In support of the massive cross sectoral efforts working through the lockdown, 1to1 has recently joined the Asivikalane Campaign, the initiative:

“…provides a platform for residents in informal settlements to communicate severe water, sanitation and refuse removal shortages during the Covid-19 crisis. It is a growing network that already brings together 153 informal settlements in five metropolitan municipalities and five smaller towns. 

Aditya Kumar – M&G
1to1 working through lockdown regulations Image: 1to1

The Asivikalne Campign is an initiative of IBP South Africa, Planact, the SASDI Alliance, Afesis-corplan, DAG, SJC and Grassroot with funding provided by the European Union, Open Society Foundation, Luminate and Raith Foundation. By responding to three questions weekly about their access to water, clean toilets and waste removal, residents offer us a window into their daily experiences.

M&G South Africa
Image: M&G

Aditya Kumar describes the campaign through the following points: “But we should not waste this crisis by only focusing on the short term. This is the precise moment to think further and address the matter of basic services once and for all. Here are five reasons why it is essential for the future: 

  • Firstly, access to water, decent sanitation and basic services is a constitutional right. It is enshrined in our Bill of Rights, section 27, which reads: “Everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water … The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of these rights.” 
  • Secondly, this campaign is not just about services, but fundamentally about agency and voice. In our current paradigm, these are largely being determined by the patronage of local politicians and/or local government officials. Taps and toilets are frequently installed with no consultation or in areas that are either completely over serviced, or where they cater to the needs of a few. Through this campaign, citizens are voicing their concerns in the most evidential and direct manner. And as such, collectively holding all spheres of government accountable.
  • Thirdly, basic services are not simply a resourcing issue, but about prioritisation. The servicing of informal settlements and backyarders haven’t been given the priority they deserve. Each year, millions are underspent on grants to local government that are precisely there to service these areas. Where money is spent, substandard services are often installed because “these are for informal settlements”. 
  • This campaign highlights that we need to move beyond talking about simply dumping taps and toilets, but exploring new avenues for water and sanitation. Groundbreaking examples come from India, where communities run and manage facilities.
  • Fourth, the campaign isn’t just about demonstrating the gaps in service delivery, but sharing positive responses too. In many instances, the municipalities and metros are using this data to ensure that they respond urgently to the needs. Water tanks have been delivered in many metros, countless taps and toilets repaired and protective gear and sanitisers distributed to communities to clean communal toilets. Many of these examples highlight the dualistic role of the campaign — recognising improvements when they happen and improving service delivery. Ultimately this is not a monitoring and evaluation tool, but a platform for co-production and engagement.
  • Finally, the campaign is under no illusion that basic services will alleviate the root causes of poverty and inequality. But it definitely is a step towards restoring dignity to the millions living in extreme poverty. This effort needs to translate, with the support of civil society, into completely rethinking our ability to release well-located land, tenure security for the poor and an economic future that they can determine.”
1to1 working through lockdown regulations Image: 1to

Our project partners at Planact share the this important point:

” Over the past six weeks the Asivikelane campaign (“let’s protect each other” in Zulu) has reported that many residents still share communal toilets that are not regularly cleaned, queue for insufficient taps that are not repaired when they break, and tolerate refuse removal that depends on the whims of the truck driver. This endangers the lives of these residents daily, and during a pandemic, the lives of all South Africans.

Nevertheless, the Covid-19 pandemic has suddenly catapulted the fate of informal residents to the top of local governments’ agendas. In the past weeks the department of human settlements has delivered 41,000 water tanks, and local governments has mostly found money to fill them.”

Mike Makwala – Planact

1to1 is underway with this work and looking forward to building on this collaboration and campaign with our partners.