Approaches to an engineering practice which is socially just

EAP’s panel within the panel on water and sanitation

1. Jonathan Parkinson, International Water Association, spoke of how sewerage are conceptualised in cities and how engineers interest in this appear to diminish the closer one gets to the households. A second issue is that waste water is rarely treated before discharge. Conclusion, one needs to focus on the sanitation around houses. On a positive note, there are some examples of initiatives which try to address this (Orangi Pilot Project in Pakistan), but they are limited.

2. Meena Varma, Dalit Solidarity Network, spoke of the horrendous situation of the dalits situation especially in the South East Asia. Eg. Forced to manually scavenge human excrement from public and private dry latrines despite legislation outlawing the practice, but even were this is enforced dalit men are still lowered into open drains to unblock blocks without any protective gear. Worst job in the world – cleaning up other people’s shit!

3. David Satterthwaite, International Institute for Environment and Development, spoke of the problems of help organisations reluctance to help (in a good way) in urban areas lacking sewers. There are examples of local initiatives such as the Organgi project which have been successful both in terms of implementation, results, and cost effectiveness (e.g. no or little need for external funding). Conclusions, talk to the people living without sanitation, draw on local knowledge and expertise and then integrate these local systems into the bigger urban systems.

4. Emanuele Lobina, PSIRU, spoke of an alternative scheme of addressing sanitation issues in developing countries. Historically public funding and services have provided sanitation in developed countries, e.g. no cost recovery. In contrast this is currently not done very much when doing project in developing countries which often rely on private actors and cost recovery. Also, important to focus efforts in the Sub-Saharan region as areas as India have more recourses to solve the problem by themselves.

5. John Kandulu, WaterAid, spoke of the organisation Wateraid’s efforts to improve access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities. Get communities and households to get to the first step of improving their sanitation, i.e. no faeces on the surface. WaterAid works with locals to find solutions that are suitable for the locals. Are solutions like these replicable elsewhere etc.

The rest of the panel

Jaime Arturo Bastidas Legarda spoke of the situation of displaced victims due to the armed conflict (between armed groups outside the law) in Colombia and his research is relation to this.

Andrew Fox spoke of a proposed project (Promoting social equity for disabled people in Gambia) he, Ebou Faye Njie others would like to carry out in Gambia addressing equity for the disabled and how the engineering community has and can interact/promote this issue and what role engineers can play in this project. The project is being developed by people in Gambia and was initiated by Ebou Faye Njie. At this time the project team is being put together.

Darko Matovic spoke of his role in the Waste for Life project coordinated by Caroline Baillie and Eric Feinblatt. Especially he expanded on some of the technical aspects of the hot press at the centre of the project and sent around some of valets made out of which have been made as prototype products.