Authors: Bryan Tladi(1),  Titus Baloyi(2), Adelheid Schreiber-Kaya,(3), Mokgadi Mathekgana(4), Stuart Mangold(4), Theuns de Klerk(5) and Frank Winde(6)

1.Bohlweki Enviromental (Pty)Ltd, Midrand, Johannesburg
2.Hlongwane Sustainability Focus, Johannesburg
3.North West Department of Health, Mafikeng
4.North West Dept.Agriculture Conservation and Environment, Mafikeng
5.Dept Geography University of North West, Mafikeng
6.Dept. Geography and Environmental Studies, University Of Potchefstroom


  1. Housing
  2. Nutrition and Food Security
  3. Waste Management
  4. Water Supply and Sanitation
  5. Toxicity in the Environment
  6. Radiation and Radioactivity in the Environment


General waste volumes and landfill sites (Map 57)
Hazardous waste volumes generated per annum (Map 58)
North West Province water supply authorities (Map 59)
Potential radioactivity in the environment (Map 60)

13.1 Housing

13.1.1 Introduction

Housing can be defined as a variety of processes through which habitat, stable and sustainable public and private residential environments are created for variable households and communities. The building of a house is the culmination of many planning processes and legislative requirements that need to be adhered to before the actual housing is constructed. This includes the undertaking of processes such as Environmental Scoping Study and Environmental Impact Assessment. Environmentally sound housing implies housing, which, besides technical and affordability requirements, also meets the need for environmental efficiency (Environmentally Sound Low-cost Housing, 2001).
The National Housing Programme (Department of Housing: Environmental Implementation Plan, 2001), recognises that adequate shelter needs to provide: adequate privacy; adequate space; physical accessibility; adequate security; security of tenure; structural stability and durability; adequate lighting; heating and ventilation; adequate basic infrastructure such as water supply, sanitation, and waste-management facilities; sustainable environmental quality and health related factors, and adequate and accessible location with regard to work and basic facilities. All of these elements need to be available at an affordable cost.

13.1.2 Driving forces

The introduction of the Housing Subsidy Scheme in 1994 was the primary assistance measure of the National Housing Programme. Housing subsidies are one of the Government's main instruments to address the legacy of poverty and inequality. This is because housing is vital to the socio-economic well-being of the nation. It is a key sector of the national economy, is a vital part of integrated development planning, is a product of human endeavor and enterprise, and it fulfils basic human needs. Households with an income of R3 500 or less per month, who have not owned property previously, and who satisfy a range of other criteria, can apply for a subsidy and use it to get housing, either to own or to rent.
Most parts of regions in the North West Province are occupied by informal settlements. This is because of the Province's high rate of unemployment, poverty and lack of access to credit facilities. Most of these houses have no electricity, water or proper sanitation facilities. Efforts are being made to change this situation, and it is estimated that since 1994, three million, six-hundred and twenty six (3 000 626) households in the North West Province have been electrified.
The main driving force for housing in the North West Province is the growth in population (see Chapter 3). The Province has a historical housing backlog , which exerts pressure on the current housing stock in relation to what is currently being provided.

13.1.3 Pressures

Approximately 30% of households in the North West Province live in substandard dwellings. Due to the high rate of unemployment and poverty in most parts of rural areas in the Province, high percentages of rural populations in the North West Province are accommodated in poorly serviced informal houses/settlements. The situation found in these areas relates mainly to the provision of basic services, such as water and sanitation. The challenges facing the provincial housing authorities relate mainly to providing adequate housing, especially to the vulnerable sectors of the community (Figure 13.1.1).

Figure 13.1.1: Percent of households living in sub-standard conditions in the North West Province by district council in 1996 (Source: Living in the North West, 2001).

Further challenges facing the province in terms of housing provision include securing adequate land. Environmental considerations need to be built into all land developments to ensure that marginal land is not put at risk. Infrastructure requirements, which form part of housing provision such as water, waste and road also pose a challenge to the province in dealing with housing backlog.

13.1.4 State

In 1994 the North West Province had a housing backlog estimated at 110 000, with an annual increase of 13 646 in the demand for new houses. The backlog had increased to 146 000 in the year 2000 despite the 50 576 houses built (A Re Ageng, 2001). From 1997 to date, 124 469 housing subsidies to the value of R1,7 billion have been approved and 86 436 serviced sites have been delivered in the province.
North West Provincial Government Housing Department had a capital expenditure of R9 908 000 on formal residential buildings by the public sector for the 1998 period. This figure is the second lowest in comparison to the other provinces, with Mpumalanga Province's budget being the lowest at R8 527 000. The approved formal residential building plans financed by the private sector in the North West Province is R524 245 for the 1998 period (Table 13.1.1).
The number of households residing in backyard and informal dwellings are generally an indication of the housing need within a particular area. The occurrence of people residing in informal dwellings is mainly concentrated in the urban centres of the province. The highest concentration of these types of structures are located in the Southern District Council (accounting for 29% of housing stock) and the Bojanala Platinum District (18%).
It is estimated that approved formal residential building plans financed by the private sectors in the North West Province is 7 339, with a total of 122 551 in the whole of South Africa. A total of 6 659 dwelling-houses in the North West Province out of a total of 81 359 in South Africa have been completed by the private sector (Table 13.1.2). Information on public sector spending on housing in the Province was not available at the time of compiling this report.
A significant portion of households in the North West Province resides in housing structures on separate stands. The figures range between 48% in the Southern District Council to as high as 74% in the Central District council. In large parts of the rural areas, the type of housing can be classified as traditional dwellings. Low investment in the rural areas where the highest poverty gap is found, is of concern. The ability to repay loans, fees and tariffs by the poor and unemployed, remains a big challenge for the province.

Table 13.1.1: Housing indicators by Province, 1998 (Rand value in thousands).

Eastern Cape FreeState Gauteng KwaZulu-Natal Mpuma-langa Northern Cape Northern Province North West Western Cape South Africa
Approved formal residential building plans financed by the private sector

623 077 570 642 3 200 887 1 00 328 570 589 1 354 662 457 359 524 245 2 633 404 10 935 193
Expected capital expenditure by the public sector on informal residential buildings

141 704 51 365 358 495 127 787 8 527 50 721 23 478 9 908 228 164 1 000 149
Formal residential buildings completed by the private sector:

  • Dwelling-houses

  • 357 792 321 943 1 572 508 479 430 262 610 110 747 208 675 150 802 1 269 788 4 734 295
  • Flats

  • 9 394 10 902 98 323 36 849 1 673 - - 6 587 177 536 341 264
  • Townhouses

  • 38 153 22 733 584 008 225 771 32 165 4 047 15 305 45 574 265 294 1 233 050
  • Other

  • 18 902 762 142 740 354 933 20 942 950 11 198 - 193 792 744 219

    424 241 356 349 2 397 579 1 096 983 317 390 115 744 235 178 202 963 1 906 410 7 052 828

    Table 13.1.2: Housing indicators by Province, 1998 (numbers of houses built and building plans approved).

    Eastern Cape FreeState Gauteng KwaZulu-Natal Mpuma-langa Northern Cape Northern Province North West Western Cape South Africa
    Approved formal residential building plans financed by the private sector

    16 732 18 871 31 720 8 712 9 660 2 871 5 353 7 339 21 293 122 551
    Formal residential buildings completed by the private sector:

  • Dwelling-houses

  • 8 460 13 992 17 240 5 349 5 123 3 480 9 374 6 659 11 682 81 359
  • Flats

  • 78 111 935 188 15 - - 161 2 287 3 775
  • Townhouses

  • 420 184 4 728 1 628 314 31 105 448 1 653 9 511
  • Other

  • 15 3 10 104 16 4 11 - 63 226

    8 973 14 290 22 913 7 269 5 468 3 515 9 490 7 268 15 685 94 871

    13.1.5 Impact

    The National Housing Programme impacts on the environment through being one of the largest consumers of land resources. Informal settlements have a major negative impact on the environment. Because these settlements are unplanned, they are often situated on marginal land and impact negatively on sensitive environments. The negative impacts of informal settlements on the environment are significantly more than the impact caused by formal settlements, as the former are not subjected to proper planning, evaluation and environmental impact assessment. Environmental impacts typically resulting from informal settlements include, amongst others, dust pollution from unpaved roads and air pollution from burning of coal for domestic purposes, erosion and siltation and non-point source pollution of rivers and dams.
    In assessing the Housing Programme in terms of its social, economic and environmental impact, the following facts should be considered. Since its inception in 1994, the National Housing Subsidy Programme has provided housing and obtains secure tenure and access to improved sanitation and water to people who would have been relegated to informal settlements. Through its implementation, the housing subsidy programme has also created an enabling environment conducive for the creation of much-needed jobs. It has made a significant contribution to sustainable development in social and economic terms. It has, however, contributed to urban sprawl, the inefficient use of water and energy, the loss of topsoil and the inappropriate provision of services in the past.

    13.1.6 Responses

    The National Housing Subsidies Programme, since its inception in 1994, has approved 1 113 573 housing subsidies, constructed 983 943 housing units, costing more than R12 billion. Secure tenure and access to improved sanitation and water for more than 4,2 million people who were previously living in informal settlements.

    13.1.7 Outcomes

    Apart from the successful subsidy allocated figures, evidence suggests that the housing subsidy scheme has been fairly effective. Firstly, most subsidies have gone to the lowest income households. Over 92% of subsidies have been given to households earning less than R1 500 per month. Secondly about 39% of subsidies were allocated to female-headed households.
    In considering the impact of the national housing project, it was also observed that these funds have been provided to areas where a high number of formal houses that are largely serviced in terms of telecommunications, electricity, water and sanitation already exist. It was also found that spending on housing programmes is greatest for those areas where the poverty gap is relatively low.
    The relatively low investment in the rural areas where the highest poverty gap is found, is of concern. This could ultimately result in these rural populations remaining in a state of poverty. Repayment of outstanding loans, fees and tariffs by the poor, as well as unemployment, has also become a major sustainability issue to be resolved. Some measures introduced to make the housing development process more sustainable include the stabilising of the housing environment by the introduction of the Masakhane Campaign, the Mortgage Indemnity Fund (MIF), Servcon Housing Solutions, Thubelisha ("new opportunity") Homes and the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).

    13.1.8 Linkages

    This section has links with:

    13.1.9 Data issues and indicators

    Data issues - Housing data for the North West Province is not very accessible, thus mostly national parameters have been referred to in the report. The data on housing is very important for the social strategic planning and this calls for a lot of improvement in this regard. The national Department of Housing (DOH) has developed the Housing and Urbanisation Information System (HUIS), a computer-based data warehouse, which, inter alia, includes a range of human settlement indicators. These were developed in accordance with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlement's indicators programme using data from the October Household Survey.
    As part of the Environmental Implementation Plan process, special attention will be paid to the development of indicators that reflect the state of the environment in human settlement. Among the current available indicators on HUIS, the following two are considered most important from an environmental aspect: Indicators - The Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism is in the process of developing the National Core Set of Environmental Indicators, which will define clear parameters of evaluation. Once this process is complete, it will provide proper guidelines for processes with an environmental bearing such as housing. The following indicators are part of the framework to develop the core set of environmental indicators. Not all these indictors can be linked to this particular section, but inter-relationships can be traced to a substantial number of these.

    13.1.10 Conclusion and recommendations

    Because formal urban settlements are planned and managed, they hold the promise for human development and the protection of the world's natural resources through their ability to support large numbers of people while limiting their impacts on the natural environments. This can be achieved by striving for the following goals: The Province is faced with very strong challenges in ensuring that it deals with the current housing backlog speedily. Due to the fact that the existing backlog has historical connotations, targeting of the priority beneficiaries needs to be undertaken with sensitivity. Cognisance should be taken of the fact that the majority of the population falls within an economic bracket that does not have access to credit, and is trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.
    Housing provision is one of the economic vehicles through which economic activities in the Province for the marginalised communities can be catalysed. The inclusion of SMMEs in the construction sector holds hope for a vast majority of the unemployed.

    13.2 Nutrition and Food Security

    13.2.1 Introduction

    Nutrition and food security are key aspects in the well-being of a society. These aspects are directly linked to the society's quality of life, which is determined by the complex inter-relationships of social, economic, political and other processes. Nutrition is one of the basic necessities in the normal development of human beings. The improper administering of this function has negative connotations to normal human development processes. The underlying causes of malnutrition include: households inability to access food needed for a healthy active life; poor care of members of the household, particularly mothers and children; an unhealthy environment; and poor access to clean water. The socio-economic situation in the North West Province shows a marked deterioration in the period 1991 to 1999. Two main indicators of change in the economy of the Province are the poverty gap and unemployment rate. These are discussed in Chapter 3.

    13.2.2 Driving forces

    Poverty and unemployment are two primary factors which contribute towards sub-standard living conditions, and this is more prevalent in the rural parts, the third highest in relation to the other Provinces. Poverty distribution in the North West Province affects 62% of the total population, as opposed to 29% in the Western Cape and 17% in Gauteng. Poverty is a feature of households that are unable to command sufficient resources to satisfy a socially acceptable minimum standard of living. Some of these conditions include food insecurity, malnutrition and lack of access to other basic services, such as water and sanitation.

    13.2.3 Pressures

    The pressures related to food insecurity and malnutrition include among others, a reduced quality of life, high mortality rates especially with infants and reduced life expectancy. This becomes evident in the vulnerable communities where children and women become victims of negative circumstances. Opportunistic diseases thrive under conditions whereby the population is receiving sub-optimal nutritional levels. Access to land for the rural poor, remains a challenge for the province. With access to land, the rural poor can be afforded the ability to engage in agricultural activities which can uplift their food security levels. The risk that the province runs starts with the rural poor who attempt to eke a living on marginal land. This leads to the destruction of the same environment that we are striving to protect.

    13.2.4 State

    It is estimated that in the rural areas of South Africa, one in three children display marginal vitamin A status, 20% are anaemic and 10% are iron-deficient. The underlying causes of such unfavourable conditions are related to: The South African Vitamin A Consultative Group (SAVACG) reported the athropometric status of the children between the ages of 6 months and 6 six years in the North West Province as follows:
    Moderate to severe wasting 4,5%
    Moderate to severe underweight 13,2%
    Moderate to severe stunting 24,7%

    Prevalence in Iron Deficiency:

    Percentage Anaemic: Hb<11g/dl 24,5%
    %Iron depleted: Ferritin<12ug/dl 8,1%
    Iron deficiency anaemia: %HB<11 & Ferritin<12 5,0%

    Prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency in children of between 6 months and 6 years:

    % Serum Retinol 10ug/dl 3,4%
    % Serum Retinol 20ug/dl 32,0%
    Mean Serum Retinol (ug/dl) 24,4%
    Night blindness 12,7%
    Bitit spot 0,4%
    The Nutrition Sub-Directorate in the North West Province recognises the fact that there is a high level of poverty and, therefore, malnutrition in the Province. This is mainly the result of a below average socio-economic status of the Province. Due to the nutritional circumstances in the North West Province, the Sub-Directorate undertook its efforts to cover the age group 0-12 years as the primary target population for the improvements and maintenance of optimal nutritional status.

    13.2.5 Impact

    Food insecurity and malnutrition have a negative impact on the environment from both a social and physical perspective. Communities resort to unsustainable use of natural resources to make a livelihood when faced with food insecurity and malnutrition problems. Environmental considerations become peripheral in these circumstances. Agricultural methods which have a negative impact on the environment, end up being utilised as a means towards subsistence (e.g. use of fertilisers and genetically-modified organisms, (see Chapter 7). The Province has encountered a negative social impact with regard to food security and nutrition, with vulnerable communities being most affected SAVACG (1994) states that children from disadvantaged communities suffer from malnutrition as a result of poverty and unemployment. Malnutrition impacts on the entire family and on the community at large. Malnutrition can cause chronic damage to both physical and mental development of an individual if not properly addressed during the first 5 years of life.

    13.2.6 Responses

    Several initiatives have been undertaken by the national Government to attempt to minimise the impact of food insecurity among the poor on a national scale with provincial participation. Some of these initiatives include the following: The primary objectives of the PSNP are: In 1994, the Nutrition Committee of South Africa designed an Integrated Nutrition Strategy for the country, based on the UNICEF Conceptual Framework. This framework enabled the analysis of the causes of malnutrition and death in any community as it also indicates the inter-relatedness of various contributory factors. It also assisted in clarifying the objectives of actions selected for implementation. This strategy was subsequently translated into the Integrated Nutrition Programme for South Africa.
    The Integrated Nutrition Programme (INP) forms apart of the Primary Health Care approach that aims at facilitating a co-ordinated inter-sectoral approach to solving nutrition problems in South Africa. In order to determine the magnitude of the nutrition problems in South Africa and possible solutions to these problems, the country has adopted the UNICEF Conceptual Framework and the fundamental nutrition programming process of Assessment, Analysis and Action, (the triple-A cycle).
    The emphasis of the Integrated Nutrition Programme (INP), is on building capacity, knowledge and skills in communities, thereby allowing them to become self-sufficient in terms of their food security and nutritional needs. The focus is on protecting and improving the health of the most vulnerable population groups, women and children. In order to achieve this, it is imperative that inter-sectoral collaboration takes place between the various government departments, private sector, NGOs and CBOs.
    Therefore, in order to implement the Integrated Nutrition Programme in the North West Province and achieve both the national and provincial objectives, the INP management team in the Province is focusing on the following: The DACE has forged partnerships with the Land Bank in order to facilitate access to land. The objective is to develop the resource-poor and emerging farmers to encourage self-sufficiency. It is important to recognise that the youth, women and the disabled also require support mechanism through which they can be integrated into the system. These include access to financial and other resources which can enable them to fully participate in the agricultural sector, thus progressing towards a more food secure environment. The beneficiary of such developments, will to a large extent be the environment, whereby sustainable mechanisms can be advocated and practiced.
    The Kgora Institute, which focuses on developing food security programmes in the Province, has been identified by the SADC Household Food Security Training Programme as a potential vehicle for capacity building throughout the country and the region. This is an opportunity through which the institute can intensify its programmes in the Province to minimise food insecurity and malnutrition.

    13.2.7 Outcomes

    The implementation of the Primary School Nutrition Progamme in the North West Province was not altogether successful because of failure of food to reach many schools; food storage problems; leakage of food; the 25% of the energy requirement was not met; and not all schools were reached and learners did not receive food each day at school.
    The positive results of this programme were: The North West DACE has been engaged in the sectoral development of communities towards rural development with process in place for Women Development Projects, Food plots/Vegetable Projects, Youth Development Projects, Poverty Alleviation through Food Production.

    13.2.8 Linkages

    This chapter is be linked to:

    13.2.9 Data issues and indicators

    Data issues - The availability of data with regard to issues of food security and its associated impacts is available, although it needs to be frequently updated to ensure that remedial measures are executed timeously and efficiently. The adequate and frequent collection of demographic, economic and social information to monitor the extent and nature of change in patterns of food insecurity is essential in managing the reduction of poverty and inequality.

    Indicators - The National Core Set of Environmental Indicators for State of Environment Reporting is still in its developmental stages. However, a key list of social indicators which can be used to evaluate aspects such as food security and nutrition include:

    13.2.10 Conclusion and recommendations

    In order to facilitate the provision of opportunities for creating a food secure society in the North West Province, several issues need to be evaluated:

    13.3 Waste Management

    13.3.1 Introduction

    Throughout the world, there is growing public awareness regarding pollution and waste, both of which can have a detrimental effect on human health and the natural environment if not properly managed. The first principle in waste management is to avoid the generation of waste in the first place. The potential for different waste types to pollute natural resources differ greatly depending on the composition of the waste and its potential; for degradation over time. South African legislation broadly classifies waste under categories, namely general and hazardous waste. Between these two categories lies a continuum, with a transition from what could be described as non-toxic to toxic.
    Waste management in the Province and nationally, has the following broad aims:
    1. Waste prevention
    2. Waste minimisation
    3. Resource recovery
    4. Treatment
    5. Safe disposal

    13.3.2 Driving forces

    The following main driving forces have been identified for waste management:

    13.3.3 Pressures

    Waste issues and problems identified during the Situation Baseline Analysis in the North West Province were found to be of an economical, physical, social and political nature. Waste management was traditionally undertaken on an ad hoc basis in South Africa to meet immediate needs. Prior to the development of the Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF, see Section 13.3.6), the siting of landfills was generally haphazard, without adequate planning and design. The management and operation of landfills was, and still is in some cases, poor, and the control of waste types disposed at the landfills was inadequate. A number of landfills were situated on previously undeveloped land, without any consideration for the possible expansion of nearby communities. This resulted from a lack of integrated planning and inadequate enforcement of proper buffer zones.
    Local authorities had neither sufficient funding nor an adequate number of trained staff, to effectively plan and execute their waste management functions. Communities were not involved in the siting of the landfills, which resulted in community resistance to them. The level of services varied between different areas and many people, particularly the previously disadvantaged, were left without proper waste management services.
    The lack of capacity within all spheres of government, due to insufficient funding, as well the low priority previously accorded to waste management, were the primary factors contributing to insufficient waste management planning. However, the development of the Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill promoted a change within the waste management sector. Planning landfill sites, proper site location, buffer zones, public participation and proper operating procedures led to an improvement in the disposal component of waste management.

    13.3.4 State

    Waste is classified as either general, which may be disposed of at any permitted landfill, or hazardous, which may only be disposed of at a permitted hazardous landfill. General waste is any waste that does not pose a significant threat to the environment, if handled correctly, and includes domestic waste, paper, glass, plastics and builders rubble. Hazardous waste includes any waste that can have a significant adverse effect on the environment because of its chemical and physical properties, for example acids and bases, solvents and oils.

    Waste generation

    Major waste generators/handlers in the North West Province and the waste that is generated include:
    Landfills in the North West Province

    There are currently 63 operating landfills in the North West Province, all of which may only accept general waste, although some accept a small amount of hazardous waste. Map 57 indicates the volumes of general waste disposed at landfills in the North West Province respectively. An additional three general landfills are proposed for the Province. Map 58 depicts the volumes of hazardous waste generated. There is no hazardous waste site in the province, the closest hazardous waste sites being Rosslyn and Bon Accord sites near Pretoria (for certain low-hazard wastes) and Holfontein site near Springs in Gauteng Province, which can accept high-hazard wastes.
    The total remaining airspace of landfills (excluding mine landfills) in the Province is approximately 5 million m, and only about 800 000 m (or 17%) of this is acceptable in terms of the Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill (DWAF 1998). Table 13.3.1 indicates that no region of the North West Province has more than 3,5 years of existing acceptable airspace, while the Bophirima and Eastern District Council regions have no existing acceptable airspace. Also of concern is Rustenburg District Council Region, which has only 2 years of existing acceptable airspace left and 5 years projected acceptable airspace. Of the potential projected airspace, future landfills contribute only 9% of that for the Province. This indicates that insufficient planning has taken place with regards to future waste disposal, and urgent action is needed in this regard.

    Table 13.3.1: Projected acceptable airspace and current general waste disposal in the North West Province (Source: DWAF 1997).

    Region Existing Available Acceptable Airspace(m) Existing Available Upgradable Airspace(m) Projected Future Acceptable Airspace(m) Current Waste Disposal(tons/annum) Remaining Site Life of Existing Sites(years) Projected Site Life of Existing and Future Sites(years)
    Bophirima District Council 0 132 000 192 000 13 000 0 25,5
    Central District Council 190 000 1 351 000 0 56 000 3,5 27,5
    Eastern District Council 0 652 000 0 50 000 0 13
    Rustenburg Regional District Council 160 000 89 000 125 000 76 000 2 5
    Southern District Council 449 000 1 356 000 80 000 159 000 3 12
    PROVINCIAL TOTAL 799 000 3 580 000 397 000 355 000 2 13,5
    1. Acceptable airspace: Complies to Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill
    2. Upgradable airspace: Could be made to comply with Minimum Requirements
    3. It is assumed that future airspace will be acceptable because the landfills will be developed in compliance with the Minimum Requirements.
    4. An in situ landfill density of 1 000kg/m is assumed.

    13.3.5 Impact

    The impact of unsatisfactory waste management includes:

    13.3.6 Responses

    Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996) states that the people of South Africa have a right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and imposes a duty on the state to promulgate legislation and to implement policies to ensure that this right is upheld. To date, several steps have been taken to ensure this environmental right with respect to pollution and waste management, including: Furthermore, a joint venture undertaken by the DWAF and DEAT, with financial support from the Danish Co-operation for Environment and Development (DANCED), led to the formulation of a National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) based on the IP&WM Policy.
    The objective of integrated pollution and waste management is to follow a holistic waste management approach, which extends over the entire waste cycle and covers the prevention, generation, collection, transportation, treatment and final disposal of waste. The NWMS is a long term strategy to address key issues and problems experienced with uncontrolled and unco-ordinated waste management in South Africa, and aims to reduce the generation and environmental impacts of waste. It follows a waste hierarchy approach (Figure 13.3.1), which is internationally accepted as a rigorous approach to waste management. Waste prevention and minimisation are long-term objectives of the strategy, while a number of remedial actions form part of the short-term objectives, such as the provision of waste collection services to all sections of the population.

    Figure 13.3.1: Steps in the waste hierarchy

    The NWMS project comprises four phases: Badly managed landfills (or waste disposal sites) represent significant points of pollution, and in order to manage this, the Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill were published by DWAF in 1994, with a Second Edition in 1998). It is by means of a Landfill Permit System, instituted in terms of the Environmental Conservation Act (section 20 of Act No. 73 of 1989), that the Minimum Requirements for waste disposal are implemented and enforced. The Act states that no person shall establish, provide or operate any waste disposal site without a permit issued by the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry and subject to the conditions contained in such a permit. Landfills are classified according to size of operation, waste type and potential for significant leachate generation. The objective is to take pro-active steps to prevent the degradation of water quality and the environment and to improve the standard of waste disposal in South Africa.

    13.3.7 Outcomes

    The NWMS is currently at the implementation stage, and is anticipated to have a positive outcome on pollution control and waste management in South Africa in the long term. For example, one of the priority initiatives is to provide waste collection services to poorly serviced residential areas, which will in turn improve the living standards of the communities, alleviate pollution in these areas caused by littering and the burning of waste and create jobs in the waste management market.
    The baseline study undertaken by DWAF in 1997 revealed a number of issues requiring urgent attention regarding landfills in North West Province. These include: There is a lack of interaction between government departments in the North West Province regarding waste management. The Consultative National Environmental Policy Process (CONNEPP) resulted in the development of the Environmental Management Policy for South Africa and the promulgation of the National Environment Management Act (NEMA) (Act 107 of 1998). This Act provides for co-operative environment governance by establishing principles and procedures for decision-making on matters affecting the environment.
    Recycling initiatives in South Africa are currently restricted to a number of commercially viable projects that are not supported or regulated by legislation. Private recycling companies and individuals currently initiate and drive recycling projects, however, in the North West Province, the sorters/salvagers are hindered by a lack of transport for recycled materials. A significant number of schools have started collection points for waste material that can be recycled, and this is aimed at creating awareness in children to encourage sustainable waste management practices.
    People have started caring about their lives and the environment as a whole, and have realised the negative impacts of unsatisfactory waste management on their lives. It is predicted that for the forthcoming ten years, people will have a growing understanding of environmental issues and how their behaviour (values and attitudes) can lessen the impacts on the environment.

    13.3.8 Linkages

    This section has linkages with:

    13.3.9 Data issues and indicators

    Data issues - Data regarding landfills in the North West Province is readily available from the baseline study undertaken by DWAF (1997), however, currently there is a lack of data available on waste recovered from recycling; energy recovered from waste and location of contaminated land.

    Indicators - A set of environmental indicators have been developed through the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. A set of proposed indicators for waste management from the DEAT indicator initiative is presented in Table 13.3.2.
    At this stage, in the North West Province, most of the data required for the indicators cannot be supplied since a survey is still in progress to obtain the data. Table 13.3.2 shows the indicators that will be used during the data analysis after the completion of the provincial survey (data that is presently available is provided). The indicators listed in For example, they may be representative of a particular event, show trends over time, give early warning about irreversible trends where possible, or be important to policy decisions and planning. Table 13.3.3 represent those indicators that were identified as important representations of waste within human settlements and internationally.

    Table 13.3.2: Indicators for waste management in the North West Province.

    Indicator Data
    Quantity and composition of domestic solid waste generated Not available
    Quantity and composition of domestic waste disposed to landfill Quantity: 385 957 tons per annum
    Quantity and composition of waste recovered from recycling Not available
    Quantity and composition of commercial and industrial waste generated Not available
    Quantity of energy recovered from waste Not available
    Proportion of sludge and bio-solids re-cycled Not available
    Quantity and composition of domestic hazardous waste disposed to landfill Quantity: 3 484 tons per annum
    Amount, characteristics and location of contaminated land Not available

    Table 13.3.3: The proposed list of Waste Management Indicators for South Africa (Source: DEAT, 2001).

    Issue Indicator Type Level Frequency Scale Linkages
    Waste volumes produced Total amount of solid waste produced per capita per year S 2 Annual Provincial CSD Environment
    General landfill airspace supply verses demand P/S 2 5 yearly Provincial
    Amount of hazardous waste produced per sector per year S 2 Annual Provincial CSD Environment
    Hazardous waste landfill airspace supply verses demand P/S 2 5 yearly Provincial
    Legislation and Enforcement Percentage of solid waste recycled per year and per material type R 2 Annual Provincial CSD Environment
    Percentage landfill permit applications and permits granted for operating and future landfills by class R 1 Annual Provincial
    CSD: Commission for Sustainable Development

    13.3.10 Conclusions and recommendations

    The NWMS is a long-term strategy to address the key issues and problems currently experienced with waste management in South Africa. Waste prevention, minimisation and recycling are long-term objectives of the strategy, while a number of remedial actions form part of the short-term objectives. The strategy is currently at the implementation stage.
    Waste management issues that require urgent attention in the North West Province include:

    13.4 Water Supply and Sanitation

    13.4.1 Introduction

    Approximately 1.3 billion people in the developing world lack access to adequate quantities of clean water and nearly 3 billion people are without proper sanitation. An estimated 10 000 people die every day from water and sanitation related diseases and thousands more suffer from a range of debilitating illnesses. The impact of inadequate water and sanitation services falls primarily on the poor. Lack of access arises both from income shortages and the specific cultural, economic, regulatory and the prevailing institutional environment. The North West Province also experiences similar problems in relation to water and sanitation, especially in the rural areas. A number of communities in the province have a heavy dependence on groundwater for their domestic supply. This has proven problematic because of regular contamination and wastage of and wastage of groundwater resource, leading to compromised health situations. Raising awareness needs to be a long-term goal and an area in which the government has a clear mandate.

    13.4.2 Driving Forces

    The primary driving forces for sanitation and water supply in the North West Province are:

    13.4.3 Pressures

    The inadequate sewage disposal facilities combined with unhygienic practises represent South Africa's sanitation problem. The practices are related to: Water is a scarce resource in North West Province and it should be protected and used efficiently. There are many threats of pollution where there are no sanitation systems or where they do not function efficiently. This poses a risk is to water supplies in rivers, dams and underground and can cause serious health problems. The proper operation of sanitation systems is essential to protect the environment.

    13.4.4 State

    In 1994 it was estimated that approximately 21 million people in South Africa lacked access to adequate sanitation services. Of these, 13,6 million had inadequate sanitation, but had some form of access to the service. Approximately 6,4 million people had no sanitation facilities at all (Figure 13.4.1).
    Generally the rural settlements, informal settlements and traditional villages have little or no basic services (water, sewerage, communications, electricity) compared to the large towns, even when they are located adjacent to the large towns. The cost of supplying services to rural areas is very high, with little Government budget for these services. Thus the (poor) consumers have to pay for the installation of services. The situation is the worst in the low-density rural areas of the north and west.

    Figure 13.4.1: Water supply and sanitation access by province in 1996 (Source: DBSA 2000).

    The Southern District has the best water supply infrastructure. The rest of the Province has a great need for improved water supply infrastructure. However, measured against the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) standards and compared to other provinces, the rural water supply infrastructure is relatively acceptable. The Southern District has the lowest sanitation needs whereas the Bophirima District has the highest sanitation needs (Table 13.4.1).

    Table 13.4.1: Growth rate, unemployment, water and sanitation needs in the North West Province. (Source DWAF 1998a.).

    District Growth Rate Unemployment Water needs below RDP criteria Sanitation needs below criteria RDP
    % pa Rank % un-employ-ment Rank % rank % rank
    Bophirima 0.8-2.5 1 40.75 5 88.8 5 93.1 5
    Central 0.8-4.2 2 23.49 3 78.2 4 81.1 4
    Rustenburg 0.8-5.0 3 19.12 2 52.1 3 63.6 3
    Southern 1.6-4.2 4 14.50 1 5.4 1 32.6 1
    Eastern 3.3-5.0 5 26.98 4 25.4 2 54.1 2

    Water supply

    There are five water supply authorities charged supplying bulk water in the North West Province (see Map 59). These are Goldfields Water Board, Magalies Water Board, Rand Water Board, North West Water Supply Authority, Western Transvaal Water Supply Company.
    The current situation is one of inequality in terms of access to potable water in the Province. Almost all White households (more than 99%) have the use of running tap water in their dwellings as opposed to 27% of African households. Among African households 51% in the urban areas have a tap in their residences and a further 38% have access to a tap on site. In the non-urban areas the situation indicates 11% having a tap in their residences, 33% having a tap on site, 2% have to obtain their water from a river, stream or dam, and 24% use borehole water (Figure 13.4.2).

    Figure 13.4.2: Sources of water for drinking in African households in urban and non-urban areas of North West. (Source: DBSA 2000).


    The North West Province also has its share of a sanitation backlog that needs to be addressed. However, the Province's water supply and sanitation situation is considered to be better than most other provinces in the country (Figure 13.4.1). One of the reasons that the Province is in its current state, in terms of sanitation and water supply, is because of intervention mechanisms that have been implemented. Foreign donor agencies have contributed positively to improving the situation in the Province. The Danish Government, through Danida, has set up programmes that have been in operation in the Province to specifically address the water supply and sanitation situation. It is of interest to note that the North West Province current provision of basic water supply and basic sanitation exceeds the national average.
    A wide variety of sanitation systems are currently in use in South Africa (Table 13.4.2), some more commonly than others, and with varying degrees of success. They impact differently on the environment and have widely differing costs and degrees of acceptability to the users. Some of these do not meet the criteria for adequate sanitation but are widely used in the North West, such as pit latrines (Figure 13.4.3).

    System Degree of complexity Approx. water (l/flush)
    VIP Simple, but needs proper design and construction; periodic desludging or relocation Nil
    LOFLOS Some types use mechanical flushing; soakaway or soakpit needs proper design; periodic desludging 0,5 - 1
    Septic Tank Soakaway needs proper design and construction; periodic desludging 6 - 15
    Solids free sewerage Needs reticulation and treatment works; periodic desludging 3 - 15
    Conventional sewerage Needs reticulation and treatment works 6-15

    Figure 13.4.3: Types of sanitation used among the African households in the urban and non-urban areas of the North West Province. (Source: Statistics South Africa 1996).

    One disadvantage of many on-site systems of sanitation, including all types of pit toilets and LOFLOS, is their inability to handle large quantities of water (except in cases where soil percolation rates are high). This may mean that sullage or "grey water" generated by the users has to be disposed of separately through a sullage soakaway.

    13.4.5 Impact

    Inadequate water and sanitation services can bring with them a particular risk in each of the dimensions already described. And, water availability and quality may both be highly seasonal. During the dry season, the urban poor face higher water prices, while the rural poor face longer treks for lower quality water. Also, sewage return flows to water bodies, bearing pollutants of various types, make up a bigger proportion of total flows, reducing water quality and making effective treatment more difficult. The risk is faced in household consumption and in the use of water in economic activity such as agriculture. The poor are particularly unequipped to cope with this risk, since coping requires expensive storage or additional treatment. During the wet season, inadequate drainage and other sanitation infrastructure becomes problematic, as overflowing polluted water may stand in the streets for long periods.

    Water supply

    The lack of adequate water supply in the North West Province has a socio economic impact. Traditional poverty measures focus on income, but the rural and urban poor may not only have lower incomes, they probably face higher cost for water. Water is one of the few commodities that must be consumed daily and for which there are no substitutes. The lack of network water connections for the urban poor, or of any water service for the rural poor, typically leaves them buying from water vendors at high per litre prices, waiting in long queues at, or walking long distances to, public sources; and incurring additional costs for storing and boiling water. The legislation stipulates in the minimum standard for basic water supply that the service should be within 200 metres of a household. The lack of convenient and affordable access to water reduces a poor household's consumption of other commodities and services, leaves it consuming less than the optimum amount of water for good hygiene, and impacts on health and labour productivity of the household members. It may also reduce income-generating opportunities of the household, thereby further reducing income and consumption.
    Nationally, dwindling availability of clean water per capita will increase the economic cost of water and, in a situation of scarcity, limit the potential for economic development. Locally, communities that fail to protect their surface and ground waters from pathogens have fewer options for drinking water and require more expensive technologies for extracting water from deeper aquifers or for treating surface water to drinkable levels. In the urban context, where water may be supplied from a utility, increasing costs of extraction or treatment are passed on to consumers in terms of higher prices. The poor have fewer resources, hence they disproportionately suffer the consequences.


    Poor sanitation facilities can pose a tremendous social cost through pollution of rivers and groundwater. Lack of access to proper sanitation results in people resorting to alternative means, which have an even greater impact on their health and the environment. Sanitation problems have three main effects: See Chapter 5 for more information on legislation.

    Institutional responses

    RDP programme - Prior to 1994, there was no real focus and coherent effort to provide sanitation to those that needed it, mainly the rural poor. The government's Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), started to address the sanitation issue, but due to the backlog associated with this problem, it will take concerted efforts to correct the situation.
    The RDP's short-term goal was to provide every person with adequate facilities for health, which includes establishing a national water and sanitation programme. The national water and sanitation programme was aimed at providing all households with clean, safe water supply of 20-30 litres per capita per day, an adequate/safe sanitation facility per site and a refuse removal system to all urban households.
    Government has set realistic limits on the number of grants and subsidies that it will provide for services such as sanitation, with the funds needed to build the basic minimum level of service. For new housing in urban areas, this will mostly happen as part of the national housing subsidy scheme that is used to provide on site and internal services. For existing urban households the sanitation subsidy will be available through the Municipal Infrastructure Programme or other funds. For rural households subsidies will be available through a similar programme and will be set according to clear rules.
    The basic level of service referred to as one that will be adequate to protect everyone's health, since improved health helps people to work better and spend less on doctors and medicines. Where local communities desire more convenient levels of service, they are free to choose this provided that they are willing to pay the extra costs of building and running the system.
    Communities have the responsibility to choose and implement the mix of service levels that they desire taking into account government policies and socio-economic realities. Government looks at policy principles such as "demand driven" and "user pays". These are essentially economic instruments to enable households to set priorities for themselves, based on their capacity and willingness to pay for a particular level of service, and to inform the planners who serve them. Where local communities aspire to and are willing to pay the extra costs of a more convenient (more expensive) level of service, they are free to raise the extra finance out of own sources or from the capital market, provided all the extra running costs are met from within that community.

    Danida Programme - The classical mechanisms of transmission of waterborne diseases are poor personal hygiene, described as the "short cycle", and environmental pollution, described as the "long cycle". Typically, physical investments in community sanitation most effectively break the long cycle. Breaking the short cycle requires changes in personal behaviours and practices, a more difficult challenge. Programmes to address the short cycle in the North West Province have been undertaken under the auspices of Danida (Danish International Development Assistance). It is still early to assess the impact of these programmes, but is a step in the right direction.
    The Danida approach to improving the water supply and sanitation situation in the North West province, aims to address the problem in a holistic manner. Programmes that have been put in place include: Other programmes that have direct impacts on sanitation provision include: These are some of the many intervention mechanisms implemented with aid of the foreign funding to improve the water supply and sanitation. There are also several forums and agencies, such as the North West sanitation forum.
    The following factors influence the choice of technology, namely affordability, institutional needs, environmental impact, social issues, water supply service levels, reliability, upgrading, site-specific issues, use of local resources and settlement patterns.

    13.4.7 Outcomes

    The capital and running costs of improved sanitation, and particularly water-borne sewerage, are very high compared with what low-income households can afford. Recent estimates of infrastructure needs in South Africa have shown that very large capital investments are needed to construct full water-borne sewerage systems for all households that are not serviced. Even if the capital funds were available, there would still be problems, as large numbers of households would be unable to afford the regular running costs of such a system. This raises the issue of affordability at two levels, namely that of each local authority area and of the national economy.
    Government will not increase the amounts of intergovernmental transfers currently used to subsidise running cost shortfalls in some parts of the country. It is the prerogative of provinces to decide on the distribution of these transfers, but the total amount available will not be increased, and may well decrease rapidly over the next few years. The implications for local authorities is that all costs of a recurrent nature for municipal services, such as operations, maintenance and loan repayments, must be met from user charges and local taxes. This must be done without further recourse to government running cost subsidies.
    Many low-income households are presently enjoying a level of service whose true cost, at average consumption levels, is beyond their ability to pay. In such cases government proposes to reformulate the tariff structures for municipal services to encourage local authorities to assist low-income families through a low cost "lifeline" tariff for modest levels of consumption.
    The existing DWAF rural capital subsidy of R600 is currently not reaching the targeted poor. The subsidy is very expensive to administer, and the demand is relatively low because households cannot afford to contribute the balance of the cost of a Ventilated Improved Pit Latrine (VIP).
    The current sanitation and water supply in the North West Province needs to be strengthened to achieve even better results. Experience from national and international water and sanitation programmes has shown how essential it is to link water supply and sanitation with health and hygiene education. Improved sanitation facilities will only achieve a parallel reduction in negative health incidents if they are developed alongside hygiene programmes.
    This has been one of the lessons learnt from the Danida experience in the KMS sanitation project. Because the system was designed for the community instead of with the community, there was no buy in. Issues of vandalism have been noted in some of the projects, and this emanated from the lack of a sense of ownership by the locals.

    13.4.8 Linkages

    This section is linked to the following sections or chapters in the report:

    13.4.9 Data issues and indicators

    Data issues - Data on water supply and sanitation for the North West Province is not readily available. There is a need to build a database for information relating to sanitation and water supply. Such database will inform planners and decision makers on making informed decisions. Indicators - Indicators to monitor environmental conditions, pressures on the environment and causes for environmental change, are being developed through the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. A set of proposed indicators from the DEAT indicator initiative is presented in Table 13.4.2.

    Table 13.4.2: The proposed list of Water supply and Sanitation Indicators for South Africa (Source: DEAT, 2001).

    Indicator Type Level Frequency Scale Linkages
    Groundwater contribution to GDP D 2 Annual Sectoral
    Surface water affordability R 1 Annual National
    Number of people affected by waterborne diseases R 1 Annual National
    Number of people with access to sanitation S 1 Monthly National CSD Social, DPLG
    Number of people with access to water S 1 Monthly National CSD Social, DPLG

    13.4.10 Conclusion and recommendations

    Environmental sustainability of sanitation systems must be considered in terms of both provision and ongoing maintenance. Sanitation systems must be designed and constructed in such a way as to minimise potential pollution throughout its life cycle. Monitoring mechanisms must be put in place to ensure early detection of pollution.
    A number of communities in the North West Province have a heavy dependence on groundwater for the their domestic supply. This has proven problematic because of regular contamination and wastage of groundwater resources, leading to compromised health and uncertainty for the future.
    The potential for pollution of water resources by sanitation systems requires that water quality monitoring programmes be instituted as an integral part of sanitation projects. Programmes need to be developed which take into account the specific conditions prevailing in an area. When evaluating the most appropriate type of sanitation systems for a particular situation, the relevant water quality objectives for local water resources must be taken into account.
    Sound environmental principles and environmental ethics should be created in all communities. Emphasis must be placed on formal as well as informal environmental education activities.
    Service providers must plan to achieve full coverage as soon as practicable, at least to a basic level of service. The extension or upgrading of a service should not result in a request to central government for a larger recurrent cost subsidy.
    Existing conventional municipal arrangements need to address the following four objectives or for a new programme with the following objectives needs to be implemented: New developments and upgrading existing sanitary facilities should take into consideration the level of participation and cooperation that different government departments need to engage themselves in. An area based approach and not project based, will be more cost effective and has broader reach and coverage. School sanitation needs a higher priority (National Sanitation Summit 2000).

    13.5 Toxicity in the Environment

    13.5.1 Introduction

    Human activities such as the intensified exploitation of natural resources; increasing urbanisation; industrialised mass production, processing, manufacturing, storage, agricultural practices and the use of chemicals in households, has inevitably resulted in toxic substances inadvertently or deliberately finding their way into the environment. Some of these substances accumulate in soils, water and air, eventually finding their way into living organisms, including humans.
    The term "toxicity" refers to the poisonous quality of a substance in relation to its degree or strength to poison a living organism. The amount of a toxicant necessary to produce a detrimental effect is also important, and whether acute (effects detectable in the short-term) or chronic (long-term) poisoning is occurring. Some substances such as many trace elements (e.g. selenium) and vitamins, are essential to the physiological functioning of organisms, but in high concentrations are extremely toxic, or, as in the case of selenium, carcinogenic. Hence, the effects of toxicants are mostly dose dependent and vary - The toxicity of a chemical to living organisms largely depends on the route of exposure, and this could include: Some common toxic substances harmful to the environment and human health include heavy metals such as lead and mercury, biocides, heterocyclic organic compounds, pesticides and selenium compounds as well as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). One of the major global toxicity challenges is the accumulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the environment and in living organisms. Persistent organic pollutants can be found in trace quantities in soils, water and the atmosphere include many pesticides, dioxins and furans. These pose particularly serious risks to human health as they persist in the environment over many years, and may bioaccumulate in living organisms, becoming magnified in higher organisms in the ecosystem. Because of the tendency of these chemicals to accumulate in fatty tissue, many (such as DDT and dioxin) are sometimes found in significant quantities in human breast milk. Many are mobilised during pregnancy when fat reserves are depleted, and subsequently find their way across the placenta to the newly developing foetus. There may be special windows of vulnerability in the development of foetuses when these chemicals can have long-term, irreversible effects on the reproductive and neurological systems.
    This section addresses toxicity in the environment within the context of the abovementioned factors in the North West Province. The health implications of viruses, toxic substances produced by bacteria and mycotoxins produced by various fungi such as moulds in causing diseases in humans and animals and plant poisonings are not covered in this section. However, it is acknowledged that aflatoxins, diplodia toxins, ochratoxins which emanate from mouldy peanuts, soybeans, sorghum, maize and other cereals, hay and silage under the warm climatic conditions found in the Province do pose a serious health threat to humans and livestock (W. Giesecke, NWDACE, pers. comm., 2002).

    13.5.2 Driving forces

    The following are some of the driving forces accountable for toxicity in the North West Province. The drive for a higher standard of living for an ever-increasing population results in toxic substances being produced or consumed through:

    13.5.3 Pressures

    Many of the activities that cause toxicity problems in the North West Province environment are essential for day-to-day life of ordinary people. In many instances, it is difficult to address the causal factors in isolation, since these are often interwoven. For instance, the services offered by hospitals are essential to ensure the healthy well-being of the people of the North West Province. In the provisioning of this essential service, there is medical waste generated which has to be disposed of in a certain manner. So far, incineration has been widely used mainly due to the absence of viable options. Incineration emits harmful gases such as dioxins and PCBs, which are highly carcinogenic in nature. Where incineration is no option, waste should be disposed of in a waste disposal site, the control of which lies with the municipalities.
    Some of the major sources of toxic substances which exert pressure on the environment include:

    13.5.4 State

    The following list of toxic substances is presented from the preliminary assessment of the North West State of the Environment 1995 (Nel et al. 1995):

    Dangerous and toxic matter generated from industries and hospitals - These include medical waste (tissue, blood, swabs, needles, expired drugs etc.), paint and paint sludge, pharmaceutical compounds, waste with a flashpoint, as measured with the closed container method, lower than 600C.

    Dangerous and toxic matter generated from mines - The mines in the North West Province generate a number of different wastes, depending on the type of mine: Dangerous and toxic matter generated from the agricultural sector - Biocides and phytopharmaceutical matter, dangerous heterocyclic organic compounds, inorganic halogen, pesticides and herbicides, veterinary compounds, selenium and selenium products are used in the course of farming. If not handled and stored correctly, these substances could have devastating effects on both the natural environment and human life. These can be split into two main types: Control of "problem animals" - There are numerous poisons used illegally to control what are termed "problem animals" such as jackal, hyaena, feral dogs, bushpig, caracal, baboons and vervet monkeys. The only legal poison, which may be used, and exclusively on canines (jackal, feral dogs and hyaena), is Strychnine.
    There is also a range of rodenticides available including anti-coagulants and phosphide types of poisons (Aluminium phosphide and Zinc phosphide). Those illegally used are 1080, Aldicarb and Carbofuron. In the North West Province, the following poisons are often illegally used: carbonates such as Aldicarb, Carbofuron, Benfuracarb and Bendiocarb; and organophosphates including Monocrotophos, Parathion, 1080, Fenthion and Diazinon.

    Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) - Are organic compounds which, to a varying degree, resist photolytic, biological and chemical degradation. POPs are often halogenated and characterised by low water solubility and high lipid solubility, enabling them to bioaccumulate in fatty tissues (Ritter, et. al. 1995). They are also semi?volatile, enabling them to move long distances in the atmosphere before deposition occurs. The issue of persistent organic pollutants (POP's) has recently become one of global concern. Table 13.5.1 lists POP's that have been recognised globally as the most important by the United Nations, known as the "dirty dozen". However, little is known about the extent or concentrations of POPs in environment of the North West Province at present.

    Table 13.5.1: Significant Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and their uses (Source: Ritter, et. al., 1995).

    POP Uses
    Aldrin Local ectoparisiticide.
    Pesticide used to control soil insects such as termites, corn rootworm.
    Chlordane Ectoparisiticide.
    Broad spectrum contact insecticide used on agricultural crops including vegetables, small grains, maize.
    Additive in plywood adhesives.
    DDT Disease vector control (e.g. malaria).
    Used in dicofol.
    Dieldrin Agriculture - control of soil insects.
    Disease vector control.
    Dioxins(Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins -PCDDs) Released from waste incinerators.
    Aluminium and zinc production.
    Fossil fuel fired boilers.
    Incineration of coal, peat and wood.
    Car emissions.
    Endrin Foliar insecticide used on cotton and grains.
    Furans(Polychlorinated dibenzofurans - PCDFs) Released from waste incinerators.
    Aluminium and zinc production.
    Fossil fuel fired boilers.
    Incineration of coal, peat and wood.
    Car emissions.
    Heptachlor Non?systemic stomach and contact insecticide for soil insects and termites.
    Wood treatment.
    Hexachlorobenzene Solvent in pesticide.
    Fungicide - control of bunt of wheat.
    Byproduct of carbon tetrachloride, perchlorethylene, trichloroethylene
    and pentachlorbenzene manufacture.
    Mirex Termiticide - used against harvester termites in South Africa.
    Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) Used in industry - dielectrics in transformers and capacitors, heat
    exchange fluids, paint additives, carbonless copy paper and in plastics
    Released from waste incinerators.
    Aluminium and zinc production.
    Fossil fuel fired boilers.
    Toxaphene Nonsystemic and contact insecticide used primarily on cotton,
    cereal grains fruits, nuts and vegetables.
    Control of ticks and mites in livestock.

    13.5.5 Impact

    The negative impact of toxicity ranges from respiratory diseases on human beings through to the depletion of the ozone layer. Chemicals that have been proven to be harmful, such as benzene, lead and other heavy metals, carbon monoxide, volatile nitrites, pesticides and herbicides enter the human bloodstream through the nose, mouth, skin, and the digestive tract. These substances can have harmful effects on the blood, bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes. Lead can interfere with normal red blood cell membranes by inhibiting important enzymes ( 2001).
    Exposure to benzene, be it as a cleansing agent, gasoline or in cigarette smoke can result in the development of leukaemia and lymphoma. Benzene has a suppressive effect on the bone marrow and it impairs blood cells maturation and amplification. Benzene exposure may also result in a diminished number of blood cells or total bone marrow loss.
    Carbon monoxide arising from incomplete combustion of carbonaceous materials, binds to the haemoglobin over two hundred times more avidly than oxygen. This results in Carbon Monoxide poisoning akin to suffocation and can exacerbate cardiovascular disease in humans.
    According to the (2001), toxic chemicals in environmental air pollution stimulate the immune system to activate leukocytes and macrophages that can produce tissue damage, especially to the cells that line human blood vessels. Although the damage is initially slight and may not produce significant limitation to the blood flow, repetitive and long-term exposure to toxic substances interferes with the ability of these lining cells to release a substance called endothelial-derived relaxing factor.
    The central nervous system is the primary target for many serious air pollutants such as lead. While children are more susceptible to lead's effects on the central nervous system, adults exhibit similar deficits in learning and memory as well. Old age is also a period when enhanced vulnerability to the toxic effects of lead are predicted.
    The types of road transportation that is used in the North West Province also result in toxic impacts on the environment, which can have negative health impacts. Car exhausts are known to emit noxious gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic hydrocarbons, and other gases ( 2001).
    Although the correct use of strychnine poison is not considered to pose a major environmental risk, it is the misuse and abuse of organophosphates (e.g. monocrotophos) and carbamate agrochemicals (e.g. carbofuran) and aldicarb that may pose serious threats to the environment (N. Van Zijl, Poison Working Group, pers. comm., 2002). Careful control is essential to avoid killing non-target animals. Bushpig, caracal, baboons and vervet monkeys may under no circumstances be poisoned.
    The impacts of POPs on ecosystems are wide ranging. POPs have been implicated in a broad range of adverse human health and environmental effects including impaired reproduction and endocrine dysfunction, immunosuppression and cancer. Exposure to the most toxic dioxin 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) causes the dermatological disorder chloracne, a chronic and disfiguring skin disease (Ritter et al. 1995).
    As many POPs are able to diffuse into the atmosphere, the impacts of these emitted in the temperate and tropical areas, may become manifest in polar areas. Also, certain POPs, which accumulate in migratory species of birds, may also enter ecosystems long distances from the source of emission.

    13.5.6 Responses

    Legislative responses

    International Conventions and Agreements

    Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants - aims to take international action to minimise risks associated with POP chemicals already identified and proven to pose a threat to the environment and human health through their toxicity and persistence, which is consistent with the Precautionary Principle. The Convention also intends to further identify additional POPs as candidates for future international action. These dangerous and highly toxic chemicals will be reduced and phased out in cooperation with the international community. South Africa signed the Stockholm Convention in September 2002.

    Basel Convention - The main objectives of the convention are the reduction of the production of hazardous waste and the restriction of transboundary movement and disposal of such waste. South Africa ratified this Convention in May 1994.
    National legislation

    In response to all the negative impacts of the presence of toxins in the environment, many environmental laws have been enacted to control the management of toxins in South Africa and internationally. Some of the laws that have been passed to deal with toxicity in the environment in South Africa include, among others:
    Institutional responses

    Poison Working Group - Is a working group of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, a non-profit organization. The Poison Working Group collects information on poisons and poisonings of wildlife.

    National Residue Monitoring Programme - The National Dept. Agriculture has in place the National Residue Monitoring Programme for monitoring in meat and milk and related products residues of: Several international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the CODEX ALIMNETARIUS COMMISSION have been conducting research on various aspects of the ecotoxic hazards to animal and human health (e.g. definition of such hazards; risk evaluations; international standards on acceptable daily intakes; analytical standardizations; monitoring programmes, etc.).

    13.5.7 Outcomes

    The banning and limiting the use of certain toxic substances such as DDT is one outcome. Setting of emission standards for polluting industries and monitoring programmes are another outcome.
    Outcomes related to the implementation of national legislation such as the acts mentioned in 13.5.6 provide a legislative framework controlling the use and management of toxic substances for the protection of human health and the environment. However, the numerous laws and regulations applicable at different levels and enforced by different government departments has led to the fragmentation of law enforcement regarding toxicity in the environment.
    The outcome of the implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants cannot be assessed in the North West Province at this stage, as it only recently came into effect.

    13.5.8 Linkages

    This section is linked to:

    13.5.9 Data issues and indicators

    Data issues - There is currently little information on the extent of toxicity in the environment of the North West Province. However, the Poison Working Group does have a database of poisons used and poisoning incidents reported in South Africa.
    The University of Pretoria Faculty of Veterinary Science; Toxicology & Pharmacology and the Agricultural Research Council (OVI; Toxicology) also have data relating to toxicity in the environment.
    The National Dept. Health (Forensic Laboratory) is monitoring certain chemical residues (presumably mostly Insecticides) in various foodstuffs for humans. Some statistics are available at the North West Dept. Health.
    Several institutions specializing in certain analyses, like hormones & growth promoters in livestock production, monitoring of environmental pollutants, residues of pesticides and insecticides, residues of certain anthelmintics, antibiotics and coccidiostats in meat, milk, eggs and related products (W. Giesecke, NWDACE, pers. comm., 2002).

    Indicators - There are currently no environmental indicators which are used to measure and evaluate the extent of toxicity in the environment, although the current initiative by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, towards developing environmental indicators for South Africa has identified the extent of POPs as a potential indicator.

    13.5.10 Conclusions and recommendations

    There is an obvious paucity of information on the extent and concentration of toxic substances in the North West Province, and their impact on human health and well-being.
    The impacts of chemical substances on the environment can be reduced through several measures, but before any measures are implemented, all the stakeholders should be consulted.
    Proper inspections on the use of pesticides and herbicides to ensure that the negative impact and side effects are reduced.
    The Precautionary Principle should be applied when known POPs are being used or generated in industrial and/or agricultural applications.
    To supplement the legal framework, it is important to establish public awareness raising mechanisms to inform the public of the danger of various toxic chemicals and their role in managing those chemicals. This effort should be supported by both national government and international environmental and development organisations.
    An inventory of toxic substances in the environment and the extent of these should be compiled. Monitoring these substances and the impact is required.

    13.6 Radiation and Radioactivity in the Environment

    13.6.1 Introduction

    There are four main sources of ionising radiation, namely cosmic, solar (electromagnetic), terrestrial (primordial/geological), and anthropogenic (man-induced). Non-ionising radiation on the other hand includes, among others UV, radio and microwave. These can be found in air, water and soil and as result, in living organisms too.
    Uranium is the element most commonly associated with radioactivity in the environment. Traces of Uranium are found in all soils in a concentration range of 0.7 9ppm (world mean value). The world mean concentration of Uranium in fresh surface water is 0.0004 ppm (DWAF 1996). Uranium mainly occurs as heavy minerals in the form of uranite (UxOx) and brannerite (U1-xTi 2+xO6) in a ratio of about 1:1. In the mined gold reefs of South Africa, uranium is often associated with other heavy minerals containing Cr (chromite) and As (arsenite). Daughter radionuclides from Uranium, Radium (Ra-226) and Thorium (Th-232) are also found in nature
    Today uranium is used primarily as fuel in nuclear power plants and for nuclear weapons industry. Since uranium is both a radioactive element and a highly reactive heavy metal (the heaviest naturally occurring on earth), it has both radiological as well as chemotoxicity effects on living organisms. Therefore, the maximum Uranium concentration recommended in drinking water is 0,07 mg/l (Table 13.6.1).

    Table 13.6.1: Current DWAF 1996 water quality guidelines for Uranium-238 (Source: Kempster et al. 1996).

    Target water quality range (Bq/l) Target water quality range (Bq/l) Effects
    0 to 0,89 0 to 0,070 No significant effects. Annual cancer risk less than 1 in 4 000 000.
    0,89 to 3,6 0,070 to 0,284* Annual cancer risk less than 1 in 1 000 000. May potentially be a slight risk of renal toxicity in sensitive individuals where renal function is impaired, but unlikely to have demonstrable renal toxicity in healthy individuals.
    3,6 to 18 0,284 to 1,42 Annual cancer risk less than 1 in 200 000, but significant risk of chemical toxicity with renal damage.
    >18 >1,42 Increasing cancer risk in long term. Increasing risk of renal damage in short term.
    * If 0,284 mg/l is exceeded, human health may be at risk due to chemical toxicity.

    Due to the long half-life of 238U as the major isotope in natural uranium the number of decays occurring during an average human life span is relatively small.
    However, if it finds its way into the body the radio-toxicity is much greater. If uranium is inhaled or ingested, it poses increased risks of lung cancer and bone cancer ( By its insidious nature the effect of radioactive exposure of the general population, cancer may take anything up to 40 years to manifest itself. Where the effect is genetic, anomalies may take generations to appear.

    13.6.4 Driving forces

    Some of the driving forces that can be linked to radioactivity in the province include:

    13.6.5 Pressures

    Gold and uranium mining

    The greatest technologically-enhanced source of radioactivity in the environment of the North West Province is directly as a result of gold and uranium mining (see Chapter 7). Uranium, as well as some of its radioactive decay products, migrate from the slimes dam deposits into adjacent environment. While covering mine deposits with vegetation can reduce the solid transfer of radionuclides by minimising wind- and water erosion, this does not prevent the seepage of dissolved salts and radionuclides into ground and surface water.
    With the scarcity of water in the North West Province, ground and surface water pollution with persisting toxic heavy metals and radionuclides poses a severe environmental threat. Gold and Uranium recovery plants generate a large amount of wastewater. From the total intake volume of 337 x 106m3 water in 1986 of the gold and uranium mining industry, it was estimated that 39% of this was discharged into surface streams or returned to dolomitic compartments and 51% went to slimes dams and in evaporation pans (Funke 1990). Bain et al. (1994) estimate that only 30% of all liquid waste is retained on mine properties while 70% is discharged into aquifers and rivers.
    Many of the mine dumps, slimes dams and evaporation pans in the North West Province are located on the porous dolomites (particularly the Far West Rand and Klerksdorp areas), causing contamination of ground water. In addition to this, several slimes dams and rock deposits are located in the headwaters of rivers and streams (such as the Mooi and Wonderfonteinspruit catchments) and hence the potential for surface water contamination with radionuclides and heavy metals (especially chromite and arsenite) is high. Water-borne transport of radionuclides results in the effects of both ground and surface water contamination being detected often at considerable distances from the source.

    South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) at Pelindaba

    NECSA (formerly the Atomic Energy Corporation of South Africa) has operated at its Pelindaba site for more than 35 years in the field of nuclear and related technology. NECSA consists of two main divisions, Pelindaba Nuclear Institute (PNI) and Pelindaba Technology (PT).
    The Pelindaba Nuclear Institute's main functions are nuclear radiation technology; nuclear fuel programme; nuclear waste and liabilities management; nuclear and conventional risk management; Pelindaba site management; quality and engineering management; and international nuclear safeguards of nuclear material.
    Pelindaba Technology is the commercial arm of NECSA involved in developing and operating a portfolio of profitable business opportunities within NECSA's core competencies of fluorination and radiation technology.

    13.6.6 State

    Resources and geological occurrence of uranium

    South Africa has the third largest uranium resource in the world after Australia and Niger. Around 79% of the uranium deposits are found in the Witwatersrand in the form of fluvial sediments deposited in fans along the shores of an ancient lake south east of the golden arc some 2 600 million years ago. Millions of years later, tectonic induced interruptions (geological activity) separated these metal enriched layers of sediments from each other. Today four of these layers, called reefs are mined for gold, each between 10cm and 2m thick.
    Uranium deposits in the North West Province are found in the south-east of the Province predominantly in the Orkney, Stilfontein, Klerksdorp area and around Potchefstroom. The Pilanesberg Complex (believed to be a relict of an extinct volcano) is known to possess uranium deposits and hence above average levels of radioactivity have been detected.
    Radioactive compounds in the environment that are of importance in the North West Province are Uranium-238, Thorium-230, Radium-226 and Radon-222. Because the half-life of radioactive daughter products of uranium such as Radon-222 and Radium-226, are relatively short (3.8 days & 1600 years respectively) and because they generate alpha radiation these pose a much greater health risk. Fortunately, due to the low radioactivity of U as the parent element there is believed to be a only a very small amount of 226Ra in the mine tailings dams. Bain et al. (1994) estimates that the total 226Ra in all mine deposits in the Witwatersrand amounts to about 50kg. Because of 222Rn gaseous nature and resultant high mobility even diffusing through cracks in rocks and through the soil, and its own alpha-emitting daughter products radon is considered the single biggest source of natural background radiation - contributing about 50% of total public dose. Radon dose can be problem in houses built on slimes dam material or if such material is used as fill-in.

    Uranium contaminated areas and rivers in the North West Province

    Elevated levels of uranium have been found in the following areas of North West Province (see Map 60):

    13.6.7 Impact

    Atmospheric impact

    Wind blown dust from mine rock and sand dumps and slimes dams could pose a health hazard due to inhalation of uranium contaminated dust particles. Also radionuclide-contaminated dust can be dispersed far distances from the source, affecting agricultural lands for fruit and crop plantations. Uranium has a low Biological Accumulation Factor (BAF) and away from slimes dams and contaminated rivers the wind blown route for plant uptake should be low. Radon gas near slimes dams is a possible atmospheric and or indoor air problem.

    Terrestrial environmental impact

    Mine rock and sand dumps impact on the terrestrial environment and change the character of the landscape. Slimes dams displace natural vegetation and fauna and seepage from these can completely wipe out resident fauna and flora communities. Soil contamination with radionuclides is another impact affecting the terrestrial environment.

    Impact on human health

    Due to cosmic radiation (which increases with altitude), terrestrial radioactivity (geological in origin) and ingestion of radionuclides in food we are all being continuously exposed to ionising radiation. People can be exposed to additional sources of radioactivity through effluent discharges, waste disposal practice releasing radioactively contaminated materials into the public domain, use of contaminated land and the transport of radioactive materials in public areas. Certain consumer items also contain radioactivity e.g. wristwatch - tritiated luminous dials; beta lights; smoke detectors; industrial level gauges. By ionising atoms in organisms radioactive radiation has the potential to break chemical bonds and destroy living cells (mutagenic and somatic effects). Mutagenic effects of radiation occur in the form of genetic mutations passed on to subsequent generations and do not necessarily depend on a dose threshold (stochastic effects). However, somatic effects need a minimum dose to occur and show a clear dose-effect-relationship (deterministic effects). Somatic effects of radioactivity may be either short-term or acute effects (such as nausea, fever, diarrhoea, skin and tissue damage which can be fatal) and/or long-term carcinogenic effects. High radiation doses after the Hiroshima atomic bomb also caused terratogenic effects (mental retardation) amongst survivors (Bain et al. 1994).

    Exposures to doses above 50Sv cause death within a week; at 4-5Sv 50% of those exposed die within a month. Below a short-term exposure of 1.7Sv no fatalities occur. At about 0.5Sv only slight changes in blood composition are detectable. Doses resulting in deterministic effects as itemised above are many orders of magnitude greater than the doses specified to limit stochastic effects - e.g. radiation worker dose limit is 20 mSv per year and public dose limit is 1 mSv per year.

    The extent of these effects depends not only on the specific activity but also on the kind of radiation. Alpha-radiation, for example, has about 20 times more energy loss per unit path length in tissue than gamma-radiation, but it only penetrates into the outer layer of human skin (stratum germativum). Thus alpha-radiation from sources outside the body is not considered dangerous. However, low ionising gamma-radiation penetrates the whole body and therefore poses a greater risk as an external source. In contrast however ingested alpha radiation is very damaging at the cellular level. Additional factors influencing the effect radiation has on human bodies are time of exposure, mass of exposed body and sensitivity of exposed body parts, as inner organs are more sensitive than skin.

    The contamination of river water affects downstream-users of river water (water supply, cattle watering and irrigation) as well as the life supporting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and the riverine sediments. Directly exposed to a contamination risk are the water works in Potchefstroom and in Orkney using water from the Mooi and the Vaal Rivers respectively. Since conventional treatment processes are not effective in removing uranium from water supplies and routine uranium analysis of river water is too costly this may pose a danger to public health.

    The results of the Mooi River radioactivity monitoring programme (Kempster et al. 1999) suggest that the total radiation dose (which includes the suspended solids) for both Potchefstroom untreated raw drinking water supply points are very low, and are not significantly different from the estimated natural background radioactivity levels. The study also concluded that none of the sites investigated in the Mooi River catchment required urgent remediation from a radiological perspective.

    13.6.8 Responses

    Legislative responses

    National legislation governing nuclear activities: Issuing of licenses by the National Nuclear Regulator - The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) issues licenses to industries and institutions generating or using significant quantities of radioactive substances (<10kg/annum). In 2000 there were 18 facilities in the North West Province that are licensed by the NNR. These include: Institutional responses

    The Mooi River Radioactivity Monitoring Programme came about as a result of an investigation by DWAF into water-borne radioactivity. It commenced in 1994 as a preliminary countrywide survey, and was followed up in 1996 by a further survey that concentrated on the gold mining areas as the preliminary survey revealed high levels of radioactive substances in streams near gold mining activities. The Mooi River Catchment was also the target area of this more detailed study, because of the uranium and thorium present in the ore being mined and the tailings stacked on the porous dolomites (between 0,25 and 1,0 mSv/year).

    Environmental monitoring programmes by NECSA Pelindaba - The NECSA Pelindaba Site is required to undertake an environmental monitoring programme to assess public exposure to radioactive gaseous and liquid effluent discharges in accordance with license document RM-LIS-8034. In compliance with this requirement, various sample media are collected from the environment around the Pelindaba site. Additional environmental chemical and biological river-quality monitoring is also undertaken.
    Commencing in January 1998, the NNR implemented an Environmental Verification Programme (CNSEVP). The primary objective of this programme was to provide an independent determination of the levels of radioactivity surrounding the Pelindaba site. (Table 13.6.2).

    Table 13.6.2: NNR Environmental verification programme sample location, frequency of sampling and type of analysis (Source: CNS, 1999).

    River Water Crocodile River downstream of liquid effluent discharge Weekly collection for one month every quarter (3l) Gamma Spectrometry and Uranium
    Aquatic Plants (Hyacinth) and Fish Hartbeespoort Dam Annually (1kg) Gamma Spectrometry and Uranium
    Direct Radiation Exposure Four TLDs at various locations around the site Quarterly Ambient dose rate equivalent
    Dam Water From sampling areas in Hartbeespoort Dam Quarterly integrated (3L) Gamma Spectrometry and Uranium
    Dam Sediment From sampling areas in Hartebeespoort Dam Quarterly integrated (500ml) Gamma Spectrometry and Uranium
    Milk One sample from a location near the site Quarterly (1L) Gamma Spectrometry and Uranium
    Thabana Soil Four soil samples Semi-annually (500ml) Gamma Spectrometry and Uranium
    Thabana Water Four Borehole water samples Semi-annually (3L) Gamma Spectrometry and Uranium

    Public participation forums - several public participation forums have been instituted. Including the Mooi/Kromdraai River Forum and the Pelindaba Communication Forum. The Mooi/Kromdraai River Forum consists of a wide range of stakeholders, and deals with pertinent environmental issues (such as radioactivity) facing the river catchment. The Pelindaba Communication Forum, which addresses issues of NECSA operations, is an independent body consisting of local stakeholders and community representatives that deals with environmental and socio-economic issues. Authorities such as NNR, DWAF, DME also attend the monthly meeting.

    13.6.9 Outcomes

    Awareness creation is of critical importance in issues of environmental concern. Cooperation between civil society and the authorities in recognising associated impacts and findings means of mitigating against them is of high importance. The communication forums mentioned to above, are some of the early outcomes of the awareness programmes, but there is a necessity to develop such initiatives further to be as inclusive as possible, and to replicate them in other areas

    13.6.10 Linkages

    This section overlaps with the following sections and/or chapters in the report:

    13.6.11 Data issues and indicators

    Data issues - Institutions collecting radioactivity information include: Indicators - Indicators of environmental radioactivity include:

    13.6.12 Conclusion and recommendations

    A number of areas in the North West Province have been shown to have, or may potentially have higher than natural background levels of uranium: However, the Mooi River radioactivity monitoring programme concluded that none of the sites investigated in the Mooi River catchment required urgent remediation from a radiological perspective.

    There is a growing body of evidence pointing that both the long- and short-term effects of radioactive substances present in the environment may be impacting on the health of the population of the North West Province, particularly in the gold mining areas. Communities that are not currently supplied with safe, treated water and which rely on radionuclide-contaminated surface or ground water resources for their potable water are the most vulnerable to such health risks (Faanhof

    It is recommended that:


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