Can shared facilities be sustainable? Experience from communal ablution blocks in eThekwini, South Africa

The provision of water and sanitation services to informal settlements is a challenge globally, and is evident throughout the cities of South Africa. The South African government has mandated the upgrading of informal settlements through the implementation of shared water and sanitation services as interim measure to meet the immediate needs of the communities. The eThekwini municipality has realised this mandate through the rollout of communal ablution blocks. This paper presents the success factors in the sustained use of these facilities throughout the eThekwini municipal area. The key findings indicate that apart from the maintenance of the sanitary fittings, the ablution facilities require strong institutional capacity and require not only the operation and also the maintenance of the physical ablution facility structure.