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April 7, 2020 – Let’s protect each other: IBP South Africa’s COVID-19 response

It is the mission of IBP South Africa to improve service delivery to poor communities via oversight of government budgeting and spending, and long has focused much of its work on mobilizing settlement residents. In mid-March, that all came to a sudden halt when we heard that someone in our small office block, where we share bathrooms and kitchen facilities, tested positive for COVID-19. We closed our office and organized to work remotely, but the IBP South Africa team and our informal settlement partners felt that the conditions in which these residents live—very close quarters, with shared water and toilets—was not being sufficiently addressed. We started working with a team of health professionals to identify hygiene practices that would help informal-settlement residents avoid contracting the novel coronavirus while using communal facilities. We produced and posted/distributed a poster and pamphlet in both English and eight local languages. Read more.

Budget Notes

May 6, 2020Metro Budget Notes: When communal toilets are cleaned inadequately or irregularly, they pose a significant health risk to informal settlement residents and this is exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Municipalities have minimum standards for the frequency of toilet cleaning, but in the context of Covid-19 this standard is likely to be insufficient. One significant way to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in these communities is to clean communal toilets more frequently. This document estimates what the costs of this additional toilet cleaning might be, using data obtained from metro municipalities, and applied to the cleaning of chemical toilets. We did this costing because we believe that allocating additional funding to this end can significantly reduce the impact of the pandemic on informal settlements, and that this critical intervention has not received the attention that it deserves. Read the full note.

Asivikelane Briefs

  • June 26, 2020 – Brief 4: This brief summarizes what metros have reported for the delivery of basic services – water, sanitation, refuse collection and soap or sanitizer – in informal settlements, as well as what they reported in terms of food parcels or other forms of nutritional support for households. Read the full brief.
  • June 25, 2020 – Brief 3: This brief presents information collected during May 2020 about the food security initiatives and plans of government and the Solidarity Fund, particularly with regard to the provision of food parcels and food vouchers. Read the full brief.
  • June 2, 2020 – Brief 2: Over recent weeks, the Western Cape has emerged as the epicentre of the COVID-19 virus. On 26 May, the province accounted for 65.2% of South Africa’s 24,264 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Many of these residents rely on shared water and sanitation facilities or have limited access to water and sanitation, making them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Sub-districts such as Tygerberg, Khayelitsha, and Southern – home to many informal settlements – have emerged as COVID-19 hotspots. Read the full brief.
  • May 20, 2020Brief 1: Over half a million of Johannesburg’s 5.8 million people live in 181 informal settlements. The number of COVID-19 cases in the city increased rapidly from 971 on 6 May to 1,153 on 15 May, a jump of 20 percent in less than two weeks. Shared water and toilet facilities make Johannesburg’s informal settlement residents extremely vulnerable to infection. Residents participating in the Asivikelane initiative have reported dire water and sanitation problems over the last six weeks. Their efforts to engage with the city have met with a slow response. Read the full brief.

COVID-19 Sanitation Posters

The Asivikelane campaign has created sanitation posters with guidelines for informal settlement residents to avoid the transmission of coronavirus in shared toilets. The poster is available in multiple languages below.