On 5 September, SERI's director of research and advocacy, Alana Potter, appeared of eNCA's Checkpoint to discuss the limited access to, and poor conditions of, sanitation services in informal settlements across South Africa.

Access to adequate sanitation is fundamental to personal dignity and security, social and psychological well-being, public health, poverty reduction, gender equality, economic development and environmental sustainability. Poor sanitation promotes the spread of preventable diseases like diarrhoea and cholera, places stress on the weakened immune system of HIV positive people and has a major impact on the quality of life of people living with AIDS. However, many informal settlement residents in both rural and urban areas are still forced daily to use wholly inadequate means of sanitation. In the majority of informal settlements, the sanitation services are public or communal. As a result, many informal settlement residents have to travel long distances to use toilets, and risk their own personal safety and health.

Potter also discusses the vulnerability of the janitorial workers who clean chemical toilets in informal settlements. As she says during the programme: "Janitorial workers are some of the worst treated casual labourers that we know in South Africa..."

  • Watch the full programme here (Part 1), here (Part 2) and here (Part 3).
  • Read SERI's guide, Basic Sanitation in South Africa: A Guide to Legislation, Policy and Practice (July 2011), here.