Waste, leaks projects create jobs

Rejoice Mabudafhasi, the deputy minister of Water and Environment, officially launched the War on Waste and Leaks project at the function held in Emerald Casino, urging residents to actively participate in fighting leaks.

Mabudafhasi introduced a No Drop Concept where no leaks are expected from Municipalities. It was established in the summit that Emfuleni has a water loss reduction of 6.6%, and through different projects such as Boloka Metsi, which includes Emfuleni, GIZ and Rand Water jobs were created and communities trained on how to reduce water loss.


The need to offer assistance to Emfuleni was jointly identified by GIZ and Sasol who agreed to approach the municipality on the matter.   After a series of discussions and negotiations, Emfuleni, Sasol and GIZ entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly implement a WCWDM project.   Under this MoU, initial seed funding of R5 million was made available through the SADC Transboundary Water Management Programme (managed by GIZ) and Sasol also made R5 million available.   The municipality in turn agreed to ring fence the savings created by the reduction in water use to be re-invested to augment the partnership seed funding and to continue with the water conservation interventions.   The MOU established the following project structures:

  • Project Steering Committee - A committee consisting of senior representatives from the Municipality, Sasol and GIZ charged with the responsibility of providing strategic direction regarding the project, high level decision making and for project fund allocation and prioritization.
  • Community Stakeholder Committee - A committee consisting of community representatives, the Municipality, Sasol and GIZ with the main aim of managing engagement with the community and to achieve their co-operation and buy-in during the execution of this project.
  • Project Management Committee - A committee consisting of representatives from the Municipality, Sasol and GIZ together with the appointed Managing Consultant with the main aim to oversee and manage the execution of the Project.

The underlying principle of the project co-operation was that the seed funding would be used to initiate the project and create financial savings for Emfuleni.   These savings would then be utilized to continue and grow the project thus providing Emfuleni with a self-funding process that would allow them to further address water loss problems.   The funding from GIZ and the SADC Transboundary Water Project will contribute to reducing the demand on the Orange-Senqu river basin and the funding from Sasol will contribute to the improvements in their level of water security.

Awareness and Education Component

The Managing Consultant, with guidance and assistance from local Ward Councillors identified, appointed and trained one Water Conservation Warrior from each of the 15 wards.  The Warriors were given uniforms and identification cards and in Phase 1 visited some 67,000 households managing to speak to residents in 31,358 of them while delivering leaflets at the other houses.  Through their surveys it transpired that over 40% of households accessed had some form of water loss issue.

The Warriors also conducted regular awareness workshops and discussions at various clinics, shopping centres, pre-schools and community based organisations.  They also participated in the various municipal functions throughout the year, including Water Week, Youth Day, etc., where water conservation and demand management principles were talked about and promoted. Caretakers at schools were given basic leak repair training by accredited plumbing trainers to assist with speedier leak repairs at these schools.

Household Leak Repair

The Managing Consultant, using a competitive tendering process, procured the services of three locally based plumbing contractors to undertake the household leakage repair work.   Based on the tenders, the rates of the three selected contractors were balanced out so that each of them was working at the same rate. The contractors were also required to appoint two suitable persons per ward and to train them as plumbers' assistants.   In addition to on-the-job training these assistants also received a one week accredited plumbing course through the project.

The work of the plumbers was to visit each property and to identify and fix basic leaks in the water supply system.   Typically this involved a simple replacement of washers for a tap or toilet cistern but could also involve a replacement tap (plastic to reduce the chance of further loss) or the cistern fittings.   During this process the plumbers would also identify and, where possible, fix leaking service pipes or meters.

The cost of the plumbing teams averaged out to around R150 for each house where a repair was carried out.   As a typical household with a leak or wasteful use could consume up to 200 m3 of water (cost equivalent - R1,000) in one  month, this was a cost effective intervention.

During Phase 1 the following work was undertaken:

  • The plumbing teams visited approximately 61,000 households where they replaced some 34,000 tap washers, 28,000 toilet inlet washers and 28,000 toilet outlet washers;
  • 37 schools have been visited and repairs made to their internal plumbing systems;

“Our aim is to sensitise our people to take courage on reporting leaks so that we can save lot of water and money. We want to preserve the environment and create job opportunities in the process,” said Mabudafhasi.

She said through the War on Leaks project, the municipality and government aims to fix water leaks in households, government institutions educate and raise awareness about water conservation and advance creating skills development for young people.

“We have formed a team whom we call Water Warriors. These warriors are everywhere- in township, rural areas and cities educating people on saving water,” said the executive mayor, Greta Hlongwane.

Emfuleni Local Municipality executive mayor Greta Hlongwane said the municipality was committed to creating a clean environment for its people.

By Florence Mafoko

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