The OPP Sanitation Project

The OPP Sanitation Project: What needs to be done

I have spent two days in Orangi and looked at the Sanitation Project. My comments are as under:

1. The process adopted by Dr. Khan is the anti-thesis of conventional planning but it makes sense if viewed from the “self help” aspect. To accommodate his “social model” technical and procedural changes are required otherwise the social model will be rejected by the communities.

2. What needs to be done technically and why is given below:

  • The sewage systems built by the communities visited have problems because of a lack of water. This situation is likely to last. The alternative is soak-pits which people do not wish to invest in. To solve this problem, a one chamber inexpensive “septic tank” is required between the toilet and sewer line. This will stop solids from entering the system and as such clogging.
  • Design of manholes and pipe jointing need to be revised and made cheaper. Steel shuttering can be developed for manholes and their sizes rationalised for different depths. If they are made round their concrete section can be reduced. Steel shuttering will also reduce plaster cost and they can be at by unskilled labour thus reducing costs further.
  • Simple rules of thumb need to be developed for determining, gradients pipe sizing, manhole sizes and curing procedures for concrete. All these rules should take into consideration that Orangi Town already has gradients and that the lanes have no cars/trucks in them.
  • All construction work requires tools. The OPP does not provide what is required such as a steel platform for mixing concrete, dhrumats for compacting backfill, chalk and rope for establishing straight excavation lines. Concrete aggregates are also poor and have earth mixed in them. Without tools communities cannot build.
  • The OPP technical unit should have a qualified person in it who is capable of understanding larger social issues so that technology can be made compatible to them. This should be a younger person who can be trained by Dr. Khan and/or by OPP’s technical advisor who I feel is required. If necessary, he should be hired from the market. Without expertise that can be innovative the project will fail.
  • On overall survey of Orangi should be carried out so that locations of intermediate infrastructure can be identified. Without this, distant locations cannot be linked together or to the nullas and an integrated sewage cannot be built. If students carry out this survey (from NED or Dawood College) they will interact with the Orangi residents and spread awareness regarding the sanitation system. Also they will take back the knowledge they gain in the process to their departments. Hiring companies to do the survey will be a rather cold impersonal process for a community project.

3. It will not be possible for me to work as a Consultant to the OPP for reasons I have already indicated to you.

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