communities on hygiene.
Develops standards for housing development - the minimum level for sanitation is a VIP per household unless soil conditions dictate otherwise.
Department of Provincial and Local Government
Takes lead responsibility for the Integrated Development Plans of municipalities, ensuring that provincial and local governments have sufficient capacity, providing Equitable Share and municipal infrastructure grants, and monitoring.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Responsible for protecting the environment and will develop standards relating to the impact of sanitation on the environment and for monitoring impacts and compliance with environmental management procedures.
The private sector
Government cannot address the sanitation backlog alone. The private sector, especially business, can manufacture and install sanitation systems, partner with municipalities in service provision and provide finance.
These organisations can help with hygiene awareness programmes, facilitate community participation, develop community based construction teams and implement and monitor projects.
Selecting appropriate toilets
When choosing toilets or sanitation systems, councils and communities must consider:
- Ease of use and maintenance
- Environmental protection
- Ability of community-based contractors to implement systems; and
- How much the systems will improve health.
Each system listed only works if users have been educated on correct use. Otherwise, toilets break down, smell bad, attract insects and breed germs. Some of the options listed on the next page are not recommended for household use. Cost indicated is estimated only and will vary according to local conditions.
Unimproved pit toilet (unhygienic and not recommended)
A top structure over a pit.
Ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilet
A top structure over a pit, vented by a pipe with a fly screen. The pit may be lined or unlined depending on soil conditions.
Start at R600 to build and R60 per year to empty the waste if emptied once in five years.
Ventilated improved double pit (VIDP) toilet
A single top structure over two shallow pits side by side. Only one pit is in use at a time and each is vented by a pipe with a fly screen. Pits are generally lined and the central wall is sealed.
Begin at R2 500 to install and R35 per year to operate and maintain.
Composting toilets, including urine diversion and desiccating systems
A single top structure over a sealed container with access for removal of composted waste. Urine may be diverted and a vent pipe helps dry the waste, especially for desiccating systems.
Costs begin at R3 000 for commercial systems and operation and maintenance costs at R35 per year.
Pour-flush latrine or aqua-privy
A toilet with water-seal. Waste is washed away through a short pipe or chute to a waste collecting and soakaway disposal system. The privy is accepted internationally where users squat and water is used for anal cleansing. It fails when people throw unauthorised objects in to the toilet, or there is no affordable emptying service.
Installation begins at R2 000 and removal costs at R150 per year.
Septic tank and soakaway
An in-house full flush toilet connected via plumbing to a watertight underground digester settling chamber) with liquids allowed to soak into the ground.
Costs to install begin at R7 000 and annual costs at R200 depending on how often it is emptied.
Flush toilets with conservancy tanks
Waste is flushed into a tank from where it cannot flow into the surrounding environment and which must therefore be emptied.
Costs depend on the size of tank and how often it is emptied.
Small bore solids-free sewer
An in-house flush toilet discharging to a septic tank where solids settle out. Liquids go through a small sewer into a central collection sump or existing sewer.
Costs depend on size of tank and how often it is emptied.
Full bore waterborne sewerage
An in-house flush toilet which connects to sewer which, in turn, flows to a waste water treatment plant.
This costs R6 000 to install and operating costs are about R400 per year.
An in-house toilet flushed with less water than usual and through smaller pipes at shallower levels with on-site inspection chambers.
Internationally this saves up to 50% on water use but is still being tested in South Africa.
Stand-alone units which use chemicals to render excreta harmless and odourless.
Expensive and generally used as temporary. Most authorities are trying to discontinue their use.
Bucket toilet (unhygienic and not recommended):
A top structure with a seat over a bucket. The bucket is periodically removed and contents disposed of. Widely used but poses health risk to collectors. Most authorities are trying to discontinue these.
They are expensive to operate and maintain.
Communal toilets (not recommended for household use)
Toilet blocks may be based on wet or dry systems.
Require regular cleaning and maintenance.
Funding for sanitation improvement
There are different potential sources of funding for sanitation improvement:
- This subsidy from national government to local government covers the operating costs of free basic services to the very poor.
- The Municipal Infrastructure Investment Grant will fund residential properties. Currently DWAF provides a once-off sanitation subsidy of R300 for community development and R900 for a basic toilet structure (this was preceded by R600 for community development and R600 for infrastructure).
Municipalities’ own revenue
- Government is giving attention to cost recovery in providing sanitation services. Municipalities set their own tariffs after providing the very poor with a free basic level of service.
Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Programme (CMIP):
- CMIP is funding on-site sanitation as well as bulk and connector infrastructure in urban and rural areas.
- : Currently each household can obtain a once-off subsidy of R16 000 in formalized townships which is used to obtain land, build houses and provide infrastructure such as toilets. People who have informal land rights to property they occupy may also qualify for the subsidy. A rural housing improvement grant is also being proposed.
[SOURCE: DWAF - The Policy on basic sanitation for households made easy.]
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. The policy on basic sanitation for households made easy. www.dwaf.gov.za
DWAF Strategic Framework for Water and Sanitation policy. September 2003
Department of Minerals and Energy. www.dme.gov.za
Muller Mike. The National Water and Sanitation Programme in South Africa. Turning the right to water into a reality.
National Electricity Regulator Quarterly Journal. www.ner.org.za
African National Congress. Reconstruction and Development Programme. 1994
Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Provincial and Local Government – Report on Study Tour to Municipalities, January 2003
Sam A, Free Basic Services and the Setting of Tariffs. Published in Hologram newsletter 1 of 2002.
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