Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

  • jdoczi
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Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Hi there,

I wasn't sure which forum to post this in, so I'm putting it here!

I am a young environmental professional from Canada, currently an M.Sc. student in the U.K., with previous work experience on sanitation in the Philippines with the local government of San Fernando, LU, as well as the Center for Advanced Philippine Studies (CAPS). During my time with CAPS, I researched and compiled into case studies all the projects I could find involving decentralized sanitation or ecological sanitation in: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines. This resulted in 38 case study reports encompassing about 68 individual projects/programs. As this work was part of a larger CAPS project, upon its completion, we held a regional meeting in Manila (last May, alongside the ADB/BORDA sanitation conferences) where we invited sanitation practitioners from these countries to discuss these results / brainstorm ways forward on sanitation in Asia.

The unexpected result of my specific work was that I found myself advocating at this meeting the need for much greater information sharing between the different groups involved in sanitation. Researching these case studies had been very challenging, due to the often sparse information available on the groups' websites and the reluctance of many of the organizations to return my contact requests for information. Some of what I considered the most important information - questions of budget for the project, as well as the "nitty-gritty" details of the successes and failures of day-to-day implementation of the project - were very frequently withheld or not mentioned in the reports that were sent to me. This is a problem since it is these details that are the most important for successfully replicating a project elsewhere. I emphasize here that I researched/contacted many NGOs and IGOs, both large and small, in the region, and that these findings were similar throughout.

With sanitation a growing policy priority, I believe that it is very important for all practitioners to have ample knowledge of past successes/failures in the field, to prevent 'reinventing the wheel' and allowing decentralized sanitation projects to move beyond the 'pilot' phase and into wider implementation.

Thus, may I propose to you all here, as I proposed to my boss and to the meeting participants, that we, as a sanitation community, work to create a new information clearinghouse that aims to record/document as many cases of sanitation projects as possible, to be hosted on a widely viewed website, like this one, and available for all to access.

This need not be a difficult task. Some of you may already be aware of the "Sanimap" project: www.sanimap.net

This was an ambitious idea that essentially provides a map database for any and all sanitation practitioners to input projects and as many or few details about them as they wish.

Unfortunately, when I myself tried to do this with the Sanimap website, I suppose my excitement in uploading photos/lots of information broke the website, as it has been essentially inaccessible to searching for projects ever since (I "broke" it in June, it is now September and apparently still broken). Even in spite of that though, I felt that the website suffered from over-restrictiveness in its membership criteria (general public could not sign up and post projects), and its input boxes for information were also inefficient/not very good at relaying to others the theme and achievements of the project.

Thus, I would propose remaking the Sanimap website into a Sanimap version 2.0. With an improved data input interface and a better server, this could then serve as both an information clearinghouse and a visual aid to assist practitioners in identifying areas either in need of sanitation or already heavily invested in by other groups.

Some more specific ideas (only people who had previously used Sanimap would understand the context of my words below, but the ideas I propose are still accessible to anyone):
- simplify the input information interface to the following data entry boxes, all of which are mandatory (no text minimum, maximum of 1,000 words per box) – Project Name; Organization; Location; Purpose/Objectives; Funding; Activities; Sanitation Technology; Impacts & Challenges; Photos (set a max. file size and max. number of uploads to limit stress to website)
- offer multi-language support; make the website easy to navigate and search for projects by any of the previous input categories (i.e. search by location, name, organization, etc.); make it free to sign-up to anyone for an account and ability to post projects (periodic cleaning of spam by the web admin is a better idea than restricting access unnecessarily),
and,
- make it have a dedicated staff member (of SuSanA perhaps?) that answers emails and make it a good bandwidth website that won’t crash if people upload photos or projects.

I believe there is interest in using a clearinghouse such as this, as my boss at CAPS along with the meeting participants from the various NGOs, USAID, World Bank WSP, UNEP, etc.etc. have shown interest in/expressed support for this idea. Since ADB is currently rolling out their "Wastewater Revolution" program, the time is ripe for investments like these.

With a reasonably small budget and widespread publicizing of the final product, large numbers of projects of varying size and scope could be inputted into the database/map so that all future sanitation practitioners could be guided both by successes and failures (which also should be encouraged to be inputted) to continually work to improve the way that decentralized sanitation programs are delivered and the types of technology they utilize.

Hopefully this wasn't too long or boring to read. Please feel free to offer your comments/ideas/suggestions! Also, if you're interested in the case studies that I created, I would love to show them to you, but you'd have to first ask my boss, Mr. Dan Lapid, at CAPS, since they haven't yet been officially published (which will occur through UNEP at some point in the future!).

Best Regards,

Julian Doczi
Sanitation Enthusiast and M.Sc. Student in Climate Change and International Development at the University of East Anglia, U.K.

---
Julian Doczi
Senior Research Officer - Water Policy
Overseas Development Institute
UK
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  • jkeichholz
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Julian,
thx for picking this up. I have sanimap.COM and had the same idea.

Still playing with the various technical options atm though. I am the one who sold the .net URL to the Japanese only to later on realize that what they have provided isn't what we had in mind. But it's easy to criticize, so I secured sanimap.COM instead and have since been trying to come up with something else. The .COM version right now forwards to worldmap.harvard.edu/maps/sanimap because I actually don't want to reinvent the wheel with a mapping solution, but at the same time I agree that the input forms / crowdsourced approach (= not one central hub, but instead everyone can edit it) is probably better.

Juergen Eichholz
watsan eng.
water, sanitation, IT & knowledge management
www.saniblog.org

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  • muench
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Dear Julian,
Thanks very much for your posting and detailed introduction to yourself and the topic.
I agree fully with what you wrote! I especially share your frustration about this:

Some of what I considered the most important information - questions of budget for the project, as well as the "nitty-gritty" details of the successes and failures of day-to-day implementation of the project - were very frequently withheld or not mentioned in the reports that were sent to me.


I am sure you have looked at the SuSanA case studies as well ( www.susana.org/case-studies ) - hopefully you found that they contained ALL the details? We have worked very hard on first the template and then on each and every case study, together with the co-authors. When I say "we", I mainly mean my team from the SuSanA secretariat, many interns over the years and of course the project owners out in the field.

Strangely, what you and I find important information (e.g. costs, number of people reached, impacts), is not the same as what the project owners always find important or have the time to monitor.

So I think whilst it is great if people would all enter their own project data the problem remains that a) they probably feel there is no incentive to do so and b) someone else will need to check (or lets call it "peer review") their entries. And this is extremely time consuming. I would not mind doing it provided someone was willing to put up some funding for such a project...

I agree that Sanimap was a great idea! But it didn't work out. For people with slow internet access, it would not have been all that useful anyhow (for them, automatic reports in pdf format would have been helpful which can be viewed offline).

Have you seen our good old fashioned project list in Excel, where we have documented over 300 ecosan projects worldwide ("we" here is now not the SuSanA secretariat but the GIZ sanitation team in Eschborn, again with the help of wonderful interns).
www.gtz.de/en/themen/umwelt-infrastruktur/wasser/30631.htm

I know this is not really what you are after but it was the lowest-cost method of collecting project data which we could think of.

And yes, we would like to see those case studies by CAPS! How come they cannot be released yet?

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • jdoczi
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Dear Elisabeth,

Thanks for the reply. I was actually in contact with you about my work a few months ago (maybe in February or March), and, of course, looked at everything I could find from SuSanA and GIZ. Unfortunately, there were very few cases of projects for our study countries of Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and the ones that were listed were ones already of common knowledge by CAPS. That is, of course, the reason why my boss commissioned the project, though it obviously made my job harder! :lol:

Your points regarding Sanimap make sense, especially regarding slow internet and the need for 'peer review', though I do not think that means we should abandon visual representations entirely. For example, I created a thorough map of Philippine sanitation projects (another of the project deliverables; ask Dan if you want a copy of it) simply using Microsoft Word, which at least could help Philippine practitioners focus their efforts on underserved areas. But the problem with offline mapping like this (and offline PDF case studies as well) is that they are much more difficult to keep actively updated with changes to projects and ensuring that all relevant parties have an up-to-date version.

As to your question about the case studies, the CAPS-UNEP project, in all its components, was not yet finished when I finished my case studies and departed (July '11). It likely finished only recently, or could even still be ongoing, so there will likely be some delay as the UNEP office decides when/how/if to publish the results. As I mentioned in my first post, you would be best to email Dan directly to express SuSanA's interest in viewing the work / linking to it on your website. I, for one, certainly hope as many people see them as possible! :)

Best Regards,

Julian

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Julian Doczi
Senior Research Officer - Water Policy
Overseas Development Institute
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  • jkeichholz
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Another option we should consider would be the use of a Google Docs spreadsheet, i.e. importing the existing Excel file in GDocs and creating a submit form that directly feeds into that file.

Also, the original Excel file containing all known sustainable sanitation projects world-wide still lacks better location data, like GPS coordinates. If we had those, we could just generate a map out of those.

Juergen Eichholz
watsan eng.
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www.saniblog.org

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  • danlapid
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Hi Elizabeth,

I'm sure UNEP-IETC will make the Case Studies available for sharing once internal review of the report is done.

We will do follow-up to UNEP as to when and how they will permit sharing. We will inform the Forum once we get the go signal.


Keep in touch.

Cheers,

Dan
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  • tmsinnovation
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Have you done a test version of such a submit form to a GDocs spreadsheet?
As this could be a step from Web 1,0 to 2,0 with respects to allowing user generated content to be put into the World Wide Ecosan Project List.

A column for GPS coordinates could be provided and where available entered.

Trevor Surridge
Sanitation Advisor
GIZ Water and Sanitation Program
German Development Cooperation

GIZ Water Programme office
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  • drmayor2004
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Dear Julian,
Currently, I am working on IWA’s Global Urban Sanitation Initiative in collaboration with Asian Development Bank (ADB) to identify the need to showcase examples of urban sanitation to provide local authority and utility leaders with examples of good practice. This activity is also closely aligned with the World Water Forum Targets related to wastewater management under the Priority for Action 1.2.
We have able to identify over 150 case studies, just like you said, getting information from project owners, NGOs, government agencies etc. was a huge task. It will be of great value to investors, government agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders if the SANIMAP or other new sanitation map platform is running perfectly to provide useful information in terms of
a) Project scale – how many people have benefited?
b) Time – for how long they have benefited?
c) Technology options
d) Project status
e) Project outcome
f) Financial Arrangement etc.
I have started working on the SITEMAP (for a sanitation map), thus any comment and advice will be welcomed.
I am really interested to see your case studies that you had created. Probably include then in our matrix, if it is permitted by you. My email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Best regards,

Mayowa
Water supply and Sanitation
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  • danlapid
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Dear Mayowa,

Allow me to respond to you since Julian is not working with CAPS anymore. He's now in the UK pursuing higher studies.

Our ecosan and dewats case studies were done under the support of UNEP and KOICA. We have recently submitted our report to them for their evaluation and processing. I'm sure they will be more than willing to share the case studies on due time.

For now I will forward your request for their action.

Sincerely,

Dan Lapid
CAPS
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  • drmayor2004
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Re: Mapping Sanitation Projects / Creating a Database of Sanitation Project Info

Thank you danlapid for the help and am hoping to hear from them soon
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  • muench
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Re: case studies from Dan Lapid (Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia, Philippines)

Dear all,
In the meantime, Dan Lapid has sent us the case studies on sustainable sanitation projects which his team compiled for UNEP with funding from KOICA.

We have uploaded them into the SuSanA library and you can find them here:

Vietnam (10 case studies):
www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1330

Philippines (17 case studies):
www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1329

Lao (3 case studies):
www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1328

Cambodia (8 case studies):
www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1327

Thanks for sharing these and I hope they are proving useful for everyone working in the region. If anyone has any comments or questions on these case studies, please don't hesitate to put them here on the forum.

Regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
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