Approaches for bridging the sanitation delivery gap in urban informal settlements in Namibia

PC: The Namibian

Shack dwellings in informal settlements are home to a billion people worldwide. In Namibia, 40% of the population currently live in shacks. These settlements often lack land tenure and governments do not have capacity to invest in infrastructure in unplanned spaces. Therefore, they are not connected to centralised sewage systems and on-site decentralised sanitation becomes the norm.

In a paper published in the journal City and Environment Interactions, Gert van der Merwe and I explore this grey zone of urban informality and the gap in sanitation delivery in Namibia. We evaluate how local communities, non-government organisations (Clay House Project and Development Workshop Namibia) and an international development agency (GIZ Namibia) interact and navigate the physical, economic and political landscape of implementing bottom-up sanitation solutions for informal settlements. In critical analysis of the three different sanitation delivery models of these organisations, we consider their historical development, underlying philosophies and technical solutions. We also examine how products from different sanitation systems are managed and whether urine source separation could improve their management.

We show that each organisation occupies a different¬†niche¬†within the informal settlement sanitation space. Clay House Project and¬†Development Workshop Namibia¬†responded to the urgent need of communities for housing and¬†diseases prevention, whereas¬†Deutsche Gesellschaft f√ľr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH¬†is working to create system-level changes to¬†urban development planning and¬†governance. Each model has its pros and cons, with implications for other organisations working in informal settlements elsewhere. For instance, the Namibian case shows that a diversity of complementary sanitation delivery models is needed, with some focusing on achieving short-term goals while others address structural concerns playing out over longer time spans.

We also found that management and reuse of source-separated #urine and faecal sludge were not fully considered in the different models developed by the organisations, and going forward this is an issue that must be emphasised and addressed.

We are very grateful to all interviewees and organizations that contributed to this study. Gert and I look forward to exploring possibilities of improving sanitation and resource recycling with all of you at our upcoming workshop at NUST Namibia in Windhoek between 9-11 October.

Thank you Jan-Olof Drangert for inviting us to contribute to the special issue on greening urban sanitation and for critical comments that improved our manuscript!

Link to the full paper:

Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia, SLU РSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sanitation360 AB
#SLU #sluet #sluenergytechnology

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