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.
Innovative Communal Sanitation Models for the Urban Poor: Lessons from Uganda
This paper describes the construction and management processes related to two toilet blocks in Uganda, one in Jinja and one in Kampala. Designs, financial models and insights into the process and challenges faced are presented and reflected on. Discussions about scaling up sanitation provision through these models are also tabled. To strengthen their planning processes, the Ugandan federation sought to draw on other community driven processes in India and Malawi. With divergent contexts, especially in terms of density, lessons were adapted to local conditions.
Through unpacking these experiences the paper draws attention to a number of key points. Firstly it argues that organised communities have the potential to develop functional and sustainable systems for the planning, construction and management of communal toilet blocks. Secondly, how shared learning, practical experience and exchanges driven by communities assisted in refining the sanitation systems and technologies piloted and thirdly the value, especially in terms of scale and leverage of including City Authorities in the provision of communal sanitation. A fourth key point, interwoven across discussions, relates to the financial planning, costing and affordability of the sanitation options piloted. Understanding the seed capital investments needed and various options for cost recovery is vital in assessing the affordability and scalability of pilots1.
The paper mixes one of the co-author’s reflections (written in first person) with descriptions and analysis of the sanitation projects supported. This narrative method is deployed to emphasise the collegiate manner in which learning takes place across a country-spanning network of urban poor communities.
To read the full report, click here.
Achieving Universal Sanitation: Sharing the Experience of the SDI Affiliate in Blantyre, Malawi
By Diana Mitlin, IIED and Mercy Kamwanja, CCODE (Malawi)
Achieving universal access to sanitation is going to take a lot. In the urban context, high residential densities and extremely low incomes add to the challenge. What is already evident is that new approaches will be required, and that partnership between organised communities and their local governments is going to be key. An SDI team from Malawi came to World Water Week in Stockholm to present their work on sanitation in the city of Blantyre, and share their own contribution to this global challenge. Mphatso Njunga is a national leader for the Malawi Federation of the Rural and Urban Poor (Federation), Emmanuel Kanjunjunju is Director of Health and Social Services in the City, Mercy Kamwanja is Policy and Advocacy Manager for CCODE. Local elections were held in May 2014 with a return to local democracy, and 23 new councillors have joined the seven MPs to represent the residents of Blantyre City.
Documenting Living Conditions in Informal Settlements
A critical first step is documenting the scale of the problem. This knowledge is valued both by local government and communities themselves. The Federation has currently identified and profiled 41 informal settlements within Blantyre. These neighbourhoods have been identified both by Federation members, and traditional chiefs who have had a very significant role in local government prior to May (there were no councillors for several years). The Federation has developed close links to these traditional chiefs particularly through their work on water and sanitation. The local authority itself recognises 21 informal settlements.
The City Council recognizes the very significant contribution that groups within informal settlements are making to the City. to enhance this work and to address their own council responsibilities, an informal settlement Unit has been established.
Community development strategies (CDSs) have been completed in eight informal settlements following Federation information gathering. Local residents have been mobilized by settlement profiling and these strategies include of the collective priorities of the settlement. These organized communities hope that their strategies will direct development assistance.
As the Federation has worked with larger and numbers of people as well as more diverse communities, they decided that they should change their name from the Malawi Homeless People’s Federation to the Malawi Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor. This name change is to ensure that all people are comfortable with their participation and do not feel unable to join because they are not “homeless”.
Government Funding for Upgrading Informal Settlements
The annual budget for Blantyre City Council is approximately $10 million. There is no fixed amount for investment in informal settlements but the Council recognises that this is where there is the greatest need as 75% of the population stay. Two years ago, the Council began a participatory process whereby they asked organized communities to sit with the CEO and the directors of departments and discuss Council investment priorities. Mphatso Njunga (Federation leader) explained “The first year, we went there and they were telling us what has been done. This year it was different. Community leaders were asking council about where they get the money.” The third year of this participatory budget will begin in January 2015 for the financial year that begins in July 2015. This year the 23 newly elected councillors will also be a part of the budget negotiations.
In addition the funds that the Council have to invest, there are also monies available through the Constituency Development Funds (CDF) that are allocated to the seven MPs that represent Blantyre’s population. Approximately $16, 500 is given to each MP for local priorities. These monies are accounted for through the local authority. Previously there has not been any coordination of investments by the local authority but this is now being discussed.
The Sanitation Challenge
The challenge remains immense. There are an estimated 120,000 households living in the city of which 90, 000 live in areas experiencing poor sanitation, in informal settlements. The Council estimates that somewhere between 35,000 to 75,000 households are in need of toilets as they either have no provision, or their current provision is inadequate for dense urban neighbourhoods. One problem that is rarely acknowledged is that about 70,000 households are using VIPs and traditional pit latrines. When pits are full they are not emptied but are closed and another one constructed. However, as shallow wells are a major source of water the potential health risks are considerable.
Council investment capital is critical to achieving scale because significant numbers lack the income needed. Mphatso Njunga estimates that 30 per cent of Federation members do not have any income to pay for sanitation investments. In this context assessing strategies that offer universal access is a key challenge.
The Federation savings schemes have supported almost 700 to invest in eco-sanitation with an on average three families sharing these facilities. Each eco-san unit costs about $300. This scale of investments shows what is possible – and also that much more needs to be done. The Federation have been working across the city to encourage investment in sanitation. Working closely with the local chiefs, they have been able to persuade them to be the first to apply for loans (for eco-sanitation toilets with bathrooms) and this has encouraged the uptake.
Activities have included cleaning of the neighbourhoods. Some of the worst conditions in the city were in Ntopwa but after the mobilization of residents by the Federation this settlement is now a learning centre showing what can be done if people are organized.
New Sanitation Options
In their efforts to expand options and potentially reduce costs and increase accessibility, the Alliance has been exploring new approaches. A new precedent is sanitation with decentralized waste water treatment. In Bangwe. The Federation have constructed 52 dwellings in a lower-middle income neighbourhood that will provide rental housing – and have used this opportunity to experiment with this new technology for Blantyre. The development is now complete and people will begin occupying these houses in the next few weeks. Now the Federation members will come to see the technology and consider its affordability. They will also have the chance to think through how it might be work within their own informal settlements, if re-blocking will be required, and where (and sometimes if) spare ground might be available for the treatment ponds.
The Federation are also about to increase their investments in public toilets. Their public toilet in Chemusa is working very well. This is a public eco-sanitation toilet that is used intensively by market traders and those living in the vicinity. Users have a charge of 20 kwacha but this has not deterred custom even through the Council have a free toilet nearby. The Federation have been allocated land for toilet construction in two further markets and will begin building later this month.
The challenge of water availability
One of the biggest challenges that efforts to improve sanitation will have to address is the lack of water. From August to October pipes run dry and water is rationed across the city. In some neighbourhoods, there is no water for several days when both shallow wells and water kiosks fail. Even when it is available water from kiosks is expensive. At 20 kwacha for 20 litres, providing for the minimum requirements of a family of six costs about $9 a month. Another Federation activity has been helping households connect to the piped water network with loans for water meters and other costs associated with network expansion. Cost savings are immediate and one member recently reported that her bill had fallen to about two thirds of its previous value. However, the connection charges may be as much as $200 a household. The Federation and its support NGO, CCODE, have been thinking about the potential of rainwater harvesting.
Scaling up Shared Latrine Options: Karakata settlement, Dar-es-Salaam
By Tim Ndezi, Director Centre for Community Initiatives (CCI), Tanzania & Noah Schermbucker, SDI Secretariat
Provision of sanitation services to informal settlements is a challenging task for city authorities and practioners in developing countries. In Tanzania, a situational assessment report (Part of the SHARE -Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity, project) revealed a number of factors that affect the improvement of sanitation in informal areas. These factors include lack of finance, lack of appropriate technologies and poor institutional and policy arrangements. Following data collection and assessment, precedent setting solutions are being implemented in three informal settlements in Dar-es-Salaam, namely Karakata, Keko Machungwa and Vingunguti (Located in Ilala and Temeke Municipalities).
This short piece describes the experiences of shared latrines in KaraKata with specific emphasis on technical options, tenant–landlord relationships, community action, co-production and maintenance. It argues that shared latrines are an important solution in Dar’s informal settlements. Karakata is presented as a case study aimed at fostering deeper discussion around the issues presented.
Karakata informal settlement is located in Kipawa Ward in Ilala Municipality, Dar-es-Salaam city, Tanzania. It has a population of approximately 34,228 people of which 18,434 are Women and 15,794 are men. It is about 11km from the city centre and close to the Dar-es-Salaam International Airport. The settlement comprises approximately 7,000 households that are occupied by both landlords and tenants. The majority of residents are tenants.
The Tanzania Federation in collaboration with the Centre for Community Initiatives (CCI) started to mobilize the community in Karakata to join Federation processes in 2011. About 10 savings groups are currently established and have saved more than Tshs 20 millions (USD $ 12,500). A solid waste management program and income generating activities have been established. Like many other informal settlements Karakata lacks improved sanitation and sewerage disposal facilities leading to diseases such as cholera. Improvements of latrines have traditionally been left in the hands of individuals with little thought given to the impact of poor sanitation on the entire community. In consequence action research is now being implemented with the aim of developing and testing an approach to pro-poor city wide sanitation strategies that can be adopted and driven by federations of community organizations, and supported by public authorities and private providers. The research and subsequent precedents explore the concept of community action and co-production as essential ingredients for scaling up sanitation in informal settlements.
Federation Solid Waste collection project in Karakata
Characteristics of households in Karakata:
Private landlords own most of the land in Karakata. The plots were initially purchased from landlords who owned huge tracts of land. Over time the buying and selling of land led to increased density in the settlement. The average household has 6 members but a maximum of 20 has been recorded. As a way to optimize income most landlords construct as many rooms for rent as possible. Renting is the most common businesses within Karakata. Most shared houses are constructed as a compound with multiple small rooms of approximately 9 square meters each under a common roof (see image below). The rooms are often constructed back to back around a central, exterior courtyard. A single room is generally occupied by one household (approximately 5 people). Hence the number of people in a compound varies from 15 to 100 depending on the number of rooms. Construction and improvement of latrines is normally the responsibility of the landlord, however most latrines at Karakata are in very poor condition. Interviews with landlords indicate that lack of finance, lack of knowledge about affordable technologies and negligence are key reasons for not improving latrines. The presence of tenants within a compound can place pressure on landlords to improve the condition of latrines within the compound.
Construction of shared latrines in Karakata:
The construction of the shared toilets at Karakata started with the identification of 9 dedicated Federation technicians. This team consisted of 5 women and 4 men and received “peer-to-peer” training from Federation members from Dodoma and Dar-es-Salaam. Training focused on the toilet construction process. The Karakata team also continuously engaged other federation teams within Dar-es-Salaam.
Pour-flush toilets with trapezoidal blocks being used to line the substructure were the technology accepted by the Karakata community. This selection was based on the technology’s affordability to the majority of beneficiaries. During the construction phase roles and responsibilities among different actors were developed. Tenants were involved in the planning process, expressing their desires with regards to the type of latrines to be constructed. However the landlord, who is responsible for the cash and material contribution in order to reduce costs, took the final decision. In a situation of an absentee landlord, he/she could appoint a representative among the tenants to act on his behalf. The current costs of latrines at Karakata varies according to affordability levels and ranges between USD $ 300 – 600. The operation and maintenance costs for a household latrine is about USD $ 10 – 20 per month. At the time of writing 18 latrines have been built under the SHARE project (7 in Karakata). These 18 latrines are providing services to approximately 550 – 1000 people in 3 settlements (Karakata, Keko Machungwa and Vingunguti).
A compound in Karakata settlement
Technical design of the pour flush toilet:
One of the key challenges in latrine improvement is the lack of affordable technologies. The majority of people who attempt to build use conventional methods that are expensive. For nearly 5 years the Federation Technical Team (FTF) has used trapezoidal blocks to line pits. The approach uses only 4 bags of cement as compared to the conventional methods which can use up to 10 bags of cement, reinforcement bars and aggregates.
Karakata community toilet construction team standing in front of a toilet serving 12 households
The compound in which the above toilet was constructed
The construction of shared latrines at Karakata has involved a number of actors. These include landlords, tenants, and local government leaders who play different roles in the improvement of latrines within the settlement. Most tenants, particularly women, were available during the baseline data collection to share information that was crucial in the planning and designing of the scheme. Their inputs were important in determining the types and costs of latrines to be built. Tenants are the ones responsible for the operation and maintenance of latrines while landlords are responsible for guaranteeing the capital finance used for latrine construction. As owners of the asset, landlords take loans from the Federation urban fund and ensure repayment of the money borrowed.The Karakata Federation has ensured that local government officials are involved at all stages. These include planning, implementation, operation and maintenance and the recovery of loans.
Co-production is a political strategy for the community to improve relationships with, and support from, local government. Since undertaking an enumeration and sanitation mapping exercise in Karakata settlement the community has gained considerable confidence in terms of interacting with government officials. The community has established an advocacy team of 6 federation members who have met with officials thrice to discuss areas in which the Municipality could support the Federation’s work. There is growing awareness and recognition of the federation’s sanitation work amongst municipal officials. This has resulted in municipal health officers agreeing to use the federation construction team in other settlements to train further groups in latrine construction.
Discussions indicate that in order for the Municipality to provide finance to a community sanitation project there is a need to closely involve the settlement councilor. The councilor can then carry the demands of the community to the full ward council. In addition there is a need to register the Federation groups in the Ilala municipality to allow for proper recognition by the authorities. However all these are formal procedures which require flexibility during co-production processes. While the federation appreciates the conventional arrangements for engaging the Municipality they also wish to strengthen their advocacy role through informal forums and Memorandums of Understanding (MoU’s).
Outside the federation office in Karakata
Conclusion and recommendation:
Within the context of increased urbanization and population growth the lack of conventional sanitation services in informal settlements will continue to be a critical, and expanding, challenge. Shared latrines will continue to be an important option for informal residents in Dar-es-Salaam. Key lessons that are emerging from this precedent include: The need to sharpen the relationship between landlords, tenants and local government –outlining clear roles and responsibilities & empowering community technicians with skills to support other sanitation technical challenges such as pit emptying and decentralized waste water treatment systems (DEWATS). Finally there is a need to strengthen federation advocacy teams, developing skills that will assist in engaging Municipalities and lobbying for financial and technical support. Precedents have made some progress in addressing Karakata’s sanitation demand but the establishment of a sanitation revolving fund supported by Local Government Authorities and Ward and Municipal officials would be an important step in lending financial longevity and scale to the endevour.
Sanitation Partnerships: Zimbabwe Federation work with Chinhoyi Municipality to Co-produce New Sanitation Options
By His Worship the Mayor of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter
This month slum dwellers and government officials from Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi met in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe for the annual Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) meeting. The meeting focused on exploring options to deliver affordable sanitation services to the poorest urban citizens. It became clear that the sheer scale of sanitation need demands a “toolkit” of options that are collectively affordable, replicable and built using established partnerships with local authorities.
While communities can explore what is possible through collective action and precedent setting projects it is ultimately local government’s mandate to deliver services. The development and improvement of partnerships between urban poor communities and authorities are needed in order for policies to address urban poor conditions. Urban poor communities in the SDI network seek to build incremental partnerships with local government to show the value of community participation in sanitation slum upgrading projects. This demonstrates the capacity of well-organised communities and challenges antiquated norms, standards and policies. Over time these partnerships have the potential for scaling up activities across cities.
During the meeting His Worship the Mayor of Chinhoyi, Test Michaels, reflected on the partnership with the local Federation noting how the engagement has been scaled up over time and opened a dialogue around alternative technologies and the collective rehabilitation and delivery of public toilets.
See full speech below.
Water and Sanitation Dialogue – Building citywide sanitation strategies from the bottom-up
3 – 5 June 2014, Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to start by thanking and congratulating Shack/Slum Dwellers International, the alliance of Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter and my council for organizing this conference. Thank you to the communities of Chinhoyi for your support and cooperation towards this noble cause. I would also like to thank all our friends in development from South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, and the United Kingdom. Your presence makes a big difference to us and we hope you will have a nice and productive experience here in Chinhoyi.
This meeting is an attempt to create dialogue amongst stakeholders in development, especially around finding lasting solutions for sustainable service delivery in our urban areas across the country. As you may be aware, that Zimbabwe as a country has passed through a decade long period of recessive socio-economic and political landscape, which on its own has crippled the operations of all local authorities, Chinhoyi Municipality included. The same period has also seen the introduction and realisation of community led development approaches and the opening of development space for Community Based Organisations (CBOs).
I am also indebted to my previous councils for moving out of the comfort zone and thinking outside the box by allowing the piloting with alternative technologies. Much as it is appreciated that the urban bye-laws are there to govern the implementation of urban development, there has been a mismatch between factors such as the affordability level of residents, increasing populations and the policies. Chinhoyi municipality made a deliberate move to relax some of those inhibiting policies and enter into development agreements with community movements and cooperatives. One such example of such a partnership is the Brundish Housing Project, a project that is being implemented by Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation with Dialogue on Shelter’s technical support. The project is the first in Chinhoyi to use non-conventional infrastructure with council approval and I am happy to share with you that the decision has been so rewarding both in terms of experiences and lessons. We have hosted over five local authorities that have visited the Brundish project with a view to learn about how alternatives can both speed up housing delivery and also provides a sustainable solution to various obstacles that affect service delivery. The project employed alternative infrastructure technologies such as boreholes, for water supply and ecosan toilets for sanitation provision. We are also grateful for the support that has been rendered by SDI through their local affiliates, the Federation and Dialogue on Shelter, for facilitating this learning process and sharing of experiences
The relationship between my council, the Federation and communities at large has grown both in breadth and depth of activities to which this gathering can be appended to that fact. The parties are now looking at sustainable ways of providing water and sanitation services to the poorest at an affordable cost. My council have been involved in discussions geared towards covering research gaps in the provision of sanitation using an approach which utilises the beneficiaries as key drivers. As policy makers, we appreciate the value of ecological sanitation systems and will continue to work closely with communities to ensure that issues of inclusivity and costs are adequately attended to. I have been informed that the council has pencilled a discussion on possible adopting of the ecosan toilet as part of policy. Embracing such practices at policy level will obviously to add value to investment and assure certainty in the development process.
As we are gathered here, let us all be reminded that the urban challenges that are bedevilling our cities have far much out grown our individual capacities and are continuing in becoming complex. The best option at the moment is to forge synergies and form partnerships, and work as a collective respecting each other’s capacities. It is only through a participatory process that we are be able to sustainably address gaps in service delivery and housing provision. We stand to achieve more through a collective process which recognises and respects communities as equal partners in development. As we deliberate on the issues, let us be informed by realities but think beyond our personal limitations and being cognisant that development is a process with a number of players.
In this partnership, we share an ambitious goal, which is to understand obstacles to sanitation development and attempt to offer approaches that can overcome them on a city wide scale. In our discussions, lets looks at the challenges experienced by current approaches to urban sanitation and objectively try to develop and test new ideas especially their potential their capacity for replication. We learnt some of the limitations of our sophisticated mechanised treatment plants and the shortage for water has further compounded the situation
We look forward to sharing our progress with you and learning from your experiences in your respective countries. The Chinhoyi partnership has shown that it is capable of playing a leading role and can initiative programs and projects to improve living conditions using a bottom up approach.
We have recently finalised our Water and Sanitation Situational Report which provides the baseline information collected through profiles and enumeration exercises. We look towards strengthening our working partnerships and make it more inclusive by having more stakeholders. Some summary profile reports are available for your perusal. Our strategic action plans are based assessing the built precedents and their scope to be taken city wide.
Finally, I would like to extend my special thanks to Municipality of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation and Dialogue on Shelter staff who have worked very hard to prepare this event and make this meeting a productive and inspiring forum for us all.
I wish you all fruitful deliberations.
Citywide Sanitation Projects in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe & Tanzania Report on Successes of First Year
*Cross-posted from SHARE Research website*
SHARE partners Shack/Slum Dwellers (SDI), together with their affiliates and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), have just published four policy briefs documenting the first year of the SHARE-funded City-Wide Sanitation Project.
The purpose of this research project is to develop inclusive, sustainable sanitation strategies. In practice this involves creating a scalable, bottom-up model for the development and realisation of pro-poor citywide sanitation, in which the residents of informal settlements engage with their local authority to identify new ways forward. The four cities where this model is being developed are Blantyre (Malawi), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Kitwe (Zambia), and Chinhoyi (Zimbabwe).
The first year was focused on data collection, including community mapping and profiling. Here are some of the findings:
• The study in the City of Blantyre found that 9 in 10 residents of information settlements use unimproved latrines, and that the majority of residents have experienced a collapse in these latrines during the rainy season. Most cannot afford the sanitary draining of latrines, opting instead to dig new pits every two years.
• In the City of Dar es Salaam, the study concluded that the sewerage system only reaches 10% of the urban population, while less than 10% of public funding for sanitation is directed towards onsite sanitation services, which the majority of the population relies on.
• In the City of Kitwe, the study found that over three quarters of households in informal settlements use traditional pit latrines, due in particular to the high cost of installing sanitation facilities.
• In the City of Chinhoyi, 70% of people in the profiled settlements rely on improvised water sources such as shallow wells and other unhygienic sources, which greatly affects their sanitation options. 82% of dwellings do not have regular rubbish collection.
In all three cities, the vital importance of the relationship between tenants and landlords was highlighted. Tenants make up the majority of households in informal settlements, and are therefore unlikely to invest in improved water and sanitation facilities. On the other hand, the incentives for landlords to make this important investment are not always eviden
The community-led approach to understanding the water and sanitation situation in these four cities has not only made residents and Federation leaders better informed, but it has also already greatly improved the relationship of these residents and Federation leaders with the City Councils. In Blantyre, for example, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the City Council, SDI partner CCODE and the Federation committing them to work together in the housing, water and sanitation sectors. The council has also set up the Informal Settlement Unit to work directly with the informal settlements in the city, demonstrating its commitment to scaling up action to address needs in these areas. In Kitwe, the City Council has agreed to establish a multi-stakeholder sub-committee on the upgrading on informal settlements, which will include SDI affiliate members along councillors and utility providers. In Chinhoyi, following an MoU in 2012, the communities of two of the profiled informal settlements – Mupata and Shackleton – have now begun to explore strategies for moving forward on the issues of sanitation in collaboration with the city authorities.
The project is now in its second year, where, building on firm knowledge of the situation in each locality and the stronger collaboration that the first year has enabled, precedents will be developed to exemplify new and effective sanitation solutions. The third and final year will be dedicated to planning to expand provision to those in the city without adequate sanitation. It is anticipated that this final year will develop a city-wide strategy for inclusive sanitation and include agreements with local government that can help provide the foundations for such a strategy.
Read the full Policy Briefing for Blantyre, Malawi
Read the full Policy Briefing for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Read the full Policy Briefing for Kitwe, Zambia
New Options Needed for Improved Access to Sanitation in African Cities
By Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat & Diana Mitlin, International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED)
SDI Federations in Southern Africa face acute sanitation needs. Recent surveys in informal settlements in four cities highlight the problems. In one of Kitwe’s (Zambia), informal settlements 77 per cent of the population was using unimproved pit latrines. In a similar area in Blantyre (Malawi), 91 per cent of residents used unimproved pit latrines and 26 per cent did not have access to a toilet. In Chinhoyi (Zimbabwe) in one peripheral settlement 39 per cent of residents used the bush and 56 per cent used pit latrines. And in Dar-es-Salaam, a survey in six informal settlements found that 65 per cent of residents were using traditional pit latrines. Federation members have been innovating wherever possible, seeking affordable solutions that have a chance of addressing such acute needs. The difficulties of sanitation provision are exacerbated by erratic piped water supplies and/or costly water sold through private kiosks. Further difficulties are created by the significance of rented accommodation with tenants making up between 34 and 70 per cent of residents.
Faced with these constraints, Federation members have been investing in eco-sanitation. The chosen model in three out of the four cities mentioned is a sky-loo with the raised toilet being more practical in areas of a high water table. In Dar es Salaam the preferred model is an improved pit latrine. The unit cost varies but is generally between USD 350 and USD 500 for a double chamber unit with a small area for bathing in addition to the toilet. Scarce and expensive water supplies make the eco-san unit even more attractive; and over time residents have found uses for the compost, either putting it on their own crops or selling it locally.
There are multiple pressures that make these individual private sanitation choices attractive. The technologies are now understood and easily replicated. Local builders have developed the skills needed and Federation members have even been confident enough to use eco-sanitation technologies in market toilet blocks in Malawi. While local government was initially skeptical about the merits of eco-sanitation (especially in Zimbabwe), over time the Federation has demonstrated the functionality of this solution. Tenants have been able to pressure their landlords and in at least some cases they have responded with a willingness to make the investments. Such toilets can be accommodated within the existing layouts. This mean that there is no need to identify additional land for public toilet blocks, nor is there a need to re-block the settlement to enable sewers to be laid. In a context in which state investment has been at best very limited and at worst non-existent, federations are being forced to treat sanitation as a private good.
However, as the scale of such private investments increases, SDI affiliates are asking themselves if this really makes sense. Consider the scale of need in a city like Kitwe, Zambia where approximately 60,000 families lack adequate sanitation. If each household has to invest in an eco-sanitation unit at a cost of USD 500, then the total cost is USD 30 million. It is not clear that this is going to be an effective use of resources, even irrespective of the difficulties of using on-site sanitation as settlements density increases with urbanization.
Solutions such as household eco-san are popular with federations (especially considering the lack of water in many areas) because they are realizable in the face of substantive state neglect. The relatively high costs of capital investment are repaid by loans from the Federation’s loan funds. Landowners recoup the costs by passing them onto their tenants. In many of these cases, tenants are pressing for such investments as they are very keen to have access to improved facilities. But with limited incomes some tenants cannot afford to pay the cost of potential rent increases.
Moreover, private on-site sanitation does not remind city authorities to fulfill their responsibilities in providing the necessary infrastructure to transport and treat waste. While on-site sanitation may be appropriate in low-density residential developments, the health risks are considerable as densities increase. Extraordinary as it sounds, the proportion of urban households with access to improved sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa did not change between 1990 and 2010 – remaining at 43 per cent. Even more extraordinary is that this definition of “improved” takes no account of the suitability of various types of sanitation for high-density populations.
Faced with such myopia and indifference on the part of the authorities, it is perhaps not surprising that federations have not taken on the immense tasks of altering the institutional arrangements for sanitation provision at the city scale. Furthermore if lack of sanitation provision is understood as a city governance failure the onus for provision to the poor should not be largely born by the poor themselves. There is an urgent need for new policies and programmes that begin to experiment with sanitation solutions that can be rolled out across the city, affordable to and appropriate for high-density low-income urban populations.
In the high-density settlements of Mumbai (India), alternatives have developed. Through a sustained period of negotiation and action, totaling approximately 15 years, the Indian federation has been able to access government subsidies for the construction and management of communal facilities. Affordable subscription fees are charged and cover the management and maintenance costs of facilities. These systems have been refined through a sustained learning and reflection process over more then a decade. Mistakes have been made, new options and technologies trialed and collective reflection and learning consistently supported. Systems have evolved over time.
As African federations begin to consider new sanitation solutions more appropriate to use densities, exchanges play a vital role. The above Indian example of communal toilets with an affordable monthly fee for neighborhood residents of USD $ 1-2 per household, and the scale achieved in Mumbai, has been visited by a number of African federations who wish to explore communal options. While Indian densities differ significantly from many African cities, the community driven procurement, construction and management systems all offer valuable lessons; one of which is implementing systems that balance individual gain with a system for collective good. For example female federation contractors win the tenders for toilet construction but are blacklisted if standards are not maintained or the facility comes in over budget. The Indian example has been taken up by Uganda, Malawi and Zimbabwe who have piloted a variety of market sanitation facilities that aim to provide an affordable service and recover costs. However this type of system has yet to be successfully trialed in a low-income high-density residential area. The critical difference is that the provision of capital subsidies for toilet block construction in Mumbai makes universal sanitation access affordable. Without such subsidies, African federations face a considerable innovation challenge.
In a context in which both governments and development agencies are emphasizing the potential of on-site sanitation in African cities, thinking outside of existing paradigms holds the greatest promise for African federations anxious to address the need for universal access. The existing success with eco-sanitation, and an ability to negotiate for regulatory reforms that have legitimated this solution can be used as the “groundwork” for more ambitious investments. The paucity of practical examples of urban sanitation systems that offer universal access in African contexts is a key challenge that can be taken up by federations. Bold steps and new ideas should continue to be trialed and success measured not just in the ability to deliver functional facilities but also by introducing options that enable low-income households to access sanitation at a citywide scale. In summary, generating solutions for Africa’s urban sanitation crisis will require a focus on the organizations and relationships that enable communities and local governments alike to learn about technical alternatives.
The Formal Politics of Informal Projects: Part II
**For part I of this story, click here.**
By Fariria Shumba (Peoples Process on Housing and Poverty- Zambia) & Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat
In September of this year delegations from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Tanzania visited Zambia to discuss progress on the SHARE project. This is the fourth time these countries have met to discuss progress, assess challenges and learn from each other collectively around sanitation. The value of the meeting was found in making it relevant to overcoming the challenges that the Kitwe federation faced, that are described in part 1 of this article.
Representatives from Nkana Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) as well as the Kitwe City Council attended this meeting and the challenges outlined above were foregrounded. Nkana recognized that the scale of sanitation need outweighed their ability to deliver and that systems needed to be built to promote more sustainable systems of delivery. However they re-iterated the position that they could not move outside the ambits of the project and delivery was slow because of the stipulations required by the African Development Bank.
The meeting facilitated both structured and informal discussions between attending countries and within the Zambian federation. Wherever possible discussions were scheduled to focus on the issues that had stalled the project in Zambia. Through these engagements it was possible for the Zambian process to reflect on the scale and sustainability of their proposed partnership with Nkana. A member of the affiliate Zambian NGO noted, “ …it was like we were set on making the marriage with Nkana work at all costs…”. Could this partnership achieve lasting scale and would it alter the policies and resource flows through which sanitation was provided in the city of Kitwe? In other words would it change the mode of sanitation delivery in Kitwe to more pro-poor?
Additionally the meeting brought Peoples Process on Poverty and Housing (Zambian affiliate) staff and federation together to discuss the issue. It became clear that their had been a lack of engagement and support between Kitwe and Lusaka on both the part PPHP and the federation. Local exchanges from Lusaka were identified as key to supporting the Kitwe federation process.
During the meeting the Kitwe federation leadership and affiliate worked together to chart a new path forwards for the project, an alternative model for sanitation delivery in Kitwe. While recognizing the need to continue pursuing the partnership with Nkana, other precedent options were identified. It was stated “ we should not put all our eggs in one basket.” These included the construction of shared eco-san facilities at the Federation housing site in Kawama (and the general Kawama neighborhood) that will not receive toilets through the Nkana programme, as well as the rehabilitation and management of dilapidated facilities in Chisokone market place. It is hoped that these precedents will demonstrate to the local authorities and Nkana the capacity of the federation to develop sanitation models that are affordable and sustainable. At the time of writing eco-san toilets are under construction in Kawama settlement (see photos below).
Eco-san toilets currently under construction in Kawama, Kitwe
The Kawama community is also building drainage channels
The status quo of sanitation in Zambia’s informal settlements remains appalling. As we move towards the end of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly Goal 7 that seeks to halve the number of people with inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation, it is imperative to interrogate both conventional and unconventional methods of provision and consider how universal coverage can be achieved.
The Zambian case provides crucial learning around “unconventional” community driven approaches, especially in the face of the continued failure of conventional, pro-government methods of sanitation provision. Community systems have the potential to achieve scale and impact through the creation of sanitation revolving loan funds. In contrast, Nkana’s model will not be scalable beyond the 1000 selected beneficiaries as the sanitation options presented will not be affordable. The average income of residents in the selected area is approximately K200 ($37).
The contradictions between the SHARE and the NWSS project describes a “void” in the manner professionals formulate projects. Both initiatives sought to improve sanitation for slum dwellers in the same informal settlements. If all stakeholders had collectively designed the project the deadlock, captured in the antithesis of community loan finance to unsustainable government grants, may have been mediated. Informed stakeholder input, including communities affected, is hence essential in the early development of sanitation projects.
Despite the obstacles faced in expediting the SHARE sanitation precedents there is a commitment amongst the federation to continue lobbying for transformative community sanitation projects across Zambian informal settlements. Currently the federation seeks to publish a joint positional paper with the Kitwe City Council and Nkana Water and Sewerage challenging the reduction of the national budgetary allocation for housing and social amenities from 3.1 % to 1.5%.
For Part I of this story, click here.
The Formal Politics of Informal Projects: Part I
Sanitation facility under construction by Nkana Water & Sewerage utility in Kamatipa, Kitwe, Zambia.
By Fariria Shumba, Peoples Process on Housing & Poverty, Zambia and Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat
This two-part blog post provides insights into the very real and grounded political and practical challenges “non-conventional” community models of sanitation provision face in Kitwe, Zambia. It charts the circumstances that led to work being stalled and how a way forward was mooted, and is currently being implemented.
Sanitation provision in Kitwe, Zambia gives insight into why formal expectations around project management need to be sensitive to grassroots driven projects. The external pressures faced by communities and affiliated professionals can stall activities or lead to outcomes that diverge from original community priorities. This piece describes such stress points and how, in time, work moved forward.
As part of the SHARE (Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity) project the Kitwe federation was provided with funds to construct a number of precedent setting sanitation facilities. In this context the federation looked to forge a partnership with Nkana Water and Sewerage Company, a parastatal 70% owned by the municipality, who already had a mandate to deliver 1000 toilets through an African Development Bank (ADB) loan. Both the SHARE precedents and the Nkana Water Supply and Sanitation (NWSS) project were targeted at the same areas, Kamatipa & Ipusikilo (Place of refuge). The federation had already conducted profiling and mapping and Nkana were enthusiastic to use this data, which was presented at a dialogue session attended by relevant councilors, the deputy mayor and other Kitwe City officials in April 2013.
At this time discussions had already been held with the Managing director of Nkana who agreed to collaborate with the federation. The federation’s presence in the two projects areas was important to Nkana, who do not have strong ties to the community. The federation was able to mobilize the community around the related, but not always complimentary, objectives of both projects. This included the identification of prospective beneficiaries and training of artisans for construction.
No alternative sanitation models were concurrently pursued.
As activities progressed a number of stress points became clear. The pace of delivery was gradual with Nkana citing strict loan stipulations by the ADB. The slow implementation of the project is a reflection of the typical bureaucratic red tape that can hamper community driven development projects. The NWSS is a 5-year project that commenced in 2008 with this being the last year of implementation! Federation involvement was meant to “kick start” delivery and avoid the grant being returned to the ADB. The federation attempted to align the SHARE and NWSS projects and build more than 1000 sanitation units, creating sustainable conditions and models for work to extend beyond end dates.
The perceived partnership was meant to share designs and technologies in order to create more affordable options for the poor. The Nkana VIP toilet cost close to K4,000 (US$740); Ecosan in excess of K5, 000 (US$925) and pour flush about K6, 000 (US$1,111). These high costs preclude opportunities for scaling up as funds available will only reach a limited number of the estimated 60,000 families in need of improved sanitation. The use of individual grants, as opposed to communal loans, further undermines opportunities for replication. Furthermore the Ecosan demonstration models built by Nkana in Chambishi have a major design flaw. Chambers are too small and there is no separate receptacle for urine. The mixing of urine with fecal sludge will have major environmental impacts.
As touched upon previously the federation and support professionals became aware of a far deeper fault line. Since the Nkana funded toilets were contingent on grant and not loan finance, did they really create the conditions for extending sanitation to a citywide scale? An individual toilet as a grant could never reach the scale of need in Kitwe (research conducted in the first phase of the SHARE project estimated that there were over 60,000 families in need of improved sanitation). The federation struggled to make the case for communal loan finance for sanitation in an environment were free toilets were expected to be delivered.
Both the federation and affiliate were caught up in the possibilities of tapping into Nkana, and hence city, resource flows which are substantial. Reflections indicate that a preoccupation with making this partnership work, and internally influencing it towards a more sustainable model, occluded serious discussion around alternative pilots. To provide further context it is important to note that an M.o.U had been drafted and circulated to Nkana Water management. The Kitwe federation sought to formalize their relationship with Nkana and use this as an instrument to negotiate more affordable and sustainable modes of sanitation provision. This builds on a previous M.o.U signed with Kitwe City Council that led to the federation obtaining land at a reduced rate.
Finally there seemed to be a resistance to shared toilet facilities from the community. Reasons for this included variable sizes of families (larger families being advantaged to smaller ones even if payment was equal) & Landlord and Tenant issues. In deeper discussions with the Kitwe federation it emerged that many existing latrines are already being shared by a number of families simply because they are not locked.
Hence a combination of external political pressures, internal resistance to shared facilities (especially in the face of free toilet provision) and a preoccupation with making the partnership with Nkana work led to an impasse. Work on the ground stalled and no progress was made on alternative precedent development with SHARE funds remaining unspent.
Landlords & Tenants Relationship in Improving Sanitation in Dar es Salaam
By Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat & Stella Steven, CCI Tanzania
One of the key challenges for improving sanitation in slums is the issue of land, and structure, ownership. During a study conducted by Tanzania Urban Poor Federation and Centre for Community Initiatives (CCI) in 2012, community members from Keko Machungwa settlement in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania highlighted the relationship between tenants and landlords as paramount to the success of efforts to improve sanitation in their settlement.
Most houses in informal settlements in Tanzania are owned by individual landlords and rented to people within the settlements. The landlord and tenants’ relationship is critical in addressing sanitation in urban informal settlements because decision making regarding latrine choice and improvement is made by landlords who are also responsible for investment costs. Despite these responsibilities most landlords have not paid much attention to the improvement and construction of good toilets within their houses.
This report, prepared by the Centre for Community Initatives in Dar es Salaam, looks at the case of Zaituini Mohamed, a tenant, and Secilia Selamani Mbwana, a landlord, to explore the different roles and responsibilities of each party in improving sanitiaton in the settlement. Tenants can provide information regarding available loans and finance for improving sanitation within their respective households, while landlords can ensure that toilets are maintained and that rents do not increase once these facilities are improved.
For more information on the Tanzania SDI Alliance’s efforts to build relationships between tenants and landlords to improve sanitation at scale, read the full report here.