Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Informal Settlements

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) are critical aspects to any community, but are severely lacking in informal settlements. Water safety practices, education in general health and well-being concepts, and overall hygiene are common problems with easy solutions. Due to a lack of support, education, and resources, these problems go untreated, creating disease and unsafe living conditions. Grey water channels, streams of waste water excluding sewage waste, run through communities breeding bacteria and different illnesses. Toilet facilities are poorly managed, if at all, and unclean, creating an unsafe and unsanitary living environment.

One goal of the Cape Town Project Centre is to upgrade informal settlements throughout South Africa by addressing water, sanitation, and hygiene issues. One way we hope to achieve this goal through the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Upgrading (WaSH-UP) Programme. This programme aims to create community managed toilet facilities that also act as a community health and education space. Below are some projects from past years that students have done to tackle WASH issues and advance the WaSH-UP Programme.


Project Listings:

Expanding Health, Education, and Well-being Services in WaSH-UP (2014): Helped community members create an after school care programme and community library in the Mandela Park WaSH-UP Facility to provide educational opportunities and safe play spaces.

WaSH-UP Business Operations (2014): Fostered the creation of a health and wellbeing kiosk in the Mandela Park WaSH-UP Facility and aided in the official establishment of the Sidiniwe Savings Group in Langrug to generate income in the WaSH-UP facility and help community members beginning properly saving money.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Upgrading Programmes in Informal Settlements (2013): Assessed the Mandela Park WaSH-UP facility designed and created the year before and proposed a new, dry facility in the neighborhood of Zwelitsha.

Innovative Upgrading in the Informal Settlement of Langrug (2012): Designed and completed beginning stages of construction of the first WaSH-UP facility in Langrug, while also addressing issues of greywater management, reblocking, and communication between partners.

Addressing Greywater Management Issues in Langrug (2011): Focused on greywater related issues in Langrug by developing and implementing an adaptive, self-reforming greywater management system supervised by local community members and members of the co-researcher team.

Innovating Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Upgrading in Langrug (2011): Proposed beginning idea of a WaSH facility in Langrug and worked to upgrade the community by painting an already existing facility, installing a foot tap, and suggesting more design aspects for future students to help implement.

Stormwater Management (2010): Created a stormwater management system in Monwabisi Park to address flooding damages and ensure community dynamics were no longer influenced by previous redirecting or preventative techniques.

Designing a Model Sanitation Centre for Monwabisi Park (2009): Developed a detailed plan for a sanitation facility, dry composting sanitation system, and greywater management system, while creating a community caretaker role and establishing connections with outside organisations.

Solutions for Future Sustainability of Water and Sanitation (2008): Improved living conditions in Monwabisi Park by developing a communal water facility with amenities, gardens, and a plan to stop crime and vandalism in the toilet facility.


Building a WaSH-UP Facility

Students that proposed, planned, and began creating the first WaSH-UP facility put together these resources to be used in future endeavors. Find them here!

WaSH-UP Programme Services and Management:

Resources include documents on managing and operating a WaSH-UP Facility in addition to health, education, and wellbeing services offered through the WaSH-UP Programme. Check them out here!

Savings Group Management (Moving Locations!)

Many informal settlements have Savings Groups, a group of people that collectively save money for personal and community purposes. These documents were designed to help students work with Savings Groups in different communities to establish structure and purpose.

Guidelines for Working with Savings Groups

Agenda Outline

Meeting Minutes Template

Savings Group Brochure


Weekly Report for CORC

Assessments and Proposals

Included here are assessments of past water and sanitation work in informal settlements, as well as a proposal for a second WaSH-UP facility in Langrug. Find them here!

Community Dynamics

Working in informal settlements presents a variety of challenges, including community dynamics. This website was created by past students to pass on lessons learned and help future students understand the complexities of working relationships.

Social Complexities

Greywater and Stormwater Drainage

Past projects have focused on effectively draining grey and storm water to prevent disease and unclean living conditions. These resources document their experience and suggestions for handling drainage in informal settlement communities. Click here to see more!

Executive Summaries:

Each year, project groups create Executive Summaries to provide a resource to future students, as well as document their process in an easy-t0-read document. Below are the Executive Summaries from past years focusing on water, sanitation, and hygiene.

2014 WaSH Services Executive Summary

2014 WaSH Business Executive Summary

2013 WaSH UP Executive Summary

2012 WaSH Partnership Executive Summary (includes all projects from 2012)

2011 Langrug Greywater Management Executive Summary

2011 WaSH UP Executive Summary

2010 Stormwater Management Executive Summary

2009 Water and Sanitation Prototype Executive Summary

2008 Sustainable Water and Sanitation Executive Summary