Durban - The eThekwini municipality on Tuesday received a R200m grant from the Dutch government to help the council provide clean water to poor residents.
“A grant from the Dutch government will play a substantial role in helping the eThekwini municipality provide 800 000 people living in informal settlements with safe drinking water and sanitation, while also helping conserve South Africa's precious water resources,” the municipality said.
It would be implemented over three years and is expected to create over 400 jobs.
The municipality was among nine projects chosen from over 80 international applicants to receive the grant from the Facility for Infrastructure Development, which is funded by the Dutch ministry for development co-operation.
The facility contributes to the development, implementation, operation and maintenance of essential public infrastructure in developing countries, the municipality said.
Head of eThekwini's water and sanitation (EWS) unit Neil Macleod said the grant did not cover the entire cost of the project, and would require part funding from the municipality's budget.
"The key positive impact will be improved health for those who will benefit from proper sanitation and safe drinking-water.” Macleod said the project would also result in "substantial reductions" in lost water.
"With the democratisation of South Africa, the operational area of eThekwini municipality had increased tenfold, providing massive engineering challenges when it came to delivering safe water and sanitation to historically poorly-serviced rural areas,” Macleod said.
The problem was compounded by the poor being unable to pay for services.
The project would involve replacing asbestos-cement pipes, installing ablution blocks in informal settlements and monitoring, management and reduction of waste.
“R100m will be allocated to the EWS non-revenue water branch to help reduce water losses by finding and repairing leaks and optimising water pressures.”
R100m would be spent on replacing old pipes, and R400m on the flagship sanitation project. The latter aims to provide safe water and sanitation to approximately 800 000 people in about 318 informal settlements, predominantly through the construction of 2000 new ablution blocks.