New Options Needed for Improved Access to Sanitation in African Cities

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Sanitation

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.

Sanitation

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.

Sanitation

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.

 

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Memoirs of a Ugandan Slum Dweller: Part X

Thursday, 17 April 2014

**Cross posted from The Age of Zinc**

Age of Zinc is proud to present the tenth instalment in a new memoir from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. Check back every week to catch the next part of the story!

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In 2005 I started working in Owino Market. I worked there for two years. In 2007 I joined the federation. When I joined the federation I lost the time to be in the market. I would move around in the communities in the evening for the federation and I also had to work in the market evenings. So I had to sacrifice some time and also cover the other side of being in the market.

When I was unable to go for the daily collections the women started loosing. So I said to myself that I couldn’t let this die because I felt it like it was part of me. I liked it and had mobilized over 300 people who were saving. I could move door to door and they were saving. After I had mobilize all these people I requested to get someone to assist me because I could not be moving around as much; I was losing my job at Owino. But the federation agreed that instead of getting another person to help me, they would pay me a little so I could continue. It was a challenge because they could not pay me what I was making in the market. Because they trusted me, I chose to continue. Trust is something you can’t just get. If people trust you that means you are an asset to them and you can’t lose. So I agreed and continued it for four consecutive months – I collected the savings. We then were able to start loaning.

Some people from ACTogether (the local support NGO) came to Kamwoyka and called a big meeting for all leaders in Kamwoyka settlement. I went because I was a local leader. At this meeting they introduced us to the savings culture and informed us what was involved. Afterwards, some of the leaders said, “No, these ones will eat your money!” Because a Dutch team and about three other organizations had come before and done something similar but had just eaten our money. But I stood up and said “Me, I’ll try this!” But my chairman said no and I told him “I will mobilize the women and they will come, I have them.” So we set up another meeting and I got thirteen women to come on the first day. These thirteen women started saving that day! We saved 13,000 shillings total. Each one saved 1,000 shillings. Those women also nominated me to be their collector at the beginning. So I was the secretary for the group and then they also asked me to be the collector. They had other leaders as well: the chairperson of the group, the treasurer, and the mobiliser. Committees were formed and each one of us had a role.

After that, we started mobilising. We mobilised our community and then our community mobilised another community. After we mobilising our community that’s when I started to go to different areas because I now knew what I was doing. I knew the challenges and the achievements. I could talk about something that I’m a part of and understood. Some of the challenges we faced were that when you started mobilizing the community some leaders would think you want to overtake them – we were a threat to them. They thought if this thing is successful, people would think that this is the person doing good work and when the elections come they will nominate this person instead. But after people see the benefits of their savings it’s up to them to decide. With us, we did not forced them to save. It is your own will and you were free to withdraw. We would also advise people that it is better to save for something big, not for daily food. If you’re saving for daily food you cannot save because you have to withdraw money everyday. It worked well and we were successful.

Soon after we started going for big meetings at the regional level. At that time we were still just in Kampala Central. We would go for meetings and that is where they recognized that I could maybe be put in a leadership position. They formed a profiling team and I was part of that team. In 2009 we moved into new areas. We visited Mbale to meet the municipality. At these meetings it was my job to record the minutes. This gave me a lot of strength because I had a lot of information and knew everything that was going on. It was during that period that the National Slum Dwellers decided that we needed a leadership structure. We set up a lot of meetings to discuss leadership structure and it took us almost two years to agree on the type of structure.

Once we had agreed on the structure we decided to have a meeting with all the different cities. By then we had mobilised the five regions of Kampala and the five secondary cities of Mbale, Arua, Jinja, Kabale, and Mbarara and each city was given the chance to elect one leader to the national team. Each city decided the person who they thought was good. For example, if we are looking at savings and Kampala Central was good at savings we would have Kampala Central give us someone who can oversee the savings committee. Jinja was very good at reports and auditing, so we looked for someone from Jinja who was doing audits to be on the national leadership team. This was the process we used for all the cities.

We agreed that we should have another national council meeting in a different area to inform all the leaders of the new executive team. All the regional leaders needed to be there to agree with the committee that had been nominated. In this meeting we agreed that we all would work with the team that has been nominated. This was 2011.

 

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Memoirs of a Ugandan Slum Dweller: Part IX

Friday, 11 April 2014

**Cross posted from The Age of Zinc**

Age of Zinc is proud to present the ninth instalment in a new memoir from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. Check back every week to catch the next part of the story!

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I’m trying to teach my kids and make sure that each one is doing something for himself. If one is looking after the poultry and chicks we agree that you have to take your time and make sure everything is done right. We are also making candles at home. Whoever helps make our candles at home also has to then take them to the shops and sell them. When we are making our briquettes, one kid has to take care of the whole process. So each one of them is trying. They are at least trying, and they really want it.

The oldest is about to be 18, a girl. She is in a boarding school. The boys are staying at home with us. Sometimes when I’m not at home I need someone to stay with the young one. I have one that is 17, another that is 14, one is 10, one is 7, and then the young one is 2 years. I have two girls and the rest boys. Their father is supportive; he is also working so hard.

The father is always moving with his son, he takes care of his children; let me say it like that. He is always responsible for his children. He is perfect, because I don’t even get a headache or worry or lose any track of my children. If a child is sick, he is there 24 hours.

Most of my time I’m with the federation so I cannot support them much because its voluntary work. But we earn and save our money from our projects. My husband is a carpenter and he also has some small houses for rent. At the end of three months we save 300 shillings for each child’s school fees. For us, we are looking at how we can survive. It’s a family effort to survive.

I don’t have much time for sleeping because I wake up at five, I do housework, and I leave for federation work. I get back at six or seven and I prepare food and then I have to make my candles. I make them at night. When I’m at home I usually don’t sleep until late because I have to make sure I can some have capital with me the next day.

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Municipal Forums for Kampala: “If not now, then when? If not us, then who?”

Thursday, 10 April 2014

By Skye Dobson, ACTogether Uganda

“If not now, then when? If not us, then who?” -His Worship, Mayor of Nakawa, Jan 29, 2014

On the 29th of January 2014, ACTogether and the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) convened a breakfast meeting to discuss participatory governance in Kampala at Boda Boda, atop Garden City.  The breakfast brought together the mayors and town clerks of Kampala’s five divisions, top officials at KCCA, the Minister, Commissioners, and officials from the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development, slum dwellers and NGOs. The breakfast was hosted by well-known Ugandan journalist, writer and analyst, Angelo Izama. 

ACTogether and the NSDFU in partnership with Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has been supporting the institutionalization of forums under the TSUPU project (Transforming settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda). The project, funded by Cities Alliance and the World Bank, spanned the municipalities of Jinja, Arua, Mbarara, Mbale and Kabale with an aim of empowering the municipalities and the communities therein to effectively and sustainably manage rapid urbanization. ACTogether and the NSDFU have been playing the role of organizing slum communities to participate meaningfully in such forums and linking internationally tested best practices through the Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network to inform local interventions.  

It’s evident that Kampala, as Uganda’s largest urban center, is yet to manage the city’s unprecedented urbanization – evidenced by data that shows over 60% of Kampala residents are slum dwellers. The gap that is increasingly widening between city plans and community expectations presents an urgent need for a strategic intervention to address such planning challenges by setting up a platform for government and citizens to engage meaningfully on the development and implementation of city plans in order to promote more efficient and effective service delivery in the city. 

The aim of instituting the forums in Kampala is to bridge the gap between planning and implementation as well as enhance the participation of residents (especially slum dwellers) in decision-making processes that affect them.  In addition, the forums will support KCCA in its efforts to create a vibrant, sustainable and attractive city with quality services.

The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development – Honorable Daudi Migereko – opened the meeting by thanking his ministry for mainstreaming the idea of forums and supporting communities to generate local solutions to local challenges. He explained that the forums are a perfect space for creating “think tanks” that can generate innovative home-grown solutions. He suggested that they also serve as a space for reflection, stocktaking, identifying priorities, and discovering the resources within our midst. Critically, he informed the participants that in the urban centers where forums exist, project submissions to government have been much smoother, with the forums helping to mitigate against the bickering that stalls too many projects.

Next to speak as the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Samuel Mabala, who explained that he came back from leave especially to take part in the breakfast, such is his commitment to sharing information on the role forums can play in urban management. He argued that the urban poor cannot be left out of the planning process and that it was the history of exclusion of the poor and failed upgrading projects that led the Ministry to launch the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (TSUPU) project in 2009.

His Worship, the Mayor of Nakawa (one of Kampala’s 5 divisions) presented next and explained that when he came to office in 2011, he was oriented by members of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda and the NGO ACTogether.  He came to understand just how widespread the issue of slums is and says he felt enlightened. He decided it was incumbent upon his division to engage the slum communities in order to improve the city. He emphasized the fact that in order to make strides in upgrading, partnerships are essential and that forums are en effective vehicle for promoting this.

Next, the Director of Gender and Community Services at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Madam Harriet Mudondo addressed the breakfast and lamented the lack of funds allocated to slum upgrading in Kampala and expressed hope that such forums could assist in the lobbying and advocacy required to change the status quo. She said that municipal forums can help to bridge the distrust and suspicion between the authority and the community and provide an opportunity to engage communities early in the development process in order to truly implement bottom-up planning.

Way forward

Following the KCCA presentation a discussion proceeded in which participants sought clarification on certain issues and discussed the practicability of the forums.  At the conclusion of the discussion it was agreed that:

1)    A steering committee comprised of the mayors and town clerks of each division as well as a representative from KCCA’s Public and Corporate Affairs would be formed to take the process forward and draft the charters and form the committees required to operationalize the forums.

2)    The National Urban Forum will be invited to advise the steering committee on the process

3)    ACToegther committed to facilitate the forums for the next 5 years. It is hoped that after that period the divisions and KCCA will appreciate the need for the forums and support their operations

4)    By the end of March the Kampala forums should be launched

 

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Know Your City: Discussing Community-Collected Data at World Urban Forum 7

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Know Your City

By Ariana MacPherson, SDI Secretariat 

There has been a lot of discussion at this week’s World Urban Forum about the use of data as a key tool in the development of inclusive, sustainable cities. Key to this discussion is how data can be used in the cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America, most of which still face major challenges around urban poverty and whose city development strategies, for the most part, continue to exclude the large majority of these cities’ populations – the urban poor. But yesterday at SDI’s networking event, a strategically different approach to data was presented and discussed. The Know Your City campaign – a global campaign for gathering citywide data on slums as the basis for inclusive partnerships between the urban poor and their local governments – was presented as a critical component of the push for urban data. When communities of the urban poor collect data about their own communities, in partnership with their local and national governments, they are armed with the necessary tools to become key players in the development of strategies of urban development that take into account the realities and needs of the city’s urban poor majority.

In our networking event, delegates from SDI-affiliated urban poor federations and support NGOs, the SDI Secretariat, and key international networks and agencies discussed the importance of this campaign in greater detail. Jack Makau of the SDI Secretariat spoke on the history of SDI’s data collection strategies. SDI-affiliated federations of the urban poor have been collecting information about themselves for decades. This data has led to upgrading projects in affiliates across Africa, Asia and Latin America, and has formed the basis of large-scale slum upgrading interventions in India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and more recently, Uganda. 

Know Your City

In the last year, however, the SDI network has begun to standardize and aggregate this data in a way that we have not been able to before. This means that urban poor communities have expanded their scope – from collecting data only about the settlements where they live, to collecting data on all the slum settlements in their cities. This includes demographic, spatial and economic information that allows for a picture of the whole city – data that can be used to drive communities’ negotiations with local government for slum upgrading and development at the citywide scale. The accuracy and ownership of the data is enhanced because it is collected and used by communities in discussions with city governments on upgrading plans and programs, meaning that the communities themselves have a greater stake in the need for accurate, up-to-date information.

Know Your City

These claims were supported by the experiences of SDI affiliates from Kenya and Zimbabwe. Catherine Sekai, national leader of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation, related that the Federation, alongside their local authority, “profiled the entire city of Harare, settlement by settlement” to identify peoples’ needs on the ground. This led to the transfer of land by the city to the communities for the construction of upgraded houses in Dzivaresekwa Extension, one of Harare’s largest slums.

Know Your City

Another example of the power of community-collected data came from Irene Karanja, executive director of Muungano Support Trust, support NGO to the Kenyan urban poor federation Muungano wa Wanavijiji. Karanja shared some key findings from 300 community-driven profiles from slums in 20 cities and towns across Kenya. Two central issues emerged from these profiles: land and sanitation. Most of the land occupied by slums in Kenya is privatized, and currently under high threat of eviction from developers looking to take back the land as land values in Kenya’s cities continue to rise. Because of the status of land ownership, interventions around sanitation have been nearly impossible and continue to threaten health and security of slum residents, particularly women. 

Karanja concluded her presentation by calling to action the Kenyan government and global urban development stakeholders, stating that, “The dialogue [around urban development] has to change now as we move towards Habitat III – poor people need a chance to expose the data that we are talking about today. Communities have data that government does not have. Despite this, government does not want to accept this data. It is our hope that this data can be used in Kenya to form part of the national urban agenda.” 

Know Your City

Two of SDI’s key institutional partners in the Know Your City campaign also participated in the event – Jean Pierre Elong-Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities & Local Governments Africa (UCLG-A) and Anaclaudia Rossbach, Regional Advisor to Latin America and the Caribbean from Cities Alliance. Elong-Mbassi reminded the group that at least 50% of Africa’s cities are made up of slums, and that “any mayor interested in managing a city in a comprehensive way cannot ignore slum dwellers.” Elong-Mbassi echoed the call to action of the Know Your City campaign, requesting that local governments “leave [behind] the moment where we use second-hand data to [understand] reality,” instead, he went on to say, “We want first-hand data from communities to be the mine of knowledge for the management of cities.” 

Know Your City

Lastly, Anaclaudia Rossbach of Cities Alliance, coming from her experience in municipal government and her background as an economist, went on to endorse the need for community-collected slum data as critical to the successful implementation of slum upgrading projects. Indeed, with SDI sitting as a member of the Cities Alliance Executive Committee, the Know Your City campaign is part of the Cities Alliance medium term agenda. Rossbach emphasized the key point that it is only feasible to collect accurate data if the local people take ownership of the process – a critical component of SDI’s data-collection strategies.

 

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