South African statistics on household sanitation and hygiene



Sanitation and hygiene are vital for the prevention of various diseases and national health. They also play a role in protecting the environment through the preservation of natural resources, such as rivers and dams. Proper sanitation and hygiene can improve environmental conditions. IWESCO holds ISO 14001 certification for environmental management, so this is an important aspect of our cleaning and hygiene services.


The South African government last conducted a nationwide household survey in 2018. The results of this survey have shed light on the statistics regarding household sanitation and hygiene. They showed that the general level of cleanliness and access to basic hygiene needs is improving. The COVID-19 pandemic has most certainly boosted access to hygiene and encouraged every citizen to improve their personal sanitation and cleanliness regimes.


Statistics on household sanitation


According to the last government survey, the percentage of households with access to sanitation stands at 83% in South Africa. The Western Cape (93.8%) and Gauteng (91.8%) lead the provinces, while Mpumalanga (68.1%) and Limpopo (58.9%) need to improve their access to adequate sanitation. Similarly, access to flush toilets that connect to a sewage system is most prevalent in the Western Cape (89.1%) and Gauteng (88.6%) but least prevalent in Limpopo, where just 26.5% of homes have access to any type of flushing toilet.


Around 188 000 households still use bucket toilets that are cleaned by local municipalities, whereas 48 000 households have started using ecological toilets (also called composting toilets). These eco-friendly toilets are growing in popularity because they need no water or cleaning and can contain the smells quite well.


Household sanitation is still a concern for provincial governments and local municipalities across South Africa, but the figures have shown a steady increase in access to adequate sanitation over the last 18 years. In 2002, 12.6% of households had no access to proper sanitation facilities but this figure decreased to just 2.8% in 2018. The Eastern Cape showed the biggest improvement over this period.


Statistics on personal hygiene


Washing hands after using the toilet is absolutely vital in preventing the spread of bacteria and controlling the outbreak of infectious diseases. However, around 16% of South African households do not have access to running water to wash their hands. This percentage has likely decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic.


Of the remaining South African households, more than three-quarters stated that their family members wash their hands with soap and water after using the toilet. This shows that, while all South Africans are aware of the need for personal hygiene, most households do have access to the right facilities to ensure proper personal cleanliness.


Washing hands after using the toilet is most common in the Western Cape (96.3%) and least common in Limpopo (57.8%). Interestingly, Gauteng is the only province where personal hygiene was lower than the percentage of households with access to hand-washing facilities. Around 81% of homes in Gauteng have access to hand-washing facilities, but 78% of the population said that they actually wash their hands after using a toilet.


These statistics come from the national household survey in 2018, so they will have changed slightly by now. However, they are the statistics upon which local and provincial governments base their budgets and plans. This means that these statistics remain relevant up until a new nationwide survey takes place.

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IWESCO offers specialised cleaning and waste control services to industrial and commercial customers in South Africa. These services are aimed at minimising our customers’ impact on the environment. Our services also include pest control, garden maintenance, fogging and disinfecting. Our staff are highly trained to offer the most professional services. IWESCO is a Level 2 B-BBEE supplier with ISO 14001 certification for environmental management.

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We are a one-stop shop for all your contract cleaning and waste control needs and have a national footprint. Our head office is located in Tshwane but we can provide services to any industrial and commercial client in the major metropolitan areas around South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Mbombela and more.

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