W.A.S.H. Bus

WASH Bus project in Cape Town is planned for 2021.

Dignity through WASH services

According to the Western Cape Government’s Department of Social Development (DSD) (2019), there were 4,862 homeless people in the greater Cape Town area and an estimated 700 living in the central business district (CBD). Officials from the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) acknowledge the economic hardship resulting from COVID-19 has very likely increased homelessness and that people living on the streets are at significant risk from the virus because of limited access to water and sanitation.

Unsheltered homeless people in Cape Town do not currently have access to adequate WASH facilities. The DSD acknowledges the problem, but its financial support is limited to shelters housing homeless people. The amount and targeting of the DSD’s support are neither proportional to the number nor the needs of the unsheltered homeless. There were always many homeless who could not be accommodated in overcrowded shelters or preferred to live on the streets. Official policy and practice seem to discourage direct services or support to people on the streets and provide services only at homeless shelters. This policy is designed to keep the homeless off the streets and have specific locations where services and support can be integrated.

 The project aims to work with the duty-bearers (the city council) and the homeless to understand the context and barriers to services delivered where they are needed, i.e., to the many people who choose the streets over a shelter. Planning and responding to COVID-19 transmission among people experiencing homelessness requires a “whole community” approach, which involves partners in the response plan development with clearly outlined roles and responsibilities.

 The project aims to determine remedial measures to support the unsheltered homeless and ensure they have access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services.

The project is inspired by GoBanyo, a Hamburg based initiative driven by a non-profit company. The GoBanyo team are in full support of the development of a similar project in Cape Town. They are willing to share their expertise and knowledge for the duration of the project under their mission, “Access to Water”.

We are currently finalising our partnership arrangements and will start the project in June 2021.


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