The objectives of the programme are to create awareness regarding diseases caused by unhealthy behaviour and practices, and provide health and hygiene education that will enable people to improve their health through correct hygiene practices. Importantly, the project seeks to assist households with a R600 subsidy to improve their own sanitation services.
Rural communities are informed on the availability of the subsidy and the service, and given the option to participate in the programme. Once the community agrees, they are requested to elect a committee to oversee the project. The implementing agents commence with general awareness by explaining the scheme and imparting basic health and hygiene information. This is followed by the building of demonstration toilets either at a house or at a school or other public facility.
The administration of the scheme is in the hands of the committee. Basic training is provided in management and administrative matters, and funds are paid into a dedicated bank account opened in the name of the committee. The implementing agents pay regular visits to each community to ensure that the project is running smoothly and to continue basic health education. A special point is made of targeting the school going population of each village for such education. The leading non-governmental organization is this field, Mvula Trust, assists in this regard.
Households in the communities that have agreed to the scheme each receive a R600 subsidy towards the installation of the toilet. The cost of installing a toilet is approximately R1200; these additional funds must come from the household, school or other recipient, or from savings generated by the local committees. Local community members are trained in the necessary building skills, and thereafter receive around R200 for each toilet erected.
The toilets which are provided are based on a dry sanitation system. These toilets, which are based on a South African design that has received international recognition, ensure that this basic sanitation is hygienic, durable and user-friendly. The toilets can be maintained by a household - they do not require running water, chemicals or the replacement of parts, and accordingly have a very low maintenance cost. The project allows for some choices by the household, most notably whether the toilet is incorporated into the existing house.
This project appears very effective in attaining its goals of sanitation provision, health education and community development. The monitoring and back-up services provided by the project agents appears to have ensured that the toilets are being used and maintained in proper fashion.
"The project allows communities to manage their own funds, build toilets they can afford to maintain, and manage their own projects" Elna Francke, Programme Manager.