Tag Archives: urban sanitation

WaterAid – A tale of clean cities: Strong local leadership key to solving urban sanitation challenge

A tale of clean cities: Strong local leadership key to solving urban sanitation challenge | Source: Reuters News, Sept 1 2016 |

Providing sanitation services to the urban poor is not an easy task, but new research shows that it can be done 

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Public toilet in Kumasi, Ghana. Credit: WaterAid

A staggering 54% of the global population now live in urban areas, and city infrastructure is struggling to keep up in many countries, leaving millions without access to clean water and toilets and dramatically increasing the risk of disease

Uncontrolled urbanisation is putting a major strain on city planners to extend drinking water and sanitation services to all. Providing sanitation services to the urban poor is not an easy task, but new research from WaterAid shows that it can be done. The report A tale of clean cities: insights for planning urban sanitation from Ghana, India and The Philippines, released this week, explores three success stories to understand ‘what works’ when tackling the urban sanitation challenge.

There is no one size fits all measure when it comes to ensuring sustainable sanitation services, but one common feature in the three cities studied – Visakhapatnam (India), Kumasi (Ghana) and San Fernando (the Philippines) – is the vital role of strong local leadership, be it from the mayor or the head of the waste management department. When these people make sanitation their priority, cities can make significant strides in ensuring access to services for all urban dwellers. The research also found that financing opportunities were also critical in order to translate these efforts into action.

Read the complete article.

SNV publications on urban sanitation

SNV’s Urban Sanitation & Hygiene for Health and Development (USHHD) programme works with municipal governments to develop safe, sustainable city-wide services. The programme integrates insights in WASH governance, investment and finance, behavioural change communication and management of the sanitation service chain. We engage private sector, civil society organisations, users and local authorities to improve public health and development opportunities in their city.

As part of our USHHD programme, we have a long term partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney focused on knowledge and learning to improve practice and contribute to the WASH sector knowledge and evidence. Our recent collaborative efforts have resulted in the following papers:

Are we doing the right thing? Critical questioning for city sanitation planning (2016)
Cities are clear examples of complex and rapidly changing systems, particularly in countries where urban population growth and economic development continue apace, and where the socio-political context strongly influences the directions taken. The concept of double-loop learning can be usefully applied to city sanitation planning. This paper prompts practitioners, policy-makers and development agencies to reflect on their approaches to city sanitation planning and the assumptions that underlie them.
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Exploring legal and policy aspects of urban sanitation and hygiene (2016)
During 2012-2014, SNV did four country reviews of legal arrangements for urban sanitation and hygiene in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Based on these experiences, this guide was developed to provide support and guidance for WASH practitioners undertaking a scan of legal arrangements to inform the design (use of frameworks and tools) and delivery (advocacy for improvements) of urban sanitation and hygiene programs.
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A guide to septage transfer stations (2016)
Septage transfer stations have the potential to significantly reduce the amount of faecal sludge entering the environment by providing a local solution for septage disposal. Localised transfer stations shorten the time required for local operators to collect and transport septage, and they will be able to use smaller vacuum tanks that can navigate the densely populated residential areas. This guide provides information on the salient aspects of selecting, designing, building, operating and maintaining a septage transfer station.
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Financing sanitation for cities and towns (2014)
Planning and financing for sanitation in cities and towns in developing countries is often ad hoc and piecemeal. Stronger capacity to plan financing for sanitation infrastructure (and services) for the long term will lead to better outcomes. Planning for adequate long-term services requires consideration of the complete sanitation service chain over the lifecycle of the associated service infrastructure. This paper focuses on access to the upfront finance and other lumpy finance needs for initial investment and for rehabilitation and/or replacement as physical systems approach their end of life.
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For further information about these papers or the organisations, please contact:
Antoinette Kome (SNV) – akome@snv.org
Juliet Willetts (ISF) on Juliet.willetts@uts.edu.au

Adopt or Adapt: Sanitation Technology Choices in Urbanizing Malawi

Adopt or Adapt: Sanitation Technology Choices in Urbanizing Malawi | PloS One, Aug 2016.

Authors: Richard M. Chunga , 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.

SHARE – Introducing Our New Partner – CIDRZ

SHARE started an exciting new phase of its work in 2015, that will run until 2018. Here, Dr Roma Chilengi reflects upon the Centre for Infectious Disease Research’s involvement in SHARE’s second phase, through an investigation of the effect of a behaviour change intervention on sanitation demand in urban Zambia.

Sanitation investments in Ghana: An ethnographic investigation of the role of tenure security, land ownership and livelihoods

Sanitation investments in Ghana: An ethnographic investigation of the role of tenure security, land ownership and livelihoods. BMC Public Health, July 2016.  Authors: Y. Awunyo-Akaba, J. Awunyo-Akaba, et. al.

Background – Ghana’s low investment in household sanitation is evident from the low rates of improved sanitation. This study analysed how land ownership, tenancy security and livelihood patterns are related to sanitation investments in three adjacent rural and peri-urban communities in a district close to Accra, Ghana’s capital.

Methods – Qualitative data was gathered for this comparative ethnographic study over seven months, (June, 2011-January, 2012) using an average of 43 (bi-weekly) participant observation per community and 56 in-depth interviews. Detailed observational data from study communities were triangulated with multiple interview material and contextual knowledge on social structures, history of settlement, land use, livelihoods, and access to and perceptions about sanitation.

Results – This study shows that the history of settlement and land ownership issues are highly correlated with people’s willingness and ability to invest in household sanitation across all communities. The status of being a stranger i.e. migrant in the area left some populations without rights over the land they occupied and with low incentives to invest in sanitation, while indigenous communities were challenged by the increasing appropriation of their land for commercial enterprises and for governmental development projects.

Interview responses suggest that increasing migrant population and the high demand for housing in the face of limited available space has resulted in general unwillingness and inability to establish private sanitation facilities in the communities. The increasing population has also created high demand for cheap accommodation, pushing tenants to accept informal tenancy agreements that provided for poor sanitation facilities.

In addition, poor knowledge of tenancy rights leaves tenants in no position to demand sanitation improvements and therefore landlords feel no obligation or motivation to provide and maintain domestic sanitation facilities.

Conclusions – The study states that poor land rights, the history of settlements, in-migration and insecure tenancy are key components that are associated with local livelihoods and investments in private sanitation in rapidly changing rural and peri-urban communities of Ghana. Sanitation policy makers and programme managers must acknowledge that these profound local, ethnic and economic forces are shaping people’s abilities and motivations for sanitation investments.

Improving the quality of public toilet services in Kumasi

Improving the quality of public toilet services in Kumasi, 2016. Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor.

Public toilets are the leading form of sanitation in urban Ghana: in Kumasi, 700,000 people use one each day. This Note presents the activities of Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) to raise the standard of these services. PN027-126x188

To assist KMA in promoting greater private sector involvement, PPIAF commissioned the consultancy Ernst & Young (EY) to conduct a feasability study. The study recommended that toilets participating in the scheme be operated under a Build, Own, Operate, Transfer (BOOT) model, presented in Figure 2. Key features of the model are: 1) a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Project Company would design, build, finance, operate and maintain the toilets for a 20-year concession period, after which the assets would be transferred back to KMA; 2) the Company would directly collect user fees and use it to cover their costs; 3) the Company would pay a monthly franchise fee to KMA, calculated as a percentage of revenue; 4) revenues 10% higher than assumptions made in the financial model would be paid to KMA; and 5) donor funding and cover to insure KMA’s termination guarantee may be sought.

There is a clear need for improved standards of public toilets in Kumasi. Progress has already been made, with training and improved monitoring impacting positively on the level of service. While rehabilitation and construction under the BOOT scheme will take time to complete, the resulting improvements should reduce waiting times for consumers, improve overall service quality and enhance financial viability.

KMA recognises that PLBs are not the long-term solution — a five-year compound sanitation strategy is being implemented in parallel, to achieve universal access to in-house sanitation in the long term — but the steps now being taken by KMA will ensure that public toilets provide the best possible service in the interim.

A tale of clean cities: Insights for planning urban sanitation from Kumasi, Ghana

A tale of clean cities: Insights for planning urban sanitation from Kumasi, Ghana, 2016. WaterAid.

Key learning points A-tale-of-clean-cities-143x203

  • Sanitation progress in Kumasi has been a long-term effort championed by a technically strong municipal Waste Management Department, supported by a wide range of development partners.
  • Despite some political consensus around the importance of sanitation, and partly due to inadequacy of monitoring systems, financial support has remained low, limiting progress.
  • Open defecation has been almost eliminated through the expansion of public toilets, prioritised at the expense of private toilets because of housing constraints.
  • Enabling policies catalysed private sector investment, improving management of public toilets and service levels across the sanitation service chain.
  • Disparities remain in terms of reach and quality of these services, which are poor in low-income areas.
  • Sanitation planning exercises helped forge a shared vision on how to advance towards sustainable service delivery.
  • The quality of these ‘learning by doing’ planning processes was more influential than were the resulting plans.