The goal of this project was to devise an integrated and sustainable water and sanitation facility within the “Redevelopment Seed” that may serve as a model for waste treatment and sanitation practices throughout Monwabisi Park. This section outlines our approach to completing our objectives.

Water and Sanitation Group Photo1. Become familiar with the sanitation history and current conditions within Monwabisi Park.

We began to address these objectives by acquainting ourselves with the current water and sanitation conditions within the park and their development. Granfone et al (2008) and Carbonneau et al (2009) provided much of this preliminary research, and further communications with City of Cape Town officials, water and sanitation specialists, and the Indlovu Centre  community once in Cape Town served to solidify this basis for our work. Such research was an important step in determining what had been successful or unsuccessful in the past and what resources were available to us.

Learn more on the current conditions in Monwabisi Park and the history of water and sanitation in South Africa.

2. Explore the successes of global redevelopment precedents.

We also conducted further research on global parallels to the situation within Monwabisi Park. These case studies, ranging from examples of poorly defined infrastructure to community-led upgrading, all provided additional valuable considerations for our planning.

Learn more about our case studies.

3. Define the user capacity and priority components of the facility.

Once familiarized with the current conditions, we began to define the scope of our project. This process was again contingent on further communications with city authorities, professionals, and community members, as well as the constraints of the facility’s experimental nature, to assess the target population for our work and their expectations for the services provided by the facility. Based on our findings, priority services included an efficient waste composting system, toilets, sinks, a laundry station, an on-site caretaker position, and a gated perimeter to lock the facility after hours. The facility’s target population was debated throughout much of the design process, with user loads ranging from strictly Community Centre staff and patrons to the whole of Monwabisi Park. The final decision limited this number to the Community Centre and immediately surrounding residents, totaling an estimated user load of approximately 200 residents. By restricting the number of users, the system can theoretically be properly monitored and tested for effectiveness in waste treatment while resisting malfunction due to overuse.

Learn more about the Sanitation Facility andthe plan for Future Testing.

4. Determine the appropriate sanitation system for the conditions.

Defining user load and priority services allowed us to then begin designing an appropriate sanitation system and corresponding facility floor plan. The remaining key considerations for these designs then became centralized versus decentralized systems, water-borne versus waterless systems, commercial versus “do-it-yourself” designs, and the spatial planning of the available space. Important criteria for evaluating these options included spatial requirements, financial investment, maintenance expectations, and health risk control, which were explored based on system descriptions and vendor responses to our “Request for Proposal”, or RFP. After three weeks of thorough comparisons between biodigesters, anaerobic baffled reactors, dry composting systems, and various forms of waste water treatment designs, we concluded that a dry composting system would be best suited for the needs of this location. The greatest concern with a composting system was its effectiveness in removing harmful pathogens. We gave this careful consideration and included several failsafe measures in our design such as multiple drying compartments, minimal human contact, and several pasteurization chambers. With these elements in mind, we integrated the sanitation system, toilets, sinks, laundry station, and caretaker office into a functional community space. We then had to consider how to dispose of the grey water.

Learn more about selecting a Sanitation System and Grey Water management schemes or view our RFP [PDF 102 KB].

5. Develop sanitation system design and structural layout.

With these elements in mind, we integrated the sanitation system, toilets, sinks, laundry station, and caretaker office into a functional community space. We spent several weeks researching how a dry composting system would work and played out the entire composting process from start to finish for several different schemes. We considered variations on collection containers, purchasing commercial units, composing on site versus off site, and ventilation designs.

Learn more about Sanitation Facility designs.

6. Outline the role of the on-site caretaker.

In order to achieve successful facility operation and significant improvements to health and sanitation, a caretaker position for the centre was also defined. City and local interest in involvement was analyzed, and preliminary job descriptions, salary recommendations, training programs, and caretaker responsibilities were mapped out.  Appointment of the caretaker was outlined as a selection process with sensitivities to community politics and personal levels of responsibility.

Learn more about the Caretaker‘s role.

7. Detail future sustainable adaptations and testing procedures.

The implementation of these designs was defined as an ideal project objective, however design complications and time constraints prevented us from realizing this ultimate goal during our stay in Cape Town. From the beginning, however, we recognized that we possessed neither the skills nor the time on site required to complete this facility ourselves, so we defined who would manage the construction, who would provide the physical labor, and how the community would be involved in the process. In conjunction with the Gardens team, we also created a plan for the testing and maintenance of the compost in order to monitor the effectiveness of the system, and to prevent contaminated compost from being used within the community. Similarly,  we incorporated a plan for testing the grey water effluent to prevent the contamination of ground water. We planned to continue our collaboration with the University of Cape Town, the City of Cape Town, and the Shaster Foundation in order to examine the outcome of this facility and address the possibility of its replication in other areas of Monwabisi Park.

Learn more about Future Testing and collaborations or view the Gardens team page.