The Struggle to Acquire Drinkable Water in the Settlement Of Butterworth 

Thina worked very hard to keep her footing on the steep embankment as she filled the 20-liter bucket she was carrying with water that was pouring out of a broken pipe close to the informal settlement in which she lives. She was afraid that she would lose her balance and fall into the deep ditch. 

Collecting water, according to the 16-year-old girl, who shares a house with her mother, grandmother, and two siblings is “an extreme sport.” A sewage treatment facility is only a few meters away from where she and the other inhabitants of Santini in Butterworth (also known as eGcuwa) in the Eastern Cape get their drinking water. 

The locals took the matter into their own hands in 2011, and each family helped contribute what they were able to link to the primary infrastructure services and gain access to clean water. In contrast, the connection was severed by the Mnquma local municipality exactly one year later. 

“Regrettably, every one of us here gets sick consistently from the water. In Santini, we frequently experience bouts of severe diarrhea due to the local water supply. “By this point, we have grown accustomed to it,” explained Nosakhele Majiki, a pioneer in the street committee for Santini. 

She stated that “when we visit the clinic, the healthcare practitioners there inform us what we already know – it is the water pollution that is making all of us sick.” For the past decade, we have been making efforts toward establishing a connection to our water supply. However, we are currently without access to running water because the pipe that was previously used to connect us to the source of the water system has been severed. 

“We got exhausted from walking more than 5 kilometers with massive canisters to fill water for our family in addition to our drinking needs,” Majiki added. 

Her face shows the scars left by the excruciating memory of those days when she had to walk long distances while carrying heavy buckets. Majiki explained that this was the reason why the people living in Santini had decided to link to the municipal source. 

“After that, the local government decided to turn off our water supply, but they did not give us any explanation for their decision.” “After that, we were forced to go back to getting our water from a location called Judges,” she said while explaining the situation. 

“At that time, the main water pipe close to the bridge, which was also linked to the central sewer line, burst, causing an endless supply of water to spill out into the street. Since we moved here, this is the place we get our water. 

She stated that residents of Santini had attempted to reinstall water pipes after the municipal government had severed the connection, but they were unsuccessful in their efforts. 

“We restarted our efforts to collect R5 from each residence to fund the purchase of new faucets and water pipes. Regrettably, we do not have anyone available in Santini who can assist us in connecting the pipelines and taps for us. 

“We will need to wait until the funds increase quite a bit before we can find someone from outside to do the links for us,” she said, adding that the community members had been able to raise more than R500 in contributions toward the cause. 

The inhabitants, who relocated to Santini from various sections of the Eastern Cape beginning around 2004, were exposed to a health risk that could’ve been prevented. According to a report published by the M&G in July of the previous year, the national human settlements office had wasted R270 million that was intended to enhance the lives of 39 220 families who were residing in decrepit corrugated iron housing and to formalize unofficial areas within the province. 

The Amathole divisional municipality, which includes the Mnquma municipality and Butterworth, was also supposed to gain from the funds; a total of R78.1 million had been allotted to formalize communities like Santini. However, the funds were not distributed as planned. After Tabisa Poswa, the chief of the Eastern Cape human settlements division shortlisted poorly functioning municipalities as “integrating agents” for the project, the national department took the funds back and stopped the project, which resulted in the funds being forfeited. 

Poswa stated to the M&G that there was nothing improper with her aim to use municipalities to enforce the housing formalization program, contrary to the business plan which called for the use of the provincial government to do so. 

“It is crucial to point out that there is absolutely nothing suspicious about using municipalities as integrating agents. She contended that there was a widespread consensus at the government’s highest levels that this would be the appropriate methodology to help facilitate service delivery. Conversations in this regard have been ongoing within the provincial government since the second part of 2020. 

Majiki claimed that the individuals of Santini were unaware that they were going to be the subject of future development. She said, “The municipal government is conscious of our sufferings, but I don’t believe they are concerned about it since they haven’t yet completed anything after removing our make-shift pipelines.” 

Majiki warned of the dangers that could befall women and children if they tried to use water from a ruptured piping system to fill containers or do their washing. The pipe in question is located along a bridge that is situated above an abandoned railroad line that divides the residential neighborhood from the main part of town. 

Majik voiced her grave concern by saying, “That location is very dangerous because the bridge is wet and there have been cases of individuals falling off the bridge.” Her tone conveyed her level of concern very clearly. 

A great number of people have suffered broken limbs as a result of slips and falls that have occurred on the bridge. The previous year, we were called upon to retrieve the body of a young girl. The girl had lost her footing and tumbled into the ditch, which ultimately led to her death. 

“We really would appreciate it if the municipal government could implement and link at least 2 communitarian taps in our settlement so that we can get clean water without having to put ourselves in danger by standing close to the embankment. This would allow us to get water for everyone in our community.” 

“It is imperative that you comprehend the fact that not only is the water main damaged here, but also the sewage system. As a result, sewage water and municipal water are mixed. All of this is extremely distressing for the both of us,” she went on to say. 

Since it has been such a long time since we’ve had to deal with our critical water crisis, we have completely given up hope that the local government will help us in any way. Because of this, before having access to clean water confiscated, we made an effort to pool what little money we made into a pool in the hopes of purchasing it.

Thina worked very hard to keep her footing on the steep embankment as she filled the 20-liter bucket she was carrying with water that was pouring out of a broken pipe close to the informal settlement in which she lives. She was afraid that she would lose her balance and fall into the deep ditch. …