How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

  • onyang
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How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Dear All,

My name is Patrick Onyango, I work as a technical advisor at the GIZ Water Sector Reform Programme in Nairobi, Kenya.

How can we overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas which is an obstacle in the up-scaling of water and sanitation in low income urban areas?

Recommendations from UN Habitat is to ignore the current issues of land tenure in low income urban areas once a country is a signatory to the human rights convention in order to gradually achieve the rights for the underserved. Applying the land tenure rules the way they are now worldwide, discriminates the people living in informal settlements, thus violating their rights to have access to adequate water and sanitation.

Any ideas, recommendations or information from other countries?

Thanks and best regards,

Patrick Onyango

Patrick Paul Onyango
Technical Advisor Water and Sanitation
GIZ Water Sector Reform Program

Deutsche Gesellschaft für
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  • muench
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Re: How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Dear Patrick,

I am delighted that you have made the "jump" and have made your first posts on the forum! A warm welcome!!

Could you please explain a bit more what you meant with this:

Applying the land tenure rules the way they are now worldwide, discriminates the people living in informal settlements, thus violating their rights to have access to adequate water and sanitation.


Is the issue that if it's not clear who owns the land then nobody wants to build sanitation infrastructure on it?

My simplistic views is that if the future of a plot of land is not clear, and if it needs sanitation, then you need to go to mobile solutions. So that if I am evicted from my plot, then I take my toilet with me. Is it these evictions that you are referring to? Are they common in Kenya?

For the mobile options, we have discussed them here on the forum in the past: Or would you say they provide a "sub-standard" service? But still better than no service at all?

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • onyang
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Re: How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Dear Elizabeth,
The reason being given in many places (including Kenya) for not improving water and sanitation services in low income urban areas is that the people residing in such areas are illegal settlers with no legal documents (tittle deeds for land) to justify their stay. However, many of these people have stayed in these areas for many years.Some own the land communally like the Nubians in Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Should we continue discriminating these people with reagard to water services provision(most water utilities do not like working in low income urban areas) due to the unsettled land tenure issues in informal settlement? Or should we be bold and adopt the human rights to water and sanitation and push the governments to treat all its citizens equally? We are already pushing for rights to water and sanitation in Kenya.

With kind regards,
Patrick

Patrick Paul Onyango
Technical Advisor Water and Sanitation
GIZ Water Sector Reform Program

Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Nairobi
Kenya

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  • thilde
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Re: How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Dear Patrick and Elizabeth,
Thanks for taking up an very interesting and not much voiced aspect of sanitation promotion; the issue of landrights and tenureship.

We work in Ghana on a large peri-urban community-based sanitation research project and find this issue to pervade all other barriers to successful sanitation uptake. Several issues are of importance:

- Many inhabitants people in peri-urban areas are migrating and rely on renting land and accomodation. They do not have toilets and do not have a say over landlords, who, on the other hand, do not see the need to invest in sanitation (even though there seem to be a certain willingness among tenants to pay for this service) or do simply not wish to have toilets on their land.
- Traditional landrights are conflicting with government landreforms, which is still pervading discussions on who are the rightful owners of land, who can sell it, who has the right to build on it etc. Tribes who have traditionally been seen as the 'caretakers' of the land can thus demand land back, which may have been occupied for decades and even centuries by other tribes. At the same time, governments are pushing for reforms, selling land for commercial enterprises etc., which makes land-issues a conflict-prone topic in the communities. Weekly there are fights, court cases etc.

Building a latrine becomes immensely complicated! Even if you have capital, willingness to invest, have been convinced by government health advocacy that a latrine is a good thing and have settled on land for generations, there are larger geo-political issues at stake. I feel, like Patrick that this has not been discussed to a very large degree by any sanitation organisations, donors or local governments.

it would be SO interesting to hear other experiences from the field on this.

Regards,
Thilde
(Sanitation researcher at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Thilde Rheinländer,
Researcher with interests in socio-cultural factors in WASH
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  • christian.rieck
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Re: How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Dear all,

this is indeed a very tricky and hardly resolveable issue. As a way to sidestep this challenge you can think about mobile sanitation systems, that do not require fixed infrastructure on the ground. There are numberous examples like MoSan, GhanaSan and X-Runner, that try to set up rental services for mobile toilets including full-fledged waste management at affordable costs. I think it makes a lot of sense to look at this option and explore it in the specific local setting.

For example look at the recent post by Mona on the user-testing of MoSan and solar desinfection (Sanivation) in Naivasha (attached is also a very interesting report) forum.susana.org/forum/categories/52-mob...rvice-provision#6305 .

Cheers
Christian

GIZ Uganda
Enhanced Water Security and Sanitation (ENWASS)
Sanitation for Millions
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  • christoph
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Re: How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Dear Christian,

I read in the mentioned report about the idea

financing by landlords due to the high number of tenants.

I don´t understand why you think that this might be a solution. Why should the landlord pay for a service model when he did not provide a toilet until now… even though it is an obligation and from a practical point of view as landlord – what is cheaper, building some kind of latrine or financing a toilet service? And as a service would be a cost, a landlord would pass the costs on to the tenants or not?.

In my opinion the way has to be:

• Law that the landlord has to provide a toilet (but many countries have that)

• Strong controlling of fulfillment of this law - I think that is the most critical point – lack of political willingness to get the law going

• In parallel - set up a financing program for toilets – maybe a private organization does it easier than a government organization as it is about lending money to private persons – some sort of revolving fund.

• In parallel – set up a service model by the water service provider for a recollection service o feces or fecal sludge which could outsource this service to a private.

• In parallel – sanitation education to get a willingness to pay for sanitation service, as the toilet provision might be a responsibility of the landlord but the use of the toilet is not. Obviously the service fee has to be adopted to the ability to pay – therefore it might be necessary to have cross financing models.

Hopefully the tender BMGF did this year will consider some of these aspects in the mentioned sequence.

Yours

Christoph
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  • Kiku
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Re: How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Dear All,
The issue of low-income areas is always an interesting one. Sanitation and attendant public health and environmental benefits do not bring in the votes. In most cases, the politicians promise services during campaigns since most low income areas are also densely populated, but that is as good as it gets.

Market-based interventions that have registered success in low income areas come with involvement of landlords as unlike the highly transient tenants, they have a stake in improving the sanitary conditions. So what if the cost of improvement is passed onto tenants? Do the tenants not incur costs (poor health, school and work attendance, etc.) due to miserable sanitation and hygiene conditions?

Even as we move towards sanitation and hygiene for all, the sector has to improve on communicating the benefits of improved sanitation and health to politicians. Where in the developed world is sanitation not subsidized with public funds? Why do we expect different, reactive approaches in the developing world?

The developing world does not need more poo bags and mobile sanitation solutions. We need to think of long-term approaches, and the future lies in mixed public and private financing for sanitation and hygiene. Influencing political processes could go a long way in seeing more public funds availed to sanitation and hygiene. The initiatives by BMGF and development partners could work towards that.

Best,
Fredrick

Fredrick Tumusiime, MSc
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Water and Sanitation

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  • muench
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Re: How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Dear Fredrick,

Thanks for your post. You said:

The developing world does not need more poo bags and mobile sanitation solutions.


I tend to disagree with this. Whilst the other more long-term things that you (and Christoph above) have outlined above are certainly right, I do think we also should give people an immediate solution. It is not about one or the other. It is about both. I.e. come up with long-term solutions and also think of quick fixes for the short term.

Some of these slums are not much better than emergency camps.... hence, they need urgent solutions. Maybe we should let those residents and tenants decide what they want? (e.g. people in Kibera are choosing to buy Peepoo bags, nobody is forcing them).
And I am sure most of the residents would ultimately want to move out of these areas, if they had a choice (or have them upgraded if that was possible). That's probably the aspiration of most. And until then, anything that works, any functional sanitation system might be better than nothing? Would you not rather have a peepoo bag plus collection service or a mobile toilet plus collection service than nothing at all? (I wrote here about the peepoo bags by the way, nobody commented on it yet: www.forum.susana.org/forum/categories/52...mit=12&start=12#6318 )

I am however not an expert in informal settlements. Would be good to hear more from people involved in urban planning? How about the issue of forced evictions? Demolition of squatter camps? There are issues so much broader here than toilets/sanitation alone...

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: How to overcome the land tenure problems in low income urban areas to gradually realise human rights to water and sanitation

Land issues is one of the big topics here in Uganda also (at first all those "land not for sale" signs are really confusing ;) ).

Ultimately I think the only solution to the current urban housing (and thus sanitation) issues are large scale government built social housing projects. This is how it was solved in Europe around 1900 (when the situation there was quite similar) and this is how China and pretty much every other country that is taking the issue seriously is doing it.
As these tend to be a bit out of the city center, a proper public transportation system has to come with it.

Here in Kampala, there is a somewhat half serious attempt at it right now, but it is meeting a lot of local resistance by those to be evicted (there is basically no free land that isn't so far out that the current very bad public transportation system could handle it). Ultimately the problem seems to be that the current residents don't trust the urban authorities that the resulting houses will be made available for them, and (quite rightfully) expect the houses to be either never materialize (or be of such bad quality that they are uninhabitable) or be rather sold to more middle class families.

Ultimately I suspect quite a few government technocrats (here and elsewhere) would rather keep the situation in the cities quite bad as to not further incentivize people moving to the cities. But I think that is a very short sighted view and will not prevent further urbanization at all.

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