In 2009 I conducted what was arguably the most uncomfortable interview of my professional career when I was tasked with profiling Trevor Mulaudzi, the founder of The Clean Shop, who was a finalist in the Social Entrepreneur Category in the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year competition in the South African chapter.
For nearly 90 minutes Mulaudzi showed me picture after picture of collapsed toilet systems in and around townships, schools and other public facilities. He explained to me why kids were simply dropping out of school rather than being forced to use failed sanitation facilities at the schools and why they were drifting into shebeens who spent a little more effort making sure they had working toilets.
His message was very clear - at the heart of almost all social unrest lies a single pivot point - a basic lack of respect for human dignity. For those of us who live in decent houses and can afford to fork R600 to a plumber for a leaking tap, we cannot for a moment appreciate the humility that people face when they don't have working toilets. It is very difficult to be a role model in the township when you cannot provide an environment of basic self-respect.
I suspect by now you are grossed out and not keen to read any further but do yourself a favour and watch this short video package which emerged out of the "Hackathon" over the weekend which saw civic technologists teaming up with subject matter experts in an intensive 48 hour marathon to find innovative solutions to challenges facing the sanitation sector.
The below video highlights how entrepreneurship and mobile phones with a simple solution can materially change the lives of many living in the Western Cape: