In the mid-90's, the boundaries of Durban were increased to incorporate a number of townships, formerly administered by a separate "ethnic" authority in line with the previous regime's policy of apartheid. The addition of nearly 70 000 formal dwellings and 97 500 informal units, with a population of approximately 1 250 000, created a pressing problem of introducing an effective refuse removal and cleansing service.
Durban Solid Waste (DSW), the municipal cleansing arm of the Durban Metro Council, was responsible for the extension of their waste management and refuse collection services to the newly incorporated areas. DSW devised an innovative strategy which would combine waste management with investing the economic benefits of the service in the communities themselves, in line with the national priority of fostering the growth of African entrepreneurship.
DSW worked together with a private sector company, Munitech, to create the new programme. Local tenders were sought with the requirement that labour from local communities be used, and that contractors use labour intensive practices in order to further benefit local communities. At the same time proactive steps were taken to provide training and backup in the tendering process, and potential tenderers received guidance on how to go about drawing up the necessary documents.
Ultimately, 35 contracts were awarded to emerging contractors on a competitive tender basis. Under the terms of the contracts, services including household refuse collection, street cleaning and verge maintenance must be performed. Contracts are awarded for the overall cleanliness and maintenance of particular areas. DSW actively fostered and supported the development of community business people so that they would be equipped to perform the job both profitably and efficiently. Training courses were devised in small business methods. DSW's staff ensured that contractors acquired the necessary technical skills to run their own cleansing businesses.
The project provides employment for about 700 people, the majority of which are drawn from the communities they service. The employment of local labour ensures that revenue is ploughed back into the communities themselves, which are often highly impoverished. The local entrepreneurs have developed into technically skilled and confident contractors, who are now expanding their area of operations outside of the communities.
The newly incorporated areas are clean and healthy, and have an improved economic footing through the increased circulation of capital. In addition, environmental awareness is being created through the educational programmes that will ultimately secure improved standards of living for the communities. Waste management services are being extended to include some 1 250 000 people living in 168 000 households (both formal and informal), on an effective and fast-track basis.
"This programme's innovativeness lies in its orientation to maximize development, through community-based job creation and creating opportunities for the emerging contractor sector, without sacrificing the all-important elements of delivery and cost-effective quality services " Sean Reilly, Director, Munitech
Innovation: A waste management strategy which transcends resource constraints and the underdeveloped character of large urban residential areas by the development of partnerships with other organizations and the sharing of resources - human and financial. Training and developing local emergent contractors, and requiring the use of local labour, and labour intensive methods.
Poverty impact: The project relies on local contractors, and the use of local labour, thereby ensuring that the economic benefits of the service-contracts remain in the communities which are being served. The project provides cost-effective services for waste management in communities where these services were previously not performed.
Replication: This waste management strategy has been widely hailed as the leader in addressing low-income township environments in South and Southern Africa, and its progress is being closely monitored by other South African local authorities who wish to emulate Durban's success story.