Exploring the Issues around Rural On-Site School Sanitation in South Africa (new publication by WRC)

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  • SudhirPillay
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  • Working for the WRC on the "Sanitation Research Fund for Africa" Project. Interested in on-site sanitation systems and faecal sludge management
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Exploring the Issues around Rural On-Site School Sanitation in South Africa (new publication by WRC)

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Hi Everyone

This document is going to print soon. I have placed this electronic copy without the cover and before its uploaded onto the WRC website so that interested people may have a look.

WRC Project: K5/2381
Authors: Partners in Development (main; see details for full list)
WRC Manager: Jay Bhagwan
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Summary:

This document represents a preliminary exploration of school sanitation in South Africa as part of the study titled "Evaluating the design of existing rural school sanitation infrastructure and developing a model and guidelines for optimal design" which is being conducted by Partners in Development on behalf of the Water Research Commission.

This document explores the background and status of school sanitation in South Africa and its legal environment and looks at best practice for the design of facilities and choice of systems and technologies.

What this exploration revealed was the fact that the failure or success of infrastructure is fundamentally linked to the needs, resources, attitudes and beliefs of management and the users of school sanitation, and that any attempt to improve the status quo must come from a perspective of a “total solution” which addresses all of these elements coherently.

While this document touches on how infrastructure interfaces with user needs and the implications for management, a careful review of models for management and user education is planned as the study progresses. It is clear that addressing these three elements – infrastructure, management and education – together is vital in order to expect that any intervention might succeed.

An assessment of sanitation at 100 rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape is underway (December 2014) as part of this study. The assessment involves an inventory of sanitation stock and its condition, interviews with the principal and cleaner (where there is one) and a focus group with learners allowing some triangulation of viewpoints between different stakeholders.

The assessment tools can be found in Annexure A at the end of this document and can be used by anyone wishing to better understand the issues around sanitation at a given school. In addition, we will facilitate a discussion of these issues at national level during 2015 and the insights gleaned from this process and from the assessments will be published by the Water Research Commission in early 2016. It is our hope that this study contributes to the wellbeing of South Africa’s children during the hours in which they are at school.
Physical Address:
Water Research Commission, 4 Daventry Road, Lynnwood Bridge Office Park, Bloukrans Building, Pretoria.

Postal Address:
Private Bag X03
GEZINA, 0031, South Africa

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
mobile: +27 (0)60 502 1841

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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: Exploring the Issues around Rural On-Site School Sanitation in South Africa

Dear Sudhir,

Thanks so much for sharing this publication! I had a quick look - it looks great to me, a must-read for anyone interested in school sanitation in developing countries! The "School sanitation assessment tools" in the Appendix strike me as very detailed and practical. Good to see also that menstrual hygiene management is an integral part of this publication (and not a brief after-thought)

(I only found the reference section a bit weak; quite a few of the mentioned publications had their URLs missing. I was a bit suprised that the ecosan book by SEI from 2004 was cited extensively - it's a good book but now 11 years later I think we also have other more up to date publications about dry toilet systems by now)

I found this statement very relevant (p. 79 and 80):

The sanitation landscape in South Africa is dominated by two technologies on opposite ends of the
spectrum
, with only small numbers of alternatives in operation: on the one hand is standard
waterborne technology, connected either to a municipal sewer or to a septic tank; on the other
hand is the pit latrine.

and

There is a recognition across the global sanitation community of a need for more options along the
continuum of sanitation technologies. On 3 September 2014 the brand new Department of Water
and Sanitation (DWS) announced the Sanitation Innovation Challenge to mobilise innovative
sanitation technologies and solutions towards providing more appropriate solutions to South Africa’s
sanitation challenge. The DWS defines sanitation innovations as “those systems or solutions which
are alternative to conventional waterborne sewerage and onsite ventilated improved pit latrines”
and specifies that “technologies should provide sustainable sanitation services to urban, peri-urban
and rural areas and take into account effectiveness, social preferences, water resource availability,
affordability, possible beneficiation of waste products, economic development and cost reduction in
the sanitation delivery chain” (DWS, pers. comm. 3 Sept 2014).


And (because I am interested in "who sits and who squats in different countries):

The choice of technologies and user interfaces must take into consideration whether users are
“wipers” or “washers” – i.e. use a dry material or water for anal cleansing – and whether they are
“sitters” or “squatters” – i.e. whether they are accustomed to sitting on a pedestal or squatting over
an opening in the floor.

While in South Africa it is common within the Indian community to use
water for anal cleansing and to use a squat plate arrangement rather than a pedestal, this project is geared at finding solutions for rural schools and informal settlements where the population is
overwhelmingly black. For that reason, technologies designed especially for “washing” or
“squatting” have not been considered in this review. They may, however, have application in terms
of the need for areas for washing for menstrual management, something which cannot easily be
accommodated by a pedestal toilet. They also may provide useful design ideas for female urinals.


Kind regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
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Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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  • SudhirPillay
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  • Working for the WRC on the "Sanitation Research Fund for Africa" Project. Interested in on-site sanitation systems and faecal sludge management
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Re: Exploring the Issues around Rural On-Site School Sanitation in South Africa

No problem Elisabeth

It is an interim publication because the project is on-going and we will update with new information as it becomes available. I thought Bobbie Louton wrote the literature well and was worth getting published earlier. She also did the geophagia one I added couple months ago.

Most households in RSA are sitters; even the ones of Asian descent. Might get few Muslim households that have both types. But definitely most are sitters.
Physical Address:
Water Research Commission, 4 Daventry Road, Lynnwood Bridge Office Park, Bloukrans Building, Pretoria.

Postal Address:
Private Bag X03
GEZINA, 0031, South Africa

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
mobile: +27 (0)60 502 1841
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  • SudhirPillay
  • SudhirPillay's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Working for the WRC on the "Sanitation Research Fund for Africa" Project. Interested in on-site sanitation systems and faecal sludge management
  • Posts: 61
  • Karma: 9
  • Likes received: 14

Re: Exploring the Issues around Rural On-Site School Sanitation in South Africa

Update: School Sanitation
In 2014/15, the WRC commissioned a study to better understand the needs of learners with regard to school sanitation, and the key issues that contribute to the failure of sanitation infrastructure at schools. Principals and learners were interviewed and focus groups and surveys were conducted with learners regarding practices, perceptions and attitudes around school sanitation. In addition, visual assessments of school sanitation facilities were conducted by the research teams.

The research indicated that while the finger is often pointed at service delivery, the visible failure of many of the toilets that have been delivered – both old and new – points to a range of issues both “hard” and “soft” issues. The key issues identified in this study can be summarised as follows:
• Toilets which place learners over a deep pit, such as the ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilet, create a risk of especially younger learners falling into the pit. The issue must be addressed from a design point of view: alternative designs should be sought; where VIPs are to be installed the design should be modified to reduce risk. This must also be addressed from a management point of view: toilets must be maintained in safe condition and children (particularly small children) who have to use toilets over a pit should be accompanied and assisted.
• The research has indicated that there is a mismatch between infrastructure and asset management. School infrastructure that is delivered without an effective management programme in place will fail. This applies to even newly built sanitation facilities. Conditions of safety, health and dignity cannot be maintained without vigilant management, which includes clear standards for managing toilets, providing the administration tools to implement these standards and providing support, monitoring and enforcement to ensure that standards are upheld.
• While all learners have a right to support and assistance in the toilets if needed, certain groups are in need of special assistance. Schools must ensure that small children, menstruating girls, children with physical or other special needs or children who are the target of bullying or other abusive behaviour can meet their needs safely and with dignity in the toilets.

Consequently, the WRC with independent researchers, Partners in Development, developed guidelines informed by the insights gained from these school assessments as well as best practices identified in literature. A Handbook for Managing School Toilets, which is provided as an annexure to the guideline. The handbook provides ideas for activities around launching a new management programme in order to help everyone at the school make a fresh start with the toilets and to cultivate a sense of ownership. I shall provide the Guideline on Susana once we get it back from designers.

We will also launch a school sanitation management model this year as a follow-on to this project in which schools principals are given appropriate training and support to identify and prevent risk of sanitation hardware failure.

Kind Regards
Sudhir
Physical Address:
Water Research Commission, 4 Daventry Road, Lynnwood Bridge Office Park, Bloukrans Building, Pretoria.

Postal Address:
Private Bag X03
GEZINA, 0031, South Africa

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
mobile: +27 (0)60 502 1841
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  • SudhirPillay
  • SudhirPillay's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Working for the WRC on the "Sanitation Research Fund for Africa" Project. Interested in on-site sanitation systems and faecal sludge management
  • Posts: 61
  • Karma: 9
  • Likes received: 14

Re: Exploring the Issues around Rural On-Site School Sanitation in South Africa

Hi all. For those who are interested in school sanitation, specifically rural school sanitation, please find documents that may be useful to you:
1) Guideline for School Sanitation;
2) School Sanitation Management Handbook to assist principals with the management of the school sanitation infrastructure; and
3) Rural School Sanitation. Can We Do Better?

The research was commissioned through the WRC with Partners in Development conducting the research.

Enjoy!
Physical Address:
Water Research Commission, 4 Daventry Road, Lynnwood Bridge Office Park, Bloukrans Building, Pretoria.

Postal Address:
Private Bag X03
GEZINA, 0031, South Africa

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
mobile: +27 (0)60 502 1841

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