Water and Sanitation

DWF founding philosophy is centred on developing sustainable solutions to pressing problems

The rural parts of the Eastern Cape, and the Mbashe area specifically, have been historically and systemically marginalised in terms of investment in roads, hospitals, clinics and schools, but also, critically, in service delivery such as water and sanitation. While communities have access to communal standpipes, access to water is still a daily struggle in many areas.

Not only does lack of adequate services have a negative impact on overall quality of life, it also poses a major health challenge. The Donald Woods Foundation is committed to working with our strategic partners, including local and provincial government, as well as our international partners and funders, to address pressing needs such as water and sanitation.

‘Water supply, sanitation and health are closely related. Poor hygiene, inadequate quantities and quality of drinking water, and lack of sanitation facilities cause millions of the world’s poorest people to die from preventable diseases each year. Women and children are the main victims.’ – World Health Organisation

‘We shall not finally defeat Aids, TB, malaria or any other infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water and sanitation.’ – Kofi Annan, former United Nations General Secretary

While the Donald Woods Foundation focuses mainly on health and education improvement programmes, our founding philosophy centres on developing holistic and sustainable solutions to marginalised communities’ most pressing problems. In Mbashe, our main area of operation, improving access to adequate water and sanitation is a pressing need for the vast majority of rural homesteads.

In terms of access to potable water in Mbashe, 34,822 households had no access to piped water at all, according to the 2011 Census. Only 2,199 households enjoyed formal refuse removal. In terms of sanitation in the whole of Mbashe, only 4,619 households had flush or chemical toilets; 20,420 made use of pit latrines; and 27,288 households had no toilets at all.

The Foundation has to date assisted with buying the materials, the construction and installation of water tanks at schools and clinics in our area of operation. Currently the Foundation is installing two 10,000 litre tanks at two new clinics at Coffee Bay. Our desired outcome is the provision of over 1,000,000 litres of water tank bases and tanks to supply clean running water for clinics, schools and training to enable treatment, care and learning in a productive and positive environment.

1 in 10

Some 1.4 million South African households (more than one in 10) do not have, and have never had, any sanitation services.

1 in 4

At least a quarter of households in formal areas do not have adequate sanitation “due to the deterioration of infrastructure caused by lack of technical ability to ensure effective operation, maintenance and refurbishment”.


Water provision in 23 municipalities (9 percent of total) was in crisis “with an acute risk of disease,” while a further 38 percent were at high risk of deteriorating into crisis.