In late 2017, Habitat SA in partnership with People’s Environmental Planning (PEP) embarked on a journey to implement household-level Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) solutions for all 49 households of the community of Ruo Emoh (Our Home) in Mitchells Plain in the City of Cape Town.
The objective of this project is to showcase how low-cost housing can be designed to include more environmentally sustainable interventions than are currently being considered for subsidised housing solutions in South Africa. The project has proved to help families in the Ruo Emoh community to gain access to more economically sustainable health and sanitation facilities and an enhanced awareness of sustainable water consumption. A range of practical household-based water management solutions were retrofitted in each of the households. The households are now equipped with grey water recycling systems and water saving shower/bath heads while the whole development also benefits from the installation of a well-point, pedestal – and storage tank which is used to reticulate all of the houses with groundwater.
The interventions of this project pose a unique opportunity to investigate the appropriateness and the viability of developing a more environmentally sustainable low-income housing model. Such an option is currently not available for subsidised housing programmes in South Africa. The Ruo Emoh development is envisaged as a sustainable development model that will incorporate higher density, energy efficiency house designs, grey water systems, water harvesting, waste management and recycling. This project is expected to serve as a pilot project which can be scaled up as a model for WaSH solutions for low-income families across South Africa. The project will also contribute to reducing health risks, facilitate the development of economic stability in the community and enhance its capacity to effectively respond to WaSH related challenges and build resilience in these drought affected areas.
Beyond the build, Habitat SA has facilitated three community workshops with the families; providing knowledge and basic skills through 1) Homeowner Rights & Responsibilities sharing, 2) Do It Yourself (DIY) and 3) Water-wise Education.
In addition, Habitat SA has provided the community’s children with a sandpit and a jungle gym, as well as an incredible greening initiative that has seen the planting of drought-resistant vegetables in a central community garden. This gardening project has sparked the imaginations of the community members and we have noticed that small container gardens are starting to sprout outside the doors of their homes.
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