Client: Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP)

Using data to improve sanitation services in Lusaka

Pit emptiers on the job, filling up feedback forms

In this project, NEEEU worked along with the NGO Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), local service providers and the LWSC (Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company) to research and test ways in which data could help to improve sanitation services in the entire city of Lusaka (Zambia).

A designer from Neeeu is talking to five pit emptiers about the feedback form

From data to action

Lusaka is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, and the influx of population from all around the country has overloaded the current infrastructure. This means that many of the inhabitants of the city, around 70%, live in peri-urban areas with limited access to well managed sanitation and water services.

Drawing of four pit emptiers on a truck and another filling up a bucket

During this project, we applied a human centred approach to make sure that whatever we built would be used appropriately and make sense in context. We spent days with the pit emptiers, understanding the key aspects on how they interacted with their customers, interviewed residents of the areas to understand their concerns and perception of the situation, and worked alongside decision makers from the public sector to make sure the system set in place would meet their needs.

Together with stakeholders, we designed a way of capturing data that would be reliable and efficient, without disrupting workflow. Via multiple iterations, we devised strategies and mechanisms through which pit emptying services could be standardised and professionalised.

Drawing of a pit emptier filling up a feedback form and another emptier talking to his supervisor

We devised a series of forms that would streamline communication - building trust between service providers and their potential clients, standardised practices for pit latrine assessments and services, and a way to help track the history of each facility. During the two months of the project, we performed pilots with two different service providers, and there was information captured on more than 68 latrines. During this pilot, early indications suggest that following adoption of these forms, pit emptying services could witness an increase of 50% in service requests when using them as a marketing tool.

To convince the service providers to digitalise this paperwork, we needed a good incentive. We created a prototype tool for the service providers to track their customers and see their distribution in a map, thereby Incentivising manual digitalisation of the written information. This tool would at the same time send information to the Decision Makers database, where they could track toilet facilities that required attention across the city.