Climate Change Renaissance: The bottom-up city approach











**This article was cross posted from the Muungano wa Wanavijiji blog**

Similarly to local governments, federations of the urban poor globally are equally concerned about the strong impacts of climate change they continue to experience. Urban poor communities living in global cities believe that COP21 in Paris is an opportunity to state loud and clear that local communities are major players in finding lasting solutions in the struggle against climate change.

Anastasia Wairimu Maina is one of the founders of Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Kenyan Alliance and its National Chairlady since it was formed in 1996. Wairimu was one of the delegates representing Slum Dwellers International (SDI) at the COP21 summit in Paris. She views the Climate Summit as “an opportunity to voice up that we, the slum dwellers within the SDI network and beyond are major players in the struggle against climate change.”

“Cities can make a difference, our collective actions as a network of the urban poor globally ought to be recognized on the international platform of which our achievements may be built onto the climate agenda. This would encourage a more ambitious and inclusive international climate agreement in Paris.”

Anastasia Presenting on the need of partnerships between communities and local governments to address climate change

Anastasia highlighted how urban poor communities at the local and city levels are directly affected by climate change. “The floods, air pollution by medium and large industries and factories- which directly affects air quality in informal residential areas and settlement-fires. This intimates two things: Climate change is real and is here with us and local governments and authorities cannot address this on their own.”

Awareness Creation

In its urban agenda, Kenya’s federation of the urban poor, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, has begun to address challenges posed by climate change through awareness creation among the masses. The awareness is built on the Climatic Change Awareness Creation and Adaptation for Improved Livelihoods among urban poor Communities. Another aspect of this awareness is pegged on the improvement of food security for small holder city farmers and food vendors in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, through creating awareness about causes and effects of climate change while motivating them to mitigate and adapt to the changing climatic conditions.

Although climate change and its effects have taken root in most parts of Kenya, there is general lack of knowledge by the policy makers, private sector and urban communities about its causes, effects, mitigation and adaptation measures.

“The consequences of climate change are felt locally, often by slum dwellers living in degraded environments, and have to be dealt with at local and city levels. It is therefore crucial that the voices of the urban poor are taken into consideration by and wholly represented to the local authorities be heard at the Climate Summit. Then we can locally and influence change globally,” asserts Anastasia .

Inclusive participatory Planning of Public spaces

A Public Space in Kibera Photo Credits.

Urban planning and development remains to be an important aspect of rapid urbanization. This therefore makes it important for city authorities to innovate and plan for public spaces in a manner that would incorporate city demands, thus enabling city residents to feel part of the city. Public spaces are typically having the mandate of the people to develop, manage and maintain such spaces on behalf of the people.

Slum-dwellers play a significant civic role in the utilization and maintenance of public spaces. It is therefore equally important for city authorities to involve urban dwellers to model an inclusive, connected, safe, and accessible city. Public participatory processes give the urban poor the opportunity to help plan and design their city and its public spaces.

Anastasia emphasized the importance of (local) government and business partnering with organised slum dwellers, because “we are many, we have something to offer, and you cannot do without us to do something about climate issues.”

Cohesion and coordination between members of the public, community, and civic, charitable and private entities do commonly have different approaches and capacities to safeguard, utilise and improve public spaces. However, it is important to note that such spaces ought to bring all actors on board to enhance better planning, design and maintenance of public spaces.

The sustainability of our cities is enhanced by compact, mixed-use development, and dense centres served by a safe, well-connected network for pedestrians, bicycles and motorised vehicles. Renewable energy and waste recycling systems, native trees and vegetation, clean air, water, soil and sanitary systems all serve to sustain and benefit public spaces.

Governments often lead the way in taking ambitious action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. As the level of government closest to the people and the one responsible for actually implementing climate action on the ground, it is essential that they not only be heard, but also help shape the climate change discussions.

The SDI network is calling on national, European and international policy makers to recognise the role and efforts of local urban poor communities in climate mitigation and adaptation in the Paris agreement and to adapt both financial and legal framework conditions in partnership with local actors.

Building EcoSan toilets in Blantyre, Malawi


By Mariana Gallo and the Malawi Homeless People’s Federation


The sanitation challenges that Blantyre currently faces are complex with limited affordable options for informal residents to choose from. No sewerage treatment or disposal services, poor access to water, and a lack of space all characterise the cities’ slums.

The Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE) and the Malawian Federation have been supporting informal communities to access Ecological Sanitation (dry composting) toilets since 2005 with approximately 800 toilets serving 14,400 people having been built to date. EcoSan toilets started out as part of the housing process pursued by Federation savings groups but, over time, their provision has become a stand-alone investment in settlement upgrading.  Once the first “precedent” toilets were constructed, the benefits were realised by many and demand among the Federation grew. Currently, sanitation is a key aspect of the Blantyre Alliance’s settlement upgrading efforts. Community-led data collection shows the gaps that exist between the number of residents and the number of toilets in a settlement. Profiles indicate that in many of Blantyre’s slum settlements toilets are shared by up to 10 families (approximately 60 people), stressing the urgency for affordable and practical solutions.


The demand for EcoSan sanitation has grown over the years due to a number of advantages in comparison to more traditional approaches to sanitation (e.g. simple or improved pit latrines):

  • The capacity to save space/land: Unlike pit latrines, there is no need to build a new toilet once the EcoSan is full, as it can be easily emptied by the user. The challenges of emptying traditional pit latrines (high costs and unavailability of the service) mean that many people have no choice but to cover the latrine when full and dig a new one. This has both negative environmental consequences (e.g. groundwater infiltration) and spatial consequences.
  • Saving money: The humanure harvested from the toilets can be used as fertilizer for garden and crops. This saves money for the household, who no longer need to incur the cost of buying fertilizer. On average, the cost of buying fertilizer is around 17.000 Malawian Kwacha (29 USD) for one 50kg bag. Most people would use four bags in one farming season (one year), for one acre of land.
  • Generating income: In some cases EcoSan users have been able to sell the harvested humanure to local farmers or companies and generate additional income for the family. The following figures are tentative but a 50kg bag of humanure can be sold for up to 2500 Mk (4 USD). In six months, a household produces a minimum of 300 kg (six bags) of humanure. If all sold, this could provide an income of up to 48 USD in one year. Blantyre EcoSan users have, in the past, sold humanure to the City Council for landscaping initiatives across the city, for example. There is a demand of the product from private buyers and companies that currently remains unmet due to low production and gaps in the market chain. Unfortunately, not all EcoSan toilet users are able to take advantage of this – the estimates show that currently only 20% of EcoSan users using or selling the humanure, a figure that varies on the area and according to the availability of agriculture land or available markets. Further research on the use of humanure is required, as well as further dissemination of information regarding the advantages of this resource. The context is also playing a key role: currently, the national government is cutting subsidies, making it more difficult for the poor to access subsidised fertilizer, which has meant an ongoing increase in households using or selling
  • Status symbol and prestige: The smart design of the EcoSan toilet is a source of pride for owners and this status symbol encourages others to invest in the technology. In addition, the toilets are odourless, creating a more pleasant home environment – a further source of pride.
  • Durability and safety: EcoSan toilets have proven to be able to withstand disasters as demonstrated during the heavy rains and floods that hit Blantyre in January 2015. Many pit latrines collapsed or were filled with water, however only a single EcoSan toilet was reported to have suffered damage. This incident has further improved the reputation and increased the demand for EcoSan sanitation in the affected areas.
  • Water efficient: EcoSan toilets only require a small amount of water for use and maintenance and are therefore sought after in areas with poor water supply (which is the case in most of Blantyre). Many informal residents use water from shallow wells and boreholes and since EcoSan, unlike traditional latrines, cause hardly any groundwater infiltration or pollution they are considered to be safer, more environmentally-friendly options.


Including all community members

At first, toilet loans and technical support were only offered to Federation members – accessed and managed through savings schemes. After a number of years, and subsequent to internal discussions, EcoSan sanitation loans were made available to non-Federation members. This change was motivated by an increased interest in the technology by the wider community and recognition that scaling up must imply working beyond the Federation as the whole community, and not just Federation members, face sanitation challenges. An example of one such challenge was the cholera outbreak of January 2015 that affected entire communities. The toilets built to date have been spread across low-income areas in Blantyre with greater uptake in areas with rocky ground where traditional latrines have been difficult and expensive to build. Using data from enumeration reports, the density of EcoSan provision ranges from between 2 in 10 households in some areas to 6 in 10 households in others.

The process of including non-Federation members required a focus on the mobilisation of entire communities. In Blantyre, EcoSan toilet provision has taken a central place in slum upgrading strategies. The slum upgrading work is undertaken in close collaboration with traditional leaders, who play an important role in vouching for individuals to receive sanitation loans, managing various meetings and overseeing any issues that arise around repayment.  Drawing traditional leaders into the process has proved effective especially when working with non-Federation members and loan repayments rates have improved.  Repayment rates have varied between 45% and 87% over time and are often affected by variables such as whether it is a lean period or harvest time. As noted, institutional shifts in the methods deployed by the Federation have also affected repayments (e.g. a 5% commission for loan collectors has recently been introduced. But before this can be implemented more widely, more questions on costs need to be answered). The highest effectiveness was demonstrated when Federation teams worked closely with technical projects teams. However, over time this approach has not been sustained and repayments have dropped.



The current cost of a complete EcoSan toilet (toilet and bathroom) is 150,000 MK (around 272 USD). Families are required to make an initial payment of 10% (15.000MK) and the rest over one year period (with interest). These costs can be unaffordable for many of the poorest residents of informal settlements in Blantyre. In addition, the burden has been on landlords to invest in the toilet, with tenants having to push for the service. In the cases when landlords have invested, in general, rents have not increased as in Malawi it is the landlord’s responsibility to provide a toilet for tenants – a cost incurred whether the investment is EcoSan or a traditional pit latrine.

Some advantages in terms of costs of the EcoSan toilets are:

  • A traditional latrine costs about half the price of an EcoSan toilet (75,000 MK or 136 US$) but it needs to be rebuilt after 2-3 years, while an EcoSan toilet can last for as long as 20 years. Thus cumulatively the EcoSan is a cheaper long-term investment.
  • As noted earlier in the blog, income can be generated through the sale of humanure.

Understanding that despite the above benefits long-term investments can be prohibitive for the poor, several measures have been put in place to make the toilets affordable. These include:

  • A reduction in the initial capital down payment for the toilet
  • Encouraging people to source local materials (such as sand and brick) and provide part of the labour required. This can, at most, halve the initial cost of the toilet.
  • Encouraging beneficiaries to start planning ahead of construction, sourcing materials little by little, and saving before construction commences.
  • The loan system, which comprises a 10% down payment and the rest paid over a year (with 4% monthly interest on the declining balance) helps people afford a sum that they could not otherwise afford. However, it is felt that this is still too high and alternatives models are being explored.
  • In order to afford repayments and cut interests costs, several families may take on a loan for a single toilet. Once the toilet is built and loan paid off (normally in 6 months as 3 families are now paying for a single loan) a second family can take a loan and build a toilet with the process repeating itself.

Whilst a lot has been achieved so far, the scale of the problem in Blantyre is huge and further efforts are needed to address improved sanitation for the poor. The construction of household EcoSan toilets is an ongoing process, with a revolving fund financing mechanism that covers the loans provided throughout time, and a demand that continues to grow. Six EcoSan public toilets have been constructed in market places in informal settlements, which look to release the pressure of the lack of sanitation facilities in those areas, and serve about 1,500 people that work and visit each market daily. These toilets are community-managed through a local committee and the small fee paid by customers (of 30mk or 0.05 USD, representing 3.6% of monthly income of someone on minimal wage) aims to ensure their maintenance and sustainability over time. Furthermore, a city-wide sanitation committee has been set up to oversee the functioning of all the public toilets and all local committees (to ensure appropriate management of the facilities). Furthermore, the city-wide committee is expected to engage in other initiatives related to city-wide sanitation in the near future. CCODE, the Federation, the City Council and traditional leaders are represented in the committee, ensuring close partnerships for better sanitation in the city.

Some of the issues delaying the progress in the provision of adequate sanitation are the lack of trained builders in this technology, which depends on the demand – which can be high with as many as 20 toilets on the waiting list. Constructing a toilet takes 1 week, and sometimes families have to wait up to 2 weeks to have their toilet built. Training is on-going to ensure there is a workforce available to address the existing demand. Funds required to finance the toilets as well as to fund further trainings and supervision could also boots the efforts and multiply impact, and these have been secured in the past through organisations such as the African Development Bank (ADB).

The provision of EcoSan is implemented as a joint venture with Blantyre City Council (BCC), deepening the relationship between the BCC and CCODE/Federation. The City Council provided support in terms of programme design, and in some cases it also provided land for public toilets. This has helped scaling up of the efforts in the southern region of the country, and set precedents that are now being implemented in other regions, as an essential component of a number of donor-funded projects. Furthermore, EcoSan toilets have been included in the national sanitation catalogue as an improved sanitation technology, an achievement that will enhance its replication.

Building Communal Sanitation in Uganda


This is the third in a series of eight blogs that highlight lessons from community-led sanitation practices and experiences from across SDI’s network and which exemplify our practice. The blogs will cover practical, social and financial aspects of sanitation provision for residents in low-income, primarily informal, settlements. There is no single solution that can address sanitation across the network. This series offers a “toolkit” of options that speak to a variety of contexts. This “toolkit” is grounded in the experiences and learning of the urban poor Federations which make up SDI’s network.

This blog describes the Ugandan Alliances experiences with designing, building and managing communal facilities across the country. There are no capital subsidies for sanitation in Uganda and the Alliance has attempted to build mixed-use facilities that recover some of their capital costs through usage charges. While full capital cost recovery is still some time away the units provide concrete examples of collective planning, construction, management and maintenance. They have also assisted in securing partnerships with local government and leveraging tangible benefits (e.g. land) for scaling up sanitation provision across Uganda.

By Hellen Nyamweru, Silver Michael Owere and the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda

In Uganda, 32 million people do not have access to adequate sanitation. Over 8,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Uganda (Water Aid 2015). In numerous enumeration, profiling and mapping exercises conducted in Uganda by the SDI alliance, sanitation “gaps” characterize informal settlements. A recent slum enumeration in Bwaise, Mayinja zone for instance revealed that approximately 220 persons lacked a location to ease themselves and most of the toilets in the area were either full, out of service or in very bad state emitting a foul smell. People ease themselves in buckets and pour out the waste in open drainages at night. The lack or inadequacy of an excreta disposal system is the main cause of diseases such as diarrhoea and typhoid in the slums. UNDESA (2014) statistics indicate that about 2.5 billion people still lack improved sanitation and that 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation, (15% of the world population), the highest of this number being in sub-Saharan Africa. Sanitation should be made a global development priority.

The Ugandan SDI Alliance [National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda(NSDFU) and the support NGO-Actogether] recognise the seriousness of these facts and have been at the forefront of advocating for improved sanitation in the informal settlements of Uganda, adopting a sanitation strategy that provides improved, simple and affordable sanitation to urban poor communities. The Alliance shares a deep conviction that every human being should have access to basic sanitation in order to live a dignified life.

The Ugandan Alliance has constructed 18 Federation operated toilets in Mbale and Jinja-(Eastern Uganda), Mbarara and Kabale (Western Uganda) and in Rubaga, Kampala Central, Nakawa, Makindye and Kawempe (the five divisions of Kampala city). There are two typologies of toilet. The first category consists of two storeyed sanitation units containing toilet stances and bathrooms on the ground floor and a community hall on top floor. The structure also contains a water tank and a tap. The second category is water borne toilets with a compact digesting chamber that is filled with worms that naturally digest the waste. The toilets use a small amount of water, which is flushed before being directed to the digester.


Photo 1: Kisenyi sanitation unit. This is the biggest sanitation unit in Uganda with 13 stances (5 for men, 8 for women), one for the physically disabled, 4 for children, and a urinal. The unit also consists of a caretaker’s house, a water point, a community hall and resource centre, which doubles as an office of the Federation.


Figure 1: Uganda federation projects


Photo 2: Mbarara sanitation unit-Western Uganda


Photo 3: Mbale sanitation unit-Eastern Uganda


Photo 4: Kalimali sanitation unit -Kampala

From project inception regional Federation teams led the design, planning and construction of toilets with the guidance of the ACTogether technical arm and national NSDFU leadership.

The approach is demand-driven where communities realize the sanitation challenge and in turn initiate talks and negotiations to change the status quo. Community led approaches mean that investments are likely to be maintained and assists in ensuring that other issues are also addressed. Alliance sanitation goes beyond providing units and takes a holistic approach which includes improving people’s uptake of toilets.  NSDFU sells clean water at many toilets improving community hygiene and cutting down the distances many people have to walk to access water. Water is sold at UGX 100 per 20 litre jerry can – an affordable rate decided upon through community discussions and engagement. Federation members usually lobby the National Water and Sewerage Company (NWSCO) for a public meter as opposed to a domestic or commercial water point so as to benefit from reduced charges.  Domestic and commercial meters attract high charges because they are considered to be for private consumption. Toilet managers have to demonstrate that they will be providing water to persons in the community who live under water “stressed” conditions.  On average a family uses a maximum of three jerry cans per day, though this might rise to five or six jerry cans when they have to wash clothes and clean the house. During rainy seasons, community members collect rain water, saving a shilling or two. In different perception surveys conducted by the Ugandan SDI Alliance, communities indicate that cases of water-borne diseases have been reduced in the areas where water is sold.

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Tanzania federation undertaking training on bio-fill toilets at the Jinja Training material centre

Lessons from the toilets

Sanitation facilities have become an Alliance best practice that has been taken up by community groups and partners working on providing sanitation in urban settings. Since the establishment of the Kisenyi sanitation unit in 2004, communities in the federation have asked their local governments to provide land where they can set up public sanitation facilities. These projects also serve as catalysts of community mobilization. People living in the informal settlements are attracted to join the cause of the federation based on these public services. In Mbale for instance, the sanitation unit not only dramatically improved the sanitation situation in the settlement of Mission Cell, where no facilities previously existed, but it convinced the municipal council to award the federation a number of further contracts for sanitation units in the second phase of the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (TSUPU) program, funded by the World Bank to improve living conditions in informal settlements. When communities witness such happenings in their settlements, they are drawn to join the federation movement.

The projects have also demonstrated a new model for communities to access and manage services, build their skills and capacity in construction, gain employment and generate income. During the development of these sanitation facilities, project recipient federation members appoint a project management committee in charge of construction and responsible for the management of the sanitation unit. On completion, the same committee appoints a management committee responsible for running their new project.

Project management committees are trained in toilet construction and are now skilled in this field. The toilet units also employ caretakers who receive an average of UGX 150,000 each month (see fig.4 toilet breakdown). This amount depends on the monthly collection/income from the unit. For instance, when the collection is low the caretaker’s allowance is reduced so as to accommodate other expenses incurred by the unit. The UGX 150,000 allowance is the ceiling for all Uganda federation projects.  Caretakers conduct the daily activities of keeping the unit clean and collecting the user fees.


Figure 2:Project Management Committee-Construction phase




Figure 3: Project Management Committee-management phase

Federating around the issues of improving sanitation has augmented the social capital of the communities in that the community takes a collective role in changing the status quo of their settlement. Members have learnt that unity and cooperation is very important in overcoming different challenges in their communities. Women are very active in sanitation meetings and make up the greatest number in the project management committees. They are committed to improving sanitation for themselves and their children. A good example is Mukama Wakisa saving group in Jinja, Walukuba West settlement. The group is made up of 53 women who wrote a proposal to the municipal council in Jinja seeking to be awarded a grant under the Community Upgrading Fund. After their proposal was evaluated they were awarded UGX 30,000,000 to construct a four stance toilet (2 for men, 2 for ladies), 1 shower room on either side, a store and an office for the caretaker.


Walukuba West Toilet in Jinja

The Uganda alliance sanitation strategy is guided by the pillars of the federation, the most prominent being savings. The realization that UGX 100 saved daily can make a difference catalyzes the Federation movement. The federation uses savings to show commitment as well as their financial contribution to projects. They bank these savings in the local urban poor basket fund (known as SUUBI) and then approach the NGO for additional funding for a sanitation unit.

A good example is found in Mbale municipality where Mission Cell savings group purchased land worth UGX 5,000,000 from a community member. They then approached ACTogether to support the construction of a sanitation unit. ACTogether lobbied for additional funds (UGX 54,220,000) from SDI’s Urban Poor Fund International. The group was awarded a total of UGX 38,220,000 which they used to construct the ground floor that consists of eight stances (4 for men, 4 for women), 2 shower rooms on either side, 1 stance for the physically disabled, 1 store, a tank on the roof, and a community water stand pipe . The group is also contributing towards the completion of the second floor which will have a community hall. So far the group has paid a total of UGX 4,360,000 since July 2013. The unit began operations in June 2013

ACTogether Uganda receives many proposals from community members who desire to have toilet facilities in their settlements. These proposals have to be backed by a 20% contribution from the communities which they mobilize using their urban poor fund saving basket. The NGO mobilizes additional funding from a wide range of agencies including the Uganda government, development partners (e.g. World Bank, Cities Alliance), and private companies (e.g. Barefoot Solar, Bartle Bogle Hegarty).

The Ugandan Alliance’s sanitation intervention has served to demonstrate the capacity of the urban poor to the government and other development partners. It has exhibited the community’s ability to design projects, budget on available resources, negotiate for land, construct facilities, and craft ways of ensuring project longevity and sustainability. Communities are now equal partners – not passive beneficiaries – in development projects . In Jinja and Mbale for instance, the community has been engaged in municipal infrastructure upgrading programs including the construction of public sanitation units, waiting sheds, community drainage systems, street lights, and health centres.


Toilets in Jinja constructed by the community using TSUPU funds 

Several sanitation projects have been set up on land provided by the government and for which building commencement fees have been waived. Sanitation units in Kisenyi Mbarara, Kabale, Rubaga, and Kinawataka sit on land provided by the government. The government has also provided technical support in project design and supervision during construction to these toilets in the spirit of partnership and contributing to a common goal of improving community sanitation.


The communities are involved from the initial stages of project conception, and toilet fees are agreed upon by a general consensus. Communities have had experiences where toilet facilities provided by local government for which no fee was charged have broken down because of poor maintenance. Some of these toilets have been taken up and privatised by landlords or Parish Development Chiefs only to charge exorbitant fees, which local residents could not afford. They therefore agree on a figure which considers their pocket while ensuring the continuity of the project. All federation toilet projects in Uganda charge UGX 200 for toilet use and UGX 500 for bathroom use. This cost is lower than other public facilities (e.g. the city centre and bus park) where the charge is UGX 300 for toilets. Showering at the bus park bathrooms costs UGX 1000. Children use federation facilities free of charge.

To further subsidize on this cost, federation members running these units are exploring the subscription system where a family subscribes for toilet usage on a monthly basis paying UGX 6,000. The subscription system ensures a guaranteed source of income for the unit that can be used to maintain the facility. The names of the family members are registered with the caretaker who then provides a subscription card to the household head. The card is used by the registered family for as many times as they wish till its expiry at the end of the month. While paying these amounts at any community sanitation facility, one has to consider that the federation has to pay water bills and electricity bills while at the same time ensuring a good ambience in the facility, keeping it clean (soap and disinfectants) and providing tissue paper to the users.

Mbarara Nyamityobora Toilet Breakdown

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Fig 4: Nyamityobora toilet breakdown,Mbarara

Experience on mini-block toilets

Over the years, the Uganda federation has been thinking on how to approach the issue of limited space in relation to setting up sanitation units. Space among other factors has been one of the major hindrances to the provision of sanitation units in slums considering congestion and density. Some parts of Kampala, such as Bwaise, have a high water table that makes toilet construction an extremely expensive venture.

Through peer-to-peer exchanges, the Ugandan SDI Alliance piloted a new toilet model that uses very little space. Bio-fill toilets are water borne with a compact digesting chamber that is filled with worms that naturally digest the waste. The toilet uses a small amount of water that is flushed before being directed to the digester. The worms naturally digest the waste, reducing mass and smell. The size is ideal for crowded slum areas and can be easily raised for places with high water tables. The pit only needs to be emptied after every two years. Each stance is designed to accommodate 20 users in a day. A public toilet with four stances can therefore accommodate a maximum of 80 long calls (defecation) per day and many more short calls. Surpassing this number would mean overloading the facility that can result in the toilet breaking down. Communities are sensitised against overloading their units to avoid such costs.

Because the toilet uses only a limited amount of water, necessary water can be collected from rain tanks and supplemented with purchased water during the dry seasons, reducing maintenance costs and eliminating the cost of water and sewerage connections and bills. Water is diverted into a soak pit where it is safely filtered before draining into the ground. When the pit fills digested waste is safe for manual removal and can easily be processed to become high quality fertiliser. To implement this new technology, the engineer at ACTogether worked with an international intern from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)  to develop sanitation prototypes to be used by the communities.

1 stance biofill = $1000 (2.5 millions) 1 stance with double pit = $1200 (3 millions)
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 2 stance biofill system = $1000 (5 millions) 4 stance and 2 shower rooms biofill public toilet =$6400 (16 millions)

Four models of toilet are currently available:

  • 1 stance biofill toilet (uses worms to digest the fecal matter)
  • 2 stances with a double pit (fitted with two septic tanks)
  • 2 stance bio-fill toilet (uses worms to digest fecal matter)
  • 4 stances public toilet and 2 shower rooms (this can either be fitted with a septic tank or bio-fill technology-worms- depending on the population of the settlement. .

The double pit is advantageous in that one side of the toilet can be closed to allow decomposition. Once the manure is removed and sold that side of the toilet can be used. This rotation ensures that the facility can be used constantly.

Bio-fill units are provided to communities through a loan arrangement and require a federation savings group to deposit 20% of the total cost as a commitment fee before the construction of the unit can start. The beneficiaries then have to repay the loan in full in a matter of years depending on the type of unit. Repayment periods range between 1 and 4 years depending on the unit. In most cases, the toilet proposals are made by families saving locally. Landlords also apply for the loan and spread the cost across tenants’ monthly rentals. Once the loan has been paid to full balance the individual or the group owns the facility. Using the innovative technology of pre-cast panels, these toilets can be disassembled in case the owner or the group is relocated or in unfortunate circumstances where there are evictions. The repayments from these units are used to scale up the toilet provision process in other regions.

The alliance is set to popularize these units by spreading the idea to landlords in all of Kampala’s informal settlements. They are suitable in circumstances where there is little space and a need for limited water consumption. Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), the governing authority in Kampala, has come down hard on landlords who rent units that do not make provision for toilets and bathrooms. They have put in place stringent measures that mean closure of the rental units unless they comply.  The Alliance wishes to capitalise on this and sell bio-fill toilets, thereby revolving monies in the Urban Poor Fund while at the same time increasing toilet coverage in the slums and in turn keeping diseases such as typhoid and dysentery at bay.

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Photos showing Kitunzi market bio-fill public toilet before and after upgrading

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Wakaliga toilet in Rubaga divisions showing the state of the toilet before upgrading and after

In a perception survey conducted by the Alliance late last year, communities reported improved hygiene and clean environment as key results from the sanitation intervention. Individual beneficiaries are also enjoying odorless, clean and easy to maintain toilets in their compounds. One beneficiary shared her joy in having the new unit and how she can now host visitors with confidence in her house unlike in the past.

“I would get embarrassed every time I hosted visitors because of the filthy smell around home that would come from my old toilet, a pit latrine that kept filling now and then. With this new toilet, I don’t have to worry about all that, you can’t even tell where the toilet is located, there is no bad smell and many people are asking me where I got this toilet”

Impact and Policy

At the national level, ACTogether and NSDFU are members of the Uganda National Solid Waste Strategy committee steered by the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development which focuses on how municipalities can manage solid waste. Presently, municipalities are preparing individual solid waste plans to feed into the National Strategy.

The government is obliged to find solutions for ensuring access to water and sanitation for all but the high population and the pressure of urbanization makes this difficult. At best, the state has been able to supplement these efforts by providing land, funds and the technical support necessary to establish sanitation units.

Communities have proven their potential to manage capital projects. This has also attracted international recognition, a case in point being the awarding of funds to community groups in Jinja and Mbale to put up community toilets under the Cities Alliance/World Bank funded TSUPU program worth UGX 150,000,000. To date thirteen toilets have been built under this programme ( 8 in Jinja and 5 in Mbale)

The Ugandan Alliance believes the journey towards adequate sanitation and water is still long but we take pride in being active change agents on this agenda. Community services provided by the federation allow those who cannot access these facilities to access sanitation and water through their own means, a clear demonstration of active citizenship.

Improved Sanitation Improves Half a Million Lives in Pune, India

By Maria Lobo and Mahila Milan


Sanitation has been the shame of India. More than 50 percent of people who still defecate in the open live in India. Most of these are from rural areas but many of them are urban slum dwellers.  Public toilets, though available, are all too often  so rundown and filthy that defecating in the open remains preferable. This affects the overall health and dignity of slum dwellers, especially women. The following is a demonstration of a bottom-up advocacy approach to sanitation which is led by the community themselves. This experience challenges the mindset of people who seldom think of slum dwellers as capable of bringing change from below.

Community Toilets in Pune

In Pune, a partnership between the municipal government, NGOs and community-based organisations has built more than 400 community toilet blocks between 1999 and 2001. These have greatly improved sanitation for more than half a million people living in slums. They have also demonstrated the potential of municipal community partnerships to improve conditions for low-income groups.

How it all began

Based on the discussions of female slum dwellers, specifically around the challenge of open defecation, the Indian SDI Alliance (NSDF, Mahila Milan and SPARC) prioritised addressing the sanitation challenge.  Given the huge problems in dense, inner city slums and the lack of formal sewerage connections the community toilet block was tabled as a solution that promoted access  to sanitation In the absence of safe disposal of faecal matter through the sewer connectivity, safety tanks were the next best option suggested .Over time, the alliance built many such community toilet blocks, initially with grants to develop, design, and get acceptance from community groups and municipalities in over 20 large and medium cities across India. In all locations, they began to explore where they could locate a municipality that would take on this strategy at a significant scale.

The first possibility arrived in 1994. The World Bank began negotiations with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to seek a loan for a large sewage treatment project in the city. This mega-buck, mega-infrastructure project involved a large-scale expansion of Mumbai’s undersized and overtaxed sewer system. Thanks to pressure from local NGOs, the World Bank set one condition for the loan – that the project also address the needs of the poor and, to the Indian Alliance’s delight, include the building of community toilets in a selected group of slums. The project set a target of providing 20,000 toilets, enough for at least a million people at the less-than-perfect ratio of one toilet for every 50 people. When the Alliance was invited to explore ways to get involved, it saw a chance to test some of its ideas about community-managed sanitation at a much larger scale, and to strengthen a constructive partnership between the urban poor and the city government. While the Alliance was keen on community participation in taking up this project, the World Bank had the different approach of setting up a competitive bidding process which pitted one community against another to be chosen for demo projects. In addition the overall procurement strategy did not work for the alliance. So with some regrets the alliance withdrew from this project at that time.

In 1999 the Municipal Commissioner of Pune, Ratnakar Gaikwad, who co-incidentally had been the additional (deputy) commissioner of Mumbai Municipal Corporation while the community toilet project was under discussion, invited the alliance to work in Pune. He devised a sanitation program for the city of Pune  based on the strategy developed by the alliance. It was set up in several stages.  Since 1992, only 22 ‘pay and use’ toilet blocks had been built in the city of Pune. A decision was thus taken to construct around 400 community toilet blocks in two phases starting in 1999. NGOS were invited to apply for a fixed price tender and get contracted to organise communities to design construct and manage community toilets. A formal commitment was sought by the municipality  that the NGO and the community would maintain the toilet block by collecting contributions from the community. The contracts were not only for building toilets but also for maintenance. In awarding contracts, priority was given as follows:

i) settlements of more then 500 inhabitants that had no toilet facilities,

ii) areas where facilities were so dilapidated that they needed replacement

iii) areas where there were toilets but a larger population was forced to use them as against the standard norm of 1 seat for 50 persons.

Bids from eight NGOs were accepted, of which SPARC was one of the selected NGOs.

Meetings in every locality in Pune were organised by Mahila Milan. In the beginning, there was a lot of hand-holding. There were engineers and architects stationed in Pune who were always available for advice and guidance. Every site would be visited every day by an engineer who would sort out problems on the spot. There were regular visits by a team from Mumbai to give overall direction to the programme. Masons and carpenters with experience from within the slums were supported to take on jobs, along with regular contractors. There has been considerable debate about how best to fund the maintenance of these toilets. The Indian Alliance promoted a system whereby each family would buy a pass costing 20 rupees a month. This was based on the income required to cover the costs of hiring a family (who would live in a caretaker’s room above the toilet) and costs of cleaning and maintenance materials. This is much cheaper than the one rupee per use charge used by other public toilets which for a family of five would cost 150 rupees a month even if each household member only used the toilet once a day.

From the beginning the urgency in the project was based on the realisation that the Commissioner was a project “champion” and this project had to be completed during his tenure in Pune. Everyone was learning as they raced around getting things done. The downside of this was that many mistakes were made, and repairing them cost the Alliance resources that the city would not provide. The reality, however, was that if we had hesitated, we would have lost the chance to do this project and to learn from it. It’s a difficult choice but often when working on issues concerning the poor, plunging into untested waters is the only way to produce precedents. And a precedent was established in Pune, as the first location for community toilet construction at a city-wide scale. The program took off in a big way and virtually all slums were provided with toilet blocks (

As soon as the sanitation work in Pune took off the  Indian Alliance  began to once again focus on Mumbai but the World Bank and the municipality continued to go back and forth on how to proceed with contracts. Finally the procurement policy was finalized and the Alliance agreed to take part and their experience of working with slums was made a critical factor in the tender point system. The Alliance got the contract to construct toilet blocks along with two other NGOS in Mumbai. As part of the Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Project, which started in 1999 and is still ongoing in different phases, the Alliance has constructed, to date, 366 community toilet blocks with 6952 seats.

Later, Ratnakar Gaikwad was appointed director of YASHADA, a national training institute for government officials based in Pune. Discussions between his office and the Alliance led to a seminar that included NGOs, government agencies, training institutions, and other institutions that wanted to work on urban sanitation and to create a collective boost to their various efforts to address open defecation.

The work undertaken by the partnership of the Alliance, YASHADA and Administrative Staff Collage India (a major institution that does research and trains a wide spectrum of private and public administrators)  opened the possibility of working in some new cities. But it went both ways: these city processes were fed back as examples in the training and capacity-building sessions that were being held in the two training institutes. In all of these cities, as in every other experience, the Alliance had to struggle for several years to be fully paid for its work.

Tirupur followed Pune and started a sanitation programme in 2004, where the Alliance along with a private sector company (who was contracted to undertake infrastructure projects) constructed 14 toilet blocks with 254 seats. Nineteen community toilet blocks were later constructed in Vishakhapatnam, a port city of Andhra Pradesh, between 2004-2005; these blocks included 232 seats. Vijayawada is a medium-sized town in Andhra Pradesh. The sanitation project here started in 2004 when, at a national sanitation meeting, the commissioner of Vijayawada heard about the Mumbai sanitation project and invited NSDF to work in the city. Seventeen toilet blocks with 128 seats were constructed for a population of 6,400. In 2006, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation contracted Pune Mahila Milan to construct 7 toilet blocks with 90 seats to initiate its sanitation project. The project in Pimpri reflects the importance of building demonstration pilots which can be picked up and expanded upon. In cities where the federations have the capacity to operate at scale, they can handle the expansion phase. In 2007, a project called Nirmal MMR Abhiyan (Campaign for a Clean MMR) designed a strategy to finance community toilets in slums in Mumbai and 13 other municipalities.


This programme helped to reconfigure the relationships between city government and civil society. NGOs and communities were neither “clients” nor “supplicants”, but partners. The city government recognized the capacity of community organizations, supported by local NGOs, to develop their own solutions. The division of roles was also clear in that city authorities changed their role from being a toilet provider to setting standards, funding the capital cost of construction, and providing water and electricity. The NGOs and community organizations designed, built and maintained the toilet blocks.

It was only after they had started working in Pune in 1998 that the Alliance re-entered the fray in Mumbai, where the World Bank was still committed to a competitive bidding process and where the slum sanitation part of the huge sanitation project continued to face challenges from all sides. After the success of the Pune model and project, the Alliance was contracted to construct community toilets in slums as part of the Mumbai World Bank project and all procurement procedures were redrafted.

In 2000, the Pune municipal commissioner and the Indian Alliance were invited to make a presentation to the prime minister’s office. A Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan programme was announced and the Planning Commission dedicated funds to cities that want to take up sanitation projects (Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan in Hindi means “Mission to clean India”). The planning Commission is the highest Planning institution in India. Between 2000-2008, a partnership between the Indian SDI Alliance, YASHADA (training institute of the government of Maharashtra), ASCI (Administrative Staff Collage, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh), and the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program led to the inclusion of slum sanitation in the training of many city officials. In 2009, after national and state-level consultations, development of city-based indicators and state government agreements, the cabinet passed the national policy for urban sanitation. In retrospect the volume of interventions desired did not take place. In many ways essential recommendations ( e.g. city wide data to create benchmarks for deficits) were taken up but instead of facilitating communities and municipalities to undertake this, the process was assigned to consultants. In this manner over 400 such surveys and follow up projects were prepared but the delivery of sanitation did not occur.

Community based organisations and alliances face the challenge that the production of a sanitation solution and working to set precedents works effectively at a settlement and city scale. However once the process seeks to take a quantum leap to become nationally embedded it gets appropriated in ways that excludes the community champions that drive it.







pimpri toilets


Building a Communal Toilet in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe

By Evans Banana and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation

This is the first in a series of eight blogs that highlight lessons from community-led sanitation practices and experiences from across SDI’s network and which exemplify our practice. The blogs will cover practical, social and financial aspects of sanitation provision for residents in low-income, primarily informal, settlements. There is no single solution that can address sanitation across the network. This series offers a “toolkit” of options that speak to a variety of contexts. This “toolkit” is grounded in the experiences and learning of the urban poor Federations which make up SDI’s network. The first blog in the series describes a communal sanitation facility for families renting accommodation from the council in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

This example has been selected because it is very affordable to local residents and includes even the lowest-income families. The solution involves the local community working in collaboration with the council to provide facilities that are managed by residents, organized through their savings groups. In this case council made a significant financial contribution of USD 7,500 to the project.

Saving groups or schemes as they are commonly known across the SDI network are the centre of community organization and act as an entry point to build cohesion between individuals. The saving schemes are formed on a voluntary basis and individuals agree to abide by collectively agreed group principles or rituals. Rituals are basic guidelines to a group’s behavior and identity. Groups can practice daily or weekly saving and can collectively decide on which priority to save toward. The saving schemes within a settlement form an area network that is strategically used to engage with the authorities on a commonly shared vision. Over time saving schemes federate at the settlement, city, and national level and are mobilized around solving common challenges. In the case of Gadzema, a saving scheme was established and prioritized saving toward sanitation and engaging local authorities on this issue.

Background Context

Chinhoyi was established in 1906 and is one of Zimbabwe’s oldest towns. Like most colonial settlements the town is divided between the affluent, spacious, homes of white settlers and the more cramped accommodation of the majority black labour force. Gadzema, the settlement where the communal toilet is located, was originally developed as hostel accommodation for black male laborers working in nearby industries.

After independence, wives and children joined their husbands in Gadzema. Over the subsequent years political instability and a rapidly weakening economy hampered local authoritys investment in housing and infrastructure maintenance.

The communal sanitation project is in an area known as “Gadzema Single Quarters”  where 60 families live in 15 four-roomed units. These families are either leasing from council or sub-letting rooms from the Council tenants. Council leasholders  have valid lease documents and receive a monthly bill from council, which very few pay. Those tenants who sub-let pay rent to the above council leaseholders ($35-$40).  The sub-letting of rooms has allowed a parallel structure of rent collection to evolve which has caused the revenue flow to Local Authorities to dwindle. Their commitment to provide services has, in turn, waned. The toilet at the nearby bus terminal is usually closed by local authorities despite its increasing volume of commuters.


Sanitation crisis

Federation profiling and enumerating highlighted the dysfunctional and unhealthy state of the existing toilet blocks in Gadzema. Human excreta overflowed in the passages of both women’s and men’s toilets clogging the sewers and making the toilet unsafe to use. At times the sewerage escaped the toilet block and flowed into nearby pathways and homes causing a serious health threat. Haphazard efforts were made by residents and council to maintain and unblock the system with little effect. The community felt that authorities should clean and maintain the toilets in return for rates payments, while authorities argued that the lack of rates payment by the community meant that they could not provide infrastructure and maintenance services. Whatever the truth, these perceptions created a vicious blame cycle in which neither party took responsibility for maintenance.




The Poor conditions of facilities

Challenges emerge and are negotiated

Give the challenges faced, the Federation, supported by the Zimbabwean NGO (Dialogue on Shelter), undertook the following acitivities.

  1. Improving the relationship between the community and local authorities

Federation members used profile and enumeration data and the project steering team to mobilize both community members and local authority staff. The team is composed of representatives from the local council, federation and Chinhoyi community and Dialogue on Shelter. From the council side, the project was anchored by the housing, health, engineering and planning department and it was common practice for departmental heads to attend the meeting. National or regional Federation leadership as well as members of the Chinhoyi Federations Health, Technical, Savings and Mobilisation components would also attend. Community data was shared with the authorities and feedback meetings were held. Gradually both sides came to see sanitation as a common challenge that could be addressed collectively.

  1. Tenure

Confusion around the provision of title was a further stumbling block in negotations between residents and the authorities. Gadzema residents wanted council to transfer title to existing tenants, however the residents felt this process was far too slow. The Council was reluctant to expedite the process and tensions flared, causing sanitation negotiations to break down, between October 2013 and May 2014. The impasse was overcome by using profile and enumeration data to develop an action plan which directly responded to the tenure challenge – the idea being to work with council to identify alternative land for decongesting the site as a long term solution but, in the interim, to improve sanitation conditions at the current site.

  1. Mobilisation and overcoming political divisions

The task of convincing both authorities and the community that a public toilet can function under the right model of ownership and management required intensive “unlearning” of preconceptions– especially given previous experiences in Zimbabwe. The continued use of profile and enumeration findings in engagement with both the city and Gadzema community led to the Gadzema community being able to clearly articulate, and appreciate, their potential role in the maintenance of community-managed facilities.

Initially, the Gadzema community was fraught with political divisions and even calling a general meeting was impossible. Community-led data collection demonstrated that the small community was politically fragmented. The survey process led to the formation of a Toilet Committee tasked with supervising the construction and maintenance of the toilet and with mobilizing the general community to support the project. The committee is comprised of 8 community representatives, 3 men and 5 women. The Federation’s leadership within Chinhoyi initially supported the Committee. The support was provided throughout the toilet design and procurement stages (three months) and the committee was left to finish the construction and organize the management of the toilet on their own.

  1. Landlords and tenants

Many families in Gadzema pay rent to absentee landlords. It was hence difficult to locate the “owners” and convince her/him to invest in sanitation. Tenants described their stay as transitory and were not strongly motivated to invest in sanitation. Landlords who were tracked down were not overly keen to invest in sanitation, as this would reduce their profits.  However after the enumeration revealed that 33% of households were sub-letting rooms from council leaseholders the community devised a number of measures to persuade every household to participate. The Toilet Committee set-up a register to record individual participation and financial obligations. The federation encouraged the residents to organize themselves in the 15 dwelling units with the families in each unit reaching agreement between the council lease-holder and sub-renters. As the project progressed, 95% of absentee landlords co-operated, while 5% allowed their tenants to negotiate on their behalf.


Once the residents agreed to participate, plans could be drawn up.

Rebuilding the block[1] cost USD 16,500, and there are now eight bathrooms and eight toilet cubicles. The local authority contributed USD 7,500 (transport, building materials, river sand, plumbing). The remaining cost of USD 9,000 was divided between the households. The Federation provided a loan to each of the 60 households who will use the toilets (USD 150 per family).  Monthly repayments of USD 6.25 are added to council rates for the next two years.

The project is also cautious to avoid significant rental increases due to sanitation improvement hence the prolonged negotiations to have council agreeing to put 100% of invested resources into the sanitation fund without increasing the monthly taxes. At the time of writing the amounts paid to council were USD 27 per month (rental and services for each family).

Street lighting is no longer working properly and in some cases this poses a challenge for those using the toilet during the night. However the community has installed lighting inside the toilets and is working on putting security lighting at the toilet block. The density of the settlement helps to ensure safety to use the toilet during the evening as the houses are close to each other and the compounds are also very small.

Community management

After construction was completed, all 60 households met and designed a management model. Each toilet would be used by seven or eight families with a roster for cleaning and maintenance. Each family has its own set of keys and are able to hold others in their group to account if they feel that the toilet is not being properly looked after.  It was also agreed that, because piped water is something not available, each family will store water at home.  Floor polish, freshener, toilet paper and any minor repairs are financed collectively from the money collected for maintenance. The toilet has now been in operation for six months and no significant problems have been reported.



Completed toilet

Final points

This work has shown the potential of profiles/enumerations as a mobilization and dispute resolution tool.  Amidst a politically fragmented community in dispute with authorities this “objective” information paved the way for a joint vision and collective action.  It also provided guidance around what was affordable.

The project opened up the space with council for discussions around a sanitation revolving fund in Chinhoyi that can be used to rehabilitate other communal facilities.  The fund would be seeded from repayments of the USD 9000 and topped up by other contributions. The Federation’s successful work in Gadzema is being replicated through the construction of a school toilet at the Ruvimbo Primary School financed by a loan from the Federations national urban poor fund. The toilet has been completed and the school has already begun repaying the loan.

[1] The completion of the first toilet block took longer then expected and the community decided that there was no need for a second block as a single block was adequate for their needs.

A Lesson for All: Orangi Pilot Project Visits Tanzania Federation


Orangi Pilot Project is one of the most successful community-based upgrading projects in the world. Over 750,000 slum-based households in this Karachi neighbourhood have contributed directly to the material improvement of their sanitation situation. Through their sustained practical action they have forced the authorities to respond and the Orangi process is now being rolled out in other parts of Pakistan.

The SDI Secretariat has had links with OPP since 1991. When the Secretariat secured funds for a health and sanitation project they factored in direct interaction and horizontal learning between OPP and the participating Federations (Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe).

Given the challenges associated with travelling in Pakistan it was decided that OPP leadership would visit Tanzania instead and that other affiliates would also attend. The exchange programme took place between the 23rd and 30th August, 2015.   The participants from Orangi were  Salim Alimuddin Karimi (Director of OPP) and Javed Ali (community technical team)


OPP team outside the Federation offices in Vingunguti, Dar-es-Salaam


This report provides insights and analysis into Orangi Pilot Projects (OPP’s) exchange visit to Tanzania to assist with the social and technical development of a simplified sewerage project in Vingunguti settlement, Dar-es- Salaam. It was hoped that with OPP’s support the project could incorporate ideas that would allow it to scale up, affordably, to 1000 households. To date 42 houses have been connected and a detailed feasibility study is underway to determine the possibilities for expansion. The exchange, which took place between 23rd and 30th August and also included delegations from Kenya and Zimbabwe, was hence well timed in that the project is still in a formative phase with many dimensions of its scaling up yet to be decided on.

Insights and Analysis



The exchange clearly highlighted the single biggest challenge facing the project – the lack of an organized, saving federation in Vingunguti. During the exchange it emerged that the Federation in Vingunguti was very new and had not, as yet fully grasped the SDI rituals. As Joe Muturi (member of the SDI management team who was present on the exchange) correctly pointed out, “ It is very difficult to mobilize a Federation through a project”. He emphasized how women’s savings collectives versed in the rituals of the Federation should be the basic project building block, meeting to outline their needs, learning slowly and then, when ready committing financially to supporting projects to improve their lives. This level of community cohesion and co-ordination, the most vital cog in the project continuum, is not present in Vingunguti. Rather it is the project, and what it promises to deliver, which is mobilizing a community that does not have a substantive history of savings and collective action. Unless serious investments are made in building the base, significant problems may emerge down the line.

Discussions during the exchange indicated an expectation that the project would be for free – in no small part related to the Tanzanian Alliances provision of the first system as a grant and not a loan (recent correspondence indicates that the Alliance is now requested loan repayments for the system but there may be challenges because of its high capital costs). Over the course of the exchange the team from OPP, supported by the SDI Management Committee, worked extremely hard to emphasis to the community that they needed to contribute financially towards the sewerage system. OPP illustrated this point by describing, in detail, how residents in each lane in Orangi had been able to pay for their entire primary sewerage infrastructure. By the final day of the exchange some progress had been made with community members indicating that they would be prepared to pay for infrastructure themselves.

An important social (and financial) aspect related to the project will be negotiations between structure owners and tenants. This relates not only to building collective action to implement and manage the project but also to negotiating project finance (see finance section). The Tanzanian alliance does have experience with mediating landlord/tenant relationships around shared sanitation – drawing in local councilors. These experiences should be applied to this project.

A further point that warrants debate is the ability of the Tanzanian federations leadership to mobilize the Vingunguti settlement. The Federation in Tanzania is not yet strong and it was noticeable during the exchange that the NGO often fills this space where the Federation should be.  It remains to be seen whether the Tanzanian Federation has the capacity to mobilize this community in order to conduct a project of this scale – and if they do what other priorities may suffer.


Discussing roles, responsibilities and finance with the Vingunguti Federation



i) Subsidies

A number of extensive discussions took place around financing during the exchange. As noted previously, the first phase of the project was a grant. The OPP team noted that providing a subsidy for phase 1 of the project and then expecting residents to finance phase 2 would be extremely difficult – as a precedent for non-payment for the system had already been set. While the Tanzanian Alliance now does require those who received the system in the first phase to repay the loan – this was done retrospectively. Also the conditions and terms of said loan repayment were not debated before construction began.

The team from OPP shared how the simplified sewerage system in Orangi was financed fully by the community, one lane at a time. It was strongly emphasized that the community felt ownership of the system because they had to pay for it – financially and through sweat equity. Construction would not begin before the community had saved all the necessary funds and those who refused to pay would be covered and then later charged double when they wished to connect to the system.  The Tanzanian Alliance were keen to follow the OPP approach by working land-by-lane to mobilize as many houses as possible along the proposed sewerage line (the more houses which connect the less the capital costs) and encouraging them to save collectively for the system. Lane-by-lane technical capacities can be built and new technical skills to reduce costs can then be deployed. Salim from OPP noted that the first lane was the hardest to organize – taking over 6 months for the community to resolve issues and come up with finance. Time and effort must be invested in working incrementally, lane-by-lane, in Vingunguti to build a model which is scalable and affordable.

The willingness of the community to contribute is the crux of the project’s financial challenge. In a grant atmosphere where other role-players (and even the Tanzanian Alliance) provide services for free changing attitudes towards payment will be absolutely vital. In addition SDI has already provided significant capital and technical support to the project (Project capital for the pilot through SHARE, funding for the preparation of a feasibility report and the funding of the OPP exchange). SDI cannot continue to fund a project in which the community does not contribute financially.

ii) Affordability

 There is little doubt that the existing model is not affordable for the poorest tenants in Vingunguti. For a variety of reasons (discussed in the technical analysis below) capital costs are much too high when compared to incomes from the preliminary findings of the feasibility report. Rebuilding dilapidated latrines to then connect to the system has added additional costs that increase the total.  Measures to reduce these costs are discussed in the technical section below.

Joseph Muturi, from the management Committee, upon discussions with the Tanzanian Federation, noted that most of those present at the meeting (and those who have accessed the system to date) are landlords who, he feels, can afford to pay to connect to the system. He noted that if landlords can be mobilized to pay, and costs come down due to technical interventions, then the system could be affordable.   He stressed that intensive negotiations between landlords and tenants need to take place to ensure that rents are not then increased to unaffordable levels to cover costs- leading to evictions. Issues of absentee landlords and those who do not wish to participate also need to be considered.

In the existing pilot not all the houses along the sewer line are connected to the system. Simply put more connections equal a division of costs between more households – with each household paying less. OPP and all the visiting delegations agreed that the Tanzanian Federation needs to work to mobilize as many households along the sewer lines as possible – and that their maps should show all the houses not just the houses connected.


The OPP team was able to provide the young, but enthusiastic CCI staff with a number of very practical suggestions to reduce the cost of the sewerage system. These are listed below and taken from the exchange report:

  • Pipe work: Tanzania has been using Class B PVS pipes while OPP use concrete pipes. The Tanzanian team needs to investigate concrete or cheaper pipes.
  • Manholes: Two to three connections can easily be connected to a manhole. For turns/twist elbow bends could be used. This reduces the cost of connecting each connection to a manhole. Also the manholes are made with C.C blocks, which require technical skills of Masonry and plastering on both sides. The cost of M.H casting may considerably be reduced by in-situ casting, using steel formwork.
  • T–Chamber: The use of the T-chamber will help both in controlling the blockages in the system by tracking any object/garbage before entering into the system.
  • Construction by using local material: The need to use the local available materials which are cheaper as well as encouraging beneficiaries to provide building material that they might have. The use of the community technicians and youth within the communities reduce the costs of constructions.
  • Attaching the toilets to wall of the house: Attaching the toilet to an existing wall of the house reduces costs.

During the exchange it was noted that the system would remain expensive if, for each connection, the existing latrine is rebuilt (through an existing programme of sanitation loans). A variety of technical suggestions were made by OPP as to how it would be possible to repair and rehabilitate, rather then rebuild, existing latrines so that they can be connected to the system. Ideas included concrete rings to re-enforce collapsing pits and focusing on fixing the slab only and not financing an elaborate and expensive superstructure. Once repaired latrines are connected to the system the social and technical expertise should exist within the community to incrementally upgrade toilets that’s are in poor condition.


Javed inspecting a manhole that forms part of the simplified sewerage system


The team tracing possible future sewerage lanes



The OPP exchange challenged the Tanzanian Alliances position that they had to consider access to tertiary sewerage treatment facilities before starting the construction of primary sewerage systems, lane-by-lane. OPP argued that if the community was able to fund and build their own system, and sewerage from that system leaked into the open (or flowed unregulated into the existing ponds in Vingunguti) it would provide a direct challenge to government to link the system to secondary and trunk sewers. This type of practical action would challenge authorities to act, rather then the common approach in which communities sit back and expect services to be delivered.

Given the previous commitment of authorities to fund 500 of the 1000 connections the Tanzanian Alliance needs to make sure government is 1) reminded of this commitment and 2) informed at as many levels as possible about the project (A precise synopsis of the feasibility document /project plan should be developed to do so) 3) Begin to think through the necessary institutional tapestry that will enable the project to scale up.

In addition CCI needs to retain and foster the connection with OPP – through correspondence and perhaps at a later stage exchanges.


The wastewater ponds that border Vingunguti


Discussing the Sanitation Challenges faced by Vingunguti


An attempt has been made to order these in terms of current priorities. However it is expected that many actions will run concurrently:

  1. Mobilization and building a strong Federation base, in the settlement (through savings) should be the number one priority in Vingunguti. The Tanzanian Federation may not be strong enough to do this alone and the LME team should monitor progress in conjunction with the Management Committee, providing support when needed.
  1. SDI should not invest any more capital into the project at this time. Based on recommendation number 1, the community needs to demonstrate a willingness to make a significant financial contribution to the project. It is simply not sustainable or scalable for SDI to keep investing funds in Vingunguti until the community takes ownership of the project.
  1. The OPP model of working lane-by-lane should be followed, in context, to allow for manageable project units to develop. Even if it takes 6 months to a year the community process needs to develop to a point where a single lane in Vingunguti is saving, mobilized and ready to install a technically affordable sewer system. Technical and social support needs to be provided to the Tanzanians to ensure they retain this focus.
  1. The Tanzanian Alliance needs to clarify issues of loan repayment around the project’s first phase as a priority. This needs to be negotiated retroactively but clearly articulated going forward. It is vital for the first recipients of the system to set an example by contributing financially towards the system.
  1. CCI’s technical team needs to follow up on OPP’s suggestions and report to the SDI projects team on progress – as well an pursue an active engagement with their OPP colleagues. At a later stage this may lead to an exchange for said professionals to OPP but this should not happen until it is clear that the community are ready to finance and drive the project.
  1. The Roles and Responsibilities for the project (listed below) as devised by all those on the exchange should become a guiding document that all parties refer to.

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  1. The Feasibility Study that is being deveoped by the Tanzanians should be critically assessed with the above points in mind.