OPP – Community Participation and Modification in Sanitation Technology

7.3 Quality Of Work

7.3.1 Interior Quality of Concrete

It was discovered, that in spite of our extension work, proper aggregate cement ratio was not being maintained, and that in some cases earth had also been scooped up and mixed in the concrete.

To remove these discrepancies, small metal sheets for mixing concrete have been proposed so that the concrete should not be mixed on the ground. In addition, proper measuring boxes for aggregate, and rods for rodding of concrete are now given along with other tools. These steps have greatly improved the quality of concrete.

7.3.2 Insufficient Curing

The masons or petty contractors employed by the people did not cure the concrete properly, and there was no way to force them to do so as our supervisors were not always there, and even if they were, they had no authority anyway to have their advice implemented. To remove this defect, posters and pamphlets explaining the necessity of curing were posted and distributed in the lanes where work was being done. At lane meetings our managers have also explained the necessity of curing to the people. As a result, it is common to see lane residents pouring water on the joints and manholes that fall before their houses. Also pressure, in many cases overt, is applied by the users on the masons and contractors to cure concrete properly. Educating the people has overcome this shortcoming.

7.3.3 Crooked Lines

In some cases the sewerage lines were not laid in a straight line from manhole to manhole, as they should be. The problem was studied and it was decided to make string, chalk and pegs available to the lane people and to instruct them in their use. As a result, all lines being laid now are in a straight line from manhole to manhole. Again the availability of tools, and instruction in their use, has improved the quality of work.

The above rectifications and modifications suggested by us were implemented slowly over a period of time. If all our suggestions had been forced upon the sanitation programme at once, our lane managers would not have been able to assimilate them, and the people’s confidence in themselves and in our organizers would have been badly damaged. Such a radical change would have brought the programme to a halt. However, since February 1983, the work being done by the people with OPP advice is excellent, and we are taking further steps to help improve it.

To this end OPP has engaged a full time plumber who gives top supervision to the work in the lanes, and in addition, we have commenced a programme of training masons on the theory, design and implementation of the low cost sanitation programme. The names and addresses of the trained masons are given to the lane residents so that they may employ one of them for their work. Monitoring of the results of the work done by these masons shows a marked improvement in quality.

8. Criticism and Proposals of The UN Experts

Between September 1982 and January 1983 the OPP had the benefit of a UN advisor and several visits were made to the project by UN experts. They had 2 main criticisms of the low cost sanitation programme.

8.1 Excreta Should Be Sealed

Our UN experts felt that the laying of sanitation lines should be stopped. That the OPP should adopt the twin leach-pit system for each house so as to completely seal the excreta, and that the waste water should flow in open drains. They felt that the large gauge pipes we were laying complete with manholes were a waste of the people’s money, when there was not enough water in Orangi to make our traditional sewerage system function. They further said that even if the leach-pits were not acceptable to us, we should discard the RCC pipes and manholes and replace them with 2” pvc pipes. Our making of haudis, they informed us, had obliterated the use of large gauge RCC pipes and manholes, and to insist on making them, they felt was not only uneconomical but irrational.

We did not agree with the proposals of the experts. First, because we knew that the people aspired to a traditional sewerage system which is common all over Karachi. Second, we also knew that when water would be made available to the people of Orangi, the leach- pits would fill up quickly. Third, open drains require constant maintenance and pose health hazards. We also rejected the proposal of doing away with manholes and RCC pipes because we felt that a day would come when there would be enough water in Orangi for a normal sewerage system to work, and that our present programme would become a movement for sanitation in the lanes of Orangi. This we felt, would develop pressures on the community for secondary drains, and on the local government for the preparation of the big drains. We did not wish to seek a narrow solution to an immediate problem that ignored the social dynamics which could be set in motion.

Time has justified our approach. Since last year Orangi is getting 35 million gallons of water from the Hub river dam. All soak-pits in Orangi are filling up rapidly. In fact, in many low areas water-logging has become a menace. There is no alternative for Orangi. It must have a non-leaking underground sewerage system, as the people wanted, and as was promoted by the OPP. Its cost, at three levels (the sanitary latrine in the home with T-pipe haudi, the underground sewerage pipe line in the lane, and the underground concrete pipe secondary drain), comes to less than Rs 1,000 per house. The house owners regard this as quite economical.

8.2 We Were Working Without A Master Plan

Our UN experts were very critical of our working in the lanes without a Master Plan, as were some of our planner friends. We appreciated the fact that as per engineering practice a complete survey of the area, with levels, sectors, secondary and main drains was essential. However, we are not a planning agency and have no authority to get our plans implemented. The work we were carrying out was being done only because of our communication and understanding with lane organizations, and bigger units of organization were not possible. We hoped eventually to join up the lanes into secondary drains and the secondary drains into nullahs. Our advisors feared that we would not be able to proceed beyond the lanes that bordered the open natural nullahs, and that the programme would end there.

However, we felt that if the people, now organized at lane level, were educated regarding this problem, and if the local councilors could be made to get involved in seeking a solution to it, we could proceed further. The technical solution posed no serious problem. It was the creating of an awareness leading to coordination in the whole mohallah that was necessary. It was the building up of social pressure that was needed. So we decided to work towards it.

9. Circle Handbook and The Secondary Drains

To promote the concept of secondary drains it was decided to survey the circle of each Councillor. The physical survey was undertaken by engineering and architecture students and they were helped and assisted by the OPP workers, and Orangi residents. The plan of each circle was prepared. The plan showed the slope of the land; lanes developed by the OPP; lanes developed by the people; land use pattern; number of houses; number of lanes; existing nullahs. This surveying and preparation of hand books has continued for many months. The survey could have been carried out by professional surveyors in a short period of time. But we carried it out as we did for 4 reasons.

9.1        To promote an understanding of the sewerage system among the people, without which no further community work was possible.

9.2        To take the concept of development through local participation to the professional colleges and universities.

9.3      To involve the councilors by making the circle a unit of research, and arm them with facts and figures about their circle and with a vision of a better future.

9.4        To educate our own workers and the people of Orangi who in turn would pressurize the councilors.

Because of involving the people and their representatives in the survey, whole mohallas are now coming forward to have their lanes and secondary drains built. The councilors on the basis of the information we have provided, are asking us to prepare plans and estimates so that they may pressurize the KMC into financing the people’s schemes. As such the lane organizations formed by us are now coming together. But the most important part is that the councilors, the K’E contractors and the professionals, are dealing increasingly with a population that understands sanitation technology, appreciates good quality work, knows costs, and as such will not permit kickbacks and profiteering. Due to this reason there have been instances of people wishing to get their own secondary drains built rather than pay the high cost of KMC development. The sanitation programme has now the makings of a movement.

10. Some Technical Considerations For Secondary Drains

The design of secondary drains is a more complex affair than the lane drains. For this purpose two NED final year students, who have worked on the survey in Orangi, have prepared a hand book for the calculation of slopes, sizing and limiting velocity. Members of the OPP staff have been trained to use this manual.

As there is no master plan and no proper surveys, it is sometimes difficult to relate an economical slope for the line to the geography of the land. In a few cases levels worked out by us have ended in a junction of the secondary drain with the nullah at a level well below the nullah bottom. To overcome this problem we now have levels worked out from the nullah base upwards. To further minimize the risk of such an eventuality, all slopes in the lanes are kept to a minimum, except where natural slopes are available.

11. Success Of The Sanitation Programme

The success of the sanitation programme can be judged from the fact that out of a total of 2600 lanes in our part of Orangi, over 1200 have already built up their drainage system. Of these 672 have done it with direct OPP advice. In addition, about 50 secondary drains have been, or are being laid. It is felt that if the KMC does not develop the main nullahs soon, the people might attempt to do it themselves. There is already talk of this in the lanes of Orangi.

The house owners have understood the importance of sanitation and sewerage, not only to safeguard their health from infectious diseases, but to save their valuable houses from water-logging. As soon as this attitude develops, they are ready to find the financial and managerial resources required for the construction of the low cost sanitation system.

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