Comparing developments in water supply, sanitation and environmental health in four South African cities, 1840–1920

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 6
  • Abstract:

    Environmental health had its modern-day roots in the sanitation and public health movement of the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. The field addresses all human health-related aspects of both the natural environment and the built environment. In this article the focus is on issues of safe water and sanitation in Cape Town, Grahamstown, Durban and Johannesburg in the period 1840–1920. At the time the introduction and augmentation of water supply and sanitary reform were among the most important municipal issues to be addressed, along with the reduction of fire risks and the establishment of a financially effective administration. The links between health, racial segregation and differences in the provision of municipal services are also discussed in some detail. It will be shown that in conducting their work, local officials, together with the colonial authorities, set up a framework for local administration that was similar to governance structures in the UK. However, there were certainly unique elements in the evolution of local governments in South Africa