The $10M Dollar question...
This is the third and final group blog for the Lake Victoria Pooptank 2022-23. In this blog, the three Pooptank innovators consider the future of sanitation innovation for Lakewide Inclusive Sanitation for Lake Victoria. What next for the Pooptank? Which aspects of the sanitation system need more innovation support? How would they spend $10M dollars on sanitation innovation? Please enjoy the discussion and leave a comment.
"You are all innovators because you have an idea which is ready to be put into practice to overcome a challenge. You know the challenge intimately because you live it, and through your passionate commitment to your work, and a little help from others, you are going to succeed! But you will need money, and opportunities to get at that money.
Lake Victoria needs a well-funded, well-respected, innovation ecosystem which continues to support you and many others like you, with equity, until we achieve the maximum possible impact. The Pooptank is a small part of that ecosystem, but a much deeper and systemic overhaul of the current systems of finance and governance will be required in order to unleash the power of innovation.
How would you support Lake Victoria's innovators if you were designing 'The Pooptank 2.0'? For instance, how would you spend a Lakewide Inclusive Sanitation Innovation fund of 10million dollars on Lake Victoria?"
Saul Mwandosya of Tanzania:
"Financing sanitation innovations for Lake Victoria is of paramount importance. Many innovations can unleash the power of ICT (Information Communications Technology) for sanitation. For example, GPS trackers in Faecal sludge emptying trucks and CCTV camera at Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants will help to monitor sanitation behaviours that are being practised by Faecal Sludge emptiers all along the sanitation service chain. Also, environmental data monitoring using sensors installed around the Lake, can monitor and alert on water pollution parameters which indicate human waste entering the lake. More data means smarter decisions, stronger advocacy, knowledge development, and wiser interventions to reduce the water pollution in Lake Victoria.
If 10 million dollars were available for innovation, I would spend 2 million on a GPS tracking system, 2.5 million dollars for CCTV cameras, 3 million on environmental monitoring devices, and 2.5 million to facilitate inclusive stakeholder engagement (public, private and targeted community), regulation, and enforcement."
Juliet Mukunde of Uganda:
"Sanitation innovation needs funding. We need it to revive Lake Victoria, to achieve SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 6.2, and to make good on the slogan of ‘leaving no one behind’.
Innovation is often considered for technology and hardware, but first we need to raise awareness, educate, and change our behavior. Behavior Change Communication (BCC) therefore requires funding. I believe funding for BCC should be prioritized because it can be both efficient and effective in changing behaviors leading to good sanitation, hygiene, and good health. BCC is not the same as building infrastructure, but it still needs serious engagement and support to implement. For example: Research and behavior analysis; planning; implementation; monitoring and evaluation; and message development and testing, all require funding. 10 million dollars will go some way to fund a lakewide BCC campaign, but more money will probably be needed.
Lake Victoria has many different audiences. Getting the right message to all the Lake’s 40m people, in simple language, through creative art and using the best and most appropriate communications channels is no easy task. But it creates a foundation for the enabling environment for sanitation improvement in the Lake Victoria basin. "
Carolyne Odero of Kenya:
"In Kenya, the human right to water and sanitation is a government commitment outlined in article 43 of our constitution. Therefore, basic universal sanitation access is something Kenya is planning, but it can only happen with proper financing.
For a long time, the sanitation focus has been on very costly conventional sewer systems. However, these have had little impact for Lake Victoria’s water, because most of its population use unsafely managed on-site systems like latrines or septic tanks. Regardless of the technology, building hardware can never have impact unless it is supported by behaviour change of its users. As concerned citizens of Lake Victoria, we should ask: What if the infrastructure is never used? What if people are content with their current unsafe solutions, without knowing how much harm they are causing the lake? The solution needs more than just hardware funding. It needs software funding. It needs behaviour change. Behaviour change will drive demand for both market-based sanitation services and raise awareness on the need for an inclusive ’whole society’ approach, which will need subsidies.
With $10M US of funding, I would start by collecting data. I would identify the available sanitation technologies and practices around the Lake, and push for a review of the existing legal, regulatory, and policy frameworks so that they are more intentional and enforceable. Using the data, I would craft strategic behaviour change communication and education. I believe the real problem to sanitation, is in our minds, and that is also where we will find our solution: By fixing the mind. Behaviour change communication may seem simplistic when compared to physical infrastructure, but it takes time to unlearn a behaviour that has taken someone their entire life to learn."