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New research to help universal access to sanitation and hygiene in the cities of tomorrow

Posted 18 Jul 2016 by Aditi Chandak

Rapid urbanisation without consistent expansion of sanitation and hygiene services is a growing global concern. As part of WaterAid’s drive to ensure universal and sustainable access, we are constantly looking for ways urban communities can be better served with safe water and sanitation. Timeyin Uwejamomere, WaterAid’s Urban Technical Support Manager, and Aditi Chandak, Learning and Knowledge Advisor, introduce a new research project to guide the co-production of a sanitation and hygiene plan for Babati town in Tanzania, supported by the Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) Consortium.

WaterAid has been awarded a research grant for a study to understand how collaborative and consultative approaches can help to deliver sustainable and inclusive plans for small towns. The project, titled ‘Achieving universal access to adequate, sustainable and equitable sanitation and hygiene services in the cities of tomorrow’ will be funded by a grant from the Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) Consortium, and based in Babati, Tanzania.

Gandy market place, Babati, Tanzania.
Gandy marketplace, where traders and farmers from Babati town and other nearby areas buy and sell everything from meat and vegetables to building materials, clothing and household items.

It will involve a combination of methods including literature review, baseline studies, formative research, political economy analysis, participatory planning and scenario building to understand the Babati context. It is expected that the lessons will guide co-production of a sanitation and hygiene plan to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the town, and inform wider sector policies for achieving universal access in other small towns in Tanzania.

Rapid urbanisation

In Tanzania, cities are growing at nearly twice the rate of the country’s annual population growth. More than half of Tanzania’s urban population do not have access to improved toilets, and compliance with good hygiene practices is low. Densely populated, unplanned urban settlements with inadequate sanitation and hygiene services pose significant health risks and have wider impacts on education, livelihoods, wellbeing, and human dignity.

WaterAid has partnered with the Arusha-based Nelson Mandela – African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) to conduct the research in Babati town, which is headquarters of Manyara Region, and mainly agrarian with a population of 93,108 (2012). In the wake of rapid urbanisation in Tanzania, Babati has become a bustling town, where around 3% of the Council’s annual budget is spent on WASH.

Babati’s services

The mandate of Babati Water Supply and Sewerage Service (BAWASA) is to supply water and on-site sanitation services (Water Act No.12 2009 and its 2013 regulations) to Babati residents. Both BAWASA and Babati Town Council (BTC) collect and dispose of faecal sludge for households – BAWASA covers services throughout the main town, while BTC covers rural areas but hand services in peri-urban areas over to BAWASA when they are established. The single truck used by BTC is often broken, so residents have to call on private service providers from Arusha, a two-hour journey away.

A 2014 survey indicated that about 90% of people in Babati have a household toilet. Of those households that owned a toilet, 42% had traditional pit latrines, 30% had ventilated improved pit latrines, and 18% had septic latrines. Babati is one of the towns where the National Sanitation Campaign was implemented. Assessment of school and public facilities indicated that toilets were of varying quality, with no consideration given to accessibility, particularly for people living with disability.

Challenges of context

The circumstances affecting sanitation and hygiene services in Babati are challenging. Issues to address include:

Faecal sludge management:

  • Poor quality toilet types and pits 
  • Weak collective sanitation system for pit emptying and removal and treatment of faecal sludge and wastewater, including open dumping of both 
  • Ineffective publicly managed trucking system for pit emptying and removal of faecal sludge and wastewater, with service downtimes during vehicle breakdowns

Solid waste management:

  • Weak collective system for collection and treatment of solid waste management, including open co-disposal of all waste types in an unsanitary dump-site 
  • Poorly managed incinerator for medical waste treatment 
  • Poor and inadequate facilities in public institutions and places – e.g. markets, hospitals, schools
  • Weak administrative structures for the adopted public–private partnership in solid waste management

Sanitation and water quality and safety:

  • High risk of toilet pits contaminating groundwater, surface water and drinking water and of water contamination from the Babati lake basin, 
    which is located at a level above some of the town’s residences. A cemetery is also located within the basin catchment of the lake, which overflows during the rainy season

Household water supply coverage is about 45%, and daily production capacity does not meet demand. Coverage of school water supply has increased, and those with supply are metered, their water bills paid regularly through parent contributions.

Project launch and inception workshop

A series of launch workshops were organised by WaterAid from 25 April – 6 May, 2016, in Arusha, Babati, and Dar es Salaam, with all key project, community and national stakeholders. These included Babati Town Council, BAWASA, WaterAid, community representatives, NM-AIST, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Ministry of Health, and the Prime Minister’s Office – Regional and Local Administration, donors (World Bank and KfW), and NGOs. The workshop helped in building a working relationship with the key partners and in the development of a research design plan, tools, and the strategy for data analysis and expected outputs. The workshops also brought consensus on roles and responsibilities, and feedback from stakeholders.

What this research means for WaterAid

WaterAid has worked in pro-poor town-wide planning before for small towns in India and Mozambique, but the development of these plans was outsourced to consultants. However, with the Babati project, WaterAid is partnering with a research university and will be directly engaged in the process to develop the Babati plan.

As a step forward, this research will help to develop the institutional memory and learning around pro-poor town-wide planning. It will also bring together our work in urban areas across other country programmes, while developing the sanitation and hygiene services and solution scenarios to develop pathways to universal access to WASH in Babati. The project will include demonstrations on hygiene promotion, solid waste management and entrepreneurial approaches in faecal sludge management.

This is an exciting research project – it will help us to understand how collaborative and consultative approaches can help to deliver sustainable and inclusive plans for small towns.

Timeyin Uwejamomere is WaterAid's Urban Technical Support Manager. You can read more of his work here.

Aditi Chandak is WaterAid’s Learning and Knowledge Advisor. You can read more of her work here.

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