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Communal Latrine Provision in Liberian Slums

Communal Latrine Provision in Liberian Slums

Ratings: (0)|Views: 24 |Likes:
Published by Lisa Woods
Communal latrines are an inadequate policy response to the sanitation crisis of sub-Saharan
Africaʼs urban poor. It is estimated that 180 million African urbanites have no access to
sanitation and if current demographic trends persist, a majority of the African population will
reside in urban areas by 2015. This will result in slum densification and increase the urban
need for sanitation by 50 per cent.

Humanitarian organisations have responded by providing community-managed communal latrines in urban slums. The overall aim of this policy report is to investigate communal latrine provision as a policy response to inadequate sanitation and endemic cholera in urban slums in the West African country of Liberia. It examined communal latrine provision in the Billimah, New Kru Town and Zinc Kamp slums of Monrovia where each community has two communal latrine blocks built by an I/NGO as part of its cholera response. The facilities have six pour-flush toilets that are connected to a septic tank. The toilets function independent of
water, electricity and sewerage, and a community-based WASH Committee undertakes operation and maintenance (O&M) of the facilities. A household survey in which 79
respondents were interviewed was conducted to ascertain user satisfaction and to explore
communal latrine usage rates, characteristics of users and non-users, and evidence for any
groups being systematically excluded. Multiple methods of inquiry were used to triangulate
the findings and strengthen the scientific argument for validity.

The study sought to answer whether communal latrines significantly reduced open
defecation in Liberian slums. While adult respondents have benefitted from the provision of communal latrines, young children have been largely excluded because of cost and societal acceptance of open defecation amongst children. Although usage rates amongst the adult population were reportedly high, there was an even larger portion of the target population not using the latrine. The findings suggest that the manner and scale that communal latrines have been provided in Monrovian slums is not sufficient to stop open defecation.

The study also questioned whether the community management of communal latrines was sustainable. The findings suggest that the technical design has made it difficult for
community-based WASH Committees to maintain the latrines – as communities reported too small, overburdened septic tanks that leak raw sewage into the roads. The WASH
Committees cannot mitigate this environmental and public health risk without substantial
external assistance. Furthermore, the current design is not environmentally sustainable
because the sewerage network does not function properly and vacuum tanks are obliged to empty septic tank contents untreated into the sea.

These management challenges are handled by the WASH Committees alone – each having
varying levels of skill and motivation. The inability of the New Kru Town WASH Committee to resolve a conflict resulted in the community being locked out of the communal latrines for
nearly five months. The Zinc Kamp WASH Committee was unable to find a caretaker for four months and the facilities sat unused while the target population continued promiscuous
defecation. Each community reported that the user fees were not enough to empty the septic
tank when it first fills. These findings imply that the current management structure gives the
community too much responsibility in the O&M of the toilets without sufficiently building local
capacity to solve problems. This adversely affects use and threatens the sustainability of the latrines.

Communal latrines as a policy response to poor sanitation in Monrovian slums have
shortfalls that can only be overcome if the factors for sustainability are systematically
addressed.

WASH partners should build the capacity of WASH Committees through standardised trainings to ensure a basic level of knowledge and skills.
Communal latrines are an inadequate policy response to the sanitation crisis of sub-Saharan
Africaʼs urban poor. It is estimated that 180 million African urbanites have no access to
sanitation and if current demographic trends persist, a majority of the African population will
reside in urban areas by 2015. This will result in slum densification and increase the urban
need for sanitation by 50 per cent.

Humanitarian organisations have responded by providing community-managed communal latrines in urban slums. The overall aim of this policy report is to investigate communal latrine provision as a policy response to inadequate sanitation and endemic cholera in urban slums in the West African country of Liberia. It examined communal latrine provision in the Billimah, New Kru Town and Zinc Kamp slums of Monrovia where each community has two communal latrine blocks built by an I/NGO as part of its cholera response. The facilities have six pour-flush toilets that are connected to a septic tank. The toilets function independent of
water, electricity and sewerage, and a community-based WASH Committee undertakes operation and maintenance (O&M) of the facilities. A household survey in which 79
respondents were interviewed was conducted to ascertain user satisfaction and to explore
communal latrine usage rates, characteristics of users and non-users, and evidence for any
groups being systematically excluded. Multiple methods of inquiry were used to triangulate
the findings and strengthen the scientific argument for validity.

The study sought to answer whether communal latrines significantly reduced open
defecation in Liberian slums. While adult respondents have benefitted from the provision of communal latrines, young children have been largely excluded because of cost and societal acceptance of open defecation amongst children. Although usage rates amongst the adult population were reportedly high, there was an even larger portion of the target population not using the latrine. The findings suggest that the manner and scale that communal latrines have been provided in Monrovian slums is not sufficient to stop open defecation.

The study also questioned whether the community management of communal latrines was sustainable. The findings suggest that the technical design has made it difficult for
community-based WASH Committees to maintain the latrines – as communities reported too small, overburdened septic tanks that leak raw sewage into the roads. The WASH
Committees cannot mitigate this environmental and public health risk without substantial
external assistance. Furthermore, the current design is not environmentally sustainable
because the sewerage network does not function properly and vacuum tanks are obliged to empty septic tank contents untreated into the sea.

These management challenges are handled by the WASH Committees alone – each having
varying levels of skill and motivation. The inability of the New Kru Town WASH Committee to resolve a conflict resulted in the community being locked out of the communal latrines for
nearly five months. The Zinc Kamp WASH Committee was unable to find a caretaker for four months and the facilities sat unused while the target population continued promiscuous
defecation. Each community reported that the user fees were not enough to empty the septic
tank when it first fills. These findings imply that the current management structure gives the
community too much responsibility in the O&M of the toilets without sufficiently building local
capacity to solve problems. This adversely affects use and threatens the sustainability of the latrines.

Communal latrines as a policy response to poor sanitation in Monrovian slums have
shortfalls that can only be overcome if the factors for sustainability are systematically
addressed.

WASH partners should build the capacity of WASH Committees through standardised trainings to ensure a basic level of knowledge and skills.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Lisa Woods on Jan 30, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/30/2013

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PROJECT REPORT2010 - 2011
MSc Public Health
Stream: Health PromotionTitle: Communal Latrine Provision in Liberian Slums
Supervisor: Adam BiranCandidate Number: 100822 Word Count: 9,277
 
 
2
 
T
ABLE OF
C
ONTENTS
 
 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS................................................................................................................................3EXCUTIVESUMMARY....................................................................................................................................4
1.INTRODUCTION.........................................................................................................................................6
2.AIMSANDOBJECTIVES............................................................................................................................8
2.1
 A
IM
...............................................................................................................................................................8
2.2
O
BJECTIVES
..................................................................................................................................................8
3.BACKGROUND............................................................................................................................................8
3.1
T
HESLUMCONTEXT
.....................................................................................................................................8
3.2
G
OVERNMENT
 A
PPROACHCESTO
S
LUMSAND
I
TS
I
MPACTON
S
 ANITATION
............................................83.3
C
OMMUNALLATRINEPROVISIONIN
 A
FRICANSLUMS
................................................................................9
3.4
G
OODPRACTICESINTHECOMMUNITYMANAGEMENTOFCOMMUNALLATRINES
.................................10
4JUSTIFICATIONANDKEYQUESTIONS..............................................................................................11
5.MATERIALSANDMETHODS...............................................................................................................11
5.1
S
EARCH
S
TRATEGY 
...................................................................................................................................115.2
D
 ATACOLLECTIONTOOLS
........................................................................................................................12
5.3
S
 AMPLING
..................................................................................................................................................15
6.COMMUNALLATRINEPROVISIONINLIBERIANSLUMS–ACASESTUDY............................16
6.1
I
NTRODUCTION
.........................................................................................................................................156.2
N
 ATIONAL
S
 ANITATION
P
RIORITIES
.......................................................................................................156.3
P
OLICYENVIRONMENTANDINSTITUTIONALFRAMEWORK 
....................................................................17
7.RESULTS....................................................................................................................................................19
7.1
N
UMBEROFPAYINGUSERS
.......................................................................................................................19
7.2
P
HYSICALCONDITIONSANDOPERATINGCHARACTERISTICSOFFACILITIES
..........................................20
7.3
S
OCIALANDECONOMICCHARACTERISTICSOFCOMMUNALLATRINEUSERS
..........................................21
7.4
H
OUSEHOLDLATRINEOWNERSHIP
..........................................................................................................22
7.5H
OUSEHOLD
R
ESSOURCES
.........................................................................................................................217.6
P
 ATTERNSOF
U
SE
R
EPORTEDBY
C
OMMUNAL
L
 ATRINE
U
SERS
...........................................................217.7
C
HILDRENAND
C
OMMUNAL
L
 ATRINE
U
SE
..............................................................................................217.8
P
 AYMENTANDWILLINGNESS
-
TO
-
PAY 
.....................................................................................................24
7.9
S
 ANITATIONACCESSANDPLANSFORFUTUREUSEOFCOMMUNALLATRINES
.......................................25
7.9.1
C
OMMUNALLATRINEUSERSSATISFACTIONWITHTHEFACILITIES
....................................................26
8.DISCUSSION………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...26
9.CONCLUSION............................................................................................................................................32
10.RECOMMENDATIONS .........................................................................................................................33
 
 
 
3
 
A
CRONYMS
 
CBO Community Based OrganisationGoL Government of LiberiaIDP Internally Displaced PersonI/NGO International/Non-governmental OrganisationJMP Joint Monitoring ProgrammeLWSC Liberia Water & Sewerage CorporationMDG Millennium Development GoalMoHSW Ministry of Health and Social WelfareOHCHR Office of the High Commissioner for Human RightsO&M Operation and ManagementPLWHA People Living with HIV/AIDSPRS/P Poverty Reduction Strategy/PaperSSP Slum Sanitation ProgrammeUN-Habitat United Nations Human Settlements ProgrammeUNICEF United Nations Children
ʼ
s FundUN United NationsUNMIL United Nations Mission in LiberiaWASH Water, Sanitation, and HygieneWHO World Health OrganizationWSSP Water Supply and Sanitation Policy

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