The Concept: What is WaSH-UP?

WaSH-UP, or Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Upgrading Programme, is an innovative solution to common health problems in urban informal settlements, such as those surrounding Cape Town. It begins with the creation of a WaSH-UP facility “designed, built and managed as an exercise in community strengthening” (Jiusto, 2014). These facilities include important WaSH appliances such as sinks, toilets, and showers. Furthermore, caretakers drawn from the community maintain not only the physical facility, but support the WaSH facility as a social space and place for community health education. Additionally, the need for community support means that community dynamics play a huge role in advancing the facility so it can operate ideally. Additionally, the caretakers can operate a WaSH-UP kiosk, selling competitively priced healthcare items to encourage healthy living as well as forming a sustainable business in the form of a social enterprise.

The Goal: Create a Successful WaSH-UP Programme

The goal of this project was to upgrade and further develop a WaSH-UP facility. A successful WaSH-UP facility contains the essential elements of having functioning and well-maintained hygiene accommodations (i.e. toilets, sinks, showers, laundry basins) in addition to being sustainable financially. WaSH-UP facilities are also to be supported and cared for by community members as spaces for health, education and wellbeing (HEW) services for the community. In the Mandela Park WaSH-UP Facility in the informal settlement of Langrug, the WaSH-UP prototype, community members care for the facility. However, in its current state it is not financially sustainable and offers minimal health, education, and wellbeing services for the community. Most recently, we have been working to address these two major issues with the creation and implementation of an overseeing Savings Group to maintain the facility, a kiosk to generate income, an aftercare programme for children’s wellbeing, and a community library to create a positive social space.