Launch of Public Toilets in Blantyre, Malawi: Building a Citywide Sanitation Strategy
Written by CCODE
On Friday 22nd May, 2015, the normally busy market in Ndirande was even busier than usual. This time, there was a reason to celebrate: local authorities, Councillors from different areas, Traditional Authorities, community leaders and community members came together to officially launch the five new public toilets that have been recently constructed in market places in different informal settlements across Blantyre.
The toilets have been built by the Malawi Alliance as part of the Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) project, which aims to test an approach to pro-poor citywide sanitation strategies driven by communities and supported by public authorities. One of the challenges that communities identified during the community-driven research stage of the project was the problem of public sanitation in the informal settlements. It is against this background that CCODE and the Federation has facilitated the construction of five public paying toilets at market places in the settlements of Ndirande (2), Manase, Nancholi, and Likotima.
The public toilets have two main features that make them unique:
1) They have been constructed with the EcoSan technology – which means they require little water for their maintenance (something that is scarce, especially in high density areas like Ndirande) and the waste can be harvested as humanure – a safe, nutrient-rich compost manure that can be utilised as fertilizer to improve crops.
2) They will be paid toilets – ensuring their sustainability in the long term. People will pay a small fee for using the toilets, which will ensure their maintenance and cleanliness. A percentage of the profits obtained from the toilets will go towards the repayment of the facilities, and the majority will remain in the community for community-led projects. Local and City-Wide Sanitation committees have been created to oversee the management of the system, which include members of the City Council, Traditional Authorities, community leaders and Federation members.
The new toilets will benefit the communities in many way: not only they provide a safe sanitation option for crowded areas (and comfort for those who reside of visit the areas), but also will give a sense of pride and a small profit to be put into the most pressing needs of the community. Furthermore, the involvement and commitment of the City Council in a community-led process of improving the living conditions of slums sets an important precedent for the future.
Reflections on Southern Africa Hub Meeting
By: Mariana Gallo, Knowledge Management Officer CCODE; Nico Keijzer, LME Officer Southern Africa SDI; & Noah Schermbrucker, Projects Officer SDI
The recent regional hub meeting for Southern Africa took place in Blantyre, Malawi, from 28-31st March 2015. It was the first time that Blanytre or Malawi have hosted a regional hub meeting and provided an opportunity for the Malawian alliance to showcase their work. Participants from South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe attended the meeting. Botswana was invited but not able to attend.
Country Reports and Field Visits
The day commenced with each country reporting on their key indicators using the new Learning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (LME) reporting format. All countries concurred that this format assisted them in measuring progress, setting realistic targets, identifying challenges, and more targeted learning to overcome them. For the first time the hub was able to produce accurate totals for Southern Africa – as illustrated in the below table.
|Southern African Hub Totals|
|Members||161 961,00||8 765,00||7 084,00||169 045,00|
|Daily Savings||4 354 901,00||829 755,00||287 494,00||4 642 395,00|
|UPF Savings||1 960 417,00||210 099,00||127 794,00||2 088 211,00|
|Maps – GIS||109||306||207||316|
|Maps – Hand drawn||15||24||10||25|
A variety of field visits also took place. Those who visited Nancholi settlement learnt about the slum upgrading activities that were being undertaken by the federation. Work included the construction of bridges, the development of an agricultural market, the renovation of a local clinic, and the construction of additional blocks for the local secondary school. Other delegates visited a variety of groups who were involved in income generation projects. One group called “Waste for Wealth” produces and sells compost. Another group makes sausages that they package and sell, while a third group makes and sells tie-dye clothes.
The group producing compost manure in Chilomani, explaining their experience with the enterprise.
City Council and Discussions on Country Projects
On the third day, hub delegates visited the Blantyre City Council for a meeting with the Mayor, the Director of Planning and Development for Blantyre, and other officials. While the meeting illustrated the successful partnership between the Malawian Alliance and the Blantyre City Council (BCC) it became clear, through the lively discussions that took place, that these types of partnerships need to be underpinned by material commitments from government (e.g. land, budgetary allocations for slum upgrading). The international delegation pushed the BCC around its previous commitments to establish a citywide slum-upgrading fund. The Malawian federation needs to follow up on the space opened by this discussion.
The meeting attracted media attention, and was reported on the front page of one of the main newspapers on the following day.
Hub participants attending a meeting with the Blantyre City Council.
The afternoon’s sessions provided an opportunity for delegates to reflect more deeply on their LME process. Not only in terms of challenges identified but feasible actions to address these issues. Below is an example of this work that the hub collectively committed to implementing over the next period. Outcomes will be reported at the next hub meeting.
1) Unrealistic targets,
2) Understanding of enumerations process or profiling is difficult,
3) Not having a system of reporting,
4) Politics delays the process,
5) Working with other stakeholders is always difficult and can delay the whole process,
6) Changing the mindset of people who expect a lot of money as some organisation does,
7) Slow implementation of projects,
8) Not practicing daily savings.
1) Setting of realistic targets within a specific period of time,
2) Drawing of process maps – steps involved in saving, profiling, enumeration etc.,
3) Mobilizing communities on why they are doing the profiling, enumeration etc.,
4) Having standard reporting templates/systems,
5) Signing of MOU’s (exchange visits among municipal/local officials),
6) Joint working groups that involves stakeholders,
7) Communities must take ownership and drive the change in the community,
8) Communities should have one voice in getting resources from local authorities,
9) Going back to the roots of daily savings. Take ownership of savings and how the money is managed to build confidence.
Data, Reflections on Donor Funding, Exchanges, and Closing
The final day commenced with a presentation on the data platform from the SDI Secretariat. Federations were able to access, discuss and interact with the online platform that stores their profiling information. This is part of a process to deepen federation ownership of the information collected.
An interesting and important discussion, which is central to the work of all federations and affiliates, then took place. The crux if this discussion is that while it is recognised that donor funding is needed for activities, the agenda and priorities of donors can sometimes be in conflict with the federation’s core vision (e.g. building unaffordable housing on the periphery of the city). Broken into country groups delegates discussed criteria for accepting donor funding. Flexibility, equal partnerships, common vision and inclusion of the poorest were amongst the common points of consideration.
The meeting closed with a collective reflection session that gave delegates an opportunity to assess the content and structure of the hub meeting. More substantive details can be found in the hub report. The next hub meeting was set for September in Zimbabwe.
Malawi Federation members work with the online data platform.
The Malawi Alliance prepares their data for sharing.
Settlement Planning and Design: Experiences from Mandaue City, Philippines
The below article has been cross-posted from the University College of London’s Bartlett Development Planning Unit (UCL DPU). It is part of a series of articles written over the past five months about the Philippines SDI Alliance. To read the entire series, visit the DPU blog.
By Jessica Mamo, on 28 April 2015
The Philippine Alliance has been an active agent in Mandaue City since 2000. Their work is primarily focused on two large sites, involving a large number of communities, each one at a different stage of settlement upgrading. The team collaborate with Local Government Units (LGU) to address the housing gaps within the city by adopting a sustainable citywide approach which benefits both the low-income groups, as well as the city’s vision of development.
This post explains the approach that has been adopted for the upgrading of the 6.5 Relocation Site in Paknaan, one of the two prominent sites where the Alliance is active in Mandaue City.
The relocation site is situated in Barangay Paknaan, on the periphery of Mandaue City, and covers an area of 6.5 hectares. Originally a mangrove area, the site was chosen to accommodate 1,200 families, organised into 12 Homeowner Associations (HOA). These families are being relocated from along Mahiga Creek in central Mandaue City, as part of the River Rehabilitation Program, after the area was devastated by flooding in January 2011.
Although the site was still a mangrove area, families started living in Paknaan in October 2011. Today, 465 families who were allocated a plot of land have moved on site, some building permanent housing, whilst others simply rebuilding houses out of light recycled materials.
Informal developments on site (left); Construction of permanent housing development overseen by TAMPEI (right).
10 out of the 12 HOAs are part of the Homeless Peoples Federation (HPFPI) and collaborate with the Alliance, particularly with regards to organising communities to save, enabling them to finance the construction of their new homes, or pay monthly amortizations for loan repayments. TAMPEI, the technical support unit to the Alliance, have provided assistance in the planning, design and construction stages of the upgrading process.
The Role of Homeowner Associations
The strong role of the HOA is interesting to note. In order for a family to be eligible for an upgrading or relocation programme, they must first form part of a HOA which is registered by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. This requirement has driven communities to get organised and collaborate closely with one another, creating close-knit communities which take pride in the recognition they receive as a registered HOA.
This contrasts greatly with the situation in some other countries, for example the communities I encountered during fieldwork in Cambodia with the MSc Building and Urban Design in Development last year. The particular settlement we were working with in Battambang faced particular concerns regarding community mobilisation and organisation. As a students group, we were constantly challenging the concept of referring to the residents as a community since they did not actually work as a single unit, and found it difficult to support each other. Therefore, the requirement of forming part of a duly registered association acts as a form of mobilisation for residents to really act as a community.
The HOA is an important representation for community members, as a form of formal identification within the City.
Land Acquisition and Financial Support
One of the most important elements of slum upgrading is the acquisition of land, which allows families to have security of tenure, whether they are being relocated, or able to upgrade on site. Without the constant threat of eviction, families are able to invest in their homes by building permanent structures. To be able to do so, families need the financial support to buy the land, as well as to pay for the construction of the house and site development. This support either takes the form of the savings program run by the Federation, or loans.
An important stakeholder is the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). SHFC is mandated by the President of the Philippines, and aims to provide shelter solutions to organised, urban poor communities. It was created to lead in developing and administering social housing programmes, such as the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), which is currently being implemented in Paknaan. The CMP is a loan system, targeting residents of informal settlements, that aims to finance the lot purchase, site development and house construction, which will be repaid over 25 years.
By far the most encouraging approach that has been adopted in Mandaue City is the housing construction through personal savings. Some families, mobilised and organised by HPFPI, have been able to limit their loan from SHFC to the lot purchase, and finance the construction of their homes through their own personal savings.
The construction of their houses, which began in September 2014, was dependent on the capacity of the families to save a fixed amount per month to keep up with the rolling costs of construction since no capital was initially available for the project, other than the money they put aside.
In March 2015, 5 units were completed, with another 8 units still under construction. Out of the original 23, 10 families struggled to meet the monthly target, which means that the construction of their units has been delayed. However, these families have shown that persistence can challenge the notion of charity and free housing.
Ongoing construction of 23 housing units, funded by beneficiary families (left); 41 housing units were completed in 2013, funded by the SDI 7 Cities Programme.
Housing and Service Provision
There are two approaches to the housing development, depending on the affordability of the family in question. If the family is able to cover the full expenses or monthly loan repayments, then the family may proceed to construct the full housing unit. If families are unable to take the full loan amount, they may instead opt to construct them incrementally – however, this second option has never actually been implemented.
Very often, residents aspire to apply for the complete rather than the incremental option, even though they probably cannot afford the loan repayments. This results in families being rejected from taking the larger loan, and therefore actually being unable to build any form of permanent housing.
As part of the TAMPEI team in Mandaue City, I have worked on the design of new housing units that cost less than the original low-cost row house design and are therefore a viable option for a greater number of families, without resorting to the incremental construction. So far, five alternative housing units have been developed, two of which are illustrated in the images below.
Service provision and site development in Paknaan is still lacking, particularly with regards to sanitation services. Through the initiative of one particularly active HOA called SMASH, two communal toilet blocks will be built soon. Through the collaboration between TAMPEI and SMASH, the design proposal and community management system were developed.
By far the biggest challenges that we have faced throughout the developments of the Paknaan relocation site have been due to the large number of stakeholders that are involved in the project… surely a common issue when approaching citywide upgrading!
Shortcomings and delays have been caused by both the communities, some of whom have been unable to keep up with their required savings, as well as the local government units, who have promised more than they can deliver with regards to the site development. However, it is only through close collaboration by actors across various levels that such large-scale projects can be implemented, and have a significant impact on the wellbeing of the city’s urban poor.
Jessica is an architect and has recently completed the MSc in Building and Urban Design in Development at the DPU. Currently, she is working in the Philippines, as part of the DPU-ACHR joint internship programme. Her interests lie primarily in community-led upgrading, particularly with regards to housing and service provision.
Announcing SDI Annual Report 2014 – 2015
We are pleased to announce the 2014 – 2015 SDI Annual Report!
The Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network of 33 national affiliates is organised into four regional hubs: The Asian Hub, The East African Hub, The Southern African Hub, and The West African Hub. There is also an emerging Hub in Latin America. Organising the federations into hubs allows for the building of regional alliances of the urban poor that engage in joint learning, planning and advocacy. In this year’s annual report, our progress from the year will be presented by Hub, so the reader can understand the progress being made in each region of the network.
Each hub report captures the health and energy of each of the urban poor federations within the hub and indicates the progression through organising and mobilizing, the building and networking of savings groups, the profiling and enumeration of settlements and cities, and the negotiation, planning and implementation of upgrading projects in partnership with local authorities. This is a cyclical and overlapping process, but for the purpose of this report we present this process in three stages:
- Know Your Federation, where we understand the health of federations, their membership, their geographic scope, and their savings
- Know Your City, where we explore the information federations gather on the settlements and cities in which they live, and
- Improve Your City, where we understand how the organising and information gathering translates into improvements and upgrading of informal settlements. Each hub report captures the health and energy of all the urban poor federations within the hub
The presentation of the report in this fashion will help readers to understand the work and practice of the SDI network more deeply. It will also make readers familiar with the structure of our new website (to be launched soon), organised under these three headings, which presents unprecedented levels of access to information on federations, slum settlements, and federation projects. We hope this will serve as a valuable resource to all those interested in the future of cities in the Global South.
To read the full report, click here.