City wide inclusive sanitation: the Durban experience

by Teddy Gounden, eThekwini Water & Sanitation, Nick Alcock, Khanyisa Projects

Download story


eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) is a municipal department providing water and sanitation services to the 3.7 million citizens of eThekwini Municipality in South Africa. EWS’s vision is to ensure integrated use of resources through sustainable water and sanitation management, and by provision of services in a manner that is equitable; environmentally, socially and financially sustainable; and technically excellent. As a consequence of its committed work, EWS was awarded the 2014 Stockholm World Water Week Industry Water Award for its transformative and inclusive approach to providing water and sanitation services and being at the forefront of exploring both technical and social solutions. EWS was also the first water and sanitation provider in South Africa to implement the national policy on free basic services in water and sanitation. The eThekwini Municipal Area (EMA) is located on the eastern seaboard of South Africa within the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and covers an area of 2297 square kilometres. While the total area of the EMA is only 1.4% of the total area of the province, it contains just over a third of the population of KwaZulu-Natal and 60% of its economic activity. The EMA was formed in December 2001. The boundary of the EMA increased the area of coverage of the previous Durban Metropolitan Area by 68% whilst increasing the population by only 9%; however, these stats have changed quite significantly due to migration. Some 35% of the EMA is predominantly urban in character, with over 80% of the population living in these areas. The remainder is rural in nature.

Geographic information


South Africa

City and population:



  • Large formal townships serviced by waterborne sewers with little to no maintenance, resulting in blockages and sewer overflows.
  • Large sparsely populated rural areas and growing densely populated informal settlements with no formal services and exacerbated by high unemployment.


  • Establishing a funding mechanism to address the entire value chain including reuse where possible.
  • Application of different technological solutions to different areas based on cost, density and the degree of formality within the development.
  • Provision of safe management along the whole sanitation value chain (containment, emptying, transfer and disposal or reuse/recycling) with a change in focus from rollout of containment infrastructure to service provision (operation and maintenance).
  • Comprehensive community engagement, education and putting communities at the forefront of identifying solutions and driving change.
  • Policy to ensure that 50% of the employees on projects are females in line with the city’s gender mainstreaming guidelines.
  • Application of a ‘learn by doing’ approach, followed by redesign based on research and user and stakeholder feedback.
  • Creation of key partnerships with the private sector, target communities, local small businesses, research and developmental organizations (including academia) and funders.

Download the Story to Learn More!

City wide inclusive sanitation: the Durban experience