The percentage of households in South Africa without access to an improved source of sanitation has decreased consistently over the past decade. The latest General Household Survey (GHS) found that the percentage of households with access to improved sanitation, that is flush toilets or pit toilets with ventilation pipes, has increased consistently from 62,3% in 2002 to 79,5% in 2014. The percentage of households without access to any sanitation facilities, or who were still using a bucket, at the same time declined from 12,3% in 2002 to 4,9% in 2014. The study found that households that shared sanitation facilities considered poor lighting (25,9%) and poor hygiene (23,7%) as the main problems followed by physical safety (19,5%).
The GHS has been conducted on an annual basis since 2002, and it measures changes in the living conditions of South African households, determining household access to various services and amenities, such as basic services, food, health-care and medical aid. The 2014 release shows that 13,2 million (85,9%) households had access to piped water in 2014 compared to 9,4 million (79,9%) in 2005. Households, however, seem to grow less satisfied with the service as only 61,4% of households in 2014 indicated that they experienced ‘good’ quality service, compared to 76,4% of households in 2005. The percentage of households that indicated that they would pay for the water they received declined from 61,9% in 2005 to 43,7% in 2014.
Having access to energy for cooking, heating and lighting is crucial to households. The survey found that the percentage of households connected to an electricity supply from the mains has increased consistently from 77,1% in 2002 to 86% in 2014. Electricity is, however, not always affordable as 10% of households nationally, and 39,4% in Limpopo, still used wood for cooking since it is cheaper and more readily available. The percentage of households that experienced power interruptions in the six months before the survey increased to 18,2%.
In terms of refuse removal, while the percentage of households whose refuse is removed at least once per week has increased from 56,7% in 2002 to 63,8% in 2014, large differences exist between urban and rural areas. Whereas 88,6% of households in metros, and 84,1% of households in urban areas have their trash removed once per week, 90% of rural households either have no refuse dumps or have to create their own.
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