FSMA Spotlights: Solving the School Sanitation Maintenance Crisis

In this webinar, FSMA Spotlights School sanitation in South Africa and the solutions provided by successful Operations and Management (O&M).

School sanitation in South Africa has become a high-profile issue in recent years, owing to the tragic deaths of multiple learners in unsafe, unimproved pit latrines. Many interventions, including the Presidential Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative, have focused on the provision of new infrastructure to schools with inadequate sanitation. Numerous Water Research Commission (WRC) studies have highlighted that infrastructure only addresses the lack and quality of sanitation provision and that proper management is critical to the ongoing provision of safe, healthy, and dignified sanitation for learners.

This session will focus on the importance of operation and maintenance (O&M) of school sanitation and potential solutions to address the failures in O&M. The speakers will share their experiences and research on school-level management of school sanitation, the potential for private sector involvement in O&M of school toilets, and purchase agreements for toilets with servicing plans. This session will allow participants to learn from the South African experience and ideally share their own experiences from their own context.

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A discussion.


The FSMA Spotlights webinar series aims to highlight key aspects and discussions around FSM and the sanitation service chain.

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Registration is free and open to the public.


  • Ruth Cottingham (Associate at Khanyisa Projects)

    Ruth Cottingham

    Associate at Khanyisa Projects

    Ruth is an Associate at Khanyisa Projects in Durban, South Africa, with over ten years of experience in water and wastewater treatment, faecal sludge management and sanitation service provision. She holds two Masters degrees in Chemical Engineering and Integrated Water Management from the University of Cambridge and University of Queensland respectively.
    In her current role she manages the field testing in real-world environments of innovative non-sewered sanitation technologies for multiple international technology developers. She also carries out research into innovative operational and financing models for sanitation systems in South Africa, including in school and informal settlement contexts.
    She has worked on sanitation projects in various countries including Mozambique and South Africa and enjoys the challenge of trying to make sanitation happen at scale, across all the different fields of work and the variety of people that are involved.

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    Ednah Mamakoa is a technical officer for the SASTEP Programme at Water Research Commission where she is responsible for managing SASTEP’s SAFE Initiative and provides research and project management support to the programme as well as evaluate and analyze projects deliverables and their linkages to other science and innovation areas. She holds a BSc Community Water Services and Sanitation, A BSc Hons Environmental Management, Postgraduate Diploma in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and an MSc in Chemical Engineering. She has 12 years of experience as a RESEARCHER in the field of environmental management focusing mainly on water and wastewater in the mining, water services, and sanitation sectors. She has been directly involved in integrated water resources management, water quality management, wastewater treatment, groundwater development, sanitation technology evaluations, poverty alleviation and stakeholder management & participation, and implementation and evaluation of water and sanitation projects.

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  • Jeanette Neethling (Engineer at Partners in Development (PID))

    Jeanette Neethling

    Engineer at Partners in Development (PID)

    Jeanette is an engineer with Partners in Development (PID) in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where she works on design, research, and testing of innovative solutions for sanitation and faecal sludge management. She holds a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from University of Colorado, Boulder.
    In her current role with PID, Jeanette focuses on technical and O&M interventions to improve the delivery of sustainable sanitation. Jeanette has collaborated with teams to contribute to: development of an innovative pit emptying device; research into the impact of buried sludge on timber and the environment; testing of innovative sanitation systems; and development of a management model for school sanitation. She leads the training team for the Domestos Janitor Programme, which has reached over 900 schools across the country. This experience has given her insight into the unique challenges that schools are facing in providing dignified sanitation for learners.

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