Project Overview 2018 – Where Are We Now

As some of you might have noticed, there’s a new team in town taking over Tanzanitation for the following four months. The most remarkable events related to our project are ahead of us, although many things have rolled forward during the past two months as well. Here’s a short project overview on where are we now with Tanzanitation after the previous, Upward Spiral, team left the scenery.

For the ones that are not familiar with our project yet, here is an introduction in a nutshell. The Tanzanitation project is an ongoing attempt to promote and provide safe sanitation for the people living in informal settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, while building a social enterprise around the toilets. The project has been up and running since 2014 and partially funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. 32 EcoSan dry toilets that separate urine from feces have been built and 222 users have been introduced to the model. The key stakeholders in Tanzania are Center for Community Initiatives (CCI) that supports the building of the dry toilets financially, Phast Ujenzis from local communities that build the toilets, users, and farmers that could potentially use urine as fertilizer at their farms.

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In order for this project to succeed, there are many issues to overcome in the long run, but we as a team need to focus on something. We could do awareness raising, build more toilets, or focus purely on business, but we won’t do so this time. We could also tackle the questions related to selling urine as fertilizer and the farmers, but we won’t do so this time. We still hope that our work would in the help in all these areas mentioned above.

Right before going to Dar es Salaam for our fieldwork period, we finalized our project document where we clarified our objectives and focus points. Based on the suggestions made by last year’s team, we are focusing on communications between different stakeholders. Already in December, we thought of focusing on communications, but the initial idea remained very vague. At this point, it seems like the idea has been clearing up in front of our eyes.

Communications are essential, not only for the project to move forward, but also for the project to take a step towards being self-standing and sustainable. Communications between key stakeholders play an essential role in developing a suitable business model and promoting EcoSan dry toilets or usage of urine as fertilizer. Our objective is to identify existing communication channels and platforms, manners and methods. Our aim is to boost communications and find ways to bring essential stakeholders closer. While doing so, we also keep our eyes open for business opportunities, business models, and awareness raising possibilities.

While diving deeper into communications, it is important to have a base where to start from. The chairman of the Finnish Tanzanian association, among others, shared us some interesting information on Tanzanian communication culture. First, most people have their smartphones and use certain apps. Emails are passé and WhatsApp is the most effective channel to get in touch with people. At the same time, radio is on the top of what’s hot. In communications, hierarchies play a key role, as messages are perceived in different ways depending on the sender and the receiver. It’s harder to communicate from bottom up without the support of larger masses. Within the communities, it would be important to identify the spokespersons whose word everyone believes, whether he/she is a priest or a teacher, or what not. In addition, people love music, and when something is promoted with music, it most definitely will pass.

In our case, this means that we need to overcome and find solutions to questions related to existence of channels among our stakeholders and hierarchies that exist between people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. What else is there? We’re about to find that out during the next couple of weeks while in Dar es Salaam.

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