HIV in South Africa

With the end of apartheid, South Africa became the epi-center of the AIDS epidemic due to an influx of migrants. Despite the rapid rise of HIV infections and AIDS deaths in Africa in the 1980s, the response to HIV in South Africa was slow. This was a result of the narrative created about the disease in the Global North that connected the spread of the virus to the behaviors of injection drug users and gay men. Another factor was that the spread of the disease in Africa looked incredibly different as more than half of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women.

When HIV and AIDS started having a widespread impact on South African society and communities, President Mbeki followed the arguments of Peter Duesberg, who stated that HIV could not be the cause of AIDS and was opposed to Western medical approaches to solving the epidemic. In 2003, the health minister, Tshabalala-Msimang advocated for nutritional solutions to alleviating HIV in South Africa and was notoriously known as “Dr. Beetroot”. Through Mbeki’s reasoning, continuous efforts from other countries to offer help for AIDS were declined and civil society groups raised grave concerns over the need for urgent action. One of the biggest groups to raise concerns and have the greatest impact in the region was the Treatment Action Campaign.

About the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was founded in 1998 as a tripartite alliance between the AIDS Law Project and COSATU, a key organization that fought apartheid in the 1980s. TAC was formed as a response to HIV in South Africa due to the lack of urgency that the government and the medical industry had in responding to the virus.

The transformative and charismatic Zackie Achmat, a previous gay rights activist who was diagnosed in 1990, initially led the organization.

TAC was a human rights-based organization focused on fighting racial discrimination and economic exploitation. This group was not only technical, but also political in their arguments as they utilized justifications for actions through moral, scientific, and economic reasoning. The TAC also developed partnerships with activist groups such as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and ACT UP, which have aided training “treatment literacy” and initiated a wider peer education network.

In addition, TAC formed partnerships between elites, academics, professionals, and press, but ultimately served to strengthen the effort for the poor to become advocates for themselves. Through the framework TAC developed and their understanding of the disease, TAC used their model for social mobilization, advocacy, legal action, and education. 

TAC’s First Action

TAC’s first action was to argue for the right to access medical resources – namely antiretrovirals (ARVs). TAC found inherent fault with the World Trade Organization’s 1995 TRIPS agreement, which legally protected intellectual property and patents.

 In 1998, TAC demanded that the South African government introduce the program “Prevent Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission” (PMTCT). The social movement around advocacy for PMTCT was predominantly made up of poor black women living with HIV in South Africa. The issue was framed as a moral issue: that the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the patent holder of AZT, was profiteering off the sale of the drug. TAC demanded a price reduction and in framing it as a moral issue with reference to the South African constitution, the organization succeeded in its demand for legal action.

Key Tool to Success

A key tool for TAC’s success was its use of legal resources and advocacy. Not only did TAC make legal demands of the South African government, but they collaborated with progressive lawyers, scientists, and researchers to develop plans and alternative policy proposals. The organization went beyond simply advocating for the poor. They also based policy on the entitlement of rights to the individual. TAC has taken successful mitigation measures on five occasions; in 2001-02, for a national program for PMTCT; in 2004, for implementation of ARV roll-out; and in 2006-07, for access to ARVs for prisoners in Westville and KwaZulu Natal province, for ongoing litigation to challenge the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies and for denouncing alternative treatment to defend the Medicines Act. These cases were supported by not only the efforts of lawyers but the actions of TAC which involved marches, media campaigns, legal education, and social mobilization.

These actions were not possible only as a result of the advocacy and partnerships formed by the TAC, but also the structures in which the group functioned. Article 27 of the South African constitution, which took effect in 1997, includes the right to access medical services, reproductive health care, and emergency medical treatment. Through these efforts, TAC has helped advocate for an improved response to HIV in South Africa, a process that must continue to further combat the spread of the virus.

Danielle Barnes
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in South Africa
Reports of COVID-19 fill the news and media daily. From increases in cases and closures to decreases in fatality rates and re-openings, the news channels are consumed by COVID-19 headlines. However, one thing not covered much in the media is how African nations are faring during these uncertain times. South Africa is currently leading the African continent in the number of COVID-19 cases, and there is seemingly no end in sight. Here is a look at the specific impact of COVID-19 in South Africa.

Lockdown

COVID-19 in South Africa follows a similar origin path as the rest of the world, where the virus went undetected or misdiagnosed for weeks, maybe months, before its first confirmed positive case appeared. South Africa, like most nations, went into lockdown in late March. The South African government, as of April 27, 2020, planned to gradually loosen restrictions beginning on May 1, 2020.

The level of strictness for lockdowns varies from country to country. South Africa is one of the nations implementing strict restrictions for its lockdown. The country has been on Level 5 restrictions. Level 5 restrictions prohibit citizens from performing the majority of activities, including leisurely ones such as exercise or going to the convenience store. Furthermore, the police may confront anyone who leaves their dwellings.

Numbers

The reported numbers in South Africa are much lower than those reported around the world. This may be the result of strict lockdown enforcement as opposed to some nations with looser lockdown restrictions. As of April 28, 2020, the African country reported 4,996 confirmed coronavirus cases and 93 deaths. South Africa is also experiencing a recovery rate of approximately 25 percent, which is a significant factor in the government’s decision to begin loosening restriction laws.

Despite large numbers of recovering patients, COVID-19 in South Africa has not gone away. The number of cases continues to rise, much like the rest of the world. On March 5, 2020, South Africa diagnosed its first patient with COVID-19. On April 15, 2020, the nation had a total of 2,605 confirmed cases, with 4,996 by the end of April. Although the virus is not going away anytime soon, South Africans are certainly doing their part to reduce the spread of the virus.

Social Distancing

Social distancing is the practice of remaining apart from others to decrease the spread of the virus. South Africa has been on lockdown and enforcing social distancing since late March, about a month after the nation diagnosed its first COVID-19 patient. On May 1, the government loosened the restrictions to Level 4. Level 4 restrictions consist of the ability to travel nationally, but not internationally. A few small local businesses also opened.

Moving Forward

In South Africa and around the world, people are social distancing and quarantining. For COVID-19 to be successfully tackled in South Africa, the nation must continue to prioritize the health of its citizens and financially support those who are struggling with unemployment and poverty. This will hopefully result in a significant drop in the number of cases in the country. Moving forward, South Africa and other nations around the world should use the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for future pandemics and epidemics.

– Cleveland Lewis 
Photo: Flickr

Literacy for Kids in South Africa
Consistently low reading scores among South African children can confirm one thing: the country is undoubtedly facing a reading crisis. In fact, eight out of 10 children in South Africa cannot read properly, and in the Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study in 2016, South Africa ranked last out of 50 countries. While there has not been much improvement in literacy for kids in South Africa in the past, some people are stepping in and banding together to change that by making reading a priority.

The Reading Crisis

South Africa’s reading culture has been weak for many years. Literacy can transform lives, but unfortunately, a lot of students in South Africa are not succeeding in this skill. A scientific study revealed that 27 percent of children under 5 years old are not undergoing proper brain development. It is not uncommon for low-income public schools to overlook the importance of comprehensive reading. Moreover, the study showed that 78 percent of fourth-grade students that it tested could not read for meaning in any language. Many parents do not spend time reading to their children because they are not literate themselves. Another reason why South African children are not succeeding in literacy is that they do not get the opportunity to explore the world of stories due to a lack of quality books and resources. But what if stories could come to them?

 Meet the SSRS

The Schools Reading Road Show, better known as the SSRS, aims to make stories accessible to children. Founders Jann Weeratunga and Kim Hunter have organized a traveling group of authors to improve literacy for kids in South Africa. Interacting with local children’s authors can inspire children to read, and this is precisely the goal of the SSRS. Children’s authors, including Fatuma Abdullah, travel around the country visiting underprivileged schools and meeting with students. The children get to listen to the authors read their books, ask questions and even play with puppets that resemble characters from the books!

The SSRS’s hope is that meeting local authors will inspire children and motivate them to start their own reading journey, and maybe even begin writing their own stories. The members’ favorite part about the entire experience is getting to see the children’s eyes light up as they discover the excitement of reading.

The Future of Literacy for Kids in South Africa

This hands-on experience opens up a whole new realm of learning for the students. When the authors visit well-funded areas, they sell their books to students. They then use that money to purchase books for the under-resourced schools. With volunteer groups like the SSRS swooping in to improve literacy for kids in South Africa, the future is optimistic. An ignited curiosity for reading can both inspire and shape the future for many kids.

– Hadley West
Photo: Flickr

Health Disparities During Apartheid
Apartheid was a system that law in South Africa enforced. It was based on racial classification that imposed a rigid hierarchy. The system classified people into categories of white, Indian, colored and black. These categories determined where people could live, work and go to school, as well as who they could marry and whether or not they could vote. The government displaced many people and decreased funding for social services such as education and health care for nonwhites.

Disparities During Apartheid

Health disparities during Apartheid reflected these racial categories. Non-communicable disease rates increased for whites while poverty-related diseases, such as infectious diseases or diseases that poor sanitation or living conditions caused, increased for blacks. Additionally, blacks faced much higher maternal, infant and child mortality rates which reflects access and quality to health care.

Another significant issue that arose in the health system during Apartheid was the change in the doctor to patient ratio. Estimates in the early 1970s determined that the doctor to population ratio in the Bantustans, the areas the system specifically set aside for blacks to live, was 1 to every 15,000 rather than 1 to every 1,700 in the rest of the country. This highlights the lack of health care coverage and the extent to which black and non-whites suffered systematic discrimination both economically and in terms of health care. From 1980 to 1990, the number of doctors working in the private sector increased from 40 to 60 percent. By the time Apartheid ended in 1994, almost three-quarters of general doctors worked in the private sectors, making it even more difficult for people to afford health care.

Current Health Inequalities

Health disparities during Apartheid significantly impacted the health care situation in South Africa today. There are currently severe health disparities in South Africa stemming from economic inequalities. The wealthiest 10 percent of the country receives 51 percent of the income, while the poorest 10 percent receive .2 percent of the income.

Despite the fact that South Africa groups with middle-income countries in terms of economy, the health issues in South Africa are worse than in many low-income countries. Post-Apartheid, the burden of disease quadrupled due to an increase in diseases of poverty, non-communicable diseases, HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and increased violence and injury. While the country has made significant progress, high tuberculosis and HIV prevalence remain major issues.

Improvements in South Africa

Many consider the 1996 Constitution that South Africa enacted after the end of Apartheid to be very inclusive and democratic even compared to other countries around the world. It reflects the difficult fight against lawful discrimination and segregation and includes a Bill of Rights, acknowledging the universal right to health care services, food, water and social security. This was a significant step towards progress despite the formation of severe health disparities during apartheid.

In addition to the 1996 Constitution, the national state pension system unified and new grants emerged such as child support grants. There have also been major improvements regarding providing basic services such as water and electricity to poor households. There has been significant progress with regard to legislation, but one should not overlook the social and economic factors.

Redistribution requires priority over growth in South Africa in order to address the issues of health inequality. Following Apartheid, President Mandela focused on growth through redistribution as a way of focusing on decreasing economic inequality. After Mandela, President Mbeki’s policies focused more on net economic growth rather than redistribution. In 2007, government revenue exceeded expenditure for the first time since the 1950s. The current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has rallied behind National Health Insurance (NHI) and strongly advocates for universal health. care coverage. He acknowledges that there are enough resources in the country, so health insurance and care should be available to all regardless of ability to pay. This is a very important step for South Africa and suggests that progress will continue with regard to these health disparities.

Maia Cullen
Photo: Flickr

Femicide in South Africa
In September 2019, after days of protests, the South African government declared femicide in South Africa a national crisis. Femicide, simply put, is the intentional murder of a woman. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) elaborates on the definition and adds that the murder of a woman is intentional because she is a woman. It is different from male homicide because in many cases of femicide, the crime is “committed by partners or ex-partners and involves ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.”

The Facts

The Republic of South Africa is at the southern tip of Africa, and Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho borders it. Femicide in South Africa is nothing new, dating back as early as colonialism in the 17th century. Female violence has continued since then, possibly due to the lack of severe consequences for the perpetrators. However, studies for femicide in South Africa did not begin until 1999.

According to South Africa’s Department of Police, someone murders a woman every three hours, which equates to about seven per day. In contrast, someone murders a man every 30 minutes, about 50 per day. Despite the lower murder rates for women, most female homicides are much more violent in nature than the male. Many of the female victims suffer assault, rape and burning before their perpetrators dump them. In comparison to other countries, this rate of femicide is almost five times higher than the world’s average. South Africa ranks fourth in the world for the highest rate of violence against women. Additionally, people reported 39,633 rapes and 6,253 sexual assaults in 2017 alone.

Activism Enabling Change

Femicide has gained a lot of media attention in recent years. Anene Booysen suffered brutal rape and murder in 2013. In 2017, an ex-boyfriend murdered Karabo Mokoena. Protests against femicide in South Africa broke out in September 2019 after the rape and murder of the University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana. The protests requested action from the South African government, including the death penalty for all perpetrators of femicide.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country was in a national crisis of violence against women after three days of protests. He detailed a plan of action to combat femicide and gender-based violence, including making the register of offenders public, reviewing cold cases and providing harsher penalties for perpetrators. President Ramaphosa also promised to implement policies in schools, workplaces and communities that would curb violence against females.

The Cavalry Steps In

Femicide in South Africa is also gaining attention internationally. The stories of Anene Booysen and Karabo Mokoena have made international headlines. Award-winning and South African-born actress Charlize Theron has used her platform to speak out against the violence against women in the country, and she has been doing so since 1999. She urged the leaders of South Africa to do more for women and told men not to be bystanders.

In an era of the internet and movements such as #MeToo, the ongoing femicide in South Africa is impossible to ignore. Thankfully, the South African government has taken the right steps. Not only did the President of South Africa publically acknowledge it as a national crisis but also vows to take action against it. It remains for one to see if the South African government keeps its promises, but it is clear that the women and media of South Africa will hold it accountable until they get the justice they deserve.

Emily Young
Photo: Pixabay

Abandoned Baby Rate in South Africa
The abandoned baby rate in South Africa is often a touchy subject. Rather than speak about it, most people simply tend to donate their money to those children in need while others support the charities that provide for them. In some cases, a select few people will engage in hands-on volunteering, whether it is volunteering their time or their services to assist these abandoned babies in South Africa.

However, how often do people come across a clothing boutique that does all of the above? Fab’rik is an Atlanta-based franchised boutique that has more than 40 locations nationwide. The boutique has an in-store line, Asher, that strives to give back to abandoned babies in South Africa with the proceeds it makes from each garment sold.

Abandoned Baby Rate in South Africa

South Africa has approximately 18.5 million children and 4.5 million of those children do not live with their parents. Over the past decade, approximately 5.2 million children in the country were orphaned, showing a 30 percent increase in orphans. About 3,500 children survive abandonment each year according to a study that the Medical Research Council conducted in 2018. The study found that for every child that was alive, at least two were dead. The same research concluded that 65 percent of abandoned children were newborns and 90 percent were under the age of 1.

The abandoned baby rate in South Africa is increasing at an alarming rate. Even more alarming are the places that people are leaving these babies behind. The research found that others have previously underestimated the rate of abandonment because of where the culprits are dumping babies. They are disposing of babies in toilets, landfills, bins, gutters and other places where the probability of others finding them is unlikely. People seldom find the baby bodies that some flush down drains or animals eat.

Why Are Some Abandoning Babies in South Africa?

The rise of the abandoned baby rate in South Africa is in part due to the legalization of abortions. Though abortions are legal in South Africa, there remain many African communities that chastise women who resort to having late abortions or abortions period. In turn, African women who have unwanted pregnancies must undergo unsafe and illegal abortions. Other reasons some abandon these babies are because of poverty, high levels of HIV and social conditions.

What is the African Government Doing to Help?

The South African government has not done much to reduce the abandoned baby rate in South Africa. Abandonment is, unfortunately, not on the government’s radar and it is a problem that has plagued the country for years with no apparent decline. Due to the lack of government-based research, there is no research that the African government has conducted to date to track abandonment rates, just as there are no measures in place to counter it. The government currently does not consider baby abandonment in South Africa a violent crime, nor does it include it in the country’s crime statistics or list it as a cause of death in South African mortuaries. As a result, there is no sure way to tell the accurate number of babies who die from abandonment each year, making it difficult to depict the impact and length that the abandoned baby rate in South Africa extends.

Fab’rik CEO Has the Vision to do Good in Africa

The CEO and founder of Atlanta-based boutique, Fab’rik, seeks to help decrease the abandoned baby rate in South Africa. In 2002, Dana Spinola left her corporate America job to open up her first boutique. Not only is Mrs. Spinola the CEO and founder of clothing boutique Fab’rik, but she is also a philanthropist. In 2011, Spinola launched the Asher collection, a clothing line in her stores. The clothing line has the name of her daughter who Spinola adopted in 2004 at just 6 months old and is from Ethiopia. The boutique owner found the baby abandoned by the roadside which inspired the clothing line. The proceeds from the Asher collection go towards the adoption process of orphaned children in Africa, and for Spinola, it is an affirmation of her belief that clothing does change lives.

Asher’s Proceeds Create Opportunity for Abandoned Babies in Africa

On average, mothers abandon a total of hundreds of babies each month. They leave these babies in African hospitals, police stations and even outdoors. The prevalence of abandoned babies in Africa has spiked. However, the Asher clothing line has sought out to be of assistance to them. Asher is a collection of women’s clothing that allows its buyers to look good and do good. The Asher collection fights to face the reality of baby abandonment.

With the Asher Babies Program, the clothing line’s proceeds allow space for a safe, loving home, health care, development therapy and educational opportunities to abandoned and orphaned children in Africa. Every store that sells Asher merchandise has the opportunity to pair with an Asher Baby. That store is then able to write, video message and eventually meet its Asher baby. Each garment that the Asher collection sells goes toward a specific baby to fund their specialized needs and to assist in finding them a forever family and a forever home through adoption.

The Asher Babies program continues to provide for the babies through childhood and into their adolescence. There is a dire need for people like Dana Spinola and the Asher collection, whose primary focus is to help decrease the abandoned baby rate in South Africa and to provide forever homes to the babies that others too often discard and forget.

– Na’Keevia Brown
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation In Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa has 52 countries, all of which have large swaths of their population’s using toilets that encourage disease, or worse, relying on open defecation as the only way to dispose of waste. With 1.094 billion people on the continent, there is plenty of room for improvement. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Africa.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Africa

  1. Socioeconomic Status: sub-Saharan Africa’s sanitation issues correlate with an individual’s socioeconomic status. Essentially, the poorest individuals are 18 times more likely to practice open defecation, which amounted to over 220 million people in 2015.
  2. Improved Sanitation in Uganda: In Uganda, 45 percent of the rural population and 27 percent of the urban population need to walk over 1 km to access an improved sanitation facility. Improved sanitation facilities include “flush or pour-flush to a piped sewer system, septic tank, pit latrine; ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine, pit latrine with slab, [or] composting toilet.”
  3. The Millenium Development Goal (MDG) for Sanitation: Western Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and Central Africa were not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal for sanitation in 2008. In fact, out of 52 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, only one allocated 0.5 percent of its GDP to sanitation measures. Budgets have 0.5 percent as the minimum for sanitation. Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals was to ensure environmental sustainability, and that included climate change aspects in conjunction with improved drinking water access and improved sanitation access. When looking at the sustainable development goals, out of the 52 counties, the vast majority are reaching stagnation. Reaching goal 6, which is for clean water and sanitation, will require internal mobilization and increased funding from external sources to meet the 2030 deadline.
  4. Return on Sanitation: When governments allocate funding for improved sanitation options, it tends to be lower than necessary because they do not consider it an economic venture that will have a monetary return. This is especially the case for developing countries because they often want as much money as possible for investments to receive large returns and get the most value from their dollars. The World Health Organization estimates that the return on sanitation spending is 550 percent or in other words, $5.50 for every $1 that a government invests in improved sanitation methods in Africa.
  5. The Loowatt Toilet: Loowatt provides a toilet made of horse dung that is perfect for use in developing countries. It is a waterless system, which is fantastic for drought-stricken countries and regions. Additionally, it turns human waste into energy biofuel at a reliable rate if people use it regularly. The best part is that it has a low cost of 12 Euros as a deposit and a 3 Euro monthly service fee. In the country of Madagascar, it went beyond proof of concept, and the company was maintaining over 100 toilets that serviced over 800 people in 2017. Since then, over 100,000 customers in both the U.K. and Madagascar have used Loowatt toilets.
  6. South Africa: South Africa determined that access to water is a right in 2002 and it set the supply to 25 l/c/d or 6 kiloliters per connection a month. However, South Africa has just recently made the transition from supply to sanitation access. For both rural and urban sanitation, over 50 percent of the annual and per capita investment requirements are unavailable due to a lack of ability to provide the full $1.218 billion the country requires.
  7. Ghana and Open Defecation: No district in Ghana has a 0 percent open defecation status, and three out of 10 rural households practiced open defecation. Over 81 percent of the Ghanaian population lack access to improved sanitation. Organizations are trying to bridge the gap between the people who cannot pay upfront to build the improved sanitation facilities by providing WaterCredit. WaterCredit is essentially a way for the poor to get water and sanitation loans. Currently, Water.org has facilitated $2.4 million through its partners in microloans for water and sanitation purposes in Ghana.
  8. Peepoo: With the creation of the Peepoo, those with communicable toilets can access safe sanitation and prevent others from getting the disease they may be infected with. Peepoo is a biodegradable bag that sanitizes human feces and allows it to become fertilizer in about a month. It attacks the problem of sanitization at the source by giving an alternative to open defecation that does not require a sizable investment to build a toilet. Peepoo sales have mainly occurred in Kenya, where the company continues to do research and build the foundation for easier use. A study that Peepoo conducted with a grant examined 37 schools with about 6,500 students to determine the effectiveness of Peepoo sanitation and deworming, both independently and combined. The results in 2016 included improved attendance and overall improved health due to the reduction in diarrheal diseases in the school children.
  9. Open Defecation in Urban Areas: The number of those practicing open defecation is increasing in urban areas due to the rapid size increase of the overall area, without proper permits for building or a focus on providing latrines and washrooms. Additionally, including cost as a factor, urban slums are sometimes cheap and an affordable option for the poorest individuals. In particular, open defecation in the Kampala Slum is at about 28 percent while estimates determine that 1 percent of Uganda’s urban population openly defecates.
  10. The Leave No One Behind Pledge: The Sustainable Development Goals emerged to replace the Millennium Development Goals, and goal 6 of providing clean water and sanitation aims to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” These goals also focus on helping those furthest behind first through the Leave No One Behind pledge. The pledge itself is a way to ensure that those facing the worst of poverty end up at the forefront of progress by confronting the inequalities as a method of reducing the number of individuals living in extreme poverty. This pledge is an overarching goal for all of the sustainable development goals and encompasses the fact that those worst off should be a primary focus in order to achieve the goal at hand. Even with this pledge, it is likely that about 60 percent of the countries will not reach the target of full implementation by 2030. However, Uganda is a leading example of the potential countries that may achieve goal 6, thanks to its national development plan which includes policy in line with the sustainable development goals but with adaptations to reflect cultural and national contexts.

Sanitation in Africa, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa, is still vastly below the goals, although the continent is making progress. With the continuing improvements and government’s investments into sanitation, African nations could see increased levels of productivity and return on their investments. Northern Africa had met the Millennium Development Goals and continues to increase its standard of sanitation. As the world progresses towards 2030, it can expect to see dramatic sanitation improvements after the completion of thorough research regarding the investments and implementation of sanitation techniques.

– Cassiday Moriarity
Photo: Pixabay

facts about sanitation in South Africa
South Africa, the southernmost country in Africa, is home to over 58 million people and recognizes 11 official languages. People also often refer to it as the “rainbow nation” for its wide diversity in culture. Today, people often link South Africa to its challenges with water supply and sanitation, and conversely, its recent achievements in both categories. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in South Africa.

10 Facts About Sanitation in South Africa

  1. Access to clean water is scarce. Droughts, infrequent rainfall and a shortage of resources are all causes of South Africa’s water crisis. In 2008, 5 million South Africans reported lacking access to safe, drinkable water. While this number has steadily declined over the years, with an improved 88.8 percent of households having access to piped water in 2016, some rural regions must rely on groundwater alone to meet their needs.
  2. Sanitation is slowly improving. While the rate of improving sanitation is still slow, about 82 percent of households recorded having access to either flush toilets or ventilated pits in 2017. This is a 20 percent increase since 2002, meaning lives are improving. Thanks to the volunteer work and successful methods of several NGO projects like AMREF and WaterAid, more and more people are gaining access to clean water and reliable toilets.
  3. Rural areas suffer the greatest lack of water. Dams supply a majority of the water in South Africa’s urban cities; however, rural areas often have to depend on rainfall that is becoming increasingly sporadic. Lack of water facilities has caused 74 percent of rural South Africans to be entirely dependent on groundwater that is often unclean. Additionally, the growing rural population is causing even more strain on the water crisis; 19 percent of people did not have a reliable source of clean water in 2006.
  4. Poor sanitation compromises clean water. Several major rivers stretch through South Africa, but sewage waste often contaminates its waters. Outdated infrastructure, poor management and lack of resources contribute to the contamination, rendering the water undrinkable and a public health risk. Contact with the contaminated water could lead to waterborne illness or death.
  5. Waterborne illnesses are still a threat. With large amounts of water contaminated with effluent, the risk of contracting a waterborne disease remains high. Waterborne illnesses affected 60 percent of the country’s rural regions in 2005. In 2008, high volumes of deadly bacteria, including E. Coli, were in the water supply on the southern coast, most likely caused by human waste contamination. However, through improving infrastructure and allowing better access to safe, drinkable water, organizations like AMREF have decreased the rate of child mortality due to waterborne illnesses.
  6. There is a Free Basic Water Access policy. South Africa is one of the few countries to explicitly state in its constitution that every citizen has an entitlement to a certain amount of free water. The Free Basic Water Access policy that is currently in place highlights this constitutional right, yet the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry does not properly monitor water usage and the country loses well over 20 percent of all available water supply due to damaged or broken pipes.
  7. Shared toilet facilities can be unsafe. Households that use shared toilet facilities often face unsafe conditions. Sixteen percent of households reported having their physical safety threatened in these facilities, and 24 percent complained of poor, unsafe lighting. Poor hygiene, lack of water and lack of maintenance in these shared facilities only attribute to the health risks of communities.
  8. There was a water crisis in Cape Town. The Cape Town Water Crisis was an extreme water shortage from 2017-2018 that caused the South African government to place water restrictions on citizens in an effort to conserve water supply. The term ‘Day Zero’ shocked the world when Cape Town officials declared that the city of 4 million people would be completely out of water in just three short months. Fortunately, through the allocation of water, tariffs and stricter enforcement, the South African city was able to pull itself out of the crisis and change its ways to avoid another ‘Day Zero’ in the future.
  9. Poor facilities are compromising girls’ education. Many South African girls and women find themselves unable to manage their menstruation in a safe, private place. Often times, school-aged girls miss out on their education because of the lack of clean, private restrooms at school. Out of 130 schools, 82 percent of students said the school facilities were not sufficiently private. This means that girls are missing school because of the humiliating conditions. In an effort to combat this dilemma, organizations like WaterAid are installing decent, private toilets in schools so girls can better manage their periods.
  10. NGO projects, like WaterAid, are helping. There are many nonprofits that are striving to improve the country’s situation. WaterAid, founded in 1981, is working to help solve South Africa’s sanitation issue. WaterAid teams with other projects to implement clean water, flush toilets and increased hygiene across the country. In 2016, WaterAid was able to provide 24.9 million people access to clean water, 24 million with safe toilets and 16.7 million with increased sanitation.

While these 10 facts about sanitation in South Africa show that the country still has several measures to make in terms of upholding human dignity, cleanliness and safety, its government and several organizations are taking action. With the help of these projects, improvements are happening every day as the country continues to take steps towards a cleaner, safer future.

– Hadley West
Photo: Flickr

Nelson Mandela Quotes on Fear
Facing fears and overcoming them to become a better version of oneself in order to generate meaningful change is a concept that Nelson Mandela’s journey best exemplifies. During the Apartheid that plagued the nation of South Africa for 50 years, Mandela fought against discrimination and poverty that wreaked havoc in the country. This show of resistance landed him in a place of imprisonment for 27 years. After Nelson Mandela lived behind bars for a large portion of his life, one may have expected him to stop his efforts in ending Apartheid in fear of going to prison again, however, he persevered and conquered his fear and continued to fight against the injustice he witnessed. Nelson Mandela’s quotes on fear ignite a passion in people to persist against resistance.

Nelson Mandela’s Quotes on Fear

  1. “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
  2. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
  3. “Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it.”
  4. “Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”
  5. “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
  6. “We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.”
  7. “There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.
  8. “Those who conduct themselves with morality, integrity and consistency need not fear the forces of inhumanity and cruelty.”
  9. “Men have different capacities and react differently to stress. But the stronger ones raised up the weaker ones, and both became stronger in the process.”

Nelson Mandela’s quotes on fear offer inspiration to overcome any internal obstacles an individual may face. In all of these quotes, Nelson Mandela promotes the idea of overcoming harrowing experiences or ideas in order to reclaim control to stand up against wrongdoings in society. Facing traumatic experiences that may fuel a dreary and dismal feeling can bring groups such as those discriminated against during Apartheid down in submission. However, these quotes remind those suffering marginalization to continue on their path despite forces like fear striving to end progress. Mandela’s words of wisdom highlight how fear is only a minor setback, and that anyone can stand against it to incite action against difficulties once they have conquered it.

 – Gowri Abhinanda
Photo: Flickr

 

In South Africa, there are many non-government organizations (NGOs) helping those who need assistance the most. These groups formed the Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) in 1987. Since then, the network has developed into a civil society organization that is historically linked to the social and political changes experienced in South Africa due to democracy. Despite being part of a network, the NGOs in South Africa also work independently. Here’s a list of 10 NGOs in South Africa working to make a difference.

10 NGOs in South Africa Working to Make a Difference

  1. AIDS Foundation of South Africa: The AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA) was founded in 1988 and was the first registered anti-AIDS NGO in South Africa. The organization supports regional, local and national efforts to reduce HIV, STIs and TB infections. AFSA aims to address the structural and social drivers of HIV, raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and build resilience in communities. The organization understands that the HIV epidemic in South Africa is rooted in environmental, cultural, socio-economic and political conditions. Knowing that different groups with HIV are affected differently, the organization utilizes different strategies to address the social and structural drivers of HIV and AIDS by integrating interventions into a larger sexual and reproductive health framework. Through its programs and strategies, AFSA has helped people suffering from HIV and AIDS all throughout South Africa.
  2. CHOSA South Africa: Second on the list of NGOs in South Africa, CHOSA believes that every South African child should grow up in a healthy, safe and nurturing environment. To achieve this, the organization empowers people to address child poverty and confront that which sustains a community’s impoverishment, oppression and sense of powerlessness. CHOSA gives monthly grants to its partners providing a children’s home, two preschools, a girl’s empowerment program and a scholarship fund with clothing, food, medicine, electricity and water for the children and families in their care. The funds also assist South African communities by providing safe and nurturing homes for their children.
  3. World Vision South Africa: World Vision is an international organization with a branch in South Africa. World Vision South Africa aims to create a future in which no child is without protection, health, education and or employment (once they are of age). By identifying fragile and impoverished communities, they assess and create a program specific to that region, then implement that program to benefit the children and the community. World Vision’s South African branch has impacted roughly 320,000 lives with its programs in South Africa.
  4. The South African Red Cross Society: The South African Red Cross Society is the South African branch of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). The objectives of the South African branch include spreading knowledge of first aid, home nursing and hygiene and carrying out relief work for the sick and wounded. As a partner of the IFRC, their principles in South Africa are to encourage and promote health improvement, the mitigation of suffering and prevention of disease. The organization also responds to crises in each province and provide relief to South Africans in need.
  5. Save the Children South Africa: Among the NGOs in South Africa that focus on helping children, Save the Children believes that all children deserve a future and a voice. Operating from South Africa and other countries around the world, the organization works to give children the opportunity to learn and thrive in the safest environment possible. Through its various programs, Save the Children has lived up to its name and produced long-lasting results for millions of at-risk children worldwide.
  6. MIET Africa: Yet another NGO supporting children, MIET Africa is an African education organization that strives to improve the lives of children and the youth by providing them with a quality education. With its focus on vulnerable and impoverished school communities, MIET Africa implements comprehensive tactics to address the educational needs of South African children, as well as any other needs that may tie into their initial lack of education.
  7. The Viva Foundation of South Africa: This NGO strives to be instrumental in transforming high-priority poverty areas, such as informal settlements, into stable, economically sustainable communities that provide civilians with education, employment, business and recreation opportunities. The Foundation provides services to these areas and addresses the community’s needs by creating a hub for its services.
  8. READ Educational Trust: The READ Educational Trust targets illiteracy in South Africa. READ is aware that illiteracy stunts individual progress and South Africa’s overall growth. They work to improve education and literacy by providing educator training and resources to schools in hopes of strengthening the education system. The organization also provides community and life-skills training to students entering the workforce and business training to adults.
  9. Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa: The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) implements effective environment, tourism, education and youth development programs throughout South Africa. WESSA also provides a variety of local initiatives for the environment. The organization helps improve the South African school curriculum through education for viable development and critical skills training and by creating job opportunities and sustainable livelihoods in the local communities. WESSA’s environmental restoration programs bring nature to South African classrooms.
  10. Human Rights Institute of South Africa: The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) strives for a society in which human rights are protected and fulfilled for every person. The organization focuses on women and children, impoverished and rural communities and other informal settlements by providing human rights education to those who have been denied it. While teaching those rights, HURISA also fights for those in need by providing the victimized of South Africa with a voice.

These 10 NGOs in South Africa working to make a difference have changed the lives of many South Africans. Their continuous efforts give the poor of South Africa a chance at a brighter future.

Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr