13 November 2015

Containers as Ablutions

Although there have been improvements in sanitation in South Africa, there are still many communities -mostly informal settlements- that do not have access to adequate sanitation services; as a result, community members have to resort to using toilets fashioned out of buckets or latrines, which are not hygienic and are not welcomed by many residents of informal settlements. Oftentimes, community members are forced to walk long distances to access toilets; this puts their lives at risk as it is not safe, especially at night.


Ablution Container

The City of Durban has designed a solution to tackle the sanitation crisis that has troubled residents of informal settlements for many years: Ablution containers. The City of Durban’s “container-into-ablution blocks” project has been implemented in 350 informal communities; this project was recognised as being “excellent” at the African Utility Week conference.






Ablution containers are manufactured from shipping containers; the ablution containers provided by the City of Durban fit two showers, two flush toilets with doors, and two hand basins; there are ablutions for men and women. Since informal settlements tend to be unsafe, especially for women and children, lights have been installed in the ablution containers so that there can be easy access to them at night. According to the municipal spokesperson of Durban, Tozi Mthethwa, the containers are connected to the municipal sewage system.

Ablution Container2_Container WorldAblution Container_Container World

Container World played an instrumental role in this initiative; we supplied over 250 containers to the Ethekwini Municipality.

In addition to improving water and sanitation for 500 000 community members, the containers-into-ablutions blocks project created jobs. This stellar project resulted in the City of Durban winning the Municipality of the Year Award.

If you are interested in the many uses of shipping containers, visit the Container World website.