Ebushibungo 2010

Ebushibungo's 8 Stall Composting Latrine for Girls

Implementation: Summer 2010
Construction and opening ceremony: June & July 2010; PM: Project Manager: Molly Bruggeman, moc.liamg|nameggurbm#moc.liamg|nameggurbm. Team: Quinn Bloom, Daniel Swanson, Sydney Stewart, Renee Orie
Finishing touches: August 2010; PM: Griffin Stevens, moc.liamg|987sbg#moc.liamg|987sbg
Follow-up visit: Summer 2011; PM: Kiera McNelis, moc.liamg|silencmkk#moc.liamg|silencmkk

Community Contacts: Shadrak Okango (head of Ebushibungo school management committee).

Travel Team Housing: The team stayed with a wealthy community member near Ebushibungo Primary School. The compound was gated, and the family owned a large german shepard that they bought for their protection, after receiving a threat related to their wealth. On one occasion we witnessed our host scaring off neighboring kids with the german shepard. The compound removed us from interacting as much as we could have with the local community, and the german shepard could not have made a welcoming impression on our behalf! We were very well cared for at his compound- probably too well cared for. Our host spent a lot of his own money on our stay, partly because the community did not have time to come together and prepare for our arrival. We held most project manager meetings at the outdoor open-air gazebo on his property. The property had electricity, and our host let other travel teams charge their electronics there. Kalen and Eric's team even stayed overnight once after there was a huge afternoon rainstorm and the roads were treacherous. Our host fed everyone dinner and we all watched the world cup game on his new satellite t.v.!!!

Project design: An 8 stall composting latrine with 4 stalls on each side of a central hallway and four composting chambers below. Each stall has two sets of toilet holes. The chambers below the floor of the latrine run perpendicular to the length of each stall. The two central chambers are connected, so the latrine technically has three chambers- one large one in the center and one small chamber on either side of the central chamber. For any given stall, the set of toilet holes that is closest to the hallway is the set of holes that centers over the double-wide, central chamber below, and the toilet holes that are furthest from the hallway center over the chambers on either side of the central one. This means that all the toilet holes that are closest to the hallway must be used until the chamber below fills sufficiently, at which point they should be covered up and the holes furthest from the hallway must be opened and used while the central chamber is composting. Urine flows through pipes under the floor and out the back of the latrine to a catchment area.

Project Challenges:

1. The EWB Kenya Team (Jackson) did not have enough time to prepare the community for us to work at Ebushibungo, which put the school management committee in a position of having to accept the the project as proposed or not have a project that summer. This damaged our reputation before we came to the community and made it harder to build relationships and hear honest feedback. Many stakeholders did not know we were working there until we started construction, and some were hesitant to discuss potential problems with us because they feared if they did we would pull the plug on the project.

2. The head contractor and sub-contractor had personality conflicts. They did not agree with each other about each others’ respective roles.

3. The original slab was of such poor quality that we had to brace it and pour a second slab on top of parts of it. The fundis placed the toilet holes in the slab without measuring them- a sloppy job which caused some of the holes to be off-center and possibly non functional.

4. We presented the design to the contractors and SMC by drawing it on the chalkboard and on pieces of paper, then we asked for their input on the design. Many Kenyans did not comprehend this format, but were too embarrassed to say so.

5. We agreed that the site the SMC selected for the latrine was really the only place we could build the latrine. We were warned about water flooding from the road into the site we selected for the latrine, so we agreed to build gutters on the latrine to prevent/stave off flooding during the rainy season. Griffin’s team planned on installing gutters in August, but were unable to finish that before they left Kenya. There have been problems with water flooding the composting chambers since.

Lessons Learned

1. Give the EWB Kenya more time to prepare the community and ensure they are actually building trust with the community, not just handing them a list of our demands. Build more time into the trip to discuss and work on the design with members of the community while the team is on the ground.

2. Check to make sure the contractors are discussing their roles and reaching a mutual agreement about them. It would probably be best to leave those decisions in the hands of the contractors and School Management Committee, but facilitate the process as needed.

3. Before construction begins, hold a training for fundis on concrete so they know precisely the quality of concrete and concrete-making methods we'd like them use (e.g. mixing the cement on a tarp instead of on the ground). Specify mix ratios needed when discussing materials purchase with the SMC and fundis (because fundis typically build using a more meager mix ratio, which makes the concrete less strong and durable). It was not enough to simply tell the fundis the concrete ratios and have them agree- in practice they did not follow our guidelines.

4. Present models in 3-D, using cardboard, scissors and tape or whatever is available. Make multiple models during the design process, and use the final 3-D model you've decided on with the SMC and fundis as a guide for the fundis during the construction process.

5. Set aside some funds in the budget for unexpected additions (e.g. gutters).

6. Train, train, train- although we spent a lot of time going from classroom to classroom, explaining to student design and technology of the new composting latrine (e.g. aerobic composting latrine metabolism vs. anaerobic pit latrine metabolism, germs etc), we didn't train the teachers and SMC on how to maintain it in the long term. We left a short maintenance manual with them and had a few maintenance discussions, but when we finished the project in 2010, they still needed trainings on secondary composting processes, etc.

Project Strengths

1. Female travel team members convened a classroom full of upperclassmen girls and their female teachers, discussed latrine design, elicited the students' input and tried to gauge their understanding of how pit latrines vs. composting latrines work.

2. During the meeting with the contractors, SMC, head teacher, Jackson and our travel team in which we negotiating the price of construction with the contractors, we went over their initial quote item by item and compared it to the price the Kenyan government would pay contractors for their services on a similar project. This process drastically decreased the cost of the project (as the contractors were hugely overcharging us for their services, while their quotes on construction materials were fair).

Current State of the Project

How is the flooding situation being addressed? Do the teachers and SMC have the proper tools for latrine maintenance and composting? Is the latrine being maintained and used properly?