In informal settlements, shared sanitation facilities offer pragmatic solutions as it allows inhabitants to access sanitation because they cannot install in-house toilets. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies shared sanitation as unimproved because there is a tendency for facilities to be mismanaged resulting in unhygienic practices. This study addressed the issues around the quality of shared sanitation by looking at how sanitation activities between men and women shape the use and management of shared sanitation facilities within and between households. The study adopted a qualitative research paradigm, at both macro and micro levels, of data collection. It made use of a thorough review of literature and in-depth interviews which provided a deeper insight into how sanitation policy and practice shape and influence sanitation processes in informal settlements and the wider implications they have on state-society relations. A case study method of inquiry of Phomolong informal settlement revealed that shared sanitation is embedded in a host of a complex and overlapping processes, which revolve around tenure insecurity, urban poverty, gender power relations and the historical legacies of racialised urban planning.
The study concludes that the absence of a coherent sanitation policy for informal settlements has not only widened sanitation backlogs in informal settlements, but it has significantly deteriorated these communities’ sense of citizenship and belonging. To understand Phomolong’s informality, one has to appreciate that self-management underpins its sanitation processes as a result of inadequate state-led service delivery. Although the Free Basic Sanitation policy (FBSan) is designed to specifically cater for poor urban communities, it has done little to alleviate the challenges of informal urban sanitation. A host of social issues shape how shared sanitation is accessed, perceived and managed on a daily basis. Specifically, gender and tenure status provide an added layer of challenges as women navigate the burden of being the custodians of household health and hygiene as well as their own personal security and dignity.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2019.