Over half a million of Gauteng residents living in the province’s 181 informal settlements still dream of the services other South Africans take for granted. With the Covid 19 curve infection rate at peak currently in Gauteng, shared water and toilet facilities make these informal settlement residents extremely vulnerable to infection. It is critical that this portion of our society is protected as some informal settlements are now covid-19 hotspots and their efforts to engage with the municipality have been met with a slow response.
“We are calling on more informal settlement residents in the City of Ekurhuleni to join the initiative and improve service delivery in their own communities. With over a 100 days since the initiative started, Planact have seen the City of Ekurhuleni to be more responsive in attending to the results we share from our initiative called Asivikelane (“let’s protect each other” in IsiZulu). We want to keep that momentum and assist more communities,” says Planact’s Senior Porgramme Cordinator, Mike Makwela. Planact is a local non-profit organisation established in 1985 to promote transparency and accountability at local governance level.
The Asivikelane (Let’s Protect Each Other) initiative gives voice to informal settlement residents in South Africa’s major cities who are faced with severe basic service shortages during the COVID-19 crisis. Over the past three months, residents have been answering four questions about their access to water, safe public lighting as well as clean toilets and waste removal – the results are published bi-weekly and shared with relevant municipalities and national government departments to enable swift government response.
Municipalities have minimum standards for the frequency of toilet cleaning and water provision but in the context of Covid-19 this standard is likely to be insufficient. This endangers the lives of these residents daily, and during a pandemic, the lives of all South Africans.
The National Treasury found more than R5billion to allocate to informal settlement services, and some metropolitan municipalities are finding innovative ways to distribute hand sanitiser and clean shared toilets daily. Reading the latest auditor-general report shows that pouring more money into the leaky bucket of local government service delivery systems will not translate to better services. This is where the Asivikelane campaign comes in to helps those closest to the problem, informal settlement residents, to monitor the delivery of services and begin a dialogue with the government to ensure scarce public money goes to those who need it most, and is spent efficiently.
Community leaders can use the following details to reach Planact:
Website – www.planact.org.za
Email – Mike@planact.org.za