User based perceptions of on-plot sanitation systems in low income urban communities in Africa and Asia
Rates of population growth in developing country cities are straining the capacity of sanitation service providers. In spite of widespread sector recognition of the need to adopt low-cost, people centred approaches, 80 per cent of investments in the water and sanitation sector continue to be allocated to high cost technologies for urban elites. Household level, on-plot sanitation systems potentially offer a solution to the sanitary needs of the urban poor. Nevertheless, commonly held assumptions amongst sector professionals that lower cost, on-plot systems are inappropriate and unacceptable in urban communities impede-their wider application. There is little empirical evidence to justify this position. The scope of this work examines the technical appropriateness and user acceptability of on-plot sanitation options. The thesis contributes to an improved understanding of the context in which on-plot systems operate, what factors constrain their application, and what issues need consideration when deciding on sanitary options in low-income communities. The research adopted a mix of methodological techniques to improve the reliability and validity of findings, with both quantitative and qualitative methods applied during fieldwork. Findings from Ghana, Mozambique and India are included in the thesis in order to permit sampling of key latrine types used internationally. The thesis concludes that user based perceptions of the performance and acceptability of on-plot systems varies markedly to those of sector professionals, particularly in relation to plot size, satisfaction levels and reasons for absence of household latrine. Furthermore, user based criteria of performance are developed for consideration practitioners when narrowing decision making on sanitary options. The implications of the study highlight the need for integration of user concerns into strategic planning for sanitation, more effective stimulation and negotiation of demand for sanitation systems and challenges for agencies in adopting a user oriented approach. The recommendations from the thesis include practitioner focused policy changes that affect project planning and support systems for user education. Potential areas of further research interest include ranking user perceptions, an holistic understanding of excreta management processes and institutional constraints affecting user-service provider consultations.