Innovative Communal Sanitation Models for the Urban Poor: Lessons from Uganda

Monday, 27 October 2014

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

 

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Achieving Universal Sanitation: Sharing the Experience of the SDI Affiliate in Blantyre, Malawi

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Ecosan toilet in Mtandire settlement

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.

 

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Community Savings: a basic building block in the work of urban poor federations

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

This paper describes the community savings groups that are the foundation of many federations of slum/shack dwellers/homeless people in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It reports on discussions with federation members in Kenya, Namibia, Malawi, the Philippines, Uganda and Zimbabwe on how savings groups are set up (mostly by women living in informal settlements) and managed (including the care taken in recording changes in each saver’s account). It also describes how these groups support their members working together to address difficult issues such as getting tenure of the land their homes occupy or getting land plots on which to build and access to services. For each of the six national federations described, details are also given of how the savings groups help change relations for the better with local and often national governments as they demonstrate to government their capacities. This includes undertaking projects and the community-driven mapping and enumerations of informal settlements. The paper also discusses the challenges that savings groups face – for instance when they lose momentum or when households cease to be active savers – and how these are addressed.

To read the full working paper, click here. 

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Academic Partnerships to Co-Produce Knowledge

Monday, 20 October 2014

SDI affiliates continued to work closely with academic institutions to co-produce knowledge through undertaking collective planning studios. SDI’s position is that these types of engagements expose students and academics to informal knowledge and conditions that call into question existing presumptions, planning frameworks, infrastructure standards and laws. Through this experience the capacity and knowledge of slum dwellers as capable actors in developing upgrading plans and precedents for their own communities is illustrated. Collective studios are the first step in training the next generation of planners who will one day become officials shaping the development and inclusivity of cities. If practical collaborative studios (between planners and the urban poor) become embedded in University curricula, inclusive planning practices can become the norm rather then the exception.

“In communities we know the number of settlements, services and origins of the people. We know how they spend their money and how they would like to develop their areas. You cannot plan from the office but if you go to the ground and speak to people and learn from them it can help you plan better.” - Katana Goretti, Ugandan Federation

Reforming the manner in which planning students are educated is one step towards shifting planning paradigms in Africa. On this basis SDI entered into a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Assosiation of African Planning Schools (AAPS) in 2010, promoting co-operation between country affiliates and local planning schools. The MoU recognizes that the most effective way to change the mindsets of student planners is to offer direct experiential exposure to, and interaction with the conditions and residents of slums. In this manner students will be exposed to the value of informal knowledge and community participation in planning for settlement upgrading. During this period SDI affiliates and AAPS have conducted six collaborative planning studios in which students, staff, and urban poor communities engage directly in data collection, analysis, and the development of upgrading plans. Studios have taken place in Uganda, Malawi (two), South Africa, Kenya, and Namibia. In many cases local government officials have been invited to witness studio outputs and participate.

In Kampala, Uganda a studio with Makerere University planning students led to detailed reports reflecting informal challenges and upgrading plans that were submitted to local governments. During the studio the Ugandan Federation referred to themselves as “community professors.” Two concurrent studios took place in Blantyre and Mzuzu, Malawi. In Nancholi, Blantyre Federation members worked closed with the University of Malawi-Polytechnic to identify upgrading priorities and develop plans for improved circulation and drainage. In Salisbury Lines, Mzuzu, poor drainage and groundwater pollution were key priorities around which collective planning took place. In South Africa, students spent six months developing upgrading plans in conjunction with residents of Langrug informal settlement in Stellenbosch. In Gobabis, Namibia, students from the Polytechnic of Namibia undertook a site analysis of the Freedom Square informal settlement. Loraine, a community member from Block 5 in Freedom Square noted:

“The site analysis brought to light to how I see my surroundings. I learned how to use a GPS as we were doing the mapping. I also got to see which areas are suitable to build my house on and which aren’t, in order to avoid flooding, during the rainy season.”

It is important that studios become part of annual university curriculums, entrenching new approaches to planning over a sustained period and encouraging the participation of city governments. In all the aforementioned countries commitments have been made to replicate the studio process. Across the SDI network affiliates are exploring these types of engagements. For example a further studio recently took place between the Zambian affiliate and the University of Zambia in Lusaka. The municipality is looking at the possibility of implementing some of the proposals that emerged and has pledged to quicken the process of declaring the targeted settlement a legal residential area, as it is currently an illegal settlement under the 1975 Town and Country Planning Act.

In February 2013 a further planning studio was organised between the South African communities of Mshini Wam, Shukushukuma, and Ruo Emoh and architecture and planning students from the University of Melbourne to investigate new solutions for informal settlement upgrading and housing development. In Shukushukuma, plot sized placeholders were cut to scale and laid out on an aerial photograph. The location of visible infrastructure was mapped, such as electricity poles, toilet blocks, and water taps. The Mshini Wam group looked at alternative typologies for densification and formalisation after re-blocking projects. A visual fly through model was created, building on the new layout of re-blocked settlement.

During the year a German Agency for International Co-operation (GIZ) sponsored initiative was also undertaken to investigate the conditions for successful projects and partnerships between local government and urban poor communities. The report produced drew on experiences in Harare (Zimbabwe), Pune (India) and Kampala (Uganda) – locations that were visited by the investigating team. The team consisted of David Satterthwaite from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Celine D’Cruz, an SDI Coordinator and co-founder of SPARC, and Sonia Fadrigo, a Core Monitoring Team member.

In 2013 SDI affiliates continue to consolidate partnerships with academic institutions with the goal of cementing collaborative efforts (e.g. planning studios) within university curriculums. SDI’s strategic medium term goals recognise the value of producing citywide data about informal settlements. Data can be used both to engage government and to assist in implementing projects that move beyond single settlements and tackle poverty at scale. Urban planners, architects, surveyors, and managers can, and must, play a vital role in critically engaging with this data. By accepting the validity of such data (and assisting in its co-production) academia can add both political and practical value increasing impact and scale.

To read more about SDI's partnerships with academic institutions, check out our Annual Report. 

 

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Local and regional governments commit to partner with the urban poor to leave no one behind

Friday, 17 October 2014

**Cross-posted from UCLG website**

On 17 October 2014, the world will come together to join the fight to end poverty – to “Leave no one behind: to think, decide, and act together against extreme poverty”Local and Regional Governments will also add their voices to the campaign on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, highlighting the key role that cities need to play in bridging inequalities.

The increase in inequalities within and between countries and regions is seen as the Achilles heel of the MDGs, and may become worse if rapid urbanization is not properly addressed.

Today, more than 70% of the world’s poorest people live in middle-income countries, most of them in urban areas. Furthermore, with 5% of the world’s population using 23% of the global energy supply, roughly 40% of the world’s population lacking access to adequate sanitation, and another 1.2 billion people having no sanitation facilities at all, universal service provision is increasingly seen as the key to decent livelihoods.

The achievement of many of the global goals depends on local governments and the support they receive from other levels of government and international agencies, as well as their capacity to build strong partnerships with civil society and the private sector. People living in poverty should be the primary partners of local governments in the fight against poverty.

UCLG is building strong partnerships with Slum Dwellers International and the Huairou Commission, among others, and is committed to developing strong communities that can define priorities and work hand in hand with local governments.

Together we must, we can and we will leave no one behind!

Local and Regional Governments believe that creating strong local communities supported by accountable and resourced institutions is the only way to fight poverty in a sustainable manner.

As a member of the High-level Panel, voicing the concerns of Local and Regional Governments, Kadir Topbaş, President of UCLG and Mayor of Istanbul, has repeatedly stated that “the power of cities needs to be put to use in fighting poverty!” He recalled the role of cities in the provision of basic servicesinfrastructure and local development strategies that are central to the reduction of poverty, inequality and inclusion.

UCLG would like to take this opportunity to support the recent letter of the High‑level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The letter highlights the need to put the call to “Leave no one behind” at the top of global policy priorities if the goal of ending extreme poverty is to be achieved. It further underlines the transformative potential of urbanization and the need to work towards more accountable institutions.  

On this special day, we would also like to recall the commitment of the Global Taskforce to contribute to the definition, implementation and monitoring of the global Post-2015 Agenda and local Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets, as well as to shape societies from the bottom up, and to make them resilient and ready to tackle the challenges of our time.

More info: www.un.org

Follow #no1behind #post2015 #endpoverty

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