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Sustainable model for toilets and hygiene promotion in schools located in urban slums - update with User Experience Map and new photos

Providing affordable toilet services and hygiene education for schools in urban slum and use the faecal output in a circular system.

Photo of Søren Bech

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

For school children, access to simple toilet facilities and washrooms is crucial for health, attendance and gender neutrality. Faecal contamination is for instance the root cause of an annual average of 1,800 cases of cholera in Ghana. Adolescent girls also need safe, clean and private facilities to manage menstrual hygiene and dramatically lift their school attendance. positive side effect of using the faecal output in the process is that we can produce clean energy, irrigation water, and organic fertilizer. This can help reduce energy production from fossil fuels, water needs during droughts, and improve soil fertility of local farmland for increased food security. The idea: a) A combined school and (commercial) public toilet service. A facility that is linked but has separate access to secure safety. Revenue from the public operations, and the combined supervision by operator, will help to cover operational expenses for the school toilets. b) Integration of the school toilets in the Safi Sana model. Collection of faecal material and the production of organic fertiliser, irrigation water and green energy. By focusing on children and social acceptance, and looking at faecal waste as a valuable resource we can harness the future generation with knowledge about the benefits of proper hygiene, establish an economically viable, locally run infrastructure, and hence increase resilience to the effects of climate change in the local society.

WHO BENEFITS?

Slum school children will be healthier, attend school more and equipped with proper knowledge of sanitation - a basis to last beyond their school period and encourage a spillover effect on their parents. Local community benefits from a reduction in open defecation with the associated human and economic cost. Re-cycling of faecal matter reduces waste dumping cost for the local government and has a positive environmental impact. Where: Ashaiman, a big urban slum settlement near Accra.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

The idea leverages government policy on accessibility of sanitation and will help reduce hygiene and sanitation related deceases (cholera, malaria, diarrhea). The knock-on effects of the proposed solution can help improve soil fertility (with organic fertilizer), reduce the use and dependency on fossil fuels with clean energy from biogas (we will deliver electricity as part of the renewable energy act from 2011), and give a boost to local private sector development. By focusing on health and sanitation for children, we emphasize the need for health and learning to instill resilience, not just in daily life, but also for the future and when extreme situations hit. We also hope that hygiene awareness training can carry over from children to their parents. As in our existing solutions, we aim to design for systems to serve and empower. Only with long term ownership can we build solutions that will be accepted, used and cared for. The solution will help increase gender neutrality by helping girls attend school and thereby providing them will equal opportunities. The solution leverages existing facilities, local legislation and stimulates local ecosystems. It is flexible and can connect to existing infrastructure and other locally implemented programmes and logistical patterns or scale to cover future needs. For instance, feacal sludge is currently brought to the Safi Sana facility by local truck drivers as opposed to being deposited at dumping grounds outside of the city limits. We maximize limited resources and embed waste in a circular value system

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, for two or more years

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

Safi Sana has experience in Ghana since 2010. Safi Sana is active in the target community for this project and has all the necessary links to national and local government and the School Health Education Program (SHEP). In Ashaiman. http://www.safisana.org/en/

IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?

We have experience building sanitary services and recycling waste. The challenge here is new and includes the change of habits, social acceptance and the economic sustainability of running the facility

HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?

Many school projects focus on the user only, and do not appreciate how the local community reacts. This can lead to unwanted situations; school facilities are used by other people than the students, are vandalized or ill maintained. We will include a combined school/community facility in our model to increase the impact of improved sanitation to the slum community, minimize building and operating costs for all involved stakeholders and look for sustainable operating models to tie it into the waste treatment capacities of the Safi Sana facility. Agreements on use and operation of the facilities will be made with school and public stakeholders. School management will be supported and and trained in financial management of their hygiene programs and Wash facilities. With Football for Water (www.footballforwater.nl), a Wash, we will tie in the concept of Life Skill Education to school children in which football play is used as a vehicle to accelerate the effect of important hygiene messages. Local champions (Teachers and Community Volunteers) in the schools are trained to become Life coaches who provide weekly football practice and Hygiene education to children and their parents.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?

Building and maintaining sanitary facilities require initial and on-going funding and care to succeed in the long run. We need to find ways to improve toilet designs based on demand and habit, minimize construction cost, extend the live-cycle of local toilets and educate future generations on sanitation matters. Another challenge of providing school and public sanitation is that it often causes friction and vandalism. Schools stand central in their communities and therefore we need to look solutions that are accepted by all people involved.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

The interaction with users and stakeholders is not simple and the monetary challenge of keeping toilets clean are a tough nut to crack. Schools are part of a public sector that has limited funding available to support schools in sustaining Wash facilities. The connection with the private sector for sustaining school wash has proven to be successful in other countries like Kenya and in some other Best Practice schools in Ghana, but requires a paradigm shift that can only be made through testing and showcasing this approach to local governments involved. We aim to do that in Ashaiman.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?

A recent In Depth field assessment to schools and communities in Accra, Elmina and Tamale has shown the following relevant findings that we will take into account in our approach and in the establishment of the concrete institututional school/community model. *When community members, parents and local businesses and markets, do not have access to adequate sanitation and knowledge on hygiene behavior, schools are unlikely to ensure sustainable use and maintenance of these facilities. *Interviews with local stakeholders and community members indicated both schools, parent, local governments and local entrepreneurs are highly interested in re-use of faecalsludge and waste on a community level. *private sector engagement is possible in schools in Ashaiman, as long as proper and sufficient alignment is made with public stakeholders such as the Ghana School Health and Environmental program (SHEP) and the municipal assembly (MA). *The type and preferred choice of technology for urban school children is different than the need of rural school children and community members. As a result the design of the Toilet building and will take these conclusions into account. The school toilets will have to be separated from those of the community and different technologies will have to be tested in the model.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

Our dream is to provide sustainable sanitary services that promote a healthy living for school children and their families and create equal opportunities while connected to a positive self-sustaining cycle of making green energy, organic fertilizer and irrigation water in Ghana and in other places where Safi Sana starts projects

How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?

Lack of sanitary servies are estimated to cost 30% GDP per capita above the age of 5 in Ghana. This project ties in with the Ghana School Health & Environmental program (SHEP), the focus on the local Ashaiman Municipality to improve general sanitation and waste management, the work of Football for Water to improve hygiene knowledge with school children and the local school looking to up attendance and reduce gender differences.

Attachments (1)

User Experience Map - Abeku - school toilet in Ashaiman.pdf

User experience map for the central user namely a school pupil. There are other users that we need to collect experience from for example users of the public section of the toilets, toilet operators, teachers and school administration and local government.

10 comments

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Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Soren,

The Amplify team has a few questions for you about your idea:

Does Safi Sana's current work involve building public toilets? If not, what experience will you draw on in order to create them?

Can you tell us more about the relationships you have built that give you confidence that there will be buy-in from the schools that you aim to target with your idea? Do you have any verbal or written agreements? Have the schools approved similar schemes? 

It's great that you've solicited public feedback on your idea. If people have to have adequate to access and information about sanitation in order for this idea to be successful, how do you plan on approaching this work? What gives you confidence that there is a demand for this from students and schools?

How do you foresee these toilets will be maintained and serviced? Who will do this work? How will they be paid? 

It looks like you are building on an already successful business model. What is the next step in your plans to make this idea a reality? 

Looking forward to your responses!

Photo of Søren Bech
Team

Hi Chioma,

thanks for your questions. Below the responses, I hope you can link them to the questions:

Question: Experience?
- Safi Sana has experience building and designing toilets:
In Teshie (a small city East of Accra), Safi Sana has established a Communal Service Block as a franchise concept. The block has been operational since November 2011. This toilet unit is a 20-seater public toilet with a concession stand for drinking water. The toilet block replaces an old toilet facility that was in an extremely poor, unhygienic state.
In Ashaiman (city in the Accra region, Ghana), Safi Sana built a Communal Service Block of 14 toilets in 2012. The toilet is an ‘Enviroloo’ facility that needed to be replaced due to its unhygienic condition.
See more on: http://www.safisana.org/projects/


Buy-in?
- Yes, we have verbal agreement from both the school and local government and support from teachers.

Demand?
- The need for clean and safe toilets in this (and many other schools) is urgent and the school and local government realize this. The school is busy with information about sanitation, but it does obviously not work if the toilets don’t exist or are very unhygienic. I was in Ghana last week where we spoke to the school, teachers and local administration. They embrace this idea.

How will this work/paid?
- There are three problems with the current way that many programs provide toilets for schools:

   1. Funding for ongoing maintenance is not catered for. In no time the toilets have broken and are no longer hygienic and safe.

   2. If people in the neighborhood do not have access to toilets, they tend to force their way onto the school grounds and use the toilets. This make them even more un-hygienic and insecure

   3. Education on hygiene is not accompanying the provisioning of toilets.

We aim to cover all three aspects by:

   1. Combining a public section with a school section (these two parts are securely separated). The fee from the public toilets will pay for cleaning and maintenance for both sections.

   2. By offering public services and a person maintaining toilets we hope to reduce the chance that intruders will use the school toilets. 
   3. With Football for Water (http://www.footballforwater.nl), a Wash, we will tie in the concept of Life Skill Education to school children in which football play is used as a vehicle to accelerate the effect of important hygiene messages

What we need?
- We will tie this program to the overall Safi Sana model to increase the impact. The faecal waste will be reused to make green energy, bio fertilizer and irrigation water. The plans and teams are ready to be executed, we hope that part of the funding can be found via the UrbanIDEO challenge so that we can go ahead with this programme. If successful, we intent to share the knowledge and re-use the model in other areas.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Soren, thanks so much for this! It's very helpful. Could you elaborate just a little bit about the proximity of the school and public toilets? 

Photo of Søren Bech
Team

The current thinking which is aligned with the school and the municipality is to use a side of the school that faces a relatively busy road. The toilet would be one building with access on the road side for the public and access on the school side for the children. Obviously the two sides are separated so that the public can't enter the school side, however sharing the same roof will allow income from the public side to cover cost for maitaining the entirety, including the school side. Currently there is an open sewer on the roadshide which we would like to close so that the public feels more invited to use the public toilets. We also want to experiment with lighting in the toilets (they are often very dark) and also with greenery - eg. on the roof to make the toilets more attractive. 

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Thanks Soren, this really helps me visualize what you plan to do. Are there successful paid toilets already existing in this community? You've helped explain people's behaviour in the absence of information and access, and it seems like this might be the first paid-toilet initiative where you are hoping to implement? 

Photo of Søren Bech
Team

Hi Chioma, 

Safi Sana has build toilets in the neighborhood that operators run and where local inhabitants pay for use. We monitor quality and user experience to continuously learn how to improve the service. This project would be the first to combine a public toilet with a school toilet. So we are elaborating on our existing experience.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Great, thanks for the clarification - and happy holiday!

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