2020 REVIEW & OUTLOOK FOR 2021: Appropriate Low-cost Urban Sanitation

A yellow building next to a fenced area with a piles of refuse within it.

Urban Sanitation

More than 50% of informal settlement residents in Namibia do not have access to toilets and defecate in river beds and other green spaces. More than 45 tonnes of faeces are so deposited openly every single day in Windhoek alone. This situation constitutes a health and environmental crisis of enormous scale. It deprives affected residents of human dignity, exposes women to sexual harassment and assault and puts children at high risk of illness. The lack of sanitation makes both the prevention of Hepatitis E and Covid- 19 extremely challenging. 

Due to the scale of this crisis, urban sanitation is a key sector of intervention for DWN and the NCE. Two main programmes were implemented during 2020: 

  • Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)
  • Covid-19 Emergency Response Programme 

Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) 

Implemented in partnership with UNICEF, this programme completed a one-year pilot phase in July 2020 and scaled up from August to December. With financial support from B2Gold, the European Union, NCE and UNICEF, the programme is now active in Windhoek, Karibib, Swakopmund, Otjiwarongo and Katima Mulilo, with the aim of reaching an additional 5 towns in early 2021. During 2020, the programme was additionally supported by the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation, FirstRand Foundation and UNDP.

CLTS is community-based sanitation approach, introduced to Namibia by UNICEF and fully supported by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR). The methodology uses a community-based bottom-up approach to sensitize informal settlement residents of the dangers of open defecation and to encourage the construction of affordable latrines according to guidelines provided by the local authority.

A bright yellow corrugated iron structure next to a notice board.
Sanitation centre in Moses Garoeb constituency.

In parallel, the programme constructs Sanitation Centres with demonstration toilets. These are built in high-traffic locations in the informal settlements and show how latrines can be built safely and at low cost.

In Windhoek alone, more than 550 toilets have been (or are being) built by residents. Self-constructed toilets generally cost between NAD 2,000-8,000, depending on material and labour used. Neighbouring households often join resources to build a toilet, and recycle materials they already have where possible. 

The aim is to turn areas and towns open defecation free (ODF). Two areas in Windhoek and the town of Karibib aim to become the first ODF areas of the programme. Before the end of 2021, the programme expects to operate in a total of 15 towns, and considerably reduce open defecation.

A corrugated iron shack containing a flush toilet, sink, and water tank.
Sanitation centre toilet (left) / owner-built latrine (right).
A yellow building next to a fenced area with a piles of refuse within it.
Solid waste collection point with caretaker, financially sustainable through caretaker shop and public toilet access fee. This pilot (supported by B2Gold) has been very successful and is being scaled-up in Windhoek.

Online Monitoring

GPS positions of owner-built toilets within the context of this programme, as well as the sanitation centres, can be viewed on the DWN web-GIS application (work in progress) by selecting the appropriate option on our Data Hub: https://development-workshop-data-hub-dwn.hub.arcgis.com

Covid-19 Emergency Response Programme

With the outbreak of COVID-19, Development Workshop Namibia (DWN) and the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE) initiated a programme to provide handwashing facilities (Tippy Taps) to informal settlement residents across Namibia, as well as institutions such as schools, health centres, and police stations. The programme selects teams of volunteers from the towns where activities are being implemented and DWN provides them with training on Covid-19 preventive measures. The volunteers then set up the tippy taps and distribute flyers on Covid-19 prevention (in relevant languages) and “how-to”guides for installing tippy taps. The programme began in Windhoek and rapidly expanded across the country with active support from MoHSS and local authorities.

The Covid-19 Emergency Response Programme focuses on informal settlements and promotes hand washing, social distancing and safe market places for informal traders.

To date, the results of the programme are:

  • More than 65,000 tippy taps in 22 towns installed.
  • Network of 350 volunteers trained and supervised.
  • Ablutions and other sanitation equipment in 21open markets built.
  • More than 500,000 Covid-19 related flyers distributed.
  • Some 60% of all shack households in Namibia sensitised on Covid-19 and sanitation through house-to-house visits.

This emergency initiative received major financial support from German Development Cooperation (GIZ), B2Gold, UNDP and the NCE, with considerable contributions also from the Debmarine-Namdeb Foundation and the FirstRand Foundation. Additional financial support has also been provided by generous individuals, the Roessing Foundation, Deloitte, and the Ultra Namibia Lockdown Challenge.

Online Monitoring

GPS positions are taken of all tippy taps and can be viewed on the DWN web-GIS application by selecting the appropriate option on our Data Hub: https://development-workshop-data-hub-dwn.hub.arcgis.com

Volunteer Network

The network of trained and motivated volunteers is theprogramme’s biggest asset. House-to-house visits are a crucial component of an effective and safe communication campaign in informal settlements. Due to the circulation of misinformation and sometimes limited access to mainstream media, the personal contact of volunteers and residents is important to raise awareness and positively influence hygiene behavior.