Working Group’s Apparent Lack of Trust in the Municipality: Putting Together a Report

Author: Megan


The previous afternoon, it was brought to our attention that there were many issues surrounding the working group’s reluctance to clean the greywater channels on a daily basis. Though this task is part of their informal job description from the municipality, they have not been following through and admitted to only cleaning the channels twice in the past four weeks we’ve been here. They mentioned their lack of protective clothing and the resultant rashes, irritations and risk of disease they face when cleaning the channels. After a heated discussion on the matter, we had collectively decided to compile a report for the municipality of these issues in hopes of making them aware of the issue, providing the working group with protective clothing so they can safely do the job they’re being paid for and simultaneously teach them how to create reports on the computer for future use. This would allow us to be productive in hopefully fixing a really important issue while waiting for the MPC plans to be pushed forward by the other partners.

Cast of Characters

Working group, WPI teams


This discussion took place in the morning on 15 November in the wendy house.


The main area we wanted to focus on today was the greywater channel cleaning process, schedule and report of the issues. We brought up that we should begin to compile a report about the health hazards for the Municipality and acquire gloves/boots for the working group. Amanda immediately became angry and seemed like she was yelling at us. She said they’ve already asked the municipality for these items and they’ve refused. Another group of people had recently asked Joey for boots and he allegedly refused, which prevented them from doing their jobs. Therefore, Amanda didn’t want to waste her time trying to request these items again and refused to participate in writing this report. Kholeka supported her sentiments and said, “When shoes is eating you, only you feel the pain. I don’t feel the pain when your shoes is eating you.” We understood this to be a metaphor to demonstrate that the municipality didn’t feel their problems directly and therefore would not sympathise. She also told us that as newcomers we did not understand the municipality. Alfred also expressed his concerns about not having enough time to work on their portfolios due to having to clean the greywater channels every day. This felt like somewhat of an excuse to get out of having to clean the channels since we had heard the previous day that Alfred always refuses to help the women even though he’s paid to be part of the working group too. Though the females in the working group expressed grief about this inequality the previous day, they defended Alfred and agreed not to include him and Alfred in the cleaning schedule.

Every time we told them we think it’s wrong/unfair for the municipality to expect them to do their job without proper protection and equipment, they would heatedly tell us we didn’t understand that they’ve tried before. We tried to assure them that a written report would be more effective than spoken words and that we can help them learn how to compile the report. Oddly enough, Amanda ended up being the one typing the report up with Brittany’s help. She seemed begrudging at first but was proud of her work at the end of the day.


Many of us were taken aback by the responses of the working group members about this greywater issue. Yesterday, they seemed so fired up about the health hazards and the lack of employee safety precautions taken by the municipality. We were pretty shocked that they were resisting this next step to more proactively deal with the issue if they believed it to be so dangerous and unfair. It was encouraging, however, to still see them getting so passionate about how they feel and telling us their opinions for once. These greywater issues have really coaxed some enthusiasm out of the working group, which is a wonderful contrast to their usual indifferent attitudes. We were also pleased that when we reminded the working group that governments work with paper and not just verbally, they seemed a lot more willing to help compile a report on the channels as well as make a schedule to ensure more regular channel cleaning. However, we still feel as if they don’t understand that they need to write things down because the previous method of communication wasn’t working. Trying a different approach if something isn’t working is a way of thinking the working group doesn’t seem to really possess at this point in time, but hopefully WPI can help them move towards this.