South Africa is struggling to provide services to the millions of poor people migrating to the major centres and living in informal settlements (shanty towns). Whilst the local authorities are generally able to provide potable water from the municipal network to communal taps scattered around the settlements, there is usually inadequate provision of sanitation and little or no provision for the drainage of either stormwater or greywater. This paper describes an investigation into ways of engaging with community structures in the settlements with a view to encouraging “self-help” solutions to greywater management requiring minimal capital investment as an interim “crisis” solution until such time that local and national government is able to provide formal services to everyone. The work was carried out in three settlements encompassing a range of different conditions. Only two are described here. It has become clear that the management of greywater has a low priority amongst the residents of informal settlements. The lack of effective political structures and the breakdown in communication with Ward Councillors and local government officials have contributed to the lack of progress. As the project progressed it became evident that greywater cannot be considered separately from stormwater, sanitation and refuse removal.

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