WASSUP Diepsloot is determined to bring decent sanitation to Diepsloot Extension 1, one toilet at a time.

The environmental project was initiated by the international research programme, Global Studio, in 2007. Wassup, from Water Amenities Sanitation Services Upgrading Programme, improves public ablution facilities for the community – free of charge.

It was registered in December 2010 as a non-governmental organisation and is led by Diepsloot locals who repair toilets, drains and taps in their township. So far, the organisation has managed to repair 46 toilets.

Extension 1, one of several informal settlements in Diepsloot, is populated by about 15 900 families and consists mostly of shacks. Most of the roads are not tarred, becoming inaccessible quagmires after heavy rains.

Lucky Manyisi, the chairperson of Wassup Diepsloot, says that an average of 20 families share a single toilet in this sprawling township.

The organisation relies on donations from good Samaritans, one of which is the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA). It chipped in with a R60 000 donation earlier this year.

The JDA is a development agency of the City of Johannesburg. Its objectives include regenerating decaying areas around the city and developing best practice and organisational expertise in respect of area-based development management.

Wassup Diepsloot is well on its way fixing sanitation, yet the hard-working team of 10 had to learn some administrative skills along the way. The facilitator, Jennifer van den Bussche, had to teach the team how to do proper bookkeeping and stock taking, and write reports.

And to ensure the growth continues, the group meets every Thursday to give a detailed report back on what members have been working on, to discuss their challenges and to plan for the future.

“So far I can say that we are doing well because we have random toilets check to see if they are still in working order,” explains Manyisi.

While the organisation is doing well, he adds, it has to work to overcome the challenge of material being stolen from the storage facility and repaired toilets.