Community Dialogue with Design: The Case of EcoSan Toilet in Kisumu, Kenya
This thesis explores the place of design in a community, focused specifically on how EcoSan1, an innovative ecological waste management system. EcoSan has the potential to transform a community and provide healthy sustainable development.2 I therefore attempt to investigate design-user dialogue, with reference to the need, idea, attitude, perception, acceptance, rejection and use of EcoSan toilets. In addition, the study hopes to explore through qualitative description, community needs, how these needs may contribute into appropriate and acceptable design interventions which mitigate sustainable life changes. Ecological sanitation, or EcoSan, refers to a range of sanitation technologies in which human excreta is recovered, retained on-site, and eventually reused. This study attempts to elucidate Obunga community’s dialogue with the EcoSan toilet as an alternative sanitation design intervention, in terms of perception, attitude and acceptance or rejection of the intervention. The study looks at factors hindering uptake and how demand for the EcoSan toilet can be scaled up by the community. To investigate this dialogue, the research interviewed 91 households, and 21 focus group discussants, in Obunga’s estimated population of 1,500 households.3 The sample for this research comprised households of community members residing in Obunga, who were interviewed using semi-structured questions for the household visits. The questions focused on Ecosan toilets and their construction, and included both areas where they had and did not have EcoSan toilets. A focus group discussion of women (11) and men (9) was done separately, and 7 key informants were interviewed informally. Profiling of the site was carried out through research projects undertaken by 4th year undergraduate students from School of the Arts and Design (StAD), and from a narrative provided by Mzee Olewe, one of the oldest resident’s of Obunga. Notes, sketches, photographs, illustrations, a diary, reference from journals, publications (both print and electronic) and exhibitions were part of the data collected and documented.