Where there's muck, there's brass: creating sustainable franchise micro-businesses to do water services operation and maintenance in South Africa

Partnerships, using the basic principles of social franchising, could address many challenges in the operation and/or maintenance of water services. Development of this concept is in South Africa moving from research, through pilots, into practice. Under the guidance of a franchisor, trainee franchisees undertook the routine servicing of the on-site sanitation facilities at 400 schools in the Eastern Cape, paid by the provincial Department of Education (DoE) from the normal departmental budgets for operation and maintenance. Despite difficulties arising directly from DoE inefficiencies, the pilot project has proven the value of social franchising partnerships for this kind of work – the DoE now has a model it intends to roll out to most of the more than 6000 schools across the province. Meantime, the franchisees have undertaken the routine servicing of several hundred household toilets, and much more of the same type of work for municipalities, is being lined up.