Tag Archives: public toilets

India, New Delhi: using Facebook and SMS to keep the city clean

With this photo on Facebook local resident Akshay Arora asks the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to "kindly send some one and get it clean this Toilet/Urinal". One day later on 7 April 2011, MCD replied: "Your complaint reference no. is 02/0704/SP"

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) launched its Facebook page in January 2011 and an integrated SMS service in March 2011 to enable public monitoring of garbage collection sites and public urinals/toilets in areas under its jurisdiction.The first experiences were positive as illustrated by the example of 22-year-old Piyush Goyal posted his complaint of garbage spilling over from the dump in his area.

On January 8, he clicked pictures of the seven dirty ones in South Delhi’s R K Puram area and posted them on Facebook. And the next day, he says, he saw the pictures of clean dhalaos uploaded by the MCD.

“There is lot of transparency through this way. The man who actually cleans it asked me why I uploaded the pictures. So the information is going from top to the bottom,” says Goyal.

MCD additional commissioner (engineering) Anshu Prakash added:

“This system is increasing transparency, fixing accountability and putting everything under public scrutiny. And none of us like to be ashamed in public. So people have started working at the bottom”.

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When are communal or public toilets an appropriate option?

When are communal or public toilets an appropriate option?We would all prefer to have our own household toilet rather than just access to a communal or public toilet but in some low-income urban communities, provision of individual household toilets is problematic. A recently published Topic Brief from WSUP (Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor) argues that, despite numerous challenges, communal or public toilets can be the most appropriate medium-term solution in some specific situations: notably in high-density slums with a high proportion of tenants and/or frequent flooding and water-logging. In such situations, what can be done to ensure that communal or public toilets provide a high-quality service of genuine benefit to all members of the community including women and the very poor? This Topic Brief offers an overview of these questions for sanitation professionals and planners.

Financing communal toilets
The financial sustainability and ongoing maintenance of communal and public toilets is a particular concern. The WSUP Practice Note “Financing communal toilets: the Tchemulane Project in Maputo” takes a look at issues around the financing of communal toilets in Maputo (Mozambique), including citywide scale-up costs.
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These publications form part of a newly initiated series of Practice Notes and Topic Briefs, through which WSUP aims to share experience and stimulate debate about water and sanitation service provision for the urban poor.

To keep up to date with this growing publication series, go to http://www.wsup.com/sharing/index.htm or join our mailing list at http://www.wsup.com/news/index.htm.

Egypt, Cairo: the revolution’s toilets, Tahrir Square

Even revolutionaries have to go the toilet. This picture shows the mundane side of life at Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, which was the media focal point for anti-Mubarak protesters during 18 days of demonstrations. This is one of a series of pictures that BBC’s Yolande Knell took during a tour of the area. She writes:

The camp toilets are here in a shed formerly used by construction workers near the Egyptian Museum. After 18 days, the smell is quite incredible.

View the full pictorial display of the camp on the BBC web site (11 Feb 2011).

Guatemala: construction guides for rural WASH facilities

Five Cabin Latrine, Aqua Para La Salud (Guatemala). Photo: Global Water

NGO Global Water provides instructions for building rural water, sanitation, and hygiene-related facilities that were developed by its partner in Guatemala, Agua Para La Salud (Water for Health). The facilities include:

  • Ferro-Cement Water Storage Tank
  • Hand Washing Stations (Lavamanos)
  • Complete Spring Catchment System
  • Five Cabin Latrine
  • Gray Water Seepage Pits

View the designs at www.globalwater.org/how-to-build.html

Code Council and World Toilet Organization developing guidelines for public toilet design

For the past two years, the International Code Council (ICC) and the World Toilet Organization (WTO) have been working with committee members representing sanitation-related organizations around the globe to develop “Global Guidelines for Practical Toilet Design.” This document will standardize the design and installation of public toilets for virtually any country to easily adopt and follow. The guidelines will be presented at the forthcoming International Code Council World Toilet Summit.

Although public restrooms exist through much of the world, standardized design would be much more cost effective to install and maintain than having literally thousands of variations on a relatively basic design. This improved efficiency, not only reduces costs, but may enable installations in areas where previously they might not have been affordable.

This guideline will facilitate clean, convenient, hygienic and safe public toilet facilities of appropriate design and quality. It also will offer guidance on basic care and maintenance of these facilities. Specific provisions developed to date apply to the practical design, location, erection, installation, alteration, repairs, replacement, use and maintenance of public toilets.

[...]

Founding members of this committee and other professionals who contributed substantially to the initial draft of the Guidelines include: Kathryn Anthony, University of Illinois; Bill Chapman and Scott Chapman, Australian Toilet Organization; Dr. Steve Cummings, Standards Australia; Jan-Olof Drangert, Linkopings University; Peter Gorges, Exeloo; Clara Greed, University of the West of England, Bristol; Carol McCreary, PHLUSH; Trevor Mulaudzi, The Clean Shop; John-Henry Nicholas, Institute of Plumbing South Africa;Charles Owusu, Best Fund; Jay Peters and Sylvana Ricciarini, International Code Council; Jack Sim, World Toilet Organization; and Frank Wu, Wu & Associates Architects and Engineers.

Read the full press release (PRWeb / Earth Times, 21 Oct 2010)

UK toilet politics: Indian-style commodes scrapped

Councillor Farooq Ahmed called the lavatories 'an embarrassment to Rochdale' which had stirred up racial tension. Photo: ALAMY

A major shopping centre in Greater Manchester is removing the new Indian-style commodes it had installed after a public backlash against the move sparked fears of rising racial tension.

The shopping centre is visited by nearly 140,000 people every week, including Asians.

Outside the UK, the news also attracted the attention of the media in India.
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Nepal, Chitwan: a toilet revolution

Take a Pee & Get One Rupee. If you have traveled on the Prithvi Highway last year, you must have noticed this seemingly-ridiculous slogan in Darechowk, near Kurintar. Of course, if you have used public toilets before, then you may be more used to paying a rupee to urinate. Instead, members of The Sewa Nepal, a local NGO, pay anyone a rupee if he or she uses their toilet. And no, they are not joking.

“Previously, people used to mock us but now they have realized the message we are trying to convey: Urine is a valuable asset,” says Srirendra Shrestha, founder and coordinator of the NGO. Thus, what the NGO does is collect the urine and convert it to fertilizers for the villagers around. A pretty unique business idea, but there’s more to this than just that.

The NGO, which is involved in environmental conservation and community sanitation, has actively pursued to make Darechowk a model Village Development Committee (VDC). The group’s efforts finally became successful when Darechowk was declared the 18th Open Defecation Free (ODF) VDC in Chitwan a week ago—thus paving the way for a cleaner, sanitized village.

The ODF movement in Nepal has been supported by the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) in coordination with World Health Organization, UNICEF and NGOs like Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO). The Sewa Nepal has been the local partner of the movement, providing toilet pans and pipes to individual households in Darechowk. Locals say this is a sanitation movement led by the common people. Thus, among the 1,656 households in the VDC, more than half have a proper toilet. Further, around 770 houses have built an EcoSan (short for ecological sanitation) toilet, the most preferred type as it can collect human waste that can be used as fertiliser.

[...]

Mina Pokharel

Mina Pokharel has been using human manure for the past year and is quite impressed with the results. “After I started using urine as fertilizer, the yield has been very good and the vegetables taste better too,” she says. Did it ever feel disgusting? “It did in the beginning. But once I started reaping the benefits, I realized the value of our own waste.”

This revolutionary ecological movement is spearheaded by the VDC officials themselves. The VDC allocated part of its annual budget to support the movement by providing two sacks of cement to each household with additional monetary support for poor families. “We spent about Rs. 1 million [US$ 13,300 = € 10,100] on this movement,” says VDC secretary Nilkantha Lamichchane. “Declaring the VDC an ODF village has immensely boosted the morale of villagers. We hope to have proper toilets in all the households by the end of this year.”

Teachers have played a central role in this movement, which took its current shape after DWSS conducted a School-Led Total Sanitation project in 2006 in the district. The programme stressed on teaching sanitation habits in schools and also held discussions and sanitation awareness campaigns, besides training teachers on the use of various types of toilets. The programme was largely successful; since then 378 community schools and 239 public and private schools in the district have been declared ODF schools. The excitement associated with this movement has spilled over to adjoining VDCs of neighboring districts as well. Villagers from Makwanpur, Gorkha and Dhading are trying to follow the Darechowk model and implement the programme in earnest. However, no municipality has yet been declared ODF in Nepal.

In a country where only 27 percent of the population has access to sanitation, this model is proving to be one of the few shining lights. Districts like Jajarkot and Rukum saw the deaths of hundreds last year due to diarrhoea, a disease that could have been prevented had this model been implemented there. The ODF model is not only important for health reasons. There are important sociological impacts that having a private toilet has had in Darechowk.

Ask Sadhana Adhikari, for instance. The 15-year-old student says a toilet is the best thing to have happened to her. “I don’t have to suffer any more embarrassments during my periods. The toilet offers me privacy and it’s easier to remain clean during that time.”

Related web site: RCNN – Nepal Node for Sustainable Sanitation (NNSS)

Source: Ujjwal Pradhan, Kathmandu Post / NGO Forum, 24 Jul 2010

Indonesia: ADB extends US$ 35 million for sanitation improvement in Medan and Yogyakarta

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending a US$ 35 million loan to help Indonesia rehabilitate and expand sanitation facilities in the cities of Medan and Yogyakarta.

Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, and Yogyakarta, the capital of Yogyakarta province, have a combined population of around 4.5 million people.

The loan will be used to build around 280 communal sanitation facilities in poor areas in the two cities, as well as two wastewater treatment systems for low-cost housing development projects in Medan. Sewerage systems will be rehabilitated and expanded with up to 28,000 additional household connections. The Metropolitan Sanitation Management and Health Project will also provide support to mobilize community involvement in the planning, operation and maintenance of communal facilities, and will ensure women are strongly involved in the process.

“A gender action plan in the project design will ensure women fully participate in the decision-making process for the development of facilities, and that they benefit equally with men from improved communal services,” said Rudolf Frauendorfer in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

Sanitation services have steadily improved in Indonesia, but still lag behind many neighboring countries, with partial sewerage coverage only available in a small number of urban centers. Since the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998, new sanitation investments have been postponed and existing treatment systems have deteriorated due to lack of repair and maintenance. As a result, many of the poor living in informal settlements suffer high rates of diarrhea, skin diseases and other illnesses caused by polluted water and untreated waste.

“This project will sharply reduce pollution of surface and shallow groundwater in the two cities, resulting in improved health and quality of life particularly for women, children and the elderly who suffer the most from unclean environments,” Mr. Frauendorfer said.

The loan is structured to ensure that operating and maintenance spending on revenue-generating services can be fully funded from user tariff income by the middle of 2014, while remaining affordable to low-income communities. Insufficient revenue for service providers and low user charges, which deter private investment in new facilities, have been a major impediment to the expansion of sanitation services.

To complement the loan, ADB will provide a US$ 500,000 grant from its Technical Assistance Special Fund to strengthen the capacity and management capabilities of local governments, utilities and communities involved in providing or overseeing sanitation services. Further technical assistance of US$ 1 million in the form of a grant from the Government of Australia, will be administered by ADB.

The loan has a 25-year term, with a five-year grace period and an interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s LIBOR-based lending facility. The Government of Indonesia will provide additional funding of US$ 14.2 million, with regional governments committing US$ 13.5 million, and provincial governments almost US$ 500,000, for a total project of about US$ 63.2 million.

The Ministry of Public Works is the executing agency for the project which is expected to be completed around December 2014.

Source: ADB, 20 Jul 2010

Kenya, Nairobi: lack of sanitation leaves women sick and “prisoners in their homes”

Women and girls in Nairobi’s slums live under the constant threat of sexual violence, leaving them often too scared to leave their houses to use communal toilet and bathroom facilities, Amnesty International said in a new report released on 7 July 2010.

Amnesty International calls on the Kenyan government to enforce landlords’ obligations to construct toilets and bathrooms in the slums and settlements and provide assistance to structure owners who are unable to meet the costs of constructing toilets and bathrooms.

Insecurity and Indignity: Women’s experiences in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya [1] details how the failure of the government to incorporate the slums in urban plans and budgets has resulted in poor access to services like sanitation, which hits women in slums and informal settlements especially hard.

“Women in Nairobi’s settlements become prisoners in their own homes at night and some times well before it is dark,” said Godfrey Odongo, Amnesty Internationals East Africa researcher. “They need more privacy than men when going to the toilet or taking a bath and the inaccessibility of facilities make women vulnerable to rape, leaving them trapped in their own homes.

“The fact that they are unable to access even the limited communal toilet facilities also puts them at risk of illness.”

The situation is compounded by the lack of police presence in the slums and when women fall victim to violence they are unlikely to see justice done. Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum and home to up to a million people, has no police post.

“I always underestimated the threat of violence,” said 19-year-old Amina of Mathare slum. “I would go to the latrine any time provided it was not too late. This was until about two months ago when I almost became a victim of rape.”

Amina was set upon by a group of four men while she walked to the latrine at 7pm. They hit her, undressed her and were about to rape her when her cries were heard and a group of residents came to save her. Although she knew one of the men involved in the assault, Amina did not go to the police as she feared reprisal attacks.

Unable to leave their one-roomed houses after dark, many women in informal settlements resort to ‘flying toilets’ – using plastic bags thrown from the home to dispose of waste.

Women also told Amnesty International how the poor sanitary conditions they live in – which include widespread disposal of human excreta in the open because of lack of adequate access to toilets – directly contribute to cases of poor health and to high health care costs.

Other women describe the humiliation of bathing in front of their relatives and children.

Even by day, public bathroom facilities are few and far between and invariably involve walking long distances. According to official figures, only 24 per cent of residents in Nairobi’s informal settlements have access to toilet facilities at household level.

Despite some positive features, Kenya’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) policies to meet the target on sanitation do not address the specific needs of women who face the threat of violence because they lack adequate sanitation.

They also do not address the lack of enforcement of regulations requiring owners and landlords to provide sanitation.

“There is a huge gap between what the government commits to do, and what is going on in the slums everyday” said Godfrey Odongo.

“Kenya’s national policies recognise the rights to sanitation and there are laws and standards in place. However, because of decades of failure to recognize slums and informal settlements, planning laws and regulations are not enforced in these areas.

“The lack of enforcement of these laws has ensured that landlords and structure owners in the slums can get away without providing any toilets or shower places for their tenants”

Lack of security of tenure also remains a long standing problem for tenants, despite a national land policy in place, removing any incentives that landlords or owners could have to ensure proper sanitation, and measures to increase security.

Amnesty says the government must also take immediate measures to improve security, lighting and policing and ensure that relevant government authorities coordinate their efforts to improve the water and sanitation situation in the settlements.

Amnesty representatives met with officials from the Ministry of Health, the City Council including the Town Clerk, and also some officials from the official regulator of water and sanitation services within Nairobi, the Athi Water Services Board.

In almost all of the meetings, it was agreed that there was little coordination between the relevant Ministries in the government to ensure that women in slums had access to water and sanitation.

Even though Amnesty recognised that the situation is complicated, representatives stressed that this is no reason to pass the buck from one Ministry to the next.

Some of the officials committed to asking the Office of the Prime Minister to bring together all of the relevant officials in an attempt to ensure that water and sanitation is provided for women in slums.

[1] Amnesty International (2010). Insecurity and indignity : women’s experiences in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. London, UK, Amnesty International Publications. Download full report

The report is one of the outputs of Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity campaign

Source: Amnesty International, 07 Jul 2010 ; Amy Agnew, Livewire, 07 Jul 2010

Sudan: sanitation lessons from Pact’s WRAPP Equatoria Program

The Water for Recovery and Peace Program (WRAPP) began in late 2004, after Pact Sudan received USAID funding for programming in Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazel Regions. The WRAPP Equatoria program (April 2007 – June 2009) was an extension of the WRAPP program into 7 counties in Eastern and 4 counties of Central Equatoria States.

The WRAPP Equatoria program involved partnerships with Sudanese NGOs, INGOs and private sector contractors, with a strong focus on enhancing the capacity of local partner organizations. The sanitation component of the program included the construction of one eco-san public toilet, one school pit latrine and 280 household latrines. The program also established more the 230 Water and Sanitation Management Committees (WSMCs). The total program benefited an estimated 100,000 people including 30,000 returnees. Pact was able to leverage additional funding from other sources to construct three more public latrines.

Pre-construction awareness raising important for sustainability

WRAPP has been able to demonstrate that hygiene and sanitation awareness coupled with the installation of improved water facilities can trigger behavior changes in the community that will subsequently lead to a demand and initiative for sanitation facilities. At the same time WRAPP also discovered the importance of creating awareness about hygiene and sanitation in advance of the implementation of water facilities. This approach can guarantees a more enthusiastic participation, which leads to a higher level of acceptance and ownership by a larger group of community members, and supports greater sustainability of the program by reinforcing the link between water, sanitation and hygiene.

A role for returnees

Most returnees have been exposed to the practice of using sanitation facilities and knowledge of hygiene
awareness during their stay in either refugee camps or towns in neighboring countries. Returnees spearheaded the construction of household latrines in their host communities. They replicated what they had learned from outside and assisted in spreading hygiene and sanitation messages. Their active involvement was critical to spurring organic demand for improved sanitation.

Public latrines should be privatized

Pact observed that community management of public latrines didn’t yield positive, sustainable outcomes. WRAPP does not intend to continue the construction of public latrines until there is an improvement in the general public’s attitude toward public latrines. Some places like Kapoeta town have shown positive progress in maintenance and use by privatizing their public latrines, and WRAPP has been in discussion with community management committees and local authorities to convince them to privatize their public latrines. WRAPP will continue to discuss with the local administration in Kaya to privatize the eco-san public latrine built in this program.

Eco-san public latrine constructed in Kaya (Uganda-Sudan border town). Constructed at the Truck parking yard to also serve immigration and customs offices. Photo: Pact

Success story: demand-driven household latrines in Kit One

Kit One is a small community in Magwi County comprised of Acholi returnees who had been living in Ugandan refugee camps during the war. Having been sensitized to household latrines during their time in Uganda, the community responded very enthusiastically to the household latrine project implemented by AWDA (Acholi Women’s Development Association). In addition to the 20 pits dug for the project, 40 other families also dug pits. In light of this demand-driven response for sanitation, WRAPP modified the grant to AWDA to add materials so that the additional 40 latrines can be built as well. In addition WRAPP delivered 15 plastic slabs from other areas where the CBOs have failed to distribute the slabs to household and supplied to AWDA. The 15 slabs were used to complete house hold latrines successfully.

Household latrine in Kit One supported by AWDA ( Mrs. Rebecca, AWDA leader, on the right). Walls and roof was later built by the households. Photo: Pact

Web site: Pact – Water for Recovery and Peace Program (WRAPP)

Source: Pact Sudan Country Program (2009). Water for Recovery and Peace Program Equatoria (WRAPP Equatoria) : final report. Washington, DC, USA, USAID. Download full report