Mvula – Improving Water Supply and Sanitation

The Mvula Trust

Mvula Trust is the largest Non-Governmental Organisation supporting Water and Sanitation Development in South Africa. We operate from a national office in Johannesburg as well as from six regional offices in North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal (2 offices) Eastern Cape (3 offices) Free state and Mpumalanga.

The Mvula Trust is a dynamic, innovative and professional water supply and sanitation non-governmental organization (NGO). With 15 years of experience, Mvula has established itself as the leading water and sanitation services delivery NGO. The added value that Mvula brings as an NGO is our impresssive track-record and expertise in working wit poor communities and facilitating service delivery partnerships between these communities and their municipalities. We offer a professional and efficient service to our clients, together with a non-profit, people centred commitment to the communities we serve.

          MVULA NEWS

Wastewater Treatment – Crisis and Opportunity

The Mvula Trust together with the Development Bank of South Africa and the Water Research Commission hosted a workshop last month at the DBSA headquarters in Gauteng focused on technology choice for sustainable wastewater treatment. The workshop brought together a wide range of experts and stakeholders from the Department of Water Affairs, National Treasury, the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), Amathole District Municipality, USAID, NGOs, environmentalists and engineers from the private sector. The workshop aimed at agreeing on specific actions to ensure that the current crisis facing wastewater treatment in South Africa is addressed in a sustainable way and avoids sowing the seeds of a new crisis.

African Ministers Council on Water

The Mvula Trust was invited to a joint G8/Africa and AMCOW Working Summit Group for the AU and G8 summits held in Italy from 7th 10th July. Our very own Policy Specialist Khumbu Zuma led and represented the Trust. Khumbu worked with End Water Poverty as a South African spokesperson  on Africa perspective in water issues.


Wisa Award

The Mvula Trust won a WISA award for sustainability at Nhlungwane. It was a local water supply project (built around 1994/5) including a borehole, reticulation and standpipes- managed by local committee, consisting mainly of women, who collected a small contribution from each household for maintainance of the system. After ten years the pump was still functioning and well maintained, with surplus funds in  the community operation and maintenance account. For ten years the community was independent in respect to project maintanence and did not require municipal support. The implementation of the free-basic water policy altered the system and the Mzinyathi Mununicipality had to seek ways of remunerating and keeping on the capacity that was built in the project.

The Rural Schools Sanitation Programme

Between 1997 and 2002, the Mvula Trust implemented the Rural Schools Sanitation Programme with funding from the European Union. In more than 150 schools, ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines were constructed, and proper health and hygiene training and awareness raising were carried out.

Sibhasa School

The schools were requested to contribute 10% of the construction costs, in order to stimulate a sense of ownership of the project and to ensure the accountability of the project committees to parents.  Also, the schools were asked to form clusters of at least five neighbouring schools which all needed sanitation. This cluster approach had two main advantages. Firstly unit costs ( of administration, for example) were lowered as economies of scale became available. Secondly schools could help each other maintain momentum through peer pressure.

Rural water supply

Despite significant investment and important progress, access to safe potable water continues to be one of the most pressing challenges for rural communities in South Africa. Figures provided by the department of water affairs indicate that in April 2010 1.6-million people in South Africa did not have access to any formal water supply. However, because these figures are based on expenditure on water infrastructure, the actual backlog may be significantly high given that water supply in rural areas faces major challenges in terms of operation and maintenance and many villages counted as served, no longer have a functional supply.

Since Mvula’s inception in 1993 we have championed community-based models for water services provision. We have an international reputation for advancing community based management and establishing highly successful community based water services providers.

Our Implementation Model: Tried, Tested and Sustainable

Over the years we have piloted and refined an implementation approach based on a number of sound principles. This has become known as the CBO Implementation Model. This model focuses on a community management approach where a local water committee plays a key role in the implementation of a water project.   Our approach to project implementation ensures:

  • A thorough feasibility study including technical, social, institutional and financial assessments to ensure the overall viability of proposed projects
  • Participatory project planning, where all stakeholders (in particular local government and community representatives) participate in key decisions. Decision making is focused on who the legal water services provider (WSP) will be, level of service, technology choice and roles and responsibilities
  • A holistic project design that addresses all components necessary for sustainability including community needs, appropriate technology choice, health and hygiene practices, institutional capacity building, cost recovery and effective operations and maintenance.
  • A construction phase that focuses on community awareness, local capacity building, entrepreneurial skills development, and use of local labour.

An operations and maintenance (O&M) mentoring phase where Mvula ensures:


  1. The WSP has the necessary capacity to effectively fulfill its functions of O&M, billing and revenue collection, customer relations and monitoring and reporting
  2. Support mechanisms are in place
  3. Health and hygiene promotion continues within the community
  4. Development of partnerships between local government, the community and water services institutions
  5. A monitoring and evaluation phase where information is used to take any corrective action needed.