MSABI Namawala WASH Week 2013: Sanitation Team Update

That’s right, it should have been called WASH week. Here at MSABI we aren’t just Water. We are Water (Wa), Sanitation (S) and Hygiene (H)! Sanitation and Hygiene has been ignored for far too long and we are ready to make ourselves known!

Our Team currently comprises of Ismail (Sanitation Programme Manager), Benedict Junior (Community Development Officer), Stan (Lead Sanitation Team Leader) and Lauren (Technical Advisor- Sanitation and Hygiene). And here is our summary of Namawala WASH week 2013! 

We started out Namawala WASH week with an evaluation of our existing sanitation facilities in the village. We have 20 latrines across Namawala including both pour flush and the dual chamber ecological sanitation designs. The latrines in Namawala are specifically designed to be aboveground, all in order to protect the high water table from contamination and contact. For the evaluation, we developed both a “hardware” and “software” checklist to evaluate both the physical design and structure of the latrines after 4 years, and the user opinions and satisfaction with their latrines. The Sanitation Team, with help from both our Tanzanian and International Interns, were able to visit all the latrines on Monday and Thursday and really see how each structure has faired over the last 4 years!
Evaluating the latrine structure and interviewing the household
     It was a great start to the week to really learn and evaluate our own designs that have all stood the test of time over the last 4 years. The majority of the latrines were built in 2010, and are all still going strong! It also provides us with great feedback to alter and adjust any future designs we make; we are always learning and this was a great opportunity to do just that!

We then proceeded on Tuesday to start conducting some sanitation market research in the village. This is all working towards our Market-Based Sanitation Model that we are implementing across the Kilombero. It is a zero subsidy programme, where we promote ecologically safe sanitation facilities and use MSABI-trained masons to construct the facilities. But before we launch the programme, it is incredibly important to assess the market!

We were aiming to identify both the facilitators and barriers to the uptake of improved sanitation. This will all influence our marketing campaigns, and really help us to understand the wants and needs of the consumer. For example, facilitators to build a latrine included privacy, status in the community and predominantly comfort! People want to shit with a little privacy and in a comfortable structure!

On Wednesday, we conducted a participatory-based approach to our current sanitation designs. Based on the Human Centred Design Toolkit we hosted a workshop with locally recommended masons to explore their existing knowledge of sanitation designs and evaluate the existing MSABI latrines in Namawala. With the MSABI Sanitation Team, we visited each variable latrine design (Pour flush, UDDT, commode) around Namawala; and evaluated each structure for their merits and flaws.

Ismail introducing the workshop to the Masons

Stan discussing each characteristic of the latrine structure
Benedict assessing the superstructure of this pour flush with septic tank latrine
Group discussions to evaluate the varying super- and substructure designs used by MSABI
The floor was opened for discussion and feedback was given from all of the masons on the pros and cons of each design. They then were tasked with drawing up their own designs based on all the suggested improvements. We were using our masons as a working think-tank, using their extensive and local knowledge to improve ours. With great results and enthusiastic presentations of their designs by each team! We even had our International Interns take on the challenge, much to the amusement of the masons- with their elaborate structures and solar powered lights!
Open discussion and note taking to critique the latrine designs

The masons attempt to design their own ecologically safe improved latrines

Our two interns take to the challenge to design a latrine

Each team competing to design the best latrine

Its getting technical! 

Presentation of his team's latrine designs
Thursday and Friday of Namawala week were our construction days! We were here to make repairs and change over the vaults of our composting latrines! With the dual-chamber design, the tanks have to be switched after 12-18 months in order to let the human waste decompose and turn into beautiful compost. So we spent the whole of Thursday and Friday morning making repairs to any of the existing latrines, such as damage to the soak pit, and changing over the drop hole. Every member of the team got stuck in…laying bricks, plastering walls, mixing cement and even getting in the tank and adding the much-needed rice husk to the faeces as an drying tool for the compost process.
Adding rice husk to the chamber to aid compost production

Building a new soak pit

And that sums up the Sanitation Team activities for WASH Week 2013! We had a great time and it was an incredible learning experience for us to really evaluate all of past interventions. It will provide a great starting point for our future programme and we are already moving ahead with our new designs!