The work of the WaSH Project has, for the past 3 years, revolved around the community of Vingunguti. Prior to our involvement, all households were using pit latrines, a method which collects and stores human faeces in pits directly below the toilets. These pits should be periodically emptied; however, due to the cost of this, most households neglect this method, instead allowing sewage to overflow during the rainy season. Simplified sewerage offers an affordable, safer alternative, which combats the levels of trachoma and waterborne diseases which otherwise thrive. So far, 45 new toilets have been connected to CDI’s network, impacting over 320 people.
Practically, this task has taken several forms. On the one hand, I have met with our major stakeholders, in order to determine the success of the deferred payment scheme (allowing people to pay back the cost of the toilet over a period of years to increase affordability) and the Sanitation Users’ Association (a group of representatives from the households on the network who are responsible for maintaining it and resolving conflicts). On a community level, meetings with the three SUA chairpersons helped to establish the practical feasibility of the network within the community, and the household surveys we conducted in collaboration with CDI’s Health Project gave insight to the day-to-day habits and challenges faced by the individuals within this settlement.
As a small organisation, the way in which we can draw conclusions from this work will differ hugely from a bigger organisation running the same project on a larger scale. With only a small amount of data collected, it is hard to find specific trends or correlations. Where other organisations can survey several hundred people, comparing multiple networks and thereby discovering clear patterns in data, our conclusions have to be more tentative.
However, due to the scale on which we work, our Theory of Change diagram bears inconsistencies to the data we collect. One example of this is that, whilst we have found significant progress in key areas including toilet construction and the deferred payment scheme, the SUA model still does not function as we might expect it to. The chairpersons are performing their duties, but the fact that nothing is recorded results in an informal and unstructured association. Impromptu meetings and affable agreements are the norm in the informal settlements of Dar es Salaam, and so, whilst our project is achieving its goals, the process by which they are reached is not what we initially expected.
As we move forward, this also informs our strategy as an organisation: to research and pilot projects before handing them over to other, larger bodies. Our projects necessarily remain small-scale while we run them. However, once we have reached a proof of concept, they can be scaled up by others. Our M&E informs all that we do, and the fact that it focusses heavily upon community engagement and specific one-on-one feedback is only an advantage. We are best placed to carry out this kind of work, and it ensures that the value we place upon close collaboration and community empowerment is upheld.