Caroline Ashley – Toilet Teachings: 2 Toilet Ventures Illustrate Strategies For Success In Inclusive Business

Photo: March 18, 2013

I’ve learned more than I ever expected about toilets the past 6 months. But understanding toilet ventures has taught me a lot about how inclusive business works.

In fact, the challenges and innovations that we can see in two sanitation projects in slums of Kenya and India illustrate typical issues for businesses that are solving a ‘problem’ and meeting a ‘need’ in a market where this is not yet expressed as ‘demand’.

3S Shramik is working in Pune and other cities in India, supported by the Business Innovation Facility, and Sanergy is in Nairobi slums, supported by Innovations Against Poverty. Both ventures are developing business models for private provision of sanitation in slums, covering everything from careful toilet design to evacuation of waste.

The current health affects of poor sanitation are clear and huge. But slum dwellers are used to open defecation or low quality public/community toilet blocks, both usually free. Current provision is inadequate but it’s not customary to pay fees to use toilets. So what are they doing to build demand, change attitudes and habits, and find a revenue-cost model that will be sustainable?

Here are 6 of their strategies for success:

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Paul Bruins – Watch: 129 Years Of Cape Town In 30 Seconds – March 6, 2013.

Paul Bruins on creating the video: I was recently commissioned to recreate a panorama of Cape Town and Table Mountain, captured from Signal Hill in 1884 by W.F.H. Pocock.

Not only did the brief require me to recapture the panorama from the exact same vantage point as the original, but I also had to find the current owner of the original prints (now in the possession of John Rennie), scan the photos, and then hand-stitch them into one seamless panorama (the original four photos had no overlap). And since there was a fair amount of dust, hairs and scratches on the originals, I also had to spend a couple of hours cleaning everything up after stitching the panorama.

Fortunately I managed to find the exact same spot where the original photos were captured, so I was able to shoot my modern version of Mr. Pocock’s amazing 1884 panorama. And fortunately I correctly guessed the focal length that was used to capture the original photos, so my panorama came out looking almost exactly the same as the original.


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Sleep And Quality Of Life In Urban Poverty: The Impact Of A Slum-Housing Upgrading Program

The unprecedented urban growth in face of increasing poverty and social inequity in developing countries is posing an immense challenge for Governments at all levels.
Urbanization of poverty is shown mainly by the proliferation and expansion of slums. Such places often contain houses built using plywood, wood boards, cardboard, corrugated metal and sheets of plastic.
Over one billion people, approximately 14 percent of the global population, are slum dwellers. According to UN-HABITAT predictions, the number of slum dwellers could double by the year 2030, due to the increase in poverty and social inequality in the context of an extraordinary urban growth.

In Latin-America and the Caribbean despite the significant economic progress over the past two decades, many of the region’s city inhabitants are poorly housed. Of the 130 million urban families in the region, 5 million rely on another family for shelter, 3 million live in houses that are beyond repair, and another 34 million live in houses that lack either title, water, sewerage, adequate flooring, or sufficient space.

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A. Venter & L. Marais – Housing Policy And Housing-Policy Research

Int. Journal for Housing Science, Vol.34, No.4 pp. 249-264, 2010.
In contemporary post-apartheid South Africa a number of housing policy amendments and recommendations have been made since the drafting of the White Paper on
Housing in 1994. The most recent policy amendment is the Comprehensive Housing Plan for the Development of Integrated Sustainable Human Settlements commonly
known as the Breaking New Ground (BNG) housing plan of 2004. The aims of this paper are to present an overview and critical discourse analysis on research and influences that led to the Breaking New Ground housing plan and to determine how these influences are reflected in academic peer reviewed housing-policy research. Our results reveal that internal government agendas, international discourses on housing and consultancy research have had a greater influence on national policy making than academic research. We therefore argue that there is a divergence between contemporary housing policy discourses in South Africa and academic knowledge production on housing policy.

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Joel Ogwang – High Population, Poor Planning and High Unemployment Problem Fuelling Slums in Uganda March 12, 2013.
In the close-knit and brotherly traditional African setting, housing was always a social concern. Aside from children who, because of their vulnerability and dependency, lived in their parents’ homes, any other person had to have their own house.
As a precursor to manhood, a boy on turning 18-years had to build his own home – often a hut distant from his parents’, while a girl had to move out and stay with an aunt, who mentored her for marriage.
“There was no excuse for a man not to own a home,” says Patrick Mugumbya, 82, a retired civil servant.
“Even renting a house was unheard-of. To be a man, you had to build your own home and marry.”
Enter colonisation
However, the imperialist invasion in search of raw materials and markets for finished industrial commodities after the industrial revolution in the 1800s in the West exposed Africa as a safe haven for the imperialist foreign policies.
The Britain conquered most colonies in eastern and southern Africa, whilst France dominated western and northern Africa and Belgium central Africa.
In Uganda, British control was not asserted until 1894, when the country became a British protectorate, which was finally cemented by the 1900 Buganda agreement.
While the 1900 Buganda agreement endeared Kabaka Muteesa I to the British hearts, he lost his powers upon accepting British occupation in exchange for protection and Western civilisation.
And while the chiefs who owned guns paid gun tax, hut taxes was borne by squatters, in addition to ground rent.
Because the colonial Government did not want to look unpopular, it surrendered tax collection to the chiefs.
To evade the taxes, some Ugandans escaped into urban centres, says Dr. Christopher Twesigye, a political scientist
“The colonial police would surround tax evaders at night,” he says. “As a result, people went into hiding, while many slept in trees and others escaped to urban areas.”

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iShack – New Design for Better Housing in Urban Slums

No, this isn’t the latest Apple product. The iShack is a new design for better housing for South Africans living in urban slums, co-created by slum residents and masters students from a local university. It’s an attempt to address one of the big challenges of life in sub-Saharan Africa, where 62 percent of city residents live in informal settlements.

In some ways, the features of the newly-improved shack seem simple, not revolutionary; the homes have solar panels to charge a few lights and a cell phone, walls insulated with hay and clay, and slanted roofs that can collect rainwater. But the designers argue that these simple changes are exactly the right place to start.

The project is supported by government, the HOPE project, Stellenbosch University, the Sustainability Institute at Lynedoch, and the Gates Foundation.

Images by Desmond Thompson and Anna Lusty courtesy of the Hope project.

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