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Journal for Development and Leadership

Special Editions, Student Edition 1


The crisis of development in Southern Africa – sanitation options and natural resources
Wienecke, M.A.

The provision of water and sanitation has been a regular feature in headlines in Southern Africa. Governments in the SADC region have spent enormous amounts of money on waterborne systems. This one-sided approach has to be questioned as there are numerous alternatives available. Alternative technologies and approaches include Urine Diversion Systems, dry sanitation, and biogas. The questions include: why are these alternatives not widely used or does the problem lie with either the alternatives or the decision-makers? However, it seems that few decision-makers and potential beneficiaries know or understand these viable alternatives.

This paper provides an overview of selected sanitation options, both dry and wet systems. Based on research in Southern Africa, the advantages and disadvantages of options will be highlighted, together with their impact on the environment. Government approaches will be examined, regarding the use of resources such as water and sanitation services. Factors, such as demand and supply, affordability, essential requirements for the operations and maintenance of the conventional and alternative sanitation systems, and the role of natural resources, will be considered. Out-of-the-box thinking is essential, including a critical assessment of available possibilities. Water should not be the only natural resource to be considered, as sanitation is the source of natural resources too.

Keywords: Ecological sanitation; appropriate technology; faecophobia; Southern Africa; resources; water.