Dr Robinah Kulabako of Makerere University describes the research work of T-GroUP – one of five projects in the UPGro (Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor) and her work on Transition Management to trigger community action to improve access to safe water.
Figure 1. Women and children during the clean-up activities
Residents and community organisers from two communities within Obom area (‘School town’ and ‘Water works’) came together to organize a clean-up activity. According to one committee member of Obom, this activity was possible due to the pilot projects developed as a result of the Transition Management process (as part of the overall T-GroUP project).
One of these pilot projects consisted of the development of jingles (i.e. short songs that are usually transmitted via radio) by different groups of community members on issues related to the sustainable management of local resources (e.g. water, sanitation and waste management in the communities).
These jingles were transmitted over the last months through the local communication centres and raised awareness among community members on water, sanitation and sustainability issues.
According to the committee member, this level of engagement among community members has never occurred before: ‘the T-GroUP arena meetings united us and we are now moving forward’. People are becoming more conscious of their behaviours, like collecting and recycling waste, avoiding open defecation or building proper and sustainable sanitation facilities.
In addition to the clean-up activities, community members have started, for example, to learn how to build sustainable toilets through the participation in training or to organise meetings and events to engage other community members in sustainability activities.
After the clean-up activities, people from ‘School town’ community provided some drinks and participants from the different communities had the opportunity to get to know each other and share their experience in participating in the clean-up activity.
At the end of October 2018 the local transition team in Kampala has been very active organizing three ‘agenda setting’ transition arena meetings with participants from multiple communities (such as Makerere, Mukubira, Bwaise and Kawaala) in informal settlements in Kampala. The meetings aimed at supporting participants to develop short, medium and long term actions that would address the already identified local problems.
The local transition teams started the arena meetings by sharing some of the most important insights from previous meetings such as the vision narratives previously developed by the participants. The back-casting methodology was then used to support the participants to identify short, medium and long term actions.
The majority of the short-term actions developed by the participants were associated to educational and awareness raising activities related to water, sanitation and waste management. Some groups of participants discussed how to teach community members correct hygiene practices, proper construction of toilet facilities and practices of maintenance and protection of water sources. In one of the groups in Makerere and Mukubira zones, participants discussed to run a water harvesting plan at household level and to start lobbying with institutions like KCCA and NWSC to increase sensitization activities at community level related to water and sanitation best practices.
During the meeting with participants from Makerere and Mukubira zones, one of the developed long term actions consisted of creating a rewarding system for individuals who would carry on good practices in protecting and preserving water sources.
Other major actions developed in all organized meetings were related to ensure the enforcement of laws related to water, waste and sanitation management. In Bwaise, for example, the implementation of fines related to poor toilet usage and construction were discussed.
Additionally, participants in all areas spoke about the importance of mobilizing community members and setting up active groups aiming to carry on sensitization activities and to ensure the maintenance of services over time. For example, in Makerere and Mukubira zones, one group of participants would like to form a water committee, while in Bwaise zone the group of participants focusing on the problem of sanitation had the idea to form community led groups to prevent unplanned toilet construction.
Other important actions included the creation of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) for supporting the local circular economy by producing products from waste materials.
The results of the ‘agenda setting’ arena meetings show that the implementation of facilities and services alone do not contribute to solve local water, sanitation and waste management problems. Rather, a combination of actions is needed for addressing the rooted and interlinked problems. New organizational and governance capacities at both community and institutional level need to be developed in order to ensure the maintenance of facilities over time. The change of practices and behaviors related to water, sanitation and waste management need to be constantly supported by organizing awareness raising and education activities, by mobilizing and empowering community members, such as through active groups as well as by ensuring the reinforcement of laws. The collaboration and dialogue between local community members, institutional organisations, NGOs and private companies play a key role in the implementation of these actions and will be further explored in the next meetings taking place in January.
On 28th and 29th of March and on 23rd and 24th of May 2018, the Dodowa Transition team supported the inhabitants of a number of Dodowa communities taking part in the Transition Management process to develop short, medium and long term actions supporting the improvement of water and sanitation services in their communities. In order to do so, the transition team organized eight different arena meetings with participants of the Apperkon, Wedokum, Zongo and Obom communities. In addition, representatives of local institutions, NGOs (e.g. People’s Dialogue) and grassroots initiatives such as the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor and People’s Dialogue were invited to join the meetings.
During the March meetings the participants worked in different groups and defined and described the actions for getting closer to their visions of cleaner, healthier and safer communities. In addition, discussions were held on which practices and behaviors need to change in order to achieve their visions.
During the meetings in May, the participants were asked to give priority to some of the actions already developed in the previous meetings, to discuss them in more detail in different groups and to develop a plan for each priority action. The presence of community mobilisers and representatives of NGOs and local institutions was key in this phase of the process. They shared lessons learnt in their work, gave examples of activities and projects developed by active groups of inhabitants in other communities, and collaborations existing between community members and local institutions.
They also shared methods that effectively resulted in engaging and raising awareness related to multiple issues including water and sanitation practices and behaviors. It was important for the participants to hear how community members started to collaborate with local authorities and other institutions and managed to get support for implementing water and sanitation services.
These insights were particularly important for inspiring the participants and for motivating them to act in their communities. The developed action plans for the priority actions included multiple issues such as the resources needed, the list of institutions and stakeholders to collaborate with, and the skills and knowledge needed to implement them.
At the end of the meetings the participants developed multiple action plans, related for example to the organization of community festivals for raising awareness on water and sanitation practices, the participatory mapping of existing water and sanitation services in the communities, and to start a dialogue with the local authority (i.e. district assembly).
Photo: Participants from Wedokum community listening to a representative of a local grassroots movement (credit: T-GroUP)
On May 30, 2018, the participants of the Transition Management process, multiple actors active in different organisations and sectors such as the government, NGOs and the University, visited different informal settlements in Arusha with the aim to learn about local challenges and opportunities (e.g. innovative projects and initiatives).
The first video shows a number of insights and key moments from the first Transition Management arena meeting organised by the local transition team. Participants first reflected on and discussed the main problems affecting their communities. Their inputs were collected and problems were prioritized. In the majority of the meetings, inadequate sanitation facilities, water contamination and improper waste management were mentioned as priority problems. The participants were then invited to discuss the reasons for the persistence of these problems in order to reflect upon their rooted causes and the interconnections between them.
Sixteen participants belonging to Kawaala community participated in the first Transition Management arena with the aim to define the most urgent and priority problems in their communities. The participants arrived on time and shared since the beginning of the meeting their motivation to participate. Most of the participants already knew the T-GroUP research team since it has been disseminating its research findings in the community and some researchers participated in some of the meetings organized at community level. The dissemination of information and the continuous engagement of the researchers at community level played a key role in building trust with the community residents and in creating a comfortable atmosphere during the Transition Arena meeting. After an introduction given by the local team coordinator Prof. Robinah Kulabako, the participants discussed in two groups the most important problems in Kawala community.
Participants voiced the following as the main challenges affecting their community: lack of water supply, insecurity, inadequate sanitation facilities, poor infrastructures (e.g. roads and houses), contamination and scarcity of water, unemployment and poor waste management services. Then, participants in each group were invited to discuss the causes of these problems as well as the reasons of persistence. Multiple causes of the problems described above were discussed, such as the low awareness of the residents on how to build proper sanitation facilities or how to collect waste, the corruption and political tensions in the different sectors, and the lack of consultation and participation of local residents in decision-making processes run by local authorities. A representative from each group very enthusiastically presented the main points discussed in their group, as shown in the following picture.
The other participants actively participated in this last part of the meeting by asking questions, sharing their point of view and adding other examples connected to their experiences. One of the highlight of the meeting is that political tensions should be taken into account in the multi-stakeholder process because they are one of the causes of failure of many projects and initiatives in Kampala. The engagement, participation and collaboration with local authorities like Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and public utility companies like the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) is key for the development of new practices, cultures and policies related to water, sanitation and waste management. Additionally, the unsustainable behavior and practices of local residents regarding water, waste and sanitation management needs to be taken into account and innovative ways of engaging and sensitizing citizens need to be explored.
Arusha is one of the faster-growing cities in Tanzania. The urbanization process is causing multiple interconnected problems. The first arena meeting organized as part of the T-Group Arusha Transition Management process was held by the local transition team with the aim to identify the existing community problems in Arusha. Below we briefly describe the findings from the first Arena meeting.
End of 2017, the Dodowa Local Transition Team facilitated the process of envisioning, one of the most important steps in the Transition Management process, through the organisation of (four) workshops for (four) local communities.
Each workshop started with a short summary of the results of previous meetings and sharing of expectations. The participants were then invited to work in different groups and were encouraged to imagine themselves, their families and their communities in the future.
Hereby, emphasis was put on the future of water, sanitation and waste systems in their communities.
In some of the groups, participants were somewhat shy and more time was required to feel at ease and to share openly their opinions. Also, in other groups, participants discussed very enthusiastically various aspects of the envisioning exercise from the very beginning.
The groups chose different ways to represent their future images, e.g. drawing, writing key words or by developing more descriptive sentences. T-GroUP facilitators noticed that during the exercise the participants had the tendency to list actions rather than future images and it was more difficult to imagine the future, especially when far away.
Nevertheless, at the end of the exercise many visions were developed from each group of participants: clean environment, good sanitation for all, sensitized and educated community, good quality water for all, and a healthy and clean community free from waste.
A representative per each group had the opportunity to share the developed visions and everyone was encouraged to ask questions and add comments. After the meeting, participants told us they appreciated the opportunity to learn from each other and express openly their views through their active participation in the process.
Photo: Participant group of the Zongo community (photo credit: T-GroUP/IHE Delft)
In March 2018 the local transition team in Kampala organized the first three Transition Management arena meetings engaging participants from seven communities of an informal settlement area of the city. These first community meetings aimed at supporting the selected participants to structure the problems in their communities.