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Africa|Pipes|Sanitation|System|Water
Africa|Pipes|Sanitation|System|Water
africa|pipes|sanitation|system|water

Water access improves since 2002, but latest data shows regression over the past two years

7th June 2024

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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While access to drinking water has improved over the past two decades, recent Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) data shows that there has been a regression over the past two years.

In its annual General Household Survey (GHS) for 2023, published late last month, StatsSA states that its data shows that, between 2002 and 2023, the percentage of households with access to piped or tap water in their dwellings, on site or off site increased by 2.6 percentage points to 87%.

While this is an improvement on the 84.4% of households that had access to piped or tap water in dwellings, on site or off site in 2002, it is a decline from 88.5% in 2022 and 89.1% in 2021, after peaking at 90.9% in 2012.

StatsSA, however, points out that a larger number of households received tap water in 2023 than two decades earlier.

The agency records that, in 2002, there were 11.19-million households, compared with 19-million households in 2023.

According to the GHS, the percentage of households with access to municipal water increased from 78.4%, or 9.2-million households, in 2004 to 80.4%, or 15.2-million, in 2023.

In 2022, the percentage of households with access to municipal water was 81%, equating to 14.76-million households.

On a provincial level, tap water access inside dwellings, on site or off site was most common among households in the Western Cape, at 99.3%, Gauteng, at 97.6%, and the Free State, at 93.3%, and was least common in Limpopo, at 64.2%, and the Eastern Cape, at 67.2%.

While the percentage of households in the Eastern Cape with access to water in their dwelling, on site or off site increased by 23.1 percentage points between 2002 and 2012, access has declined by 12 percentage points to 67.2% since.

The GHS report reveals a similar pattern in Limpopo, where access to piped or tap water in dwellings, on site or off site increased from 73.8% to 84% in 2010, before declining to 64.2% in 2023, almost 10 percentage points lower than two decades earlier, in 2002.

Access to water in KwaZulu-Natal increased by 6.1 percentage points to 81.5% during the same period.

Nationally, an estimated 45.2%, or 8.6- million, of households had access to piped water in their dwellings in 2023, compared with 40.4%, or 4.52-million, of households in 2002, and 45.8%, or 8.5-million, in 2022.

A further 29.8%, or 5.67-million households, accessed water on site, while 9.7%, or 1.84-million, households relied on communal taps, and 2.3%, or 429 000 households, relied on their neighbours’ taps.

This is compared with the 30%, or 5.54- million, of households that accessed water on site; the 10.7%, or 1.97-million, of households that relied on communal taps; and the 2%, or 370 000, of households that relied on neighbours’ taps in 2022.

In 2002, 27.7%, or 3.1-million households, accessed water on site, while 13.6%, or 1.52-million, households relied on communal taps and 0.6%, or 63 000 households, relied on neighbours’ taps.

Further, 3.3% of households still had to fetch water from rivers, streams, stagnant water pools, dams, wells and springs in 2023.

Meanwhile, the percentage of households that experienced water interruptions lasting more than two days at a time, or 15 days in total over the year, increased from 24.3% in 2012 to 35.8% in 2023.

According to the GHS, 66.9% of households in Mpumalanga, 59.7% in the Northern Cape and 57.2% in Limpopo reported the most interruptions, compared with the respective 61.5%, 27.1% and 55.6% of households that experienced interruptions in 2012.

Households in the Western Cape and Gauteng experienced the least interruptions – 3.4% and 22.8% respectively – compared with the interruptions experienced by 2.9% of households in the Western Cape and 9.5% of households in Gauteng in 2012.

The water interruptions experienced by households in KwaZulu-Natal increased from 21.5% in 2012 to 43.6% in 2023, while in the North West interruptions increased from 35.4% to 55.9%.

Over the same period, in the Eastern Cape, water interruptions increased from 36.4% to 55.8%, with an increase from 33.7% to 45.7% recorded in the Free State.

Meanwhile, access to sanitation for South African households has improved over the last two decades.

Access to improved sanitation, which includes flush toilets and pit toilets with ventilation pipes, increased from 61.7% in 2002 to 83.2% in 2022 and 83.3% in 2023.

Households’ access to improved sanitation was highest in the Western Cape at 95.6%, Gauteng at 90.7% and the Eastern Cape at 88.1%, and most limited in Limpopo at 61.9% and Mpumalanga at 67.2%.

In the Eastern Cape, households’ access to improved sanitation facilities increased by 54.7 percentage points between 2002 and 2023, growing from 33.4% to 88.1%.

The percentage of households with access to improved sanitation increased by 35 percentage points in Limpopo and by 31.8 percentage points in KwaZulu-Natal over the same period.

About 66% of South Africa’s households used flush toilets that were either connected to a public sewerage system or a septic or conservancy tanks, an increase from 57.3% in 2002.

A further 17.3% used pit toilets with ventilation pipes, which is an increase from 4.4% in 2002.

Some 13.6% of households that did not have access to improved sanitation facilities largely depended on pit toilets without ventilation pipes and 0.9% of households did not have access to any form of sanitation.

According to StatsSA, 45.3% of toilet facilities were located in the dwelling, while 50.5% were located in the yard.

On a provincial level, the use of flush toilets was most common in the Western Cape, at 95.4%, Gauteng, at 87.1%, and the Free State, at 77%.

In Limpopo, 30% of households used some type of flush toilet, while another 31.9% used ventilated pit toilets.

The largest percentage of pit toilets with ventilation pipes were observed in the Eastern Cape at 40.5%, Limpopo at 31.9%, and KwaZulu-Natal at 31.7%.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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