City of Cape Town challenges veracity of household survey

THE City of Cape Town has challenged the veracity of Statistics SA’s household survey released this week.

The annual survey released by statistician-general Pali Lehohla shows that many households are not happy with the provision of water and electricity.

With the local government elections around the corner, the provision of basic services, such as water and sanitation will be under the spotlight.

The survey also showed that 80% of households now have access to toilets of a minimum standard — a ventilated pit latrine — from 62.3% 13 years ago. The proportion of households with no toilet or a bucket toilet has dropped from 12.3% in 2002, to 4.9% in 2015.

Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Neilson on Friday said the statistics presented needed to be interrogated and verified against other data before they could be used to manage future implementation.

Neilson said the greatest concern with the reporting on the household survey was that of household access to sanitation.

“Stats SA reports that 1,063,000 households (91.8%) have access to at least basic sanitation. It reports that 67,000 households (5.8%) have bucket or no sanitation. The City of Cape Town does not agree with this assessment,” said Neilson.

He said the primary problem seems to lie with Stats SA’s definition of access to sanitation, which it defines as “flush toilet connected to a public sewerage system or septic tank or a pit latrine with ventilation pipe”.

“This definition excludes significant other toilet technologies, such as chemical toilets, portable flush toilets and container toilets, which are widely recognised as adequate technologies for basic sanitation provision.”

Neilson said the Stats SA definition was at odds with the Water Services Act which defines sanitation minimum standards as:

• The provision of appropriate health and hygiene education; and

• A toilet which is safe, reliable, environmentally sound, easy to keep clean, provides privacy and protection against the weather, is well ventilated, keeps smells to a minimum and prevents the entry and exit of flies and other disease-carrying pests.

“All of the alternative typologies that the City of Cape Town provides in informal settlements meet the legal definition and the national standard. This includes chemical toilets, portable flush toilets and container toilets. Chemical and container toilets are not only cleaned three times a week but also receive daily janitorial servicing in Cape Town,” said Neilson.

On the provision of water, the survey shows that 1,116,000 households (96.3%) in Cape Town have adequate access to a piped water supply at RDP standards or higher and 43, 000 (3.7%) at a lower standard, including 6,000 (0.5%) with no water supply.

Neilson said the city is of the opinion that 99.5% of households have an adequate supply of water at the required minimum standard.

On energy provision, Neilson said it was inexplicable that Stats SA only reported the results at a provincial level, yet does not report this data at a metro level when it does do so for the other services. The data shows that 96% of households in the Western Cape receive electricity from mains for lighting.

“In general, it is inexplicable that Stats SA uses ‘RDP standards’ when these standards have long been replaced. There are, for example, Department of Housing standards that are applied to service provision, and standards defined in the Water Services Act.

“(Cape Town) will engage with Stats SA on their data to determine where it differs from that of the city, and will seek to establish where in the city the alleged 67,000 un-serviced households are alleged to be located, so that (we) can audit these outcomes through an on-site evaluation,” said Neilson.



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