Water & Sanitation

Designing a Model Sanitation Centre for Monwabisi Park

Mission and Objectives

The goal of this project was to devise an integrated and sustainable water and sanitation system at the Indlovu Project that may serve as a model for waste treatment and sanitation practices throughout Monwabisi Park.

Our primary objectives toward this goal included:

  • Become familiar with the sanitation history and current conditions within Monwabisi Park.
  • Explore  successes of global redevelopment precedents.
  • Define user capacity and priority components of facility.
  • Determine appropriate sanitation system for conditions.
  • Develop sanitation system design and structural layout.
  • Develop plans for management and future experimentation.



Motivation for the Project

Water and Sanitation Pit LatrineThere is a desperate need for immediate water and sanitation services in Monwabisi Park. The absence of official planning during the erection of squatter camps like Monwabisi Park resulted in inadequate provision of even the most basic services. The law requires a family-to-toilet ratio of 5:1, and yet even if all city-provided toilets are assumed functional, 69 families must still share a single toilet.  In reality, up to three quarters of the city supplied toilets in Monwabisi Park are now nonfunctioning. In response, many residents have constructed rudimentary pit latrines in order to achieve some form of local, private, and semi-structured toilet facility. These facilities, however, are generally unsanitary and often contribute to the contamination of the region’s ground water supply. In addition, personal hygiene practices, such as hand washing, are not frequently advocated or applied. When coupled with the lack of proper sanitation provisions, unsanitary practices have led to a proliferation of diarrhoeal diseases. In Khayelitsha alone, 80 children die per year from diarrhoea-related illnesses (Granfone et al, 2008). This overwhelming need was the driving force behind our work.



We began to address our objectives by establishing communications with City officials, sanitation specialists, and the Indlovu Centre community as well as examining previous projects and global parallels to the situation in Monwabisi Park. This background knowledge allowed us to understand the need for sanitation services and to assess the target population for our work and their expectations for the services provided.We then began designing an appropriate sanitation system and corresponding facility floor plan for the Sanitation Centre by outlining the key considerations of centralized versus decentralized systems, water-borne versus waterless schemes, and commercial versus “do-it-yourself” designs. Important criteria for evaluating these options were explored based on system descriptions and vendor responses to our “Request for Proposal”, or RFP.

With these elements in mind, we integrated the sanitation system and priority facility components into a functional community space. In order to achieve successful facility operation and significant improvements to health and sanitation, a caretaker position for the centre was defined according to City and local interest in involvement and the successful precedents of local case studies. Finally, we consulted Indlovu Project construction supervisors to define who would oversee facility construction, who would provide the physical labor, and how the community would remain involved in the process. We also collaborated with the City of Cape Town and the Shaster Foundation to ensure the continued maintenance of this facility, as well as the University of Cape Town and the WPI Gardens Team to create a plan for the future use of the Sanitation Centre as an operating experimental model.

Major Accomplishments

  1. Identified Facility Components and Site Blueprints
  2. Designed Sanitation System
  3. Created Grey Water Management Scheme
  4. Evaluated the Caretaker Role and Educational Aspect
  5. Planned for Future Testing
  6. Established Research Collaborations



– 2008 Water and Sanitation Project