Diepsloot comes alive with Community Plumbing Challenge

By Fiona Ingham

Raw sewage runs through the streets of Diepsloot ext 1, where it mixes with garbage. Last year a toddler was reported to have drank sewage water and died.

Having one toilet for 160 people is part of the lot of many of those living in Diepsloot Ext 1.

This, despite the fact that access working, clean and safe toilets is a basic human right. Globally, the Sustainable Development Goals prioritise sanitation and note that due to bad economics and poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, “die from diseases associated with inadequate sanitation and hygiene.” The importance of being able to use a working, clean and safe toilet can’t be under-estimated.

The Social Justice Coalition says the absence of working, safe and clean toilets “violates the right to human dignity, freedom and security.” This often manifests in the violent protests that frequently rock SA.

Most Diepsloot residents use communal toilets and complain about number of broken toilets. Philemon Mogasha, who has lived in Diepsloot for 13 years, says: “The drains keep blocking and affect our water supply. The toilets are not suitable for people to use and the sewage is always running. It is bad for our health.”

Recent studies show that in Diepsloot Ext 1 anywhere between 13 to 40 households share one toilet, tap and drain. Because of this, residents resort to doing their business in open fields where they are vulnerable to attack. No-one should have to fear assault, rape or murder while going to the toilet, says the coalition.

But solving sanitation issues in places like Diepsloot is not easy. Partnerships and collaborations have however come into being to improve the situation and civil society and international organisations have pooled their resources to effect change such as the Community Plumbing Challenge. It was hosted in Diepsloot by the Water, Amenities, Sanitation Services Upgrading Programme, (Wassup) and the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network. It was facilitated in South Africa by Sticky Situations, partnering with the Wot-if? Trust, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), HealthHabitat and Autodesk Education.

Eight broken communal toilets were pulled out of the ground in Diepsloot Extension 1, where four student teams representing Australia, India, the United States and South Africa collaborated on designs to upgrade them. Teams assembled and tested their new designs, supporting Wassup to reinstall and reconnect them. Cranes had to be used to install and reinstall the toilets, because of the confined spaces in which the teams worked.

A large part of the challenge involved training students in the use of Autodesk Fusion360, and mapping Diepsloot in 3D. The sanitation infrastructure has also been mapped out and the installations will be monitored after the event, to test their robustness. The outcome will be presented at the World Plumbing Conference.

The CPC collaborati on is an example of the power of participatory decision-making and monitoring in a community.


WPC1 groupTeam USA, Team India, Team Australia, Team South Africa, Wassup, Wot If? and the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network pose for a group photo.


WPC7 art SMLA community member paints a mural on a container at the Father Blondel Centre, which formed the base for the World Plumbing Challenge.


WPC12 Comfort Matshohe SMLWelder and plumbing apprentice Comfort Matshohe, a member of the South African team, inspects a defunct toilet on site.


WPC6 Leago Madimo smlLeago Madimo, the South African engineer is on site on the first day of the challenge.


WPC11 Jennifer van Den Bussche StickySituations smlDirector of Sticky Situations Jennifer van den Bussche enjoys a performance staged by the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network.


WPC10 dance smlThe Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network staged performances at the WPC hub at the kick off.


WPC9 hug smlA Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network performer shows his appreciation for Martha Douglas, a member of Team USA.


WPC5 WassuptoiletSMLA Wassup toilet in a state of disrepair.


WPC4 Wassupteam smlThe Wassup team, who rely on funding to repair and maintain toilets in Diepsloot ext 1.


WPC8 Dave Donald HealthHabitat smlDave Donald of HealthHabitat speaks at the WPC kick off.


WPC3 India repair smlMembers of Team India work in their toilets.


WPC2 SArepair SMLThe teams collaborate on installation designs.

Our Sponsors

Sponsors 28-7-2016

Get in touch

IMD inc BPP logo ICON RGB low res

Mint logo

Tsogo Sun logo80





Conference / exhibition bookings:
Mari Macnamara: +27(0) 11 579 4940 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Online registration (click here)

Transfers / tours bookings details:
Helen: +27(0)82 562 2260 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Pia: +27(0)79 532 1219 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stefvan Stemmet: +27(0)21 492 2203 /  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Interact Media Defined (Pty) Ltd (IMD) has been appointed to organise the event.

WPC 2016 Strategic Organising Committee
Lee Goldie – Chairperson, Larry Berger, Herman Lourens, Henry Soden, Robbie Webb, Gary Macnamara