Community-driven sanitation improvement in deprived urban neighbourhoods: Meeting the challenges of local collective action, co-production, affordability and a trans-sectoral approach, 2013.
There is an international consensus that urban sanitary conditions are in great need of improvement, but sharp disagreement over how this improvement should be pursued. Both market-driven and state-led efforts to improve sanitation in deprived communities tend to be severely compromised, as there is a lack of effective market demand (due to collective action problems) and severe barriers to the centralized provision of low-cost sanitation facilities. In principle, community-driven initiatives have a number of advantages.
But community-driven sanitary improvement also faces serious challenges, including:
1) The collective action challenge of getting local residents to coordinate and combine their demands for sanitary improvement;
2) The co-production challenge of getting the state to accept community-driven approaches to sanitary improvement, and where necessary to coinvest and take responsibility for the final waste disposal;
3) The affordability challenge of finding improvements that are affordable and acceptable to both the state and the community – and to other funders if relevant;
4) The trans-sectoral challenge of ensuring that other poverty-related problems, such as insecure tenure, do not undermine efforts to improve sanitation.
A clear distinction is generally made between community and private management of water and sanitation services. This distinction reflects the different motivations, values, attitudes and approaches generally associated with each type of provider.
In WSUP programmes, the local context is often suited to community or to private management models. But in practice, WSUP often seeks to go beyond this “community” versus “private” dichotomy, to try to get “the best of both worlds”. For instance, CBO operators are often encouraged to adopt commercial practices and achieve business efficiency. Similarly, entrepreneurs are encouraged to be more supportive of the needs of the community, and more responsive to poverty and gender issues.
In this Topic Brief, the approaches used by WSUP in Nairobi, Kumasi and Antananarivo under the African Cities for the Future (ACF) programme are examined from this perspective of blending community and private management models. The Topic Brief concludes with practical guidance on this issue for programme managers. Click on the image below to download the Topic Brief.
The city of Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, India shows a way out of the sanitation crisis. The Tiruchirappalli model of community-managed toilets with bathing and washing facilities is an example of a partnership between sensitive city authorities, communities and NGOs, working together to address these problems. The work undertaken by these partners over the last six years has demonstrated how this can be taken to scale at the city-level. Within the next two years, it is expected that all slum communities in the city will be covered by community-managed toilets (CMTs).
The operationalisation and functioning of community toilet complexes at Rajendra Nagar and Salokhe Park, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, commenced on 15th June 2008. These community toilet complexes are managed by “Community Sanitation Committees (CSCs)” formed in both communities. The CSCs thus not only manages the maintenance of the complex but also ensures cleanliness of the complex and user satisfaction.
The CSC has provided “Photo passes” as identification for the user households. [..] The user group of about 150-200 households presently uses the community toilet complex. There are separate child-friendly toilet seats at Rajendra Nagar.
[…] The CSC also manages the Decentralised Solid Waste Management process and composting of biodegradable waste. […] The CSC is trying to link the selling of their compost to the Garden Department of Kolhapur Corporation.. Systematic packaging is taken care of by the CSC.
Read more: Shilpa Mirashi, BORDA, 15 Jul 2008
Prof. Duncan Mara, University of Leeds, has made the paper he co-authored with Dr Graham Alabaster of UN-Habitat, “A new paradigm for low-cost urban water supplies and sanitation in developing countries” [Water Policy 10 (2), 119−129, doi:10.2166/wp.2008.034] available on-line − pdf here, and more info here.
In his blog Mara says: “the New Paradigm is very simply stated: Supply water and sanitation to groups of households, not individual households. Why? Because it’s much cheaper − and likely to be one of the main ways the MDG sanitation target can be met”.