29 areas in SA identified for de-densification to combat coronavirus

Twenty-nine areas have been identified for de-densification in an effort to combat the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Outlining her department’s interventions to curb the spread of Covid-19 at a media briefing in Tshwane on Tuesday, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, warned that if the virus reaches densely populated areas, it will find fertile ground to spread.

“We will need to urgently move some of our people for the de-densification to be realised. Land parcels to relocate and decant dense communities have been secured. This will not be far from the current place of residence.

“We appeal to our people to recognise that the threat posed by Coronavirus in our informal settlements is real. It is, therefore, in their best interest to avoid this risk by cooperating with government as we relocate them to healthier and safer homes.

“Let us help each other to save the nation,” Sisulu said.

The densely populated areas are mainly found in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

Sisulu also announced that the department has received commitments from Business Unity South Africa (BUSA).

BUSA has engaged with the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) to put in place public hand washing facilities at the top 10 taxi ranks.

Water services infrastructure

The department’s interventions will focus on water services infrastructure, with the intention of improving water supply, access to sanitation and sanitising public spaces.

High risk areas which require immediate interventions are:

  • Public areas with limited or no access to water and sanitation services.
  • Overcrowded settlements (inclusive of hostels and inner-city areas).
  • Informal settlements.
  • Rural settlements and water scarce towns.

So far, the Minister said the department has identified just over 2 000 communities across the country that will need urgent attention.

Interventions with regards to water and sanitation will cover the following:

  • Ensure water supply to communities not yet served by a formal water service. This will include providing communal water storage with water collection points, which will be filled by means of water carting in the interim.
  • Providing hand washing facilities in public places such as taxi ranks and community halls, amongst others. However, with the announcement of the lockdown, this will be reviewed.
  • Rolling out a health and hygiene campaign, which goes hand-in-hand with the provision of sanitation.
  • Interim containerised sanitation systems will be provided in the targeted highly dense areas, as identified by Human Settlements, which will be implemented by the metros with Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) funding.

Over 1 000 water tanks procured

Sisulu said 47 water tankers have already been procured in the Eastern Cape and will service priority communities, which have been identified to experience water shortages.

In addition, over 1 000 water tanks have also been procured and are currently being delivered to affected communities.

“We have put measures in place to implement our interventions. We have set up an Operation Centre at Rand Water, where we monitor the distribution of the services mentioned.

“We also have provincial command centres and have mobilised the regional offices of the Water and Sanitation Department, municipalities and Regional Water Boards to act as distribution centres,” Sisulu said.

Read: Why we need clear guidelines ahead of Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa: DA

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29 areas in SA identified for de-densification to combat coronavirus