Strategy for developing an ecological sanitation system at the Barrage informal settlement
The Barrage informal settlement (BIS) is a peri-urban community of about 300 people resident on private land close to the banks of the Vaal River in Gauteng South Africa. The study focuses on the living and sanitation conditions in which people find themselves. Measured against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) BIS and its residents clearly are far from meeting MDG 7 target 7 C. For the purposes of this study the researcher investigated ecological sanitation (EcoSan) as an alternative solution for the current local sanitation conundrum. Residents either use the veld or a dysfunctional pit system. The data used for the project was generated both in a qualitative and quantitative mode. Semi-structured interviews were randomly conducted. Participants were requested and subsequently assisted in completing a questionnaire. There were also several focus group discussions for gathering relevant data. The researcher tried to form an impression of the perceptions of community members in terms on the type of sanitation system they wished to use. Community members actively engaged in strategies aimed to find out how they perceive sanitation, potable water supply and matters of hygiene. The findings revealed dissatisfaction regarding to current conditions in BIS. Residents are uncertain because the land on which they reside on does not belong to them. This, in turn, creates uncertainty and feelings of insecurity, about the relevance of a potential water-based sanitation system. At the same time members of the community indicated they had no interest in a dry toilet system. Neither are they keen on the use of community ablution blocks (CABs) as alternative. Residents showed no willingness and are also not prepared to pay for sanitation because they cannot afford it. The dilemma is that residents are at the mercy of Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM) and the private owners of the land on which they reside. Where do we find the solution to all of the issues? Participatory deliberation strategies were used to determine which system of sanitation local residents preferred. They clearly came out in favour of the Water Bank concept as a feasible sanitation system option. However, as a result of the unfulfilled promises of Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM) and landowners the community remains in a state of uncertainty about the permanence of the BIS.