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Community Plumbing Challenge 2016 Hosts Win Australian Government Boost

Sticky Situations, one of the hosts of the Community Plumbing Challenge 2016 in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, South Africa, has been awarded a grant of approximately ZAR 500,000 to develop the next phase of the Water, Amenities and Sanitation Services Upgrade Program (WASSUP) Diepsloot. Sticky Situations has facilitated the inception, training, and growth of this community-led co-operative in Diepsloot since Global Studio initiated the program, in collaboration with local government officials, in Johannesburg in 2007.

The Direct Aid Programme (DAP) of the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in South Africa approved the grant. The DAP supports nonprofit organizations working in local communities on activities that support sustainable and equitable development, including education and skills, human rights, disability inclusiveness, and women’s social and economic empowerment.

The application outlined ambitious plans for a new workshop and training facility on the site of the Diepsloot Housing Authority office in the sprawling neighborhood of Extension 1, combined with renovation of an adjacent public toilet and washroom, and repairs and maintenance for 25 of the 643 communal toilet facilities in the surrounding area. These projects will be supported by the ongoing development of formally accredited, on-the-job training opportunities for local apprentice plumbers and other tradespeople, which will increase the WASSUP team’s capacity and encourage further collaboration with municipal authorities and industry partners that can be replicated in other, similar locations.

The ongoing program targets aspects of the recently ratified UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular the need to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (Goal #6), ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all (Goal #3) and building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation (Goal #9). The Global Studio program – which was convened by Dr. Anna Rubbo, then at University of Sydney, and initiated the Diepsloot Sanitation project – grew out of the Millennium Development Goals, which preceded the SDGs.

Australian High Commission representatives Stacy Walker (First Secretary) and Sarah Dippenaar (Senior Research and Program Officer) were welcomed to Diepsloot during the Community Plumbing Challenge event in July 2016, and presented with a tour of upgrade sites across the township. Following this, the Australian CPC team was invited to meet with the Australian High Commissioner to South Africa, Adam McCarthy, in Pretoria.

Sticky Situations facilitator Jennifer van den Bussche, an Australian who has lived in South Africa for the past decade, is responsible for this latest, successful funding application on behalf of WASSUP.

“Adequate communal sanitation is a constant challenge for our Johannesburg communities and local government; therefore, we continually work together to find solutions,” she said. “A great deal of time, energy and effort goes into applying for funding support across public and private sectors, as well as to international bodies, for our ongoing endeavours. In this case, I am extremely proud that my home country will now be contributing to this ongoing, holistic program that looks to improve sanitation conditions as well as work toward professional training for future careers.”

Seán Kearney, an International Project Manager for IAPMO, which helped write the grant, said plans are under way for a CPC2016 follow-up project designed to dovetail with the opening of the new WASSUP base and roll-out of the DAP-supported sanitation works and plumbing training in Diepsloot. More information will be communicated in the coming months, and the organizations concerned welcome all additional ideas, feedback and plumbing industry input as they continue to move forward with the program.

“We are delighted to see our CPC2016 hosts being awarded this grant as a direct result of our recent event,” he said. “From a CPC organizational perspective, Australian government support for the next phase of the Diepsloot sanitation program indicates the growing impact of our international collaborations. Ongoing support like this means more, long-term opportunities for all involved, and is a legacy we will continue to aim for with our future CPC events.”

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