Tag Archives: urban sanitation

Adopt or Adapt: Sanitation Technology Choices in Urbanizing Malawi

Adopt or Adapt: Sanitation Technology Choices in Urbanizing Malawi. PLoS ONE 11(8): 2016.

Authors: Richard M. Chunga1, Jeroen H. J. Ensink, Marion W. Jenkins, Joe Brown

This paper presents the results of a mixed-methods study examining adaptation strategies that property owners in low-income, rapidly urbanizing areas in Malawi adopt to address the limitations of pit latrines, the most common method of disposing human excreta. A particular challenge is lack of space for constructing new latrines as population density increases: traditional practice has been to cap full pits and simply move to a new site, but increasing demands on space require new approaches to extend the service life of latrines.

In this context, we collected data on sanitation technology choices from January to September 2013 through 48 in-depth interviews and a stated preference survey targeting 1,300 property owners from 27 low-income urban areas. Results showed that property owners with concern about space for replacing pit latrines were 1.8 times more likely to select pit emptying service over the construction of new pit latrines with a slab floor (p = 0.02) but there was no significant association between concern about space for replacing pit latrines and intention to adopt locally promoted, novel sanitation technology known as ecological sanitation (ecosan).

Property owners preferred to adapt existing, known technology by constructing
replacement pit latrines on old pit latrine locations, reducing the frequency of replacing pit latrines, or via emptying pit latrines when full.

This study highlights potential challenges to adoption of wholly new sanitation technologies, even when they present clear advantages to end users. To scale, alternative sanitation technologies for rapidly urbanising cities should offer clear advantages, be affordable, be easy to use when shared among multiple households, and their design should be informed by existing adaptation strategies and local knowledge.

Learning from Sustained Success: How Community-Driven Initiatives to Improve Urban Sanitation Can Meet the Challenges

Learning from Sustained Success: How Community-Driven Initiatives to Improve Urban Sanitation Can Meet the Challenges. World Development, World Development Vol. 87, pp. 307–317, 201.

Past research by one of the authors of this paper has identified four key institutional challenges that community-driven initiatives to improve sanitation in deprived urban settlements face: the collective action challenge of improving community sanitation;
the coproduction challenge of working with formal service providers to dispose of the sanitary waste safely; the affordability challenge of reconciling the affordable with what is acceptable to both users and local authorities; and the tenure challenge of preventing housing insecurity from undermining residents’ willingness to commit to sanitary improvement.

In this article we examine how two well-documented, relatively successful and longstanding initiatives, the Orangi Pilot Project and an Alliance of Indian partners, met these challenges. They were met through social innovation, but also through the choice and development of sanitation technologies (simplified sewers for OPP and community toilet blocks for the Indian Alliance) that provided traction for the social innovations.

We also explore more recent efforts by civil society partnerships in four African cities, demonstrating some of the difficulties they have faced in trying to overcome these challenges. No equivalent models have emerged, though there has been considerable progress against particular challenges in particular places.

These findings confirm the importance of the challenges, and indicate that these are not just challenges for social organization, but also for technology design and choice. For example, the problem with household pit latrines is not that they cannot physically be improved to sufficiently, but that they are not well-suited to the social, economic and political challenges of sanitary improvement at scale.

The findings also indicate that a low economic status and a tendency to treat sanitation as a private good not suitable for public support also makes the sanitation challenges difficult to overcome.

Letter from India: How Poop is Becoming Big Business for Small Companies

Letter from India: How Poop is Becoming Big Business for Small Companies. by Devyani Singh, The Dialogue, January 27, 2017.

An excerpt: Small businesses can help governments and corporations build reliable value chains and introduce new services into local markets. They create employment in emerging markets, and increase access to goods and services that could potentially improve the lives of the underserved. toilet-696x387.jpg

Business solutions

A fascinating example of a business solution to the sanitation crisis in India is Samagra Sanitation. Founded in 2011 by Swapnil Chaturvedi, famously known as “Poop Guy,” Samagra is a small business working at the intersection of design, technology, and behavioral science, to tackle the issue of open defecation in 140 locations in Pune, India.

Samagra operates in urban slums and has so far built more than 300 toilet seats with more than 150,000 daily users, almost half of which are young girls and women. Samagra designs, manages, and renovates community toilet blocks in partnership with the municipality, which pays for maintenance and utilities like water and electricity. Each block is run by local women who act as Kiosk Managers (or “Loo-Preneurs”) and is regularly cleaned by Samagra’s “Cleaning Force.”

Slum dwellers can use Samagra toilets for free, but those who pay for usage get access to value added services or “LooRewards” such as mobile tops-ups, bill payments, banking, and health services. The cleaning staff also receives 100 percent of the revenue collected. In this way, the impact of Samagra goes beyond better sanitation to give women in these communities a means to earn a stable income.

Changing Perceptions

What is often missing from even the savviest of entrepreneurial efforts is a systematic process for conceptualizing a business model that replicates global best practices. Enviu, a developer of innovative social businesses from the Netherlands, is working to harness the power of business in India by co-creating impact businesses that can drive system-change. By leveraging the experience and knowledge of its network across the globe, Enviu works with local businesses to develop what it calls “bottom-up solutions”.

Read the complete article.

Appraising the Sanitation and Hygiene Situation in Urban India and its Determinants

Published on Dec 15, 2016
Dr Papiya Guha Mazumdar, Associate Professor, Institute of Public Health Kalyani, West Bengal delivered lecture and highlighted the need to improve existing sanitation and hygiene situation in urban India, how the determinants should be decided and why behaviour change as a critical determinant needs to be looked at in greater detail.

She emphasized that building knowledge on good practices of sanitation and hygiene related behaviour change, and drawing relevant lessons for preparing a plan of action for sustainable development is extremely important. She discussed through a few good case studies how interventions have helped.


Estimating the Cost and Payment for Sanitation in the Informal Settlements of Kisumu, Kenya: A Cross Sectional Study

Estimating the Cost and Payment for Sanitation in the Informal Settlements of Kisumu, Kenya: A Cross Sectional Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 49; doi:10.3390/ijerph14010049

Authors: Sheillah Simiyu, Mark Swilling, Richard Rheingans and Sandy Cairncross

Lack of sanitation facilities is a common occurrence in informal settlements that are common in most developing countries. One challenge with sanitation provision in these settlements is the cost and financing of sanitation.

This study aimed at estimating the cost of sanitation, and investigating the social and economic dynamics within Kisumu’s informal settlements that hinder provision and uptake of sanitation facilities. Primary data was collected from residents of the settlements, and using logistic and hedonic regression analysis, we identify characteristics of residents with sanitation facilities, and estimate the cost of sanitation as revealed in rental prices.

Our study finds that sanitation constitutes approximately 54% of the rent paid in the settlements; and dynamics such as landlords and tenants preferences, and sharing of sanitation facilities influence provision and payment for sanitation. This study contributes to general development by estimating the cost of sanitation, and further identifies barriers and opportunities for improvement including the interplay between landlords and tenants.

Provision of sanitation in informal settlements is intertwined in social and economic dynamics, and development approaches should target both landlords and tenants, while also engaging various stakeholders to work together to identify affordable and appropriate sanitation technologies

What is the evidence on top-down and bottom-up approaches in improving access to water, sanitation and electricity services in low-income or informal settlements?

What is the evidence on top-down and bottom-up approaches in improving access to water, sanitation and electricity services in low-income or informal settlements? 2016.

Authors: Annamalai TR, Devkar G, Mahalingam A, Benjamin S, Rajan SC, Deep A. EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, University College London. eppi

What do we want to know?
This systematic review examines the evidence on the effectiveness of different urban-planning approaches in providing access to water, sanitation and electricity services in low-income or informal settlements in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). The study was funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK government and conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

What did we find?
This review found that top-down efforts are ineffective for connecting populations to centralised water, sanitation or electricity services. Bottom up, participatory approaches are effective for local sanitation solutions, but not for water supply or connectivity to other services.

Services provided by public or private agencies through centralised planning and implementation (top-down) appeared effective in individual studies for connecting populations to water, sanitation and electricity. However, where studies were sufficiently similar to justify pooling findings in a statistical meta-analysis, this conclusion was not confirmed. Qualitative synthesis of contextual factors suggest a need for the customisation of solutions to meet local needs, and better delivery of services by alternative/non-government service providers.

Participatory (bottom-up) approaches adopted by NGOs and CBOs suit the construction and maintenance of toilets, which can be standalone, and statistical meta-analysis confirms their effectiveness for individual but not community toilets. Although studies of bottom-up approaches to improving water access appeared positive more often than studies of top down approaches, this difference was not statistically significant in a meta-analysis. Moreover, bottom-up approaches suffer from problems of scaling-up. Replication of successful models may not always be possible, since the same conditions may not be present in different locations.

Neighbourhoods without security of tenure are rarely served well top-down. Bottom-up approaches are also limited in this context, and also in Africa where efforts may be hampered by particularly modest levels of economic development. Public-private partnerships show promise for top-down approaches to improving water supply. Bottom-up, NGO led initiatives for improving water supply need the cooperation and support of the public sector.


Targeting urban sanitation – looking behind aggregated city-level data

Targeting urban sanitation – looking behind aggregated city-level data. World Bank Water Blog, Oct 31, 2016. waterblog.png

In our previous blogs – Fecal Sludge Management: the invisible elephant in urban sanitation,  5 lessons to manage fecal sludge better, and A tale of two cities: how cities can improve fecal sludge management – we outlined the neglect of Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) and presented new tools for diagnosing urban sanitation challenges and how they can be used.

Today, on World Cities Day, we are looking more deeply into a city – Lima, Peru, to shed light on how cities around the world can meet opportunities and address challenges of urbanization including providing improved sanitation for a rapidly growing number of urban residents.

The city-wide sanitation picture

To apply one of the better known FSM tools – the fecal waste flow diagram (SFD) – we use data to provide a city-wide picture of sanitation services at the household level, and how the fecal waste flows through the ‘sanitation service chain’: removal and conveyance from the household containment or WC, to treatment and final disposal or reuse.

SFDs provide an easy to understand and visual representation of where fecal waste and the associated pathogens and pollution end up. This enables decision-makers and technical staff to understand and discuss the priority sanitation issues requiring attention in their city.

Read the complete article.