Meet the WaSH Project Director 2018/19

I’m Micheala and I have just graduated with a MEng in Engineering from Trinity Hall. I am the current Project Director for the Cambridge Development Initiative’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) project. I first joined CDI last year as a volunteer on the WaSH Project, working on the now-decommissioned Biogas Project, and continued because of the core beliefs and mission of the WaSH Project.

The WaSH Project was built on the idea that entrepreneurship in WaSH can produce multiple knock-on benefits. A special report on Engineering a Better World from the New Civil Engineer (April 2017) noted the positive multiplier effects of investment in WaSH in rural areas and urban slums: “if you spend £100 per family on water and sanitation infrastructure, it increases literacy by 30% and doubles family income within five years.” [Priti Parikh – Director of the MSc in Engineering for International Development at UCL].

Simplified sewerage, the central vein of the project, has been shown to be a success in other developing contexts such as in South America and Pakistan. This utilises systems more appropriate to informal settlements, in which the infrastructure and layout are unplanned. Using smaller diameter pipes buried less deep underground than conventional sewerage, this system is cheaper and thus more applicable to the community-focussed project run by CDI. From here, the idea expanded to include a biodigester, which would produce biogas from the sewage. This biogas would then be stored and sold back to the community, providing funds for the expansion of the simplified sewerage networks. A further addition to the cycle was a solar cooker, which would dry out the waste exiting the biodigester, producing a substance which could be used as a fertiliser. This model (as seen in the image below) produced a cycle in which waste losses could be recuperated as economic benefits to the community.

The SimpliSafi model was the original plan for the WaSH Project but it has undergone many changes over the past five years to reach the point where we are now.

The thing about the WaSH Project is that it takes risks where no other CDI project ever has. It aims to tackle issues not only on the community level but also on a structural level. Through regular conversations with the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA), CDI and KITE Dar es Salaam (our partner organisation based in Dar es Salaam, also known as KITE DSM) bring to centre-stage the issue of sanitation in informal settlements – areas not generally considered by a government that is sometimes accused of enriching themselves off the backs of the poor. Unlike other NGOs, CDI endeavours to engage all stakeholders, especially the government, in fashioning a world in which we are all responsible for bringing about positive, sustainable change.

Studies have found that Tanzanian officials don’t proactively build water facilities in areas where water is not yet available and I believe this is also true of sanitation facilities. Currently, around the world, 4.5 billion people are still without safely managed sanitation and 892 million people still practise open defecation. These numbers reflect the situation in Dar es Salaam. I remember walking into Vingunguti, the informal settlement in which the WaSH Project works, for the first time and noticing the raw sewage running in the streets in areas not yet served by the WaSH Project. These are the very conditions under which diseases like cholera can thrive. Cholera is caused by bacteria and spreads very rapidly under the right conditions (over-crowding, poor sanitation and hygiene) and can cause severe diarrhoea and death within hours if not treated. With 3 to 5 million cases of cholera per year causing between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths each year, it is clear that this is an issue that needs to be solved, not necessarily by external NGOs like CDI but by the local government who bears responsibility for the well-being of their people. In all surveys, interviews and questionnaires carried out by the project, community members of Vingunguti have always maintained that they are happy to be connected to the network, having seen a decrease in waterborne diseases – in fact many more wish to be connected in the future. This is a clear demonstration of demand, one which DAWASA has been keen for us to address in the future.

In a stakeholder meeting recently, Eng. Wilhelmina Malima – the Tanzanian National Coordinator for the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) – asked if the WaSH Project’s beneficiaries (latrine users) were customers of DAWASA. It was at this point that it became clear to me what another benefit of our project is – generally, people in informal settlements are not considered as legitimate residents and they do not own the land that they live on. In fact, some people may prefer to think of these people as non-existent instead of tackling the issues they face head-on. However, in being users of CDI’s simplified sewerage networks, these people became customers of DAWASA and thus gain a new level of recognition from the government. This may be just a small detail to some but can mean the world of difference to the one person whose life has been changed.

The WaSH Project is the first project in CDI to fully hand over a current project stream to KITE DSM. Last year, the network team (which constructed the of simplified sewerage networks) was comprised solely of Tanzanian volunteers, something which has remained the case with this year’s team. Operationally, this is strategic as a Tanzanian university education in engineering provides the practical know-how to efficiently carry out construction of latrines and networks (unlike the more theoretical and general approach taken by the one at Cambridge). Moreover, the year-round presence of the team in Tanzania facilitates maintenance and monitoring of the networks even when the CDI team is back in the UK. This year marks the first year that the Community Engagement team has been a KITE-only team and I hope that future WaSH Project Directors will recognise the importance of Tanzanian voices in this endeavour. Since many community-members do not speak English, it is strategic for the Tanzanian volunteers to be the ones carrying out workshops, surveys, focus groups, etc. with the CDI volunteers supporting from the background. Further, the WaSH Project wants to dispel the myth that progress only happens when “the mzungu” (how foreigners are referred to in Swahili) are present.

These are lessons I learned from my predecessor, Yasmine Shafiq, who regularly still guides me through decisions and I am lucky to still have such an engaged team of alumni behind me, offering advice, context and a generous ear through what sometimes are tough moments.

My two years working with CDI have allowed me to better understand that although life is all about the big picture the magic is in the details. I’ve worked with many people from all over the world who have all brought to the table brilliant ideas, enthusiasm and a genuine passion about the issues we work to tackle. These people are constant reminders of who we are working for, why we started doing what we are doing, and why we will never stop trying to change the world.

I feel honoured and proud to have been able to be part of this initiative which gives students and young engineers the ability to change the world, one latrine at a time, leaving no one behind.


If you’d like to get involved with our fundraising, visit our JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cdi-wash or email wash.director@cambridgedevelopment.org for more information!

By Micheala Chan, WaSH Project Director 2018/19
Micheala is fourth-year studying Engineering at Trinity Hall.

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A morning adventure: CDI’s simplified sewerage in Vingunguti

Last week I had my first adventure out of Ardhi University, where we sleep and work, and into the centre of Dar es Salaam, to visit the informal settlement of Vingunguti where the WaSH simplified sewerage project is implemented.

It was an eye-opening experience right from the moment I stepped onto the bus (daladala). The conductor seemed to permanently hang halfway out of the bus entrance as it drove around, yelling the bus route at passers-by in case they wanted to hop on, whilst inside the bus, we all stood like hot and sweaty sardines, swaying and bumping into each other and the few people that were lucky enough to be sat on sticky, padded plastic seats. Outside the window, the roads were lined with dusty paths full of makeshift stalls selling a variety of fruits, street food, furniture and bags of pulses. The traffic was also manic, and all cars seemed to be silver or white with sizeable dents all around their metal bodies, as though everyone was a car crash survivor. Every so often, the conductor managed to push his way through the crowded bodies on the bus, shaking coins in one of his hands to indicate that anyone that hadn’t paid now had to own up and deliver the 40p cost of the bus journey. Transport here is SO cheap!

Once off the bus, it was a short walk along yet another street lined with stalls (this time with loads of electronic stores blaring out recordings of men advertising their products at an extremely unpleasant volume from hidden speakers), and across an unexpected railway line with no barriers or warnings about its presence (I’m not sure if its still in use…). And then, finally, we reached Vingunguti. At its entrance, we were welcomed by the sight of two large lorries there to take away sewage from cesspits, and a massive pond that looked quite peaceful, but I soon learnt was a Waste Stabilisation Pond. For those who don’t know, this basically means I was staring at a massive body of sewage and water, waiting to be broken down by bacteria (anaerobic) after which it would be fed into two other ponds (facultative, and aerobic) as a cheap method to treat the waste releasing it into the environment.

Walking around the settlement itself was a real experience. Vingunguti is an informal settlement in which lower-income individuals have come to live, with housing often not complying with planning and building regulations. Without being led by the KITE DSM Tanzanian members of our team, I would have got completely lost as we picked our way through the rabbit warren of brown-walled housing blocks with corrugated iron roofs. Women sat outside their houses, washing clothes in buckets as we walked past, and young barefoot children danced around us with curiosity. The ground was uneven with unexpected hills, random walls, junction boxes, and the occasional ditch full of rubbish with makeshift bridges made from wooden planks.

Throughout the settlement, well-made latrine blocks stood out, painted white and blue with the CDI logo printed on. I was impressed with how many there were (and how they’d managed to find space for them in between the houses!). Their clear presence demonstrated how much of an impact they were having on the lives of the community, who could now have flushing toilets to take their waste hygienically and effectively to the waste stabilization pond for treatment. Previously, these people would have relied on pit latrines which commonly overflowed during the rainy season, and required emptying by hand as there was no way the waste collection lorry would have fit between the houses to carry away the waste! At regular intervals along the path, concrete junction boxes marked the connection point for pipes on the simplified sewerage system. Again, I was so impressed with how well-made everything was, and how much thought must’ve gone into ensuring the height of the pipes would allow a constant flow down to the waste stabilization pond. Exposed pipes had been carefully sealed off with concrete walls to prevent people damaging them. Everything was so well thought out!

All-focus

Latrine

Later that week, members of KITE DSM (Our Tanzanian partner organisation) went into Vingunguti again to conduct monitoring and evaluation questionnaires. This was important to ensure that the community was happy with the system we had implemented, and that it would be sustainable to continue to grow the sewerage network (currently 54 latrines have been built, serving 475 people, with another 20 latrines planned this year which would add 200 more people to the network). The response was overwhelmingly positive, with every interviewee saying they would recommend investing in a latrine. They felt the latrines had helped make the community cleaner and improved people’s health, with much fewer occurrences of diseases than had been prevalent before the system was implemented. Success!!

I would like to give a massive thank you to everyone that has donated to the WaSH project so far this year and made the construction of more latrines a possibility. Seeing first hand where the latrines are built and the community’s response to their installation, I can honestly say that every small donation is making a real difference to the lives of the people in Vingunguti. If you still want to donate, it’s never too late! Just head over to our JustGiving page 😉 £10 will help pay for supervision of one day of construction, £50 covers technicians wages for building one latrine, £100 pays for the delivery of all materials, and £235 covers the cost of materials to construct one latrine.

I’d also like to thank the iMechE for helping make it possible for me to finance the personal costs of flying out to Tanzania to work on this project. I would highly recommend all young and budding engineers to look into the huge variety of grants and scholarships they have available to support your studies and extra-curricular engineering-related activities. They’ve supported me so much throughout my degree and opened up opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Check them out!

By Natasha Wilson, WaSH Project Volunteer 2018/19
Natasha is fourth-year studying Engineering at Emmanuel College.

World Toilet Day, 2018

By Micheala Chan

 

Today (Monday 19 November) is World Toilet Day!

 

World Toilet Day was established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001 and declared an official UN day in 2013 by the UN General Assembly.

 

This day aims to address Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. At the rate we are working, we are far behind where we need to be to ensure this achievement. Currently, around the world, 4.5 billion people are still without safely managed sanitation and 892 million people still practise open defecation [1].

 

Exposure to human faeces and the lack of toilets means that problems in public health, living conditions, education and economic productivity still persist. Waterborne diarrhoeal diseases are still responsible for 2 million deaths annually [2] and cholera is still a major problem in many developing countries. A lack of toilets and handwashing facilities also has a large impact on girls’ access to education, with many dropping out of school when they start menstruating.

 

Working in Vingunguti, an informal settlement in the Mjimpya ward of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this is a mission CDI’s WaSH Project has become highly aware of and also wholly dedicated to. 70% of the city’s residents live in informal settlements like Vingunguti [3] and 97% of them are users of pit latrines, with only 6% connected to the modern sewerage system [4].

 

To date, CDI has constructed 54 accessible toilets connected to the sewerage network, serving an estimated 375 people, since 2014. The latrines have been funded either by the community themselves or by DAWASA (Dar es Salaam Water and Sanitation Authority). The construction has been facilitated by local technicians and workers, and designed mainly by the KITE Dar es Salaam team, giving Tanzanian students the opportunity to apply practically the knowledge learned in university. Further, these toilets have enabled women in the community to take on a leading role, for example, as household representatives and Chairpeople of the Sanitation Users Authorities (see https://cambridgedevelopment.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/wash-spotlight-community-engagement/ for more information).

Toilet 1

To date, CDI has constructed 54 accessible toilets connected to the sewerage network, serving an estimated 375 people, since 2014.

When Nature calls, CDI answers.

References

[1] WHO/UNICEF (2017): http://www.who.int/en/news-room/detail/12-07-2017-2-1-billion-people-lack-safe-drinking-water-at-home-more-than-twice-as-many-lack-safe-sanitation

[2] WHO. http://www.who.int/sustainable-development/housing/health-risks/waterborne-disease/en/

[3] Jenkins, M. W. (2015). Pit Latrine Emptying Behaviour and Demand for Sanitation Services in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 12(3), pp. 2588-2611

[4] Chaggu, E. et al (2002) . Excreta Disposal in Dar es Salaam. Environmental Management. Nov 30 (5), pp. 609-620

A Day in the Life of a WaSH Biogas Volunteer

My name is Sam Watson and I am working with the Biogas Team on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Project.

After hearing about CDI through a lecturer in my university department, I joined CDI because I saw the WaSH Project as an opportunity to implement skills from my Chemical Engineering degree whilst making a difference in communities facing poverty and poor health.

I work closely with two other volunteers on the Biogas Team named Amon and Micheala.

7:20am. The alarm goes off. I usually hate early starts, but not today because I’m going to ‘site’.  The place commonly referred to by CDI volunteers as ‘site’ is the location of the WaSH Project’s latest brainchild – the biodigester. This device is effectively a huge rubber bag lying in a long, deep trench.  Sewage from one of the WaSH Project’s simplified sewerage networks flows into this bag and is turned into biogas which can be burned for cooking or heating.

7:50am. The heavy rain has stopped just in time for me to go to the canteen. I get to breakfast nice and early but the canteen hasn’t started serving food… This is only a minor inconvenience to what I’m anticipating will be a significant day.

Figure 1

Breakfast table accompaniment

8:45am. I am catching a bus to the site.

The key idea behind the biogas project is a business model in which biodigester technology can be used to add value to the sewage by converting it into biogas fuel. This fuel can then be sold to members of the local community. Profits generated from biogas sales can then be used to pay back the costs of the biodigester and sewage network.

Today we hope to do an experiment which should help us to determine whether selling biogas is profitable. It involves measuring the amount of gas produced by the digester in a given time. This will allow us to estimate our operating profit.

9:45am. We stop off at the hardware store to buy two pairs of rubber gloves.

Figure 2

Amon and Micheala at the hardware store

9:50am. Only moments after leaving the hardware store, I hear someone shouting, “I love you!” I turn to see that it is us who are being addressed, by a woman leaning from a window.

10:06am. We arrive at site. We connect our measuring device to the digester but measure no gas coming out.

Figure 3

The measuring device (known as a flowmeter) with the digester in the background, to which it is connected

After over an hour of trying things, the digester has become completely deflated, showing that there is no longer any gas in the digester. The attempt was not successful, so we decide to leave.

Figure 4

The flexigester, deflated to the level of the water (i.e. it has no gas in it!)

 

11:30am. Shortly before leaving, the team discover a mysterious locked chamber next to the digester. After a long while of trying to smash the lock with a bolt, we hire some local technicians who easily break open the lock. The chamber is empty.

 

Figure 5

Amon attempts to break open the chamber by smashing the rusted padlock

 

12:45pm. A long commute and we’re back at base. Time for a quick debrief with one of my PDs before lunch.

1:00pm. At lunch, a member of the WaSH team tells us which Mean Girls characters each of us are.

2:00pm. Back to work. This afternoon is an ideal time to work on my ‘day in the life’ blog.

4:00pm. Time for an exciting meeting with the WaSH PDs about the future strategy and direction of the Biogas Project. We discussed the latest findings and calculations in relation to the biogas business model.

5:00pm. Work is over but my roommate has gone to Vingunguti with the only key to the room and won’t be back for a while. However, I can’t complain as it’s my fault.

Tonight is the Kite DSM fundraising dinner and I’m scheduled to play with a band. I go to help the other band members load the taxi with our kit.

5:30pm. People are starting to leave for the fundraising dinner (which starts at 6:00pm) but my roommate still isn’t back. Luckily, I have a great book in my bag to keep me occupied in the meantime.

6:30pm. My roommate has arrived back and we can now go into our room to start getting ready for the dinner.

7:30pm. I arrive at the dinner with my roommate and next-door neighbour in time for a speech by Kite DSM by Director David Leonce.

8:30pm. It’s time for the band to perform. The ‘Cambridge Groove Initiative’ played three songs, including the classics ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and ‘Summertime’.

Figure 6

The ‘Cambridge Groove Initiative’

 

11:30pm. I’m on my way back to the accommodation. It’s been a long day and I’m ready to go to bed.

 

WaSH Spotlight: Residents

One of the most important aspects of a successful project is the positive and lasting impacts it has on the local community. As part of the WaSH project Spotlights series, we have explored the different sub-teams within the overall project and their place in the model. However, it is time to focus on the residents, who are the most important part of the project.

Residents in Vingunguti choose to opt in to the community simplified sewerage network, following educational discussions explaining the health and environmental benefits of the system. The latrines are a household investment, organised through a deferred payment scheme. As a result, residents own their latrines and are more likely to be committed to contributing to maintenance and community decision-making.

Our community engagement team has spoken to some of the SUA members  of Routes 4, 5 and 6 (for more information, check out https://cambridgedevelopment.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/wash-spotlight-community-engagement/ ). The issues they face have been highlighted below with quotes from the community.

 

The Septic Tank

“I am very regretful to those who haven’t joined the network until now as they will keep facing not only health problems but also the difficulties in emptying their septic tanks when full as the area is unplanned settlement and there is no access roads for the trucks needed to empty the septic tanks when full”

  • Member of Route 4 SUA

 

Before the latrines were introduced in Vingunguti, most houses relied on septic tanks, which had to be emptied regularly. In Dar Es Salaam 80% of households are dependent on pit latrines, whilst only 6% are connected to a sewerage system.[1] Pit latrines collect and store human faeces in a pit direct below a toilet. The pit should be periodically emptied. However, due to cost, most households do not responsibly empty their pits and instead allow them to overflow during the rainy season. Uncovered faecal matter can increase the incidence of trachoma and most waterborne diseases.[2] Simplified sewerage is an affordable, safer alternative.

The septic tank is a tank, typically underground, in which sewage is collected and allowed to decompose through bacterial activity before draining by means of a soakaway. A soakaway is a pit into which waste water is piped so that it drains slowly out into the surrounding soil.

Although there are many benefits of the septic tank system, the residents of Vingunguti have found that the simplified sewerage system is “not only cost friendly but also space saving and environmental friendly.” The convenience of having a system which does not have to be regularly emptied and which also has the capacity to handle larger amounts of sewage makes the CDI and Kite WaSH model very suitable for use in crowded, informal settlements such as Vingunguti.

 

Reducing Disease

“Currently the situation is very impressing as there is no diseases such as Typhoid that used to occur. We are really thankful because this project has not only helped to reduce waterborne diseases but also has promoted hygiene”

  • Member of Route 4 SUA

The number of people involved in the project so far is only about 400 people, and detailed data from health centres is difficult to obtain due to confidentiality so a thorough investigation into the occurrence of water-borne diseases has not been done. Research from the WHO states that the “safe human excreta disposal brings about huge health benefits”[3]. It is reasonable to extrapolate that the occurrence of diseases in Vingunguti has decreased if the simplified sewerage network is working. Comments made by members of the SUAs has confirmed this fact anecdotally.

[1] Chaggu, Esnati, et al. “Excreta disposal in Dar-es-Salaam.” Environmental Management 30.5 (2002): 0609-0620

[2] Montgomery, Maggie A., and Menachem Elimelech. “Water and sanitation in developing countries: including health in the equation.” (2007): 17-24

[3] http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/hygiene/om/linkingchap8.pdf

WaSH Spotlight: Biogas

Key vocabulary & definitions:

Biodigester: a device or structure in which the digestion of organic waste matter by bacteria takes place with the production of a burnable biogas and a nutrient-rich slurry.

Biogas: gaseous fuel, especially methane, produced by the fermentation of organic matter. Biogas is particularly good as it is a renewable, clean energy source (both in terms of health and environmental impacts), reducing the greenhouse effect and is also capable of producing organic NPK-rich fertiliser as a byproduct of the production process.

Simplified sewerage: sewerage system with conscious efforts made to eliminate unnecessarily conservative design features such as using smaller diameter pipes (see https://cambridgedevelopment.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/wash-spotlight-network-construction-2/ for more information)

The team:

Image from iOS (1)

The biogas team this year is made up of three volunteers; one from Kite DSM and two from CDI. Amon Gracephord is a Kite DSM volunteer; he is a 3rd year student studying Municipal and Industrial Services Engineering. The two CDI volunteers (Micheala Chan and Sam Watson) are both in 3rd year and study Civil & Structural Engineering and Chemical Engineering respectively.

 

The Flexigester

Image from iOS

In 2015, CDI formed a partnership with SOWTech, a Cambridge-based company working on innovative solutions in the field of sanitation and waste management. In August 2015, a V40 biodigester (with a volume of 40 m3) was purchased from SOWTech and was installed in Vingunguti at the outflow of Route 4. It is made of butyl rubber, a flexible material, which allows it to stretch slightly with gas production.

The site lies next to the Spenco Waste Stabilisation Ponds. These ponds are large, man-made water bodies into which household and industrial waste flows. These ponds are used for the treatment of wastewater around the world and are especially appropriate for rural communities.

image

How does this fit in with the rest of WaSH?

The biodigester is an important part of the business model proposed by CDI. By creating a business model based around simplified sewerage and the biogas generator, the potential for the propagation of sanitation solutions is incentivised for businesses and is driven by the economy, rather than government funding.

In this model, a biodigester is installed at the end of a simplified sewerage network. The sewage from the network flows into the bio-digester, which digests the material and produces biogas. The plan is to sell this biogas as a sustainable, clean energy source to members of the local community. The funds generated are intended to recuperate the original investment, although this is expected to take a few years of continuous biogas production. The funds will also provide future funding for scaling the simplified sewerage networks.

The biodigester facilitates the expansion of simplified sewerage, not just financially, but also geographically. By fully digesting the sewage, the biodigester could make simplified sewerage applicable in areas with no sewage treatment ponds.

 

The plan for this year:

Decommissioning

The decision had been made in the last year to decommission the Flexigester as it was found that the unique environmental and weather conditions in Vingunguti made this particular model of digestor unsuitable for constant biogas production. The team will be carrying out this decommissioning in the next few weeks. A decommissioning report is being compiled to analyse lessons learned and how best to move forward with biogas in the future. This will be done in collaboration with the WaSH Monitoring & Evaluation team, who will advise on how to make the long-term vision achievable.

 

The New Digester

The biogas team has been in discussions regarding a new biodigester to install once decommissioning is finished. Although the decision has ultimately been made not to install this year (so that the business model can be thoroughly examined first), the team is taking steps to ensure the smoothest transition into the next biogas team, so that they can get into installation and testing as quickly as possible next summer. These steps involve checking the technical proposal suggested by the supplier and negotiating a maintenance contract, which is important as the aim is for the biodigester to be a reliable year-round source of biogas while CDI and Kite only operate on site during the summer.

Fundraising

The biogas team will be working on grant applications towards the end of this summer in order to raise funds for the future installation of digesters. This is a crucial activity, and it is important to ensure that fundraising is a continual year-round exercise, to ensure the sustainability and long-term success of the WaSH Project.

Direction

The biogas team will be taking a look at the direction in which the biogas project is headed and discussing future plans and how it fits into the WaSH project model. In this area, the team will be looking into the business plan and filling in gaps by speaking to suppliers and experts, both of biodigesters and biogas stoves, amongst other things. A survey will also be undertaken in an analogous community to Vingunguti to gauge community interest and parameters for the financial modelling and business model.

Handover

The biogas team will be working to ensure smooth handover with as little loss of knowledge as possible. This will enable teams to make informed decisions based on actions previously carried out, knowing the context of historic decisions.

The future:

In the future, it is hoped that a successful pilot of the biodigester-simplified sewerage model can be carried out. This will rely on the correct installation of a biodigester at the end of Route 4. Once gas has been continuously produced and profitability and technical feasibility have been proven, the plan is that a channel for local entrepreneurs to roll out their own simplified sewerage networks and biodigesters can be created to spread the CDI model of sustainable, scalable, community-led solutions to sanitation.

WaSH Spotlight: Community Engagement

Key vocabulary & definitions:

WaSH Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.

Sanitation Users Association (SUA) – a committee consisting of one representative from each household that deals with problems that arise on the network.

Simplified sewerage network – The network of pipes connecting member’s latrines to the sewage ponds.

IMG_4712.JPG

The team:

The community engagement team consist of four volunteers: two from KITE DSM and the other two from CDI. At university, the team specialises in a diverse range of subjects, studying: Environmental Engineering, Community Development, Biological Anthropology and Politics and International Relations. The mix of different subjects makes for a well-rounded team with exciting new ideas.

 

What is community engagement?

Community engagement is the framework that allows members of the community to become involved and empowered in their development. This is achieved through consultation of community members when making key decisions and taking their feedback on our project seriously. For example, this summer began with consultations with the chairpeople of each network and focus groups and surveys of network members. Through this, we identified a number of ways to improve the SUA model to make it align more closely with how the community functions.

Community engagement works closely with the other WaSH sub-teams, for example:

  • Working with the network team in ensuring that any infrastructure built is appropriate and specific to the community.
  • Organising workshops to run in the community which help promote the accompanying behavioural change.
  • The team also has close links with Monitoring and Evaluation; evaluating the effectiveness of past aspects of the project and applying what we’ve learnt to new initiatives.  

 

The plan for this year:

The WaSH project provides new users with a deferred payment scheme; this allows people joining the system to pay back the latrine construction costs over a period of up to four years. This prevents the up-front cost of a new latrine being a barrier to anyone who wishes to connect to the network. Community engagement oversees the contracts for the deferred payment scheme. It is important that new users joining the network this summer to ensure the contracts and their financial implications are fully understood. To achieve this, the language and structure of the contracts are being adapted to make them more accessible. The team will then have sessions in each household explaining the contracts to the new users. Parallel to this the team will be organising training sessions on SUA functions to allow the new users to easily integrate into the existing SUAs.  

An important part of the WaSH project is the existing education initiatives such as the WaSH entrepreneurship workshops. Currently new network members are invited to 18 workshops run over the space of nine months by a local NGO: Bridge for Change (BfC). The content of the workshops was decided in consultation with community members and cover topics like latrine management, sanitation and hygiene and life skills. This summer, the community engagement team will be working with BfC to continue improving the workshops, focusing on increasing attendance and ensuring the content remains engaging, accessible and relevant. The team will also be involved in BfC’s plans to expand their workshops beyond Vingunguti.  

 

In the future:

Sustainability is a core principle of CDI and good community engagement is key to achieving that. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the WaSH project, the community needs to take ownership of their simplified sewerage network, with the goal of the networks running autonomously in the future. At the end of summer, the team will be running a ‘celebration day’ inviting new members of the networks, DAWASA, other NGOs and press. The purpose of this event is to promote the project and instil a sense of pride and ownership of the network in community residents. The improved community engagement framework and SUA structure developed this summer will be necessary for achieving the goal of year-round building of new simplified sewerage networks.